Class Collaborate


Class Collaborate is a tool for synchronous communication that may include audio, video, screen sharing, polls, text chat, breakout rooms, whiteboard, slides, images. Be sure to think about students' needs for interactivity: this video documents some thoughts students have about synchronous virtual classes

Why use it?

Class Collaborate is a good tool for virtual meetings, office hours, student workgroups, live class sessions, webinars up to about 100 people, holding class during inclement weather, guest speakers, virtual debates, and so on. See more details in this blog post. 

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How can I get it turned on in a Blackboard course?

We already added Class Collaborate under Communication in the standard Blackboard template for all courses. But in case you have an older course or had removed it, here is how to add it:

Under Control Panel, click “Customization” and then “Tool Availability

Check the 2 boxes to the right of “Class Collaborate

Click Submit at the top or bottom of the page.

You will then be able to see Class Collaborate in the “Course Tools” control panel:

as well as in the Student Tools page: image

If you like, you can also add a link into the left navigation:

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I don’t have a Blackboard Course...

We can set you up a room (or multiple rooms) to use whenever you need it, or we can set you up a Blackboard course to use for this and other group, committee, research, or other work. Email

Technical Specifications

Please note that for now, Class Collaborate works best with GOOGLE CHROME not Internet Explorer or Safari. It also works with the Bb Student app on iOS and Android mobile phones. (See more detailed system requirement information.)

See more details about Collaborate technical specs, including maximum users.

Here is a link to tips for faculty using the Class Collaborate platform for the first time -

Please test your system and review the tips for getting started before entering your first session.

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Screen Sharing

For presenters who wish to share your screen, you will need to download and install a Google Chrome extension the first time you do so. It does not require a browser or system reboot and takes only a minute. Class Collaborate will automatically do this for you. Screen sharing is accessed via the purple arrow icon in the lower right, for presenters or moderators. (See much more below!!)

Audio: Computer or Telephone

We highly recommend you and students plug in earbuds, headphones, or a USB headset and make sure audio is going out of them before entering the Class Collaborate room. You will have more control over the volume and it will be easier to hear all participants this way.

For those who have problems connecting to audio via the computer, a telephone number and PIN code are provided. However, this option still requires that all participants can first connect to the Class Collaborate room via a tablet, smartphone or computer browser. It is not possible to only connect via the phone. The PIN number that is provided is unique to each individual, and can only be accessed from within the room, so all participants must first enter the room via a web-enabled device. 

Once connected to the room, the phone number and PIN code are found using the 3 line “hamburger” in the upper left of the session screen: 

If you do not have a laptop, monitor with built in audio/microphone, or Mac with built-in microphone and/or webcam, email to make a request


Starting up a Class Collaborate Session

After enabling Class Collaborate, the tool is available to faculty under Course Tools/Student Tools, and students via Student Tools. Upon clicking to launch the Class Collaborate tool, you will be presented with the option “Create Session” to create rooms for your course.

Click Create Session to set up your Course Room.


How to enter the room:

In Google Chrome, ideally, enter your Blackboard course, click the Class Collaborate tool link, and then click “Create Session” to create a virtual room. 

We recommend you start by creating a session called "course room" or something like that. Here are some recommended settings:

By checking "No End (Open Session)" you can create 1 room that can be used any time throughout the entire semester. 

Launch Class Collaborate: click the name of an open/available room.

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Guest Access/ Guest Link

The Guest Access can be used in a pinch to send a link to students for them to access the course. Sometimes, students will have difficulty entering the session from within Blackboard. This link allows the student to access the session quickly as a guest. This is also useful for a guest speaker.

Check the "Guest Access" box, and you will then see a guest link, which you can copy and paste into an email to the guest speaker. That person will then be able to join the session. 

You should also choose "Presenter" for the guest to have the ability to share slides and/or computer screen. 

Session Settings

The rest of the settings may vary according to you and your students' needs:

Note: if you add a "Course Link" within your course, you must choose the "Class Collaborate" option. Do not choose "Blackboard Collaborate" - as that is an out of date link to an older version of the plug-in.

Initial Microphone and Video Setup

Launch Class Collaborate: click the name of an open/available room.

Next, set up your microphone and camera. There will be a notice at the top of your screen - click the grey Yes button on the right to set up your microphone and camera.

The image above shows some of the other icons you see once other people have entered the session. A primary icon you will want to explore is the purple arrow icon in the far lower right, which opens the text chat, participants list, and sharing settings for screen sharing or document sharing.

If you see a message (for example in Firefox) stating "it looks like we don't have permission to access your microphone and camera" click the camera icon in the upper left next to the URL address:

If you are having difficulties using Safari on a Mac, follow these instructions.

