Getting started

This page gives advice on how to set up and run a Blackboard Collaborate session, and introduces some of the key features within Collaborate. This guide does not cover all of the functionality within Collaborate - please refer to the full Blackboard Collaborate guides for more information.

Blackboard Collaborate can be accessed from any Blackboard Course or Organisation. If you do not ordinarily use Blackboard, or do not have access to a Blackboard course, please fill in the Blackboard Organisation Request Form. This will provide you with an area to set up and deliver Blackboard Collaborate sessions. Only members of staff delivering Collaborate sessions need access to Blackboard, your attendees can join via a unique URL link.

Getting started with Blackboard Collaborate

Create a Blackboard Collaborate Session

The *first* time you use Blackboard Collaborate you will need to create a link to it in your Blackboard Course.

Create a Blackboard Collaborate Session

Login to Blackboard, open the appropriate course, and navigate to the Blackboard Collaborate Link.

  1. Click Create Session

  2. Enter a name for your session

  3. Enable Guest Access if you want to invite attendees who are not enrolled on your Blackboard course - simply provide the Guest Link URL to your attendees. Remember to only send the guest link to trusted attendees.

  4. Enter the session Start and End in the Event Details area (open ended sessions can be created by ticking the 'No end' checkbox. An open ended session will always be available to enter, and any uploaded files will remain in the session. The guest link will remain the same until you delete an open ended session).

  5. Adjust the Session Settings where appropriate by clicking the Settings cog. Click here for more information about Session Settings

  6. If you are expecting more than 250 attendees, tick the 'Large scale session' box.

  7. Click Save to complete the session setup

Animation showing the steps to creating a new Collaborate Session

Join a Blackboard Collaborate Session

We recommend using Google Chrome to access Blackboard Collaborate.

  1. Open the appropriate Blackboard course, and navigate to the Blackboard Collaborate Link

  2. Select the relevant session

  3. Select Join Session

Any students enrolled on your Blackboard course can access the session in the same way. Alternatively, provide your attendees with the guest link. Consider sending your attendees our Participants Guide for more information.

Shows how to join a Collaborate Session via the Join Session button

Once the Blackboard Collaborate window appears, you might see a browser pop up asking for your permission to use your microphone and camera. Click ‘Allow’ to use all of the features within Collaborate. Follow the onscreen instructions to set up your microphone and webcam.

Screenshot showing Collaborate browser permissions

You can check your connection to Blackboard Collaborate by using our test room.

Understand the interface


The main stage in Collaborate is where the content of the session is displayed - this could be webcam video(s), a presentation or screen sharing. If there is no shared content, you’ll see attendee profiles in a grid view.

At the bottom of the main stage you will see controls for turning on your webcam and microphone - these are switched off as default when you enter the session.

Access the Collaborate Panel via the purple chevron on the lower right hand side of the screen to access features like the Chat, Attendee Panel and Share Content controls.

Start Recording

Access the session menu on the top left hand side of your screen to start recording and access the Collaborate help pages.

Access the Session Menu to start recording in Blackboard Collaborate

Share Content

You can upload content, including PowerPoint presentations, or share your desktop screen to show more detail. Open the Collaborate panel and select Share Content to start sharing and collaborating with your attendees.

Screenshot showing the Share Content panel in Collaborate

Sharing Application / Screen

Share your desktop or a software application to teach students about a topic. Whenever you move through the application or desktop, your students automatically follow along. You can choose to share your whole screen, a specific application or even a tab in Chrome. If sharing your whole screen, Make sure to close any windows and applications you don't want others to see before starting to share.

Share files

Upload GIF, JPEG and PNG images, PDF files, or PowerPoint presentations of 60MB or lower to your session. We recommend saving PowerPoint presentations as a PDF before uploading to Collaborate to ensure content appears as expected.

After you’ve uploaded your files, select the slide you wish to share, and click Share Now when you’re ready.

Uploading PDF’s & PPT’s will remove any animations and videos in your presentation. If you want to preserve animations, just use Share Application / Screen instead.

Discover more about sharing content in Blackboard Collaborate

At the end of your session

To leave a Blackboard Collaborate session, simply close the browser tab.

Find your Recording

If you recorded the session, it will be available to view after your session has finished, or in the case of open-ended sessions, once the last participant has left the session.

Animation on how to access Collaborate Recordings

  1. Open the appropriate Blackboard course, and navigate to the Blackboard Collaborate Link

  2. Click the Menu icon, and choose Recordings

  3. Click on the Session Name, and select Watch Now to view the recording

  4. Share the recording with others by clicking the Recording Options button, and select Copy Link

  5. Recordings can be downloaded by clicking the Recording Options button, and select Download. Allow recording downloads must be selected in the Session Settings menu, but this can be done retrospectively. More on Session Settings.

  6. Use the Filter by menu to search for older recordings

View Attendance

Access the session attendance report to get an overview of when attendees joined and left the session. Reports are available in the Session Option menu - click the small dots next to a session name to access. Discover more about Session Attendance Reports.

Access our full Blackboard Collaborate guidance for more detailed information

For help email - we aim to reply within one working day. For immediate technical assistance with a Collaborate Session please use the live chat on the Blackboard Collaborate support page.