Using Blackboard Collaborate

This page provides a brief overview of the Blackboard Collaborate window and its various parts. 

The image below shows you the main Blackboard Collaborate window in its default layout. As you go through this page, refer back to the numbers on this image to review what each part of the Blackboard Collaborate window looks like.

Note: You can rearrange, resize or even detach most of the parts of the Blackboard Collaborate window by clicking and dragging them. In order to restore the default layout, select “Restore Default Layout” from the View menu.

Blackboard Collaborate homepage

Moderator's Guide to Blackboard Collaborate Ultra

Participant's Guide to Blackboard Collaborate Ultra


The Toolbar contains a set of buttons used to access three moderator-controlled functions in Blackboard Collaborate. The Toolbar is located above and to the left of the Whiteboard in your Blackboard Collaborate window (see image below).


Clicking on the Whiteboard button brings up Whiteboard controls, such as the drawing tools and navigation controls. Please see the Whiteboard page for more information.

Application Sharing
Clicking on the Application Sharing button allows you to select an application running on your computer to share with the other users in the session. Please see the Application sharing page for more information.

Web Tour
Clicking on the Web Tour button allows you to enter a web page URL and show the page at that URL to the other users in your session. Please see the Web tours page for more information.

Audio and Visual Window

The Audio & Video window contains the tools for using the microphone function and for monitoring and controlling your microphone and its volume levels. It also contains a window for video streamed from participants' webcams, as well as the controls for activating streaming from your webcam.

The Audio & Video Window is located in the top, left-hand corner of your Blackboard Collaborate window, and contains the tools for using the microphone function, for monitoring and controlling microphone and volume levels, as well as the video window and controls for using the webcam function (see image below).


Audio Controls


To pick up and use the microphone, click on the Talk button in the Audio Window, and speak into your microphone or headset. Notice (as in the image below) that after you click on the ‘Talk’ button, a microphone icon appears on the Talk button, and twice in the Participants Window, allowing you and the other participants to see that you have the microphone privilege.
NOTE: In most sessions, only one participant at a time can use the microphone. When you request the microphone, you will be placed in a queue and will have to wait until others ahead of you in the queue have had their turn with the microphone. When you have finished speaking, click on the ‘Talk’ button again to release the microphone, allowing others to pick it up.
If you do not click the microphone button to release the microphone, your microphone feed will remain active and no one else in the session will be able to use the microphone!

Audio Levels

Two level bars in the Audio Window show the strength of your microphone and speaker volume signals. Neither bar should ever fill up entirely. The sliders on them can be moved left or right to adjust the signal strength down and up (respectively).
In the image below, the microphone button has been pressed and the participant is speaking into his or her microphone. You can see that the microphone level bar is about half full. This is the ideal level when speaking. Adjust the slider on the level bar while you are speaking so that the level bar doesn’t fill up much more than this.
talk pic

Video Controls

Video Window

Any webcam video, including your own, that is being streamed in the session will appear in this window.
video pic

Video Controls

If you have a webcam built-in or connected to your computer, you can use the video controls to stream video from your webcam to the session. First, click on the Preview button (highlighted in the image below) to see what your video stream will look like in the video window.
video control pic

If you are satisfied with how the preview looks, click the Video button (highlighted in the image below) to begin broadcast to the session. Also, in the image below, note the webcam icon that appears twice in the Participants Window, which indicates to the other participants in the session that you are broadcasting your webcam video.
video control pic 1


Audio Setup Wizard

You can access the Audio Setup Wizard via a button above the video window
settings 1

Settings menu

All other audio and video settings can be accessed via the drop-down menu in the top-right corner of the Audio & Video Window.
settings pic 2

Participants Window

The Participants Window shows all of the participants in a Blackboard Collaborate session, along with status information for each participant, and several buttons controlling important functions.
Participants window

Along with a name, information displayed about a participant may include that he/she:

  • is a moderator;

  • is using his/her microphone and/or webcam;

  • has clicked an emoticon icon;

  • has stepped away from the session;

  • has raised his/her hand; and

  • has entered a response to a poll.


Several emoticons are available for you to display under your name (see right image below). Hover your mouse pointer over the emoticon button, and select an emoticon from the drop-down menu that appears (see left image below). The emoticon will disappear from beneath your name 10 seconds after you select it.


