Blackboard Collaborate Ultra

Please note: Ongoing Blackboard Collaborate Issue (last update: 24/01/2019)

Blackboard Collaborate is failing to connect to sessions when accessed via USW on-campus wifi or wired network – connects normally using mobile data or external wifi. This is being investigated by Networks team as a suspected firewall issue.

Collaborate Ultra does not require Java or Launcher installation however a WebRTC Supported Browser is Recommended

For full updated system requirements for suppported browsers and screen readers, please visit the System Requirements for Collaborate Ultra Blackboard page

To make best use of the Collaborate Room, you will need the following equipment as a minimum requirement:

  • A microphone and headset for sound (ideally combined as a single headset)
  • A webcam for video.

To access Collaborate, you will need to select the module in Blackboard that relates to the group you wish to collaborate with. Once in the module, from the list of Module Minimum Guidelines you will need to choose Communication and Tools and select the tool called 'Blackboard Collaborate Ultra’.

When first time users log in to the Collaborate, they are walked through how to set up their devices for audio and video, how to set their profiles, and how to turn on their audio and video.

To support accessibility, Collaborate Ultra has additional keyboard shortcuts, including:

  • To turn the microphone on and off, press Alt + M.
  • To turn the camera on and off, press Alt + C.
  • To raise and lower your hand, press Alt + H.
  • To move to the next slide, press Alt + Page Up. On a Mac, press Alt + Fn + Up Arrow.
  • To move back a slide, press Alt + Page Down. On a Mac, press Alt + Fn + Down Arrow.

Click a link below to navigate to that section on the page.


User Roles

Moderator: Users with this role have full control over all content being shared. They can make any participant a presenter or a moderator and can remove participants from a session, but they cannot remove other moderators. Moderators can set session settings, including deciding what participants can and can’t do.

Presenter: This is a new role to Collaborate, that is designed to allow students to present to the room without needing to give them full moderator privileges. Presenters can upload, share, and edit content.

Participant: Users with this role have, by default, few privileges within the room. The moderator of the session determines the participant privileges.

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The User Interface

The Collaborate with the Ultra Experience room looks very different to that in the Classic version, but still contains many of the Classic features which are now presented to the user via a more streamlined intuitive and aesthetic interface.

The image below shows the current default Ultra Room screen.

ultra participant screen

The interface explained

The My Settings button (the head icon with a green tick) allows you to check your Audio & Video and Notification settings. You can also change your status to 'Away’ from here, should you need to step away from the room.

The Microphone and Camera icons allow you to switch your audio and video sharing on and off so that you can be seen and/or heard by the rest of the room.

To test your audio and/or video, click on the Share buttons for the first time and you will go to a test page to make sure your settings are correct (see image below). This will allow you to check your settings for both audio and video are as you would wish before you begin your session.

The Hand icon allows you to virtually raise your hand to notify people in the room that you wish to make a point to the rest of the room, either via the chat or audio/video options.

The purple arrow icon on the right side of the screen will open the More Tools sidebar.

More tools

The more tools sidebar contains four screens of options which can be accessed using the icons at the bottom of the sidebar.

The Open Chat button shows the chat panel allowing the user to text-chat with others within the room.

The Participants List button will show a list of other participants within the room.

The Share Content button shows the Sharing Content panel. This allows you to create a virtual whiteboard, to share your view of an application or to share files with participants in the room.

To add an Image, Powerpoint presentation or PDF to the screen, you will need to click on the 'Share Files’ option. From here you will be able to search for a file and upload it, or simply drag and drop your chosen file into the selection area:

Share Files

The Settings button allows users to customise their use of Ultra including audio/video settings, notifications, and (for the moderator) session settings (ie. what the moderator allows or doesn’t allow participants to do within the room).

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Stepping Away from the Session

If at any point any of the session participants need to step away from the session, they can do so by going to their settings and clicking on the drop-down arrow, as indicated in the picture below. This then allows the participant to 'Set as Away’ (effectively showing them as away from the session). To return to the session, participants need to click on the 'I’m Back!’ button which will remain on their screen as a pop-up window for the duration of the absence from the room.

Stepping Away

For more information for moderators, please see this external resource on Collaborate with the Ultra Experience.

Also take a look at this video to view an example of classroom collaboration using Blackboard Collaborate with the Ultra Experience.