Blackboard Collaborate Ultra - Getting Started for Instructors (UW-Madison)

This document is written for instructors, and includes links to other documents and information about how to access BbCU through Canvas, configuring sessions, navigating the session, and recording those sessions. For Technical Assistants, please see: Blackboard Collaborate Ultra - Getting Started for Technical Assistants (UW-Madison).

    Blackboard Collaborate Ultra (BbCU) is a web conferencing tool available to UW-Madison instructors through UW-System's license. It's a useful tool for hosting and recording synchronous (in-person, real-time) web conferencing sessions and integrates well with Canvas. For these and other reasons, BbCU is a recommended tool for continuity of instruction, particularly for hosting synchronous sessions with students.

    Please note that by default BbCU can only support sessions with up to 250 participants. If you need to use BbCU for a larger event, please review this document: Blackboard Collaborate Ultra - What to expect with large attendance events (250+ participants). For events larger than 500 participants, we highly encourage you to consider asynchronous delivery (recorded lectures for students to view later). If you need to provide synchronous lectures, consider Webex Events.

    We strongly encourage that you record any lecture or discussion on Ultra to share with students who may have trouble joining a session or be unavailable at that time. More on recording below.

    Accessing Blackboard Collaborate Ultra through Canvas

    • Canvas - Accessing Blackboard Ultra in Canvas (UW-Madison). This document details how instructors can access BbCU and set up sessions for their students to join. Notably, students cannot set up Ultra web conferencing sessions, they can only join conferences set up by their instructors. Every course in Canvas has a default "Room" in Ultra already created. You can use the default room or create additional session(s) as needed.
    • Students are able to access BbCU and join sessions in Canvas by navigating to the "BB Collaborate Ultra" in their Canvas Course's navigation menu.
    • Students who are on mobile can follow the instructions in this document to access Blackboard Collaborate Ultra on a mobile device: Blackboard Collaborate Ultra - How to Access from a Mobile Device (UW-Madison). For information about how to call in, users can refer to this help document.
    • Whenever possible, we recommend that Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox be used to access BbCU since they are supported browsers.
    • Make sure that you (and your students) have sufficient internet bandwidth to use Blackboard collaboration. You can review those requirements here: Blackboard Collaborate Ultra: Bandwidth Requirements.

    Setting up BbCU Sessions

    Managing a Session with a Technical Assistant

    Due to the complexity of using BbCU to deliver content, we recommend if possible having two people moderating a session. One person should focus on delivering the content or facilitating the discussion while the other focuses on technical issues and managing the participants. Your Department, School or College may have some student workers or local IT support who could serve as Technical Assistants. You could also ask a fellow instructor to be your Technical Assistant and vice-versa. You should discuss ahead of time what you would like the Technical Assistant to manage and what you will take care of.
    • You do not need to enroll Technical Assistant in your Canvas Course, simply send them a Guest Link to your BbCU session. (Note: because all Blackboard sessions are launched through an LTI integration with Canvas, you can only send a Guest Link, you cannot send a personal invitation as mentioned in the linked document)
    • Once they are in the session, you can promote your Technical Assistant to be a Moderator and help you facilitate the session. (Scroll down to "Promote Attendee" in this document)
    • You can communicate with your Technical Assistant, or other Moderators, in a Moderator only chat. (Instructions on the same page as above)

    Navigating the BbCU Session

    • Getting started with Ultra (Get familiar with layout and features, Use Audio/Video, Telephony, Profile Pic).
    • Learn what, and how you can share (Application Sharing, Screen sharing, powerpoint, whiteboard, content editing tools, timer)
    • How to manage participants (including role permissions and session attendance report). Role permissions is also something that can be easily passed off to a technical assistant so you can focus more on delivering the content.

    Recording the BbCU Session

    • Follow this link to learn more about recording in BbCU. If you click on “Allow Recording downloads” in the session settings, you and your students can download the recording as an mp4. 
    • Accessing Session Recordings. This document details how to access BbCU session recordings in Canvas after the session is over.

    Protecting Student Privacy

    Since you will be working with student data, please take some time to review the documents below pertaining to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

    If you have additional questions about FERPA please contact the UW-Madison Registrar’s Office.

    Additional Links and resources

    • If you are experiencing any technical problems with BbCU, click here for troubleshooting and to get help.
    • For real-time technical help, it is probably best to reach out directly to Blackboard with your issue.
    • You can also always contact the DoIT Help Desk.
    • For a quick-reference sheet of best practices for using Ultra, please click here.
    • Learn more about Ultra and accessibility (including Live Closed Captioning).
    • If your enrollment is between 250 and 500, please contact the DoIT Help Desk to provide 72 hours of advance notice and receive extra support.
    • If your course enrollment is above 500, it is recommended that you do not host synchronous sessions. Instead, consider asynchronous delivery.

    See Also: