Center for Technology Enhanced Learning

Virtual Classrooms at USM

Blackboard Collaborate will no longer be used as of Jan 1, 2013.  If you have a need for a virtual conferencing solution, please see our Adobe Connect page.


Virtual Classrooms - Elluminate Live! and Blackboard Collaborate Web Conferencing

A web conference is an online meeting space where students, faculty and staff can share voice, chat, desktop applications and a whiteboard live via the internet. It is funded by USM's Center for Technology Enhanced Learning (CTEL) and is used for online classes, meetings and seminars.

USM is now supporting Blackboard Collaborate Web Conferencing. Participants need a reasonably up-to-date computer with an internet connection, speakers and a microphone (or headset) to participate in web conferencing. There is no charge to USM faculty, staff or students to use these tools.

On Demand Training for Blackboard Collaborate Web Conferencing.

Using Web Conferencing at USM

To request a moderator license: no more licenses are being issued.

Necessary Computer Equipment

Each user must have a reasonably up-to-date computer with an internet connection. Elluminate works with internet connection speeds ranging from Dial-up through High-speed connections such as Cable or DSL. For full access, each computer must be equipped with speakers and microphone or (better) a headset with microphone. Inexpensive headsets can be purchased through the Campus Computer Store at USM. Contact the Campus Computer Store through the HelpDesk at 780-4029. It is possible to participate without a microphone by typing in any questions or responses.

When connecting to a session, Blackboard Collaborate will download the necessary Java files to each computer. This can take a few minutes for a first-time connection. Each time you enter a Web conferencing session, even if you had no audio problems in the past, you should go to Tools > Audio > Audio Setup Wizard in order to test your audio configuration.

Participant Training for Blackboard Collaborate Web Conferencing

Note: Recordings won't be made available until everyone (instructor included) has left the virtual classroom. It is important to be sure the room is EMPTY between sessions so that discreet recordings can be made and so that uploaded files won't be combined.

Instructions for Inserting External Links in Blackboard

Build URL

Student Join Session link: To insert a link for students to join your session, you can post a URL in your course menu, in your Web Links, or use the Build > URL tool in any content area.

  • Copy the link for your participants (right click and save link)
  • Navigate to the content area in your Bb site (in Edit Mode)
  • Select Build > URL
  • Paste that link into the URL box.
  • Select Open in New Window 

Please advise your students that they should use this link only during your classroom hours as they may otherwise interrupt another class.

Sharing a Recording Link:

Tips for Success with Blackboard Collaborate

Take advantage of the On Demand Online Training. The more you watch, the more you learn.

Before starting a web-conferencing session,

  • Have any applications you want to share open and not minimized. If you are using more than one monitor, be sure the application you want to share is on the home screen.

  • Clear your java cache. This usually can solve problems for people who are unable to share applications, have feedback problems, or who "get kicked out" of a session. 

    How to Clear Your Java Cache (thank you, Boston University)

Prepare your Students

Direct them to the Join a Web Conferencing Session page or copy portions of it to your Blackboard site.

Once you are in your session:

  • Go to Tools > Audio > Audio Setup Wizard (or click on the icon in the audio/video window) to test your audio settings.
  • Preload any media you plan to display
  • You can load PowerPoint slides by dragging the file to the top bar in the Whiteboard.
  • You can add images by dragging and dropping to the whiteboard

Application Sharing:

  • The spinning gold circle of balls is just BbC waiting to be told what you want to share. If you want to leave application sharing, click the gold square in the upper right corner of the sharing boundaries, or click on the white board icon.
  • When you begin sharing an application, size it to fit in the space of the whiteboard so you and your students don't lose access to the rest of the BbC features.
  • When using multiple monitors, keep the shared application on your home screen (the one with the menu control on it.) You can move some of the modules (chat, participants, video, and/or the screen explorer to the other monitor if you wish.

Sharing video:

  • Upload media content before the class begins and allow time for it to upload to users' machines before running it.
  • If you wish to have your students watch a video that is hosted on the web (YouTube, streaming video, etc.) Give them the URL (you can push it to students using web-tour) and tell them that you will set the timer for a given amount of time and then call them back to the main room. Sharing an application to watch a video will be much less satisfactory.

Use Drag and Drop

  • You can drag and drop images to the whiteboard. PowerPoint files can be dragged to the top bar of the whiteboard, or you can click Upload Content.
  • Ice-breaker: Ask students to drop a photo of themselves onto the whiteboard. This will require some resizing and moving things around.

Web Tours

  • Generally, this is the preferred way to share a web-site with students. It opens the browser on your student's machines, so it renders more quickly and is much easier to read. Students CAN wander off the tour, but as soon as you move to a different page, they will be brought back to the same place. If you plan to visit a site that requires authentication (logging in to view content) you will need to Share the Application (your browser). Just be sure to avoid unnecessary scrolling and give the page time to render on student machines before pointing out specific details, or moving on.

Stop Recording

  • When you are done with your session, be sure that all other participants leave the room before you do. That way, you can be sure that your recording for the session will not be merged with another. If someone has left without closing the session, you can right click on their name to "dismiss" them from the session.