Step Away

If you need to step away from your Blackboard Collaborate session, you can click the Step Away button (next to the Emoticons button). The word ‘Away’ will appear beneath your name. When you return to the session, click the Step Away button again to remove the ‘Away‘ and indicate that you have returned.

Step Away

Raise Hand

You can indicate that you would like to speak during your class session by using the Raise Hand button. Clicking this button causes a hand to appear beside your name, along with a number that indicates your position in the queue for the microphone. This number will decrease as other participants (ahead of you in the queue) use the microphone and lower their hands. When you become number 1 in the queue, the current moderator will tell you when you may use the microphone, just as if you were in a live classroom and put your hand up to speak. Be sure to click the Raise Hand again once you are finished your turn with the microphone, as this will ‘lower your hand’.

In the image below, you can see that the Raise Hand button has been pressed and a ‘1’ has appeared beside ‘Student’.
Raise Hand

Poll Responses

The presenter/moderator for your Blackboard Collaborate class may ask you to respond to a poll at some point during your session. These polls may be formatted as Yes/No or Multiple Choice. The appropriate response options will appear in a menu when you hover your mouse pointer over the Respond to poll button (see left image below). Your choice of response will appear to the right of your name (see right image below). Your poll response will remain until the presenter/moderator clears all responses.

Polling Response

Chat Window

The Chat Window contains the tools that allow instant text messages to be sent by moderators and participants in the Blackboard Collaborate session.
chat window

In the Chat window, you have the following options:

View Text Messages

All text messages are displayed in the Chat Window in the order in which they were sent. By default, the most recently sent messages are displayed at the bottom. You can use the scroll bar on the right to scroll up and view earlier messages from your session. 
NOTE: If any messages were typed into the Chat window before you entered your Blackboard Collaborate classroom, you will NOT see them. All messages are time-stamped as they are sent (see image below).
chat window 1

You can also increase or decrease the font size of the text in the Chat Window via the drop-down menu in the top-right corner of the window (see image below).

chat window 2

Send a Text Message

To send a text message, type your message and press <Enter>. You can send a private message to another participant in the session by right-clicking (or Ctrl-clicking on a Mac) the participant in the Participants window and select “Send a private message”. A new tab for your private chat will appear under the Chat Window (see image below). You can switch back and forth between the public (“Room”) chat and your private chat(s) by clicking the corresponding tab.

chat window 3

You can also add an emoticon to your chat message by using the emoticon drop-down menu in the text entry line.
chat window 4


In the Whiteboard, blank screens can be drawn on or written on, or used to display MS PowerPoint or Impress presentations to participants. The Whiteboard is the main visual presentation area of Blackboard Collaborate (see image below).

Note that your level of control in the Whiteboard will be limited unless your instructor/moderator has given you (temporary) permissions to add content to the Whiteboard (for example, for a presentation). In other words, normally you will be an observer of activity on the Whiteboard only. For information about using the whiteboard as a moderator/presenter, go to the Whiteboard present section of this startup kit.


The moderator has the privileges to grant the following permission to other participants in the session. 


If granted, this privilege allows a participant to pick up and use the microphone, if it is not in use by another participant (if another person is using the microphone, the microphone icon in the Audio window will be greyed out)


If granted, this privilege allows a participant to broadcast live video from his or her webcam to the Blackboard Collaborate room.


If granted, this privilege allows a participant to send text messages in the Chat window. If your text message privilege has been removed, you will still be able to send messages to your instructor/moderator (for example, to find out why you can't send messages to the room!).


If granted, this privilege allows a participant to use the Whiteboard editing tools (such as the text tool, the line tool, etc) and to make changes to pages in the Whiteboard.

Application Sharing

If granted, this privilege allows a participant to share her/his desktop or an application open on her/his desktop, with the rest of the Blackboard Collaborate room.

If you share your desktop or an application open on your desktop, this means that the other participants in your class session will be shown a live image of your desktop or the open application. They can then watch as changes are made, for instance, to a Microsoft Office Word document. They can even be allowed to control the application or the desktop themselves. 

Web Tour

If granted, this privilege allows a participant to lead a web tour. 


If granted, this privilege allows a participant to open the Closed Captioning window, in order to transcribe the audio of the Blackboard Collaborate session.