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 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.
- 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.
- If you are not enrolled in the course and an instructor would like you to serve as their Technical Assistant, ask them to send you a Guest Link for the BbCU session.
- Once you are in the session, make sure the instructor promotes you to "Moderator" so you can help facilitate the session. Make sure to discuss with the instructor ahead of time what you will be managing and what they need help with.
- 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.
Navigating and assisting instructors during the session
- Have the instructor invite you as a moderator. Since students should be able to join the course via Canvas, instructors can add you as a moderator using the Guest Link.
- Getting started with Collaborate Ultra: This document describes the session interface and features. It also describes how to use audio/video and over-the-phone call-in options.
- Learn what, and how you can share (Application Sharing, Screen sharing, PowerPoint, whiteboard, content editing tools)
- How to manage participants Review this article to learn about all the different ways you can manage attendees in a BbCU session (including muting, monitoring the chat, role permissions, and session attendance report).
- Be sure to watch for students who are using the 'Raise Hand' feature so that they questions are answered.
- Be sure to review this document about Audio and Video to help troubleshoot any issues the instructor or students may have.
- Blackboard also maintains this troubleshooting portal with helpful links for troubleshooting issues in BbCU.
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).
- The UW-Madison Registrar's Office maintains a website with a helpful overview of FERPA and links to other information about protecting student privacy.
- We strongly encourage you to also review this page with FERPA Tips for UW-Madison Faculty and Staff.
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.