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Blackboard Help

What's New

We're continually evolving to improve your teaching and learning experience.

In this release we focused on supporting WebRTC in Firefox, increasing session sizes, and updating the recording player.

Firefox Update - Support for WebRTC

Enjoy the benefits of WebRTC using the Firefox® browser. With this addition, Collaborate now supports the WebRTC experience in both Google ChromeTM and Mozilla Firefox and the Flash® experience in Microsoft Internet Explorer® and Apple Safari® browsers.

The WebRTC experience in Firefox provides an almost identical experience with Chrome. This means moderators can now do the following on their Firefox browsers.

  • Share applications
  • Share their desktop
  • View two videos at one time
  • View videos in both grid and follow-the-speaker views

Firefox version 49 or higher is required for the WebRTC experience.

More on setting up audio, video, and desktop sharing in Firefox 49 and higher

Invite 250 of your closest peers!

Want to present to a larger group? You can now host sessions that have up to 250 participants attending.

New recording player

The recording player now has the same look and feel as your Collaborate session. We've updated the interface to make it easier to use and more accessible.

  • There is a Recording menu similar to the Session menu in your live sessions. From here you can download the full recording, get extra help or report an issue if you are having trouble with the recording.
  • Closed captions play with the recording.
  • Playback controls are intuitive and include access to captions, if they are available.

More on the new recording player

Visual Updates

Based on your feedback we've made a couple of enhancements.

  • We changed the hand raise icon to use an image that represents all cultures in our global community.
  • We updated the image displayed when you are the only person in the room. It is now more responsive.
  • We've given the Present/Away icon better color contrast so it is more accessible.
  • We've made the Scheduler calendar control easier to use. It now automatically sets the end date to the selected start date.

What's new in review

What's new in review

Release date What was new
October 2016
  • Mute participants: Moderators can mute individual participants or everyone in a session. This includes participants using Bb Student. To learn more, see Managing participants.
  • In Breakout groups we removed the Add participants to room button for each group. Moderators can use the drag-and-drop options to move participants in and out of groups.
  • We've also grouped users in a session by role. Users can now view participant information, such as network connection, when they point to a user in the Participant panel.
September 2016 Persistent content: Now moderators can prep for class at the beginning of the week, or even at the start of the semester. After creating a session, moderators can open it any time and load the files they want to share. These files stay in the session until deleted by a moderator. Collaborate shows the status of the file uploading and converting so moderators know when it's ready to share.
August 2016 Moderators can now create breakout groups.

Moderators can choose student groupings or allow Collaborate to randomly group students for them. They can also choose to let participants switch to another group, and even join a particular breakout group to help facilitate collaboration. 

In a group, participants experience a face-to-face collaborative environment. They can use Collaborate's high quality video and audio. They can chat just in the group or send messages to the whole class. They can share files and collaborate on the whiteboard together. And if they use Google ChromeTM, they can also share applications.

For ChromeTM users, please update to Chrome version 52 to ensure Breakout Groups function as expected.

More on breakout groups for moderators

July 2016
  • Now you can poll participants in your session to keep them engaged and interested. You can use a poll where participants choose yes or no as their answer. You can also select to give participants two, three, four, or five responses to choose from. To learn more, see Polling.
  • We introduced you to the new look and feel of Blackboard Collaborate. Imagine walking into a room designed for collaboration. Content gets more space. High level actions and information are conveniently grouped. You can engage with participants in new ways.
  • We now have alternate teleconference numbers for Collaborate hosted from European or Australian data centers. Users in these areas can dial one of these numbers instead of the default number presented in their session. To learn more, see Teleconference Phone Numbers.
June 2016
  • Session attendance report: Now moderators can access a Session attendance report that tells them when participants joined and left their sessions. This report also gives moderators an idea of how long participants were present in the session. With this knowledge, moderators can check in with participants to see if they were having any technical issues or need a quick review of what was presented and discussed. To learn more, see Reports.
  • Collaborate with the Ultra experience now supports Irish Gaelic.
  • Windows® touch devices such as the Surface can now participate in a Collaborate session. Users can choose to use either the Bb Student mobile app or the browser.
  • We've optimized bandwidth consumption so sessions now require less bandwidth! We did this by mixing the audio channels together. Sessions now only need a single 62kbps audio stream. This enhancement also improves your audio experience for sessions on any device and including where several people are having a conversation.

    Optimized bandwidth consumption is deployed to the U.S. data center in this release. It will be deployed to other data centers in a future release.

May 2016
  • Emoji update: The emoji pack for Collaborate with the Ultra experience now supports diversified emojis and Unicode-8 characters. Use one of five supported skin tones on any human emoji. Add underscore, tone, and the supported tone number (1 through 5) to your emoji when typing. Don't forget the colons on either end of your emoji text. Example: :wave_tone5:

    using chat in your sessions.

