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Blackboard Collaborate (for Students) Last Updated January 21, 2014

Blackboard Support Office Library 321 202-885-3904, blackboard@american.edu Collaborate allows you to talk, chat, present PowerPoints, share your screen, and invite guests. It is similar to Skype or Google Hangouts except it can support up to 400 people. Because Collaborate runs with Java, make sure your Java is up to date. You can install (or reinstall) it from Java.com, just make sure to uncheck the boxes to not install McAffee anti-virus or the Ask toolbar as these are unneeded programs. People can also use iOS and Android phone and tablet devices to view (but not present) Collaborate sessions. Just install the app from the App store or the Play store and when you click on a link for Collaborate it will launch within the app.

Accessing a Blackboard Collaborate Session To access Blackboard Collaborate, go to a specific course and click on Tools and then Blackboard Collaborate. You should see the scheduling manager with a list of Collaborate sessions (if your instructor has created any):

When you click on the link it will download a file called a JNLP file, which will launch the session once opened. Some browsers do this automatically, while some will require you to double-click the download. If you do not see the JNLP you will need to open up the folder that your browser downloads to, and then double click the file once you have found it. In Chrome it will also ask you if you want to keep the file. Make sure to press KEEP, and then the file will download.

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Some users prefer Firefox since it handles JNLP file with less intervention from users, but any browser should work. If the session fails to launch, it is probably because Java is not up to date or installed (you can update or install Java from java.com). Make sure it is up to date and then try again. If it still does not work you can contact us at 202-885-3904, or blackboard@american.edu Sometimes on Macs you will not be able to open up the JNLP file because it says the file is from an unidentified developer. You can still open the file by right clicking (or by pressing CTRL click) and then telling it to open the file. Alternately, you can go to SYSTEM PREFERENCE > SECURITY & PRIVACY and then change the “Allow apps downloaded from” settings to allow downloads from anywhere. Because of security reasons it might be better to leave this setting alone, and to just go with the CTRL click (or right click) option. The reason this warning comes up is because each JNLP file for a session is unique to that user and session so each one cannot get individually certified and verified. They are still safe, however.

Navigating Collaborate Once a Black board Collaborate session launches, it should look like this (mac users might have to press the window’s green plus button to maximize):

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The talk button is located under the webcam window. While it may sound unnecessary to mention it, many people forget it because this is different from programs like Skype, which automatically have talk activated. In Collaborate that would not work in situations where you have something like 30 people in a course with talk activated, and thus background noise from 30 people. Note, there is also a video button if you want to share your webcam video. If there are problems with your microphone or webcam not working, click on the little icons on the top right of the video area to try walk through any issues.

Other features to be aware of are that you can raise your hand, by pushing the button, after which a number will appear next to your name. You can also respond to polls that the professor gives during a Collaborate session, by pushing the button or button, depending on the type of poll the professor has specified. This feature is similar to an iClicker where you can respond in real time to questions or quick polls during a lecture. These options are all available under the PARTICIPANTS box.

There is also a basic chat feature, located on the left, in the middle or bottom of the Collaborate session page:

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Collaborate on Apple and Android Phones and Tablets People can also use iOS and Android phone and tablet devices to view (but not present) Collaborate sessions. Just install the app from the App store or the Play store and when you click on a link for Collaborate it will launch within the app. If you have not already installed the app, clicking on a Collaborate link will send you to the App store or the Play store to download the app. The next step is to click on the link again, and it will launch the session. Note that this only allows people to listen, view, and talk, but not to present.

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Student Collaborate Directions