Blackboard Collaborate Virtual Classroom

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1 Blackboard Collaborate Virtual Classroom Virtual Classroom is one of a suite tools known collectively as Blackboard Collaborate. In the UST Blackboard setup, these tools also include Chat, Voice Board, Voice , Voice Presentation, and Voice Podcaster. These tools have a number of overlapping features and come with varying levels of complexity. For online-only courses, one of the best ways to "get together" with your students, however far away they may be, is to set up a Virtual Classroom session. Instructors can create these sessions and add links to them in a content area to provide students the necessary access. To start the process, expand the Course Tools section of the Control Panel, and select Collaboration. The Collaboration Sessions page contains link to sessions called Lecture Hall and Office Hours: The former starts a Virtual Classroom session; the later starts Blackboard Chat, a simplified version of Virtual Classroom with only basic chat and private messaging functionality. If you have added sessions, then you may see more than the original two links, as illustrated on the next page. Instructional Technology Services Blackboard Faculty Tutorials Page 1

2 Here is an instructor s view of the Virtual Classroom window for a session called Let s Chat: Instructional Technology Services Blackboard Faculty Tutorials Page 2

3 Here is a student s view, if the student is an active participant, able to use most of the same tools as the instructor rather than just chat. Setting Up Sessions for Students Lecture Hall is an example of a Virtual Classroom session. You can either provide a link to it or create more sessions for specific dates and times, then place links to those sessions in content areas. Creating a New Session 1. On the Collaboration Sessions page, click the action bar button labeled Create Collaboration Session. Instructional Technology Services Blackboard Faculty Tutorials Page 3

4 2. On the Create page, fill in a Session Name (required), preferably one that refers to the course, date, and time. 3. Optionally, select the date and time range during which the session will be available to students. In the Collaboration Tool section, switch from Chat to Virtual Classroom. If the current time is not within the range, no users, including instructors, will be able to launch the session. 4. When everything is in place, click Submit. Linking to a Session from a Content Area 1. After you have created the session, navigate to a content area or learning module. 2. Point to the Tools button on the action bar, and select Virtual Classroom. Instructional Technology Services Blackboard Faculty Tutorials Page 4

5 3. On the Create Link page, select the option button for Select Virtual Classroom Session, then select the name of the session. (The page also allows you to create a new session if you have not already followed the steps above.) Click Next when done. 4. On the next page, fill in any descriptions or instructions in the Text box, set the availability of the link, and click Submit. Instructional Technology Services Blackboard Faculty Tutorials Page 5

6 The link will appear at the bottom of the content area, but you can move it up using drag & drop or the Reorder button. When a session starts, it never really ends until an instructor clicks the End button or its expiration time arrives. It maintains everything typed or drawn into it even after you close the window. Participants can drop out and back into the session at any time. Instructors can clear all the content from a session and start afresh while keeping the session active. Preparing Students and Computers to Chat Virtual Classroom is an applet that depends on the presence of the Java Runtime Environment. With Java applets, it is always advisable to have the latest update of the Java RE installed on one's computer, whether it runs Windows, Macintosh, Linux, or some other operating system. Before students join a live Virtual Classroom session, advise them to do the following: Install the Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome web browser, or use a computer that already has one of those browsers. The applet works in Microsoft Internet Explorer, but not as well. Apple Safari traditionally has trouble with Java version 7, especially on Macintosh computers and ipads. Use a Windows PC or tablet if possible. Because Apple Macintosh OS has found security problems with Java 7, it may not work at all on Apple devices. Instructional Technology Services Blackboard Faculty Tutorials Page 6

7 3. Make sure that their Java RE is up to date. If Java updating is enabled on a Windows computer, a coffee-cup notification icon should appear on the taskbar near the time display, indicating that a new Java update is available for download. A similar icon may appear on the right side of the menu bar in Macintosh. To find the current Java version: In Windows 7, click the Windows Start button and select Control Panel. In the Control Panel, if displaying Category View, click Programs, then Java; if Large or Small Icons, click directly on Java. When the Java Control Panel opens, click the About button on the General tab of the window. (Windows 8 may have a slightly different procedure.) 4. In Macintosh, click the System Preferences icon on the dock. If an icon for Java appears in the System Preferences window, click that icon. When the window switches to Java Preferences, click the About button to see something like the illustration above. In Linux, different versions of the OS will have different instructions for this procedure. Turn off any popup blockers in whatever browser they are using, or allow popups for the current site. This includes popup blockers that come with third-party toolbars from Google, Yahoo, ask.com, etc. Different browsers have different methods for managing popup windows. Instructional Technology Services Blackboard Faculty Tutorials Page 7

8 5. Test the applet before using it in a live session. To test it, navigate to the content area, click the link, and follow any links required to open the session. If the operating system asks whether to allow the Java applet to run, click Yes. The Virtual Classroom Interface The Blackboard Virtual Classroom window has multiple elements worth knowing about before attempting to use it live. These include: 1. The menu bar 2. The Recording toolbar 3. The Tools pane 4. The Whiteboard and Content pane 5. The Chat pane 6. The Participants pane Instructional Technology Services Blackboard Faculty Tutorials Page 8

9 The Menu Bar Unlike a traditional menu bar, the buttons here produce small dialog boxes through which you can control the chat environment. Before other users join the session, make your selections, and click OK on each dialog. View: Determine whether private messages will open in a separate window or to the right of the Chat pane. Control: Determine which tools different types of participants (i.e., instructors and students) will have access to during the session. You can also end the session and expel all users. Instructional Technology Services Blackboard Faculty Tutorials Page 9

10 Clear: Delete all content for your own Chat pane or everyone s in the session. End: End the session and expel all users. Breakouts: Divide the participants in the session into groups with their own sub-sessions. The Recording Toolbar The buttons are, from left to right, Start, Pause, Stop, and Bookmark. Click the Start button to begin recording the proceedings of the session, Pause to take a break, Start again to resume the recording. At any time during the recording, click Bookmark to give users a point in the middle of the recording from which to begin. Click Stop to end the recording. When you create one or more recordings during a session, the contextual menu for the session gets a Recordings item added to it. Students with access to the sessions may click a link to the session, click a session s contextual arrow, select Recordings, and view any of the recordings you have made. The Chat Pane This is the simplest of the features of Virtual Classroom. Type a message for all participants in the box below the pane, and press Enter (or click Send). Your contribution appears at the bottom of the pane. Instructional Technology Services Blackboard Faculty Tutorials Page 10

11 To see more lines of text, click the Compose button to type your contribution into a separate window. Pressing Enter in this window starts a new paragraph rather than sending; click Send to submit your contribution. You can also click the Equation button to expand the Compose window and use the Equation Editor to compose fancy equations or formulae. The Participants Pane This pane displays a list of all current users participating in the chat, including their names, a Role icon, and a column indicating whether users are requesting to switch from a passive role to active. Only active users may use the chat function. Use the buttons above each column to sort the list by that column. Additional functionality in this pane includes: Select a participant in the list, and click User Info to see more about the user. Double-click a participant s row to start a Private Message session with that user, or select the user and click Private Message. Select one or more participants, and click the Active User or Passive User button to grant or deny chat capability. You cannot change your own role, and instructors may only be Active. The Tools Pane This is the most complex portion of the applet. Click one of five different buttons at the top to display the available tools: Instructional Technology Services Blackboard Faculty Tutorials Page 11

12 Map: Displays a tree view of the course s content areas. Click the + signs to expand the content area folders and reveal links and folders found within. Double-click any item to display it in the Content pane. Use the display control below the map to select Display to Users, Preview in a New Window, or Refresh Tree (in case you or anyone else has added content since the session began), and select the item, and click the Go button. The Content pane provides scroll bars to reposition the content or scroll through the content area. Whiteboard: Reveals two tabs labeled Controls and Tools. If you wish to switch the content in the Content pane from anything else to the Whiteboard, click the Display button at the bottom of the Controls tab. Instructional Technology Services Blackboard Faculty Tutorials Page 12

13 o o The Tools tab has buttons for writing, typing, drawing, or selecting objects on the Whiteboard. Use the dropdowns to determine the fill color of shapes to be drawn; the pen color of lines, typed text, and free-writings; the width in points of lines; and the font face and size of typed text. Select these settings before clicking the various tool buttons. On the Controls tab, click the + button to add pages to the Whiteboard, the X button to remove pages; select a page icon and click the Display button to switch to that page. Group Browser: This allows you to share and demonstrate websites with the other participants in the session. Type or paste a web address into the Enter Address box; select either Display to Users or Preview in New Window from the dropdown, and click Go. The page for the address entered may appear in the Content pane or in a separate window, depending on the browser s settings. Ask Question: Allows participants to type a question or comment into a large text box. This box comes with a Compose button to open a Compose Question window, which does not come with Equation tools. After typing the question or comment, click Send. Instructional Technology Services Blackboard Faculty Tutorials Page 13

14 Question Inbox: This allows anyone who has the Question Inbox enabled to view questions sent via the Ask Question tool. It shows the text of the question and a list of the users who have posted questions. Click an item in the From list to view each question asked. Use the Respond to Current Question (arrow) button to reply, and the Remove Current Question button to clear the current question and proceed to the next if there is one. Instructional Technology Services Blackboard Faculty Tutorials Page 14

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