Blackboard Collaborate Web Conferencing

What is Blackboard Collaborate Web Conferencing? 

Blackboard Collaborate Web Conferencing is an interactive web conferencing tool, also referred to as a virtual classroom environment. It is an online environment that can be used to facilitate virtual events such as lectures, meetings, presentations, workshop, and virtual office hours. It is available as an independent tool for external web conferencing and online presentations, or as an integration link from OWL.

Two versions of collaborate are currently available:

  • Ultra Experience: A new version of blackboard collaborate with upgraded audio and video capability. 
  • Classic View: The original version of blackboard collaborate. Includes more features than Ultra Experience, but has less powerful audio and video.

What is the purpose of Blackboard Collaborate Web Conferencing?

Blackboard Collaborate Web Conferencing supports audio and video communication for learning and collaboration. It can be used: 

  • to provide lectures or other presentations
  • for virtual guest lecturers and collaborations with external colleagues
  • for distance education
  • to conduct virtual meetings
  • to conduct office hours or interviews
  • synchronously or asynchronously

How to use Blackboard Collaborate Web Conferencing

  • Directly from the web
    • Send an email request to bbc Support
    • Participant, moderator and recordings table links will be returned.
    • For using the features of a Collaborate virtual room see additional resources below.
  • From an OWL worksite
    • Add either Collaborate CV (classic view) or Collaborate UE (ultra experience) into your OWL site by going to "Site Info" and then "Edit Tools" and then opening the "Plugin Tools" section at the bottom of the screen.
    • Click on the tool in the left menu bar.
    • Click the 'Add' button just under the purple header bar to add a Collaborate virtual room.
    • Configure the room settings and click the 'Save' button at the bottom.
    • For using the features of a Collaborate virtual room see additional resources below.

Tool Evaluation

Evaluated: October 2016

Functionality overall rating:2 starsFunctionality

Rating Rationale
Scale rating: 2 stars


A Collaborate UE session is limited to 100 participants. Different sessions could be created for smaller sub-groups or communities of practice

Ease of use rating: 3 stars

Ease of Use

Collaborate UE  has a user-friendly interface that is easy to navigate and personalize

Tech Support/ Help Availability rating: 3 stars

Tech Support/Help Availability

Western technical support/help documentation is readily available. See the Blackboard Collaborate UE page in OWL Documentation Wiki or contact the Helpdesk

Hypermediality rating: 3 stars


Collaborate UE allows users to communicate through different channels (audio, video, whiteboard, screensharing) and allows for non-sequential, flexible/adaptive engagement with material

Accessibility overall rating:2 starsAccessibility

Rating Rationale
AODA Friendly rating: 3 stars

AODA Friendly

Collaborate UE meets accessibility guidelines (AODA and the W3C WCAG 2.0 standards). Note that moderators can assign a participant to be a captioner to provide viewers with captions.

Assistive Technology rating: 3 stars

User-focused participation

Collaborate UE  is designed to address the needs of diverse users, their various literacies, and capabilities, thereby widening opportunities for participation in learning

Required Equipment rating: 2 stars

Required Equipment

Proper use of Collaborate UE  requires, at a minimum, speakers. For optimal use, participants are encouraged to use a headset (headphones and microphone) and a built-in or external video camera.

Technical overall rating:2 starsTechnical

Rating Rationale
Integration/Embedding within OWL rating: 3 stars

Integration/Embedding within OWL

Collaborate UE  is already embedded and fully integrated into OWL. It is also possible to access Collaborate UE from the web. See How to Use Blackboard Collaborate Web Conferencing section above for instructions on set up.

Operating Systems rating: 3 stars

Operating Systems

Users can effectively utilize Collaborate UE with any standard, up-to-date operating system (i.e. Windows, OSX, etc.)

Web Browser rating: 2 stars

Web Browser

Moderators (i.e. instructors) must use a Chrome browser in order to successfully run Collaborate UE. Participants (i.e. students) can effectively utilize Collaborate UE with any standard, up-to-date web browser (i.e. Explorer, Safari, Google Chrome, Firefox, etc.). Browser support info available here

Additional Technical Requirements rating: 2 stars

Additional Technical Requirements

If using Collaborate UE in browsers other than Chrome (e.g. Firefox) users must have Adobe Flash Player installed

Mobile Design overall rating: Mobile Design

Rating Rationale
Mobile Operating Systems rating:2 stars

Mobile Operating Systems

Collaborate UE has limited functionality with some mobile devices, limiting mobility. There is a Collaborate app for students but not for instructors.

Mobile Functionality rating: 2 stars

Mobile Functionality

Basic features of the main tool are functional on the mobile app but advanced features are limited

Offline Access rating: 1 star

Offline Access

The platform cannot be used in any capacity offline

Usage and account set up overall rating: 3 starsUsage and Account Set Up

Rating Rationale
Sign Up/Sign In rating: 3 stars

Sign Up/Sign In

Use of Collaborate UE does not require the creation of an external account or additional login beyond a Western Identity and access to OWL

Cost of Use rating: 3 stars

Cost of Use

All aspects of Collaborate UE can be used free of charge to Western account holders. Western has a license allowing campus-wide use. Non-western participants can join a session created and hosted by a Western moderator at no cost.

Archiving Saving and Exporting Data rating: 3 stars

Archiving, Saving, and Exporting Data

Users can record and save sessions. In session, click More Tools button and select Start/Stop Recording. Recordings can be viewed or downloaded.

Data Privacy and Ownership rating: 3 stars

Data Privacy and Ownership

Users maintain ownership and copyright of their intellectual property/data; the moderator can keep data private and decide if/how data is to be shared

Social Presence overall rating: 2 starsSocial Presence

Rating Rationale
Collaboration rating: 3 stars


Collaborate UE has the capacity to support a community of learning through both asynchronous and synchronous opportunities for communication, interactivity, and transfer of meaning between users.

User Accountability rating: 2 stars

User Accountability

Instructors cannot control participant anonymity (participants can join under any name) but Collaborate UE provides some solution for holding participants accountable for their actions (participants can be removed from session by moderator)

Diffusion rating: 2 stars


Student familiarity with Collaborate UE is likely mixed, some will lack basic technical competence with its functions.

Instructor Presence overall rating: 2 starsInstructor Presence

Rating Rationale
Facilitation rating: 3 stars


Collaborate UE has easy-to-use features that would significantly improve an instructor’s ability to be present with students via active management, monitoring, and engagement

Customization rating: 3 stars


Collaborate UE is adaptable to its environment: easily customized to suit the classroom context and targeted learning outcomes

Learning Analytics rating: 2 stars

Learning Analytics

Instructor can monitor students’ performance on limited measures (i.e. conversation, feedback, etc.)

Cognitive Presence overall rating: 3 starsCognitive Presence

Rating Rationale
Enhancement of Cognitive Task(s) rating: 3 stars

Enhancement of Cognitive Task(s)

Collaborate UE enhances engagement in targeted cognitive task(s) that were once overly complex or inconceivable through other means

Higher Order Thinking rating: 3 stars

Higher Order Thinking

Use of Collaborate UE easily facilitates students to exercise higher order thinking skills (given consideration to design, facilitation, and direction from instructor)

Feedback on Learning rating: 3 stars

Feedback on Learning

Through Collaborate UE, students can regularly receive formative feedback on learning (i.e. they can track their performance, monitor their improvement, test their knowledge, etc.)

View the rubric for an explanation of this evaluation
Leave feedback to comment or request that the tool be re-reviewed

Related Information

Additional Resources