If you are having difficulties using Chrome, follow these instructions.

In the middle of the screen are basic icons for mute/unmute microphone, and start/stop webcam, as well as raise hand.

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Change A/V Settings

If you want to change audio/video settings later, you can click the purple icon in the lower right (seen above), then click “Settings” and then click “Audio and Video Settings” - where you can set up your camera and microphone, or choose to switch between computer and telephone audio and set microphone and speaker volumes. If you want to get the phone number and PIN for others to call in, click the “Use your phone for audio” icon.

Sharing Content

If you'd like to show participants slides or files, there are two main ways to share content. Both are accessed by clicking the Share Content icon in the lower right (after you have opened the purple double arrow window in the far lower right)


Share Files: upload PPT slides, Word, PDF, etc.

This is the BEST option if you are running a meeting and want to be able to see BOTH the files/slides AND your video participants. It also allows for annotation of the content on the screen.

Share Application (aka Share your screen!)

This is a good option if you have any trouble with files, or you need to show motion on your screen. It may also just be easier than uploading and sharing slides. You will need to install a Chrome extension the first time you share your screen. This takes just seconds, and automatically loads, without having to leave the session, so it is generally quite quick and harmless.

Managing Participants

In order to manage students in the session, click on the Participant's icon in the lower right. There are several ways you can manage participants there:

Mute All - there is a handy “mute all” option when you click the icon with the circle around 3 dots:

You can see which participants have microphones enabled by the microphone icon to the left of their name. Likewise, when audio is broadcasting from a participant, their microphone turns black:

Using the circle around 3 dots menu icon to the right of a participant’s name, you can change the role: make participant, make presenter, make moderator, make captioner, remove from session, mute. Note that “make moderator” provides full instructor controls.


Once you click on the little purple icon/white arrows in the lower right, there is the chat. You can chat with everyone, or with a specific person:

Above you see the icons for the options: chat, participants list, sharing (screen, files, whiteboard, etc.), and settings.

Screen, Application, File sharing, Polling, Breakout Groups

All of these are accessed via the purple arrow icon in the lower right, and the sharing icon:

Whiteboard can be used for collaborative drawing, note taking, doodling.

Share Application is used to share your screen, desktop, or a specific application

Share Files: upload PDF, PPT files to share slides with students. You can also draw on them as you speak using tools at the top of the screen.

Polling: set up quick polls to get feedback from students, add engagement, check understanding, etc.

Breakout Groups: have students meet privately in groups to discuss, collaborate, build or work on activities - then bring them all back together in the main room to summarize. You can create groups and manually drag students into them, or there is an automated randomized setting to put them in groups.

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Settings to establish BEFORE your Session:

In the gear wheel “Settings” you will want to make a few choices before your session, to establish what students will need to be able to do in the session:

For some types of class sessions, you may only want students to share audio and chat messages, whereas for others you may want all abilities checked.

Notification Settings

The notification settings should also be set according to how you’d like to be notified of various user activity during the session. When you are sharing your screen, you may not see the rest of the room much, so having these set up will help alert you that someone sent a chat message or raised their hand.

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Creating a Welcome Screen

When students enter Class Collaborate for the first time, it is helpful to give them a Welcome Screen so they know how to manage the session. We have provided an image of one below that you can feel free to add to the beginning of your slide deck. 

Recording Your Session

The 3 line “hamburger” in the upper left of your screen

is where you find the Record feature:

A message will be displayed at the top of the screen when recording is under way. There will also be a “stop recording” icon in the upper right of your screen.

After the recording has been processed on the server (usually at least a few hours) - it will be available in the Class Collaborate tool (back in your Blackboard course) by clicking the 3 lines in the upper left and then Recordings. NOTE: Students can automatically see the recordings here by navigating to these as well.

You may need to click the "Filter by" dropdown and select "Recordings in a Range" if your recordings are older and do not show up immediately. Put in an old date in the first date box (like 2017) - and then you will see all your recordings listed.

Use the 3 dot circle to the right of any recording to edit its name and/or get the link to copy and send to students to view the recording, or post in your Blackboard course. Anyone with the link will be able to view the recording, it does not require a login to view.

Please note: if you simply click on a recording title to view it, it will appear in your browser with this URL, which is not a sharable URL:

You need to use the above steps to get a sharable URL to give to students.

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Latest Class Collaborate Feature Updates

Here are the latest updates to Class Collaborate from Blackboard. They are continuing to add new features regularly, so check this! Some recent changes/additions of note:

Class Collaborate Server Status

Does Class Collaborate appear to be down? You can check the status of the servers here. (