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Overview of Blackboard Collaborate

Overview of Blackboard Collaborate

Blackboard Collaborate web conferencing is a Java-based client/server application.

The Blackboard Collaborate client is launched through a web browser interface, using Oracle's Java Web Start™. Java Web Start downloads the Blackboard Collaborate JAR files and then starts the Blackboard Collaborate client.

An Blackboard Collaborate server acts as a hub connecting Blackboard Collaborate clients in common session rooms. Each Blackboard Collaborate server can host multiple sessions.

For creating and managing sessions and users, we include ELM, a part of the standard configuration for Blackboard Collaborate. When ELM is installed, you have the ability to integrate the Blackboard Collaborate server with various adapters.

Furthermore, ELM, when coupled with the ELM Standard Bridge API, allows you to create your own adapter to integrate with an application of choice. (To acquire the ELM Standard Bridge API documentation, please contact your Blackboard Collaborate sales representative.)

The major components of Blackboard Collaborate are summarized below.

The Blackboard Collaborate Server

The Blackboard Collaborate server runs as a service on a Windows and as a Daemon process on Linux and Solaris. The Blackboard Collaborate server accepts client connections on one or more specified TCP/IP Conference Ports and validates a user’s identification. An authorized participant has a single connection to the Blackboard Collaborate server and can join with other participants in a session.

When a participant interacts with others in the session with Audio (VoIP or teleconferencing), Video, Chat, Application Sharing, Web Tour, the Whiteboard, etc., data is sent from that participant through this single connection to the Blackboard Collaborate server. The server routes the data to all other session participants through their own individual connections. To accommodate participants that may have varying connection speeds, the Blackboard Collaborate server manages the bandwidth of all data transfers within the session.

The Blackboard Collaborate Client

An Blackboard Collaborate client is a virtual collaboration environment on a Windows, Macintosh or Ubuntu system. The Blackboard Collaborate client is automatically downloaded, launched, and connected to a specific session on an Blackboard Collaborate server when the user clicks on the appropriate link in a browser.


ELM is a powerful and flexible tool for creating and managing Blackboard Collaborate sessions, users and recordings. It was designed to meet the needs of organizations to get running quickly and easily with Blackboard Collaborate by allowing them to leverage their existing infrastructure.

ELM is accessed from a web page using a standard web browser (with scripting enabled). Some of the ELM features are the following:

  • User authentication and lookup from LDAP (v3 servers), including Active Directory
  • Creation and management of scheduled and repeating sessions
  • iCal notifications for sessions
  • Creation and management of Participants, Moderators, and Administrators
  • Creation and management of lists of users
  • Management and protection of recordings
  • Playback of version 5.0, 6.0, 6.5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 recordings
  • Smart scheduling of Blackboard Collaborate sessions over multiple Blackboard Collaborate servers
  • Access to online help pages


Mckoi SQL Database is an SQL (Structured Query Language) database management system that was written for the Java platform. The Mckoi database is the default database that is installed with ELM. It will store data from ELM.

Oracle 10g, Oracle 11g, MySQL 5, Microsoft SQL Server 2005 and Microsoft SQL Server 2008 are the other supported databases that can be used with ELM.

Mckoi SQL Database Acknowledgement

The Mckoi Database Management System (DBMS) is bundled in ELM under a special license arrangement with Diehl and Associates. Any use of the Mckoi DBMS outside this application is governed by the GNU General Public License located at the following webpage:

Blackboard Collaborate Standard Bridge

This is a new style of bridge that, with its standardized API, is used for all of Blackboard Collaborate’s LMS integrations except for Blackboard Learn integrations (see below). When installing ELM, you may install this bridge to enable your users to create and record Blackboard Collaborate sessions for their LMS courses.

Blackboard Collaborate Bridge for Blackboard Learn

When installing ELM, a special adapter for the Blackboard Learn can be installed to enable Blackboard Enterprise License users to create Blackboard Collaborate sessions for their courses. Sessions and their recordings are easily accessible to students and instructors.

Blackboard Collaborate Bridge for Blackboard Learn – Vista/CE

When installing ELM, a special adapter for the Blackboard Collaborate Bridge for the Blackboard Learn Vista/CE can be installed to enable Blackboard Vista/CE users to call up ELM via the Blackboard Vista/CE server and create Blackboard Collaborate sessions for their courses. Sessions and their recordings are easily accessible to students and instructors.

To enable Blackboard Vista/CE, a hosted instance needs to be created to house all the Blackboard Vista/CE sessions.

Supporting Products

Blackboard Collaborate also has the following products to improve your productivity or leverage your existing applications.

Java Access Bridge

The Java™ Access Bridge is a technology that enables assistive technologies (such as screen readers, magnifiers, etc.) to make use of the Java Accessibility API in the Java 2 platform and, thereby, provide access to Java applications and applets.

The Java Access Bridge for the Microsoft Windows operating system consists of a pair of Windows DLLs (dynamic link libraries) and a Java language class file, which together make a bridge for the Java Accessibility API between the Java virtual machine and the Microsoft Windows host platform.

Because the Java Access Bridge version 2.0.3 comes bundled with Java 7 Update 6 (the required version of Java), there is no need to install it. However, it must be enabled.

Blackboard Collaborate Plan

Blackboard CollaboratePlan is a standalone desktop application that enables you to prepare the content of an Blackboard Collaborate session ahead of time and then automate the actions within a session. During the session, all it takes is the selection of a session plan item to trigger an action in Blackboard Collaborate (e.g., start recording, move to the next screen, create breakout rooms, load and present a quiz, play a multimedia file, etc.). Topic headings and notes are embedded in the session plan to provide cohesiveness and coherence to the material being presented.

Although it possesses much of the functionality of Blackboard Collaborate, Blackboard CollaboratePlan operates independently of Blackboard Collaborate, allowing you to create session plans on a computer without an Internet connection. Once you have created a session plan in Blackboard Collaborate Plan, you can load it into your Blackboard Collaborate session at class time.

Blackboard Collaborate Publish

When you record an Blackboard Collaborate session, the recording is stored in a VCR file that can be played back on your computer. Playing VCR files requires a network connection to access the necessary Blackboard Collaborate software. Using Blackboard Collaborate Publish™, you can make the most of your Blackboard Collaborate recordings by publishing them to a variety of formats that can be played independently of a network connection, giving you freedom to play Blackboard Collaborate recordings wherever you like.

To play the audio of an Blackboard Collaborate recording while away from your computer, convert them to audio podcasts and listen to them on your iPod or other MP3 player. To play full Blackboard Collaborate recorded sessions while not connected to the Internet, create Blackboard CollaborateUnplugged™ standalone recordings and play them on your desktop computer or laptop or create multimedia (movie) files to play on your portable movie player or player application on your computer.

You also can produce transcripts of your Chat and Closed-Captioning text in RTF format for reading or editing, or in SRT format for creating subtitles for your movies.

ELM Standard Bridge API

This product enables you to create a plug-in to ELM adapter so you can implement a sub-set of ELM features in your own external system (such as a website, portal or Learning Management System). By creating a plug-in, you will be able to manage and administer sessions, schedule those sessions, and then allow users to join sessions without having to go through a separate log-in process. You will be able to implement the following functions:

  • Schedule and modify Blackboard Collaborate sessions.
  • Link your courses and your users to Blackboard Collaborate sessions.
  • Invite your users to scheduled Blackboard Collaborate sessions.
  • Facilitate the joining of Blackboard Collaborate sessions.
  • Facilitate the recording of Blackboard Collaborate sessions and access to those recordings.

To obtain the Standard Bridge API documentation, please contact your Blackboard Collaborate sales representative.