Quick Guide: Effective Practices for Class Collaborate Webinars

Getting ready to use Collaborate

  • Use a hard-wired (Ethernet) connection, if available.

    • If using Wifi, try to be as close to the router as possible.

  • Close all other programs INCLUDING streaming services on your computer except for the browser you are using for your Collaborate session.

  • Only use up-to-date Internet browsers that are supported by Blackboard Collaborate.  

Planning your session

  • Tell students how to find the session and share any expectations you have from them during the session. Review any netiquette guidelines with your students.

  • Always let your students join the session 10-15 minutes early to give them a chance to get familiar with the room and what they can and can't do.

  • If you are having a guest speaker, make them a presenter in your session. Presenters can share their screens and upload images or presentation files, but can't modify other users' permissions the way a moderator can. 

  • When creating a session you can choose what participant permissions you want to allow in Session Settings. You can turn on or off a participant's ability to chat, share video, share audio, and draw on shared files or the whiteboard.

  • Avoid sharing your guest link via email or social media. Guest links are public links so anybody with the link can join your session. Students should use the join link in the course, NOT the guest link.

Ready to deliver your session?

  • Turn your presentations into PDFs and upload it into to Collaborate. PDFs put minimal demand on a network. 

  • Keep sessions short. Record your presentation and share it with your attendees beforehand. Give them time to think on it and use the session to discuss.

  • Have poll text ready. If you plan to run a poll, have the text you want to use ready so you can just copy and paste.

  • Join the session early yourself and practice using the tools.

  • Check your audio and video, especially if you plan to use them.

  • Give participants a few minutes to join before starting as they may be coming from other live sessions or have connection problems. Or they may be new to Collaborate and learning how to use the tool.

Facilitate live discussions

  • Leverage feedback indicators: These icons let students tell you and the session how they feel about something said or shared in the session. These include happy/sad, surprised/confused, agree/disagree.

  • Limit video use. Use video during the session only when necessary.

  • If you are sharing your video, look at the camera and not the session. It may feel weird but it helps participants feel more like they are a part of the session and less isolated.

  • Limit application sharing. Share applications and screens only when necessary.

  • Highlight key points in your presentation. Move through presentations using the arrows available. Use the annotation tools on the whiteboard or in presentations to add text, pointers, or different shapes.

  • Be aware of ambient noise (televisions, barking dogs, flushing toilets, doorbells). If someone is speaking, make sure people in the space around know not to interrupt.

  • If you plan on a very long Collaborate session, build in time for breaks so participants can stretch, get something to eat or drink, use the bathroom, or take a mental break.

Managing students

  • If you have a large course, try to have a co-moderator – another instructor or a TA. If you do not have these as an option, identify students who can rotate this role in the live session. Create a shared Google Doc where the student moderator can record questions that you can answer in the session at an appropriate time. 

    • If you do not have a co-moderator, some instructors have students raise their hands to ask questions or use private chat to ask a moderator a question directly.

  • If possible, keep the attendees panel open. You can tell who is away, has their microphone on, or is having network connection trouble. Monitor connection status of attendees to see if anyone may be missing anything. 

  • Remind students to check their microphone buttons in the session. When participants do not need to talk, they should turn their microphones OFF.

  • Remove unwanted or disruptive attendees. Point to an attendee in the Attendees panel and select Attendee controls. Select Remove from session.

  • Remind students that their peers and/or instructor are also working from home and they may have children in the same space. Let your audience know if content will be sensitive, especially if you think minors may be in the background. 

  • Anyone who is asked to share video should check the background area to avoid inappropriate content within view.

  • Remind students to set their away message if they need to temporarily step away from the session. 

Consider accessibility

  • Whatever files you share in Collaborate, make sure it is accessible. Use Blackboard Ally's accessibility checklist.

  • Give attendees access to whatever content you plan to share before the session. Allow users the chance to review materials so they can participate more fully during a session. For example, share your presentation files or a recording of your lecture. Give attendees time to think on the material. Then use the session to discuss.

  • Upload presentations to Collaborate. Screen reader users can access text from PowerPoint and PDF files shared in the session. This provides an easy way to follow along as slides change. Moderators and presenters must select Share Files and upload the files to Collaborate for screen readers to access the text.

  • Describe edits on the whiteboard or within applications for attendees with visual impairments.

  • Assign someone to be a captioner during the live session or add captions to the recording later.

  • Share materials from the session right away. Put recordings, presentations files, and transcripts where attendees can find them and review. Share the material right away. Give students the maximum amount of time possible to review before the next session or any quizzes, tests, and so on.

After your session

  • Post the recording link so attendees can review what they may have missed.

  • Upload presentations and scripts to your course where attendees can find them.

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