  • Dedicated course room for LTI integrations: Blackboard Collaborate with the Ultra experience provides a rich set of integration options for your Learning Management Systems (LMS) and Virtual Learning Environments (VLE). The LTI-based integration now offers a dedicated Collaborate Ultra Course Room. This makes it easier for moderators to use Collaborate with the Ultra experience in their LMS/VLE courses. It also provides moderators and participants a convenient launch point for classes or impromptu meetings.

    The dedicated course room is on by default. You can turn it off at the institution and course levels. To learn more, see Turn off dedicated course room.

  • An improved create session workflow in the Collaborate with Ultra experience Scheduler and LTI User Interface (UI).
  • The URL displayed in the ChromeTM desktop sharing extension sends users to a Blackboard page that includes a link to
  • The Scheduler UI now includes a Full Name email invitation option.
April 2016
  • Improved echo cancelation in the Google ChromeTM client.
  • We've made it even easier to get going with your microphone and camera! Collaborate now lets you know when you've got everything set up right and are ready to start speaking.
  • Internet Explorer® (IE) users can now drag-and-drop entire folders of content into Collaborate.
March 2016
  • The March 2016 release is maintenance release. In this release we focused on resolving quality issues to continually improve your experience. Check back on March 21 to learn more. Notable improvements include:
    • Increase quality of application sharing when shared from large monitors.
    • Resolved a rare issue in Chrome where the microphone would appear to be working but audio was not heard.
    • Resolved an issue where Internet Explorer 11 was not respecting the language setting
    • Additional locale support
    • Blackboard has confirmed that Freedom Scientific has resolved an issue in the JAWS screen reader where content changes in ARIA live regions were not being announced. The issue was originally reported to Blackboard as chat messages not being announced. This fix is in JAWS version 17.0.1539.
  • Collaborate with the Ultra experience now supports Finnish and Norwegian as language preferences.
February 2016
  • See who is speaking and who has their audio turned on: Microphones appear next to participants who have their audio turned on. A dark microphone is used to represent the current speaker. As with the follow-the speaker view, the dark microphone moves to the current speaker as the discussion unfolds.To learn more, see Use the Camera and Video.
  • Know when you are "on air": Collaborate tells you when others in the session can see your video. If you see an eye, others see your video in the center of their screen. If you see an eye while content is shared, others see your video as their picture-in-picture. To learn more, see Use the Camera and Video.
  • See network information for your participants: You can tell at-a-glance who is in your session and who might be having trouble connecting. New indicators have been added that tell you when someone is in the process of joining your session, if users are connected and how their connection is. Hover your pointer over participants in the Participant panel to see the indicators. To learn more, see Network Connection.
  • Experience more guidance around using your phone: Based on your feedback we added guidance moments and reduced steps to make it easier to use your phone when connected to a session. To learn more, see Call Into a Session.
  • Enjoy better quality in your recordings: You asked for better quality in your recordings. So we applied better smoothing and a higher bit rate to improve the quality of text in recordings with shared applications.
  • ​Nau (that's Maori for "welcome"): Collaborate sessions with the Ultra experience now support native Maori speakers!

    Maori is only supported in sessions. The scheduler is not supported at this time.

January 2016 The January 2016 release is a maintenance release. In this release we focused on resolving quality issues to continually improve your experience. We also made the following improvements.
  • Improved telephone call quality
  • Resolved several user interface (UI) issues affecting certain locales
  • Resolved several UI issues affecting the JAWS screen reader
  • Resolved a video layout issue affecting participants using the Bb Student app mobile app

More on the maintenance release for administrators

December 2015
  • Call into a session: Now moderators and participants can call into a session using their phone. Each phone user is identified as a full session participant. No more wondering who is speaking on the phone line. A great benefit for students with less than ideal internet conditions. To learn more, see Call Into a Session.
  • Bb Student: Collaborate with the Ultra experience is included in Bb Student for iOS and Android devices. Moderators need to use Collaborate with the Ultra experience in order for participants to collaborate in Bb Student. Collaborate with the Original experience is not supported. To learn more, see Bb Student for participants.
  • Meet with up to 100 participants: Host sessions with up to 100 participants! You can now use Ultra for those larger class sizes. With the first term in 2016 right around the corner, we suggest updating your virtual class experience to Ultra so students can benefit the fully browser-based, high quality Ultra experience.
  • Have a private chat with other moderators: Moderators can now chat with each other in a private chat channel while in session. Collaborate makes it really easy to switch between chatting with moderators and chatting with everyone in the session. To learn more, see Use Chat.
  • A new scheduling experience: You can now enjoy a new look and feel with scheduling sessions and viewing recordings in 26 different languages! After switching to the Ultra experience of the scheduler you'll encounter an intuitive design for scheduling sessions in the Ultra experience and viewing recordings. You can easily switch back and forth between scheduling Ultra experience and Original experience of Collaborate (12.6) sessions any time. You'll also get a basic profile page where you can edit your account information - without the Java plugin! To learn more, see Schedule Sessions From the Scheduler.
  • A new experience in LTI compatible LMS: >If you are using Collaborate in your Learning Tools Interoperability® (LTI) compliant Learning Management System (LMS) you enjoy the new look and feel of the Ultra scheduling experience automatically. Schedule sessions and view recordings from your course. To learn more, see Schedule Sessions In Your LTI Course.
  • User experience improvements:We hear you. Many of you have requested some user experience improvements over the past few months. We've added a few of these in this December update, including:
    • The whiteboard eraser is now only available to moderators. Participants can select and erase their own annotation.
    • The whiteboard pointer now remains enabled when progressing through slides and images.
    • There is now a chat notification sound and setting.
November 2015
  • Help make Collaborate better: Your session experience is important to us. Knowing if your session was excellent, good, or poor helps us make Collaborate even better. We've made it easier to tell us what it was like. Click Leave Session and share your experience with us. If the experience was good or lower, please tell us what type of issues you had. This is entirely optional and will not open a support case or prompt a follow up.
  • One-click presence: Change your status with one click. Click Set as Away to let others know you are away. Click I'm back! when you return.
  • Microsoft® Edge browser is now supported: Participants can now join sessions from Windows 10 using the Edge browser. The experience is equivalent to Internet Explorer® and is supported by the Flash® plugin.
  • Minimize your content resizing tools: You can now expand and minimize your content resizing tools reducing the clutter on your screen.
October 2015
  • Improved audio experience: Collaborate now accommodates for lower bandwidth or network latency when sending audio. This reduces the occasional robotic sounding voices so other people can hear you better. While we were at it, we also fixed the the occasional drop in audio when the active speaker switches.
  • More control over making content bigger: Now you have more than one option for making shared content bigger. Introducing the content resizing tools. To learn more, see Use The Tools.
    • Best Fit: Take advantage of your screen real estate. Content adjusts to be completely viewable in the available area. It displays as large as possible while keeping the aspect ratio intact.
    • Actual Size: Return the image to the original size.
    • Zoom in: Make the content bigger. Move the content around to see everything.
    • Zoom out: Make the content smaller.
September 2015
  • Jump to a specific slide: Now when you share PowerPoint® or PDF presentations in Collaborate you can preview all of your slides and jump directly to the exact slide you want to show. Click the presentation name to open the slide navigator panel. To learn more, see how to share content.
  • Make content bigger: Double-click files, applications, and whiteboards that you share or others share with you to zoom in. Grab and move the content to see what you need to. To learn more, see how to share content.
  • We added color: It's not just for looks. Now you can quickly see what is on by it's color! When you select a tool the color changes to indicate it is on.
  • Download your recordings: Session Administrator System (SAS) and Learning Tools Interoperability® (LTI) users can now download recordings from the SAS user interface as well as on the recording play back page. Moderators must allow session recording downloads for each session. Open a session's Session Settings and check Allow download recording. Any recordings made in this session can be downloaded while downloads are allowed. To learn more, see Recordings.
  • Low bandwidth management: Don't miss out because of your connection! Collaborate adapts to your connection speed and network limitations making sure you can still see and hear what's important. To learn more, see Low Bandwidth Management for administrators.
  • Accessibility update: You'll see significant improvement in the use of assistive technology with this latest version of Collaborate. Formal compliance documentation is coming soon! To learn more about accessibility, see Accessibility.
August 2015
  • Updated Look: We've done some rearranging in our menus and added new features. All to improve your collaborative experience. To learn more, see Find Your Way Around.
  • Record Sessions: You can now record your sessions. Review them later or share with participants who couldn't attend. To learn more, see Record Sessions.
  • Snap a Photo: Take a photo of yourself to use as your profile picture. Crop it how you want it and save. Looking good! To learn more, see how to add a profile picture.
  • Control Your Volume: Set your personal speaker and microphone volume. To learn more, see how to set up your audio.
  • Create Recurring Sessions: Set your sessions to repeat and get moderator and guest links for sessions from the System Administration Server (SAS). To learn more, see SAS Environment.
  • Get a Closer Look: Adjust your view of shared files and the whiteboard. Zoom in to make it easier to see. To learn more, see Share Content.
  • Use Collaborate in Your Course: Collaborate is now available from most courses. To learn more, see Use in Your Course.
June 2015
  • Live closed captioning: Live closed captioning was made available in the Ultra experience. This provides accessible alternatives to audio content and can improve the learning experience for students who are deaf and hard of hearing, as well as for students whose native language is different from the speaker’s. To learn more, see live closed captioning.