Thursday, January 12, 2012

Blackboard COLLABORATE is Here!!

As part of a new pilot program, Shenandoah University now has a new teaching tool, Blackboard Collaborate. Collaborate is basically an interactive online classroom environment, allowing for both real-time pedagogical activities, and for the recording of such sessions for playback. You may have heard of Elluminate and/or Wimba Classroom. Blackboard has combined the best capabilities of both these industry leaders to create Collaborate.

A group of staff and faculty, including the CTL staff, are currently being trained in order that they may help train the next wave of users. Training sessions will appear on our training schedule very soon, and we hope you will attend whenever possible. Many of you have already asked for training, and we so appreciate your enthusiasm and willingness to be innovative! Please be patient with us as we journey into this new world together.

While Collaborate can be used as a stand-alone application, the Blackboard Collaborate building block will be the focus of our training and information. Also, while Collaborate may be useful for Blackboard organization members, our initial priority will be to focus on the academic application for Bb courses.

For those of you who are anxious to see how Collaborate works, and perhaps “play with” the application now, the Blackboard team has made it available to you by loading the building block into our Blackboard 9.1 platform. Additionally, we have put together an instructional area, complete with links to Collaborate’s many tutorials and quick reference sheets, for both faculty and students, on our Blackboard support site, or directly at:
*Note that a session may only be set up in a course that is available.

Included in these materials are both an instructional video and a PDF file explaining how to set up a session within your Blackboard course. We encourage you to take a look and give it a try! Because of the importance of gathering statistical information, especially in our pilot period, we are asking that you please follow this naming convention when creating sessions in your Blackboard course(s): Copy and paste the complete course ID (ex. ENG.205.101.2011FA) into the title window, along with your own unique identifying verbiage.

One more important point: When setting up a session, you will need to select the ‘type of session’. Please do NOT select “PUBLIC”. Public session recordings will appear in ALL Blackboard courses.

We also recommend that during this first phase of usage of Collaborate, for ease of use by both instructor and student, you keep your sessions simple, beginning with only basic functions. Through modular training, self-study, and/or trial and error, you may build on your skills and expertise

If you have questions or issues, please send an email to our address. Additionally, we ask that you please not file any support tickets with Bb or Collaborate, but instead, let the Bb Support team manage those requests. We have a set number of support requests per year, according to our license, and not only do we not want to exceed that number, but we don’t want to waste support ticket opportunities with duplicate requests. We appreciate your help with this.

SO….take a test drive! Kick the tires!

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