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Some Features Disabled in Collaboarte Ultra (March 2020)

Due to the high demand for webconferencing, Blackboard has disabled some of the features in Collaborate Ultra to help minimize requried bandwidth. The full list of disabled features can be found in this PDF document. Features that will be disabled include:

  • Timer (a countdown timer that helps with classroom time management)
  • Chat typing indicator (a visual indicator that someone is typing but have not yet completed their thought. The chat feature itself will still be available.)
  • Netstats indicator (a visual indicator of connection quality next to each user)
  • Reducing the number of video thumbnails from 4 to 2 (this is the maximum number of thumbnails visible in the grid view

Collaborate Ultra

Collaborate Ultra is a Webconference tool which can be used in place of (or in addition to) the original Collaborate “Classic”. Collaborate Classic will be discontinued at the end of 2020 and will no longer appear as a default option in course site menus beginning Summer 2020. Below are benefits and drawbacks of Collaborate Ultra as compared to Collaborate "Classic." We recommend that you practice with it ahead of time so you can guide your students in its use.

Comparison of Collaborate Ultra to Collaborate Classic

Collaborate Ultra has been rebuilt from scratch and works entirely within the browser.  Some features are improved from Collaborate Classic and some are not as fully developed. 

Some comparisons:

  • Refresh rate: Ultra has a much higher refresh rate (number of times per second it redraws the screen).  This results in much smooter video and screen sharing but potentially could cause problems for students with low bandwidth.
  • Application sharing: Ultra allows you to share your screen or an application but does not allow you to turn over control of the application to a student.
  • Whiteboards: These are more limited in Ultra - you only have one whiteboard at a time and its content does not persist. That is, if you switch to another mode and come back the whiteboard is blank again. There is no way to print or save whiteboards except with by taking a screen shot or right-click and save image.
  • PowerPoint: As with Classic you can load and show PowerPoint or images (and now PDF as well) and can mark or draw on them.  The markup does not persist (you can't leave a slide and come back without the markup disappearing) and you can't print the marked up slides.
  • Breakout Rooms: Breakout rooms are more limited - content cannot be saved or moved to the main room (except by being in the room, taking a screenