Virtual classroom tools in Brightspace
This guide illustrates all the basic how to's of setting up and running virtual classroom sessions for both of these tools.
First, let's look at Collaborate Ultra.
Collaborate Ultra, previously available within Blackboard, is also available for use as a webinar tool within Brightspace. The features provided are video conferencing (with screen sharing, whiteboard, chat, breakout rooms and session recording). In addition, it is possible to give participants moderator or presenter privileges.
Creating a Collaborate Ultra Course Room
To create a link to Collaborate in your Brightspace unit/module, follow these steps:
Navigate to the appropriate Content area, e.g. Learning resources > Week 1. Use the Existing Activities button to select External Learning Tools.
Select Collaborate from the popup window displaying available tools.
You will see that a clickable Collaborate link has been added to your unit/module.
Anyone using this link will be taken to a screen where they will be asked to give their name. To enter the room, click Join Session (see picture on right).
After clicking Join Session, Students will then be asked to check they have a working camera and microphone; this is followed by an optional tour of the interface.
If you want to schedule sessions, for example if you want to get your students together at the end of the first week of the semester to discuss how things are going, or if you want to offer pre-exam guidance (scheduling is especially useful if you are planning to record and re-watch conferences), follow these steps:
Click on the External Learning Tool link that you made previously.
On the next screen, unless you already have any sessions listed, you will see two Create Session buttons.
Click either button to begin.
In the Settings popup that follows, give your session a title, select a date and time, and complete any other details as appropriate.
Click Save to continue.
Clicking Save will return you to the Sessions screen, where you will see your new session listed (see picture opposite).
Students would find your scheduled session after clicking on the link but there are things you can do to make the initial link more helpful.
Move on to the next page to see how you can make a session link more descriptive.
Making a session link more descriptive
There are various ways you can make your Collaborate links more descriptive. Follow the steps below.
Click on the Collaborate External Learning Tool link in your Table of Contents.
This will return you to the Sessions screen.
To add detail/context to this, remain on the Sessions screen and click on the title.
Change the generic ‘Collaborate’ to something specific, e.g. ‘Collaborate Week 1 chat’.
Hit enter on your keyboard to make the change.
Return to the Table of Contents to see the effect of your change.
In addition to a specific title, consider adding some descriptive text.
To do this click on the Actions dropdown and select Edit Properties In-place.
Click on Add a description
And add some helpful context.
Click Update to complete the process.
Creating recurring sessions
You can create individually scheduled sessions with Collaborate; however, if you know that you are going to meet at the same time each week for a similar reason, you can create recurring sessions. Follow these steps:
From the Sessions screen, selected Create Session
In the Settings popup, check the Repeat session box and select how often, when and for how many weeks you want to repeat the session.
The result is a long list of similar looking items (click picture to enlarge).
All those with Instructor access to a Brightspace unit/module will enter a Collaborate session as a Moderator.
To access a scheduled session, click on the appropriate link in the Table of Contents, e.g. Week 1 (picture opposite). This will take you to the Session screen.
The Sessions screen will offer links to all the scheduled sessions you have set up.
To join a session select the one appropriate to the particular date and time and click on that instance (opposite).
Initially Moderators will see a fairly blank screen (click to enlarge).
However, as a Moderator (using the Collaborate Panel - bottom right) you are able to share many things (a whiteboard, your screen, an application, a poll). You can also set up a timer and create breakout rooms. Below is an example of a shared screen (click on the image to enlarge):
Visit site: Collaborate Ultra is a powerful tool, with many functions and settings. In this guide we could have included numerous screen shots to illustrate the Moderator experience, trying to anticipate every use case; however, Blackboard have already created extensive guidance on the Collaborate user interface, including a video walk through – essentially everything you’re likely to need to know.
Please visit and bookmark their Get Started with Collaborate Ultra for Moderators site.
All students accessing a Collaborate session in Brightspace will join as Participants.
To access a scheduled session, a student should click on the link in the External Learning Tool link in the Table of Contents, e.g. Week 1 (picture opposite).
Clicking on the External Learning Tool link shown above will take students to the Session screen. This screen will offer links to all of the scheduled sessions you have set up. To join a session a student must select the session appropriate to the particular date and time, and click on that instance.
On joining a session, until other students arrive, or the Moderator shares content via their screen, the Participant view of Collaborate is a fairly blank screen (opposite, click to enlarge).
Visit site: As stated earlier, this guide could be used to anticipate everything a student may want to know about the Collaborate interface – but Blackboard have already done it! There is extensive guidance for students, including a video walk through, on their Get Started with Collaborate Ultra for Participants site.
Share this link with your students.
Any Collaborate session (scheduled or Course Room) can be recorded. Clearly, there could be a wide variety of reasons for recording, or not recording a session. The good news is that if you want to, it's quick and easy to do so.
Note: Blackboard have created excellent guidance on recording sessions.
Visit and bookmark: https://help.blackboard.com/Collaborate/Ultra/Moderator/Moderate_Sessions/Recordings.
In addition, the guidance below will help with the basics.
Join either a scheduled session or your Course Room (the example on the right is from a Course Room).
At the top left of the screen, click on the Open Session menu and click Start Recording.
Once the recording has begun, a message will appear briefly on the right of the screen saying 'Session being recorded'; also, to the right of the Session menu you will see an icon of a video camera with a red dot.
To stop a recording, click on the Session menu and select Stop Recording. As you do so a message will appear briefly on the right of the screen saying 'Recording has stopped'.
The simplest way to share a recording with your students is to share a link to it. To do this click on the Collaborate Menu (picture opposite).
From the menu options, select Recordings.
From the Recording options menu at the right of the recordings select Copy link. You can now take that copied link and paste it into an announcement, email or content item.
Collaborate Ultra also make sit possible for you(and your students) to download recordings. To make this possible, either when entering a Course Room (as Moderator) or when setting up a scheduled session, select Allow recording downloads from the Session Settings menu (picture opposite).
To access a recording follow the same steps as you did to copy a link - first, click on the Collaborate Menu, then select Recordings.
From the Recording options menu select Download.
Bongo is a virtual classroom tool integrated within Brightspace. It was previously known as YouSeeU and, like Collaborate Ultra, can be used for online presentations, collaboration and screen sharing.
In addition, Bongo is the software that powers Brightspace's video assignment function.
Over the next few pages, we'll look at how to schedule meetings and how the interface works.
There are two ways to schedule a meeting: either via the navbar or the Table of Contents. The content below covers how to schedule meetings using both these methods.
The first step in using the navbart is to use the Communication and Collaboration dropdown menu to select Virtual Classroom (shown opposite)
Clicking on Communication and Collaboration > Virtual Classroom takes you to the Meetings screen, where you will see [if you already have set any up] active meetings, and recorded meetings.
Use the plus symbol (+) at the bottom right of the screen to schedule a new meeting.
Another way of setting up a meeting is to use the ‘Existing Activities’ menu within the Table of Contents.
To do this, first navigate to the appropriate area of your Table of Contents (e.g. Week 1; Bongo meetings, etc.). Next, click on Existing Activities, then Virtual Classroom.
Next, use the popup to either add an existing meeting (simply click on the blue meeting title, shown below; or click Schedule meeting)
After clicking Schedule meeting complete the form as appropriate, then scroll to the bottom and click Save.
Finally, from the Class Meetings screen, click on the title of the meeting you just created. This will add it to your Table of Contents (and automatically to the Course Schedule)
There are [at least] four different ways that you can give your students access to Bongo meetings. See the accordions below.
All meetings (immediate or scheduled) are automatically added to the Course Schedule. To access Bongo in this way, students should navigate to the Course Schedule on the left side of the unit/module page
From there, students can select the appropriate meeting and click on the link to access the Bongo interface
Alternatively, students can reach meeting links via the navbar: Communication and Collaboration > Virtual Classroom > Select appropriate meeting > Launch
Clicking on Virtual Classroom opens the Meetings screen. To join a meeting, students should click on the Actions menu (circled)
From the Actions menu, select Launch
If you created a meeting using the Existing Activities menu when in the Table of Contents, students accessing the particular area of the Table of Contents will see a link they can click on
Clicking on the meeting link will take them to a Meeting Lobby Page. This page features a variety of guidance. When ready, they should click on Enter Meeting Room
There is one final way you can give students access to a scheduled Bongo meeting. In the html editor (e.g. as part of the Create a File screen) you can use the Insert Quicklink option and then select Virtual Classroom from that list. This way you can make a link to a meeting part of a larger item.
From the popup, scroll down to Virtual Classroom; then select the meeting you want by clicking on its title
This is what students would see in this case
Instructor and student experience
On entering a meeting the first thing that all participants are asked is ‘How would you like to join the audio?’ Microphone or Listen Only.
If participation is likely select Microphone (Note: if you choose Listen Only and then want to change your mind during the meeting, you can do so). You will then hear an ‘echo test’ message. If you could hear it, click Yes.
You are now in the meeting room. If you wish to add video to your call, click on the Video menu button at the foot of the screen and agree to Share webcam.
Like many virtual classroom tools, with Bongo you can upload a presentation, annotate the screen, share your screen, and poll the audience.
As is the case with Collaborate, anything we create here - although accurate and contextualised for UHI - is just scraping the surface when compared with the official guidance available from Bongo.
So please, visit and bookmark the Bongo Virtual Classroom guidance page.The page opposite covers everything from the basics of setting up a meeting, to recording, and troubleshooting.
Bongo makes it very easy to record meetings, with a single click to start.
When you join a Bongo meeting as an Instructor you will see, at the top of the screen the phrase 'Not recording'
To begin recording, simply click on Not recording
After clicking Not recording, you will see the message at the top of the screen has changed to Recording
To end a recording, click on Recording. This will bring up a popup message. If you are sure you want to stop recording, select STOP RECORDING
There are two ways that staff and students can access recordings in Bongo. Firstly, via the Navbar. To do this, go to Communication and Collaboration > Virtual Classroom. At the bottom of the screen you will see a list of any available recordings.
To access a recording, click on the Actions menu at the right side of the screen. From there you can either preview, copy a public url (which you can share with the students via an announcement or email) or download.
Alternatively, if you choose to record a meeting, simply returning to the link in the Table of Contents and clicking on the link will launch the recording.
The recording will include any screen sharing, uploaded files and chat messages.