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Blackboard Help

What's New

We're continually evolving to improve your learning experience.

In this release we focused on giving moderators the ability to mute participants. We also focused on making improvements to the Participants panel and Breakout Groups.

Mute participants

Moderators can mute individual participants or everyone in a session. This includes participants using Bb Student.

You are notified, if a moderator has muted you.

More on managing participants for moderators

Improvements to the Participants panel & Breakout Groups

  • 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.
How it looks in the Participants panel
How it looks in Breakout Groups

​What's new in review

What's new in review

Release date What was new
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
  • Moderators can poll participants in their sessions. They can use a poll where you choose yes or no as your answer. They can also select to give you 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 Telephone conference 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 for moderators.
  • 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:
  • 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. Administrators and instructors can turn it off.

  • 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 other 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 the 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.

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
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.
  • 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 for moderators.
  • 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 moderators share PowerPoint® or PDF presentations in Collaborate they can preview all of their slides and jump directly to the exact slide they want to show. Click the presentation name to open the slide navigator panel. To learn more, see how to share content for moderators.
  • Make content bigger: Double-click files, applications, and whiteboards that others share with you to zoom in. Grab and move the content to see what you need to.
  • 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 for moderators.
  • 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 learning experience. To learn more, see Use The Tools.
  • Record Sessions: Moderators can now record sessions and share with participants. To learn more, see Record Sessions for moderators.
  • Snap a Photo: Take a photo of yourself to use as your profile picture. Crop it just where 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.
  • 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 how to get around in Collaborate.
  • Use Collaborate in Your Course: Collaborate is now available from most courses. To learn more, see 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 moderator’s. To learn more, see live closed captioning.