Pilot Live: Blackboard Collaborate™ for Faculty (Moderators)

Narrate a PowerPoint presentation online live with this Web conferencing system, formerly known as Elluminate. Students may participate in the session with two-way audio, text messaging, a shared whiteboard, surveys, quizzes and more. Also see What is Blackboard Collaborate.

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Introduction

Pilot Live uses Blackboard Collaborate™ Web conferencing, which is not an "officially" supported product at Wright State. We are happy to allow other faculty and/or staff at Wright State to use it for university purposes as long as you are willing to get support and training from Blackboard. Wright State faculty and staff may use Pilot Live/Blackboard Collaborate for university purposes, classroom support, or research support. The primary purpose for Blackboard Collaborate is to support the academic classroom environment. We do not want to use it for large webinar events that are not classroom related that would put a strain on our primary purpose. There is no "internal" WSU staff to support you with your Blackboard Collaborate events, so you need to be self sufficient.

Blackboard Collaborate has now been integrated into Pilot, our new course management system. If you plan to use Collaborate through Pilot, you will not need to request an Collaborate account as you will be validated through your logon through Pilot. All users are responsible for accessing the online training and support from Collaborate which is provided at no charge. Here are links to the free online training resources:

Recorded Training Videos

Manuals and Web Resources

Creating a Blackboard Collaborate Meeting in Pilot

We have integrated Blackboard Collaborate into out course management system, Pilot. You do not need an account to use Blackboard Collaborate. Here is how to create a Blackboard Collaborate meeting in Pilot:

Creating the Room

  1. Click "Communication" on the navigation bar, then click "Pilot Live."
  2. Click on "New Room."
  3. Give your "room" a name. Since you may set up more than one web conferencing session, you should give each session a meaningful name so students know which Pilot Live web conference to access. If your session is for the entire class, give it a name something like “Class Pilot Live Web Conference Session” in the name.
  4. In the "Availability" area, set the start date and end date. You should start it at the beginning of the term and end it a few weeks after the term.
  5. Under "Advanced," click "Show Advanced Properties" to make some advanced selections. Most of the options are self explanatory, but you can always click on the question mark at the end of the option to get a more complete explanation. I would recommend selecting: a) Attendees raise their hand on entry, b) Participants have unrestricted access to resources, and c) Moderators can view all private chats
  6. Click Save.

Adding Participants

Since Blackboard Collaborate is a third party tool that has been integrated into Pilot you need to do an additional step to add your students into the session:

Click the "Attendees" tab, then...

To Add Internal Students

  1. Click on Add Internal Attendees
  2. Select the students you wish to add. If you wish to add all students, you can click on the box at the top in the gray row.
  3. Click "Add." Click "Add" to confirm you wish to add these participants.
    ***Note: If you have a student that adds your class after you have completed this step, you will need to redo this procedure for those students.

To Add External Attendees

If you wish to add external participants such as guest speakers to the Blackboard Collaborate web conferencing, follow the steps below. You can also create a "Fake Student" account by following the steps below and creating an external account with your email address.

  1. Click "Add External Attendees."
  2. Type in the email address of the person you wish to add.
  3. Click on "Add."
  4. Click on the envelop to the right of the external attendee to send them an email with the URL so that they can access.
  5. Send yourself this email with the link so you can use to access as "Fake Student"
  6. If you have technical issues and need to contact Blackboard Collaborate for support, they cannot get to your session through Pilot, so you will need to provide them with this external link to enable to them to troubleshoot your session.

Launching Blackboard Collaborate for your face-to-face class

Some people opt to use Blackboard Collaborate to record their face-to-face classes. It is not necessary to bring in a video recorder to record yourself. It is also possible to conduct a face-2-face class and have "virtual" students that are attending live but are located outside the face-2-face classroom. Most people simply record their audio and then use application share to record their desk top so that students can hear the audio message from the instructor and also see what was projected on the overhead. While this is not terribly difficult to do, it is a little tricky and you definitely want to do some trial practices before the actual event. Here are the steps to do this:

Get an External Web Conference Microphone/Speaker

Needless to say, it would be awkward to teach a face-2-face class with a headset on. Therefore, you need to get an external web conference microphone/speaker so that your external audience can hear you and you can hear any virtual students that may be accessing the session from afar. If the instructor stays within about 5 feet of the system, it does a pretty good job at picking up their voice. Since students are usually too far from the microphone, instructors should get in the practice of repeating the questions or comments so that they can be picked up and heard through the microphone. Here are some options to getting an external web conference microphone/speaker:

Check Out a System from Wright State CaTS

Contact WSU CaTS Equipment Checkout to check out one of their systems. Be sure to reserve this system in advance as they are very popular and get booked. You will need to pick it up before and after every class.
Web site: CaTS Equipment Checkout
Phone number: (937- 775-3163)

Purchase Your Own System

If you would like to purchase your own system for yourself or your department, here are the ones I would recommend:

  • Yamaha PJP-20UR Conference Microphone Speakerphone
    About $399.00
    This system looks like one of those Polycom telephone conference devices that you see in meeting rooms. It has a USB cord that connects to the computer and also charges electronically so you don't have to keep recharging it or plug it into an electronic outlet.
  • Revolabs xTag Wireless Microphone with USB Base
    About $249.00 (usually on sale for about $190.00).
    While this system is a wireless microphone, it does come with a USB Base that serves as its receiver. The Instructor needs to stay about 5 feet from the receiver to have adequate sound quality. The instructor wears the wireless microphone around their neck. The battery lasts about 3-4 hours.

Launching Blackboard Collaborate Before Each Class Session

It takes about 10 minutes to get the system set up, so be sure to arrive early. I try to have an activity to get my class started to allow me to have a few minutes of uninterrupted time to get the system set up. Don't forget to try this out ahead of time. You should practice this several times before you actually do it. Here is what to do:

  1. Plug the external web conference microphone/speaker into the classroom computer’s USB port.
  2. In your Pilot course, click "Communication," then "Pilot Live" to launch Blackboard Collaborate.

Selecting Your Audio Input and Output

The audio set-up wizard will allow you to chose which device you want as your input and output. Obviously you want the external microphone/speaker to be your input. However, you may want to experiment with your output device. If you have "virtual" students attending the session, it might be difficult for the face-2-face class to hear their comments if the output comes through a small speaker in the front of the class. In this case you might want to experiment having the audio come in the external microphone/speaker and the output going through the classroom speakers. The challenge with this is that sometimes the classroom speakers sometimes have obscure names when showing up in the list. This is not usually a problem, as there are usually a very short list of about 3 names and you can keep experimenting until you find the right one that is the computer speakers in the room. The downside of selecting the computer speakers is that the audio goes out of the classroom speakers and goes back into the microphone, so that sometimes this causes a bad echo. This is why you want to experiment and decide which option works best for you. Here is what to do:

  1. Click Tools on menu bar at the top. Select Audio/ Audio Set up Wizard.
  2. Select Audio Output Device = Leave room default. Click OK. If there are several devices listed and you are not sure which one if the classroom speakers, you can simply try each one and then click play and you will hear where the output comes out from.
  3. Click Play and audio should play in room. Set volume. Click Stop. Yes.
  4. Select Audio Input Device = Yamaha Microphone (or whatever system you have). Click OK. If there are several systems listed and you aren't sure which one is yours, just click on record and you will see if it is working by the activation of the green audio level.
  5. Click Record and begin talking to test microphone. You should see a green audio level showing in the speaker. Click Stop.
  6. Click Yes to indicate that microphone set up is complete. OK.

Set Up Your Audio

  1. Click Tools/ Audio/ Maximum Simultaneous Speakers. Set to six. Click OK. This will allow you to turn on your microphone and leave it on during the entire class. This really frees up the instructor to walk around the class and you aren't forced to keep clicking the "talk" button on and off.
  2. Click on the "talk" icon on the upper left corner to turn on your microphone and leave it on for the entire time.

Recording Your Session

Don't forget to record your session. Recorded sessions are great for students who miss class or students who want to review the course material. Instructors also enjoy watching the recordings to do a critical reflection on what is working and not working in the class. These recordings are NOT permanent intellectual property. They do not copy from term to term. Think of them as being available ONLY during the current term and NOT available once the term is over. At this point, there is not an efficient way to make permanent copies of these recordings (although this is something that will be included on future updates).

  1. Click "Record" in upper right corner. Click OK.
  2. When you are done with your session you can either click Stop Recording or simply close your window. The recording will NOT be posted until ALL participants have logged out of the session. As an instructor, I usually wait around at the end of my session and answer any questions that my students have. I wait until all students have logged out of the session. If there is a student still showing that forget to log off, you can right click on their name and remove them from the session because the session will not save in the archives until all participants have logged off. The saved session usually uploads to archives in about 15 minutes.

Share Desktop

One of the cool features it that you can select to share your entire desktop, minimize Blackboard Collaborate, and then teach class as you normally would and completely forget that Blackboard Collaborate is running in the background. The system puts a "yellow" rectangle around the entire computer screen to record everything that you display in class. If your face-2-face students see information on the overhead, then your virtual students see it through Blackboard Collaborate. They also see the exact same thing in the recording that saves in the archives.

  1. Click on Application Share icon at the top of the whiteboard (middle icon that looks like 2 screens on top of each other).
  2. Select Share desktop. Click Share. The system puts a "yellow" rectangle around the entire desktop to indicate the area that is being shared.
  3. Minimize Blackboard Collaborate and continue with your class as normal.

Changing Computer Audio

After you set up the audio in Blackboard Collaborate, you may need to change the audio on your computer.

  • If you are using a PC:
    1. Click on Start in lower left corner of computer.
    2. Click Settings/ Control Panel.
    3. Double click on Sounds and Audio Devices.
    4. Select Audio.
    5. Pick sound devices for output (playback) and input (recording).
  • If you are using a Mac:
    If you are using a Mac you will need to set this up BEFORE you can run your audio set-up wizard.
    1. Click System Preferences.
    2. Select Sound.
    3. Pick sound devices for output and input.

Launch Extra Computer as "Fake Student"

If possible, I would strongly recommend that you launch a laptop or second computer and log in a "Fake Student" so that you can watch your Blackboard Collaborate recording to ensure that everything is recording properly.

  1. Add external person to your Blackboard Collaborate session with your email. Click email to send yourself a link to the session.
  2. Plug additional laptop in.
  3. Place it someplace where you can see if from where you are teaching.
  4. Launch the second computer and find the link that you sent yourself as an external "Fake Student" to launch and enter Blackboard Collaborate as a "Fake Student".
  5. Turn down volume of speaker and turn off microphone.
  6. Make sure I can see laptop from where I am teaching so that I can see Blackboard Collaborate as the students will be seeing it.

References

Here are some contacts and links to help get you started with Blackboard Collaborate web conferencing. 

Blackboard Collaborate Web Site

Wright State CaTS Equipment Services

Go here to reserve and check out web conference microphone speakers

Suggestions for a Better Web Conference

Here are some suggestions to produce more effective web conferences:

Take EDT 8590 Through Wright State College of Education and Human Services

The Wright State CEHS is now offering a certificate in Instructional Design for Online Learning. This certificate is geared toward college faculty, K-12 instructors and corporate trainers who want to learn more effective strategies for designing and teaching online classes. These classes are all offered online and have a weekly Blackboard Collaborate session. This certificate can be earned by completing four courses in online learning: 1) EDL 7200 Analysis of Teaching, 2) EDT 8390 Instructional Design, 3) EDT 8490 Making Online Courses Interactive, and 4) EDT 8590 Learning Management Systems & Evaluation. By taking these classes you will get an opportunity to experience pedagogically effective uses of Blackboard Collaborate. In the EDT 8590 class participants spend the semester focusing of the pedagogies and technologies behind using Blackboard Collaborate web conferences.

Making Your Web Conference Interactive

Blackboard Collaborate web conferencing will allow you to have robust and meaningful interactions with your students, even when you are at different locations. To enhance your web conference, be careful not to monopolize the conversation and build opportunities to get interaction from your students. Try to use the many features in Collaborate to keep your students involved such as voice over IP, polling, text chat, whiteboard, and emoticons. Here are two excellent resources that show effective methods for encouraging student interaction through Blackboard Collaborate.

Suggestions on Your PowerPoint Slides

When uploading presentations to Blackboard Collaborate, avoid the temptation to develop PowerPoint slides that are simply a series of bullets. While bullet point PowerPoints are easy to create, research shows that there are more effective ways to communicate your message. As a presenter, you should go beyond the traditional bullet point presentation. Atkinson and Mayer (2004) give techniques for putting together an effective PowerPoint presentation in their article Five Ways to Reduce PowerPoint Overload.

  • Each slide should have a single headline that gives the main idea of each slide. Include a meaningful graphic
  • Presentations should be designed like a story with a beginning, middle, and end. Break the story into digestible bites.
  • Text and excessive bullet points should be moved off-screen to the notes view.
  • Use visuals with your words to make your points.
  • Remove EVERY element that does not directly support the main idea.