I am quite excited about the upcoming release of Blackboard Collaborate Ultra. Blackboard Collaborate is a synchronous communication tool that has been available at VIU for some time now. It is most similar to familiar programs such as Skype, which allows real time audio communication, allowing the use of a webcam as well as desktop and application sharing.
We offer Blackboard Collaborate because it scales well, meaning it can support many users in one session. Additional the service is hosted in Canada in full compliance with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Furthermore the program integrates well with our VIULearn learning management system (Desire2Learn) so faculty can easily set up a room and create invitations to students on their class list.
Blackboard Collaborate allows you to connect synchronously with students while not sharing the same physical location. The service is actively used to support fully online programs but it is also used in blended programs, for facilitating student collaborative projects and for maintaining virtual office hours.
The Blackboard Collaborate Ultra experience is a modernization of the Collaborate user experience. For users familiar with the service this means no longer does one need to install Java or use a launcher to access sessions. The service now runs from within the browser.
Check out the video below for an overview of the new service.
Here is what we know so far about availability and considerations for use:
- The service will be available for testing in mid to late July.
- Integrations for Desire2Learn may be available in late summer.
- Chrome is the suggested browser for best experience. Chrome is the only browser which appears to support screen and resource sharing so will be required for moderators.
- The service is entirely browser-based. No downloads or installs are required.
- Some features of Collaborate are not available in the new service, including Polling, Breakout rooms, Timer and Plan
- The service is recommend to support only up to 50 participants.
If you are interested in learning more about the Blackboard Collaborate ultra Experience please see the resources available from Blackboard here. We will begin testing the new software this summer and have an update for active Collaborate users on the availability for use in August 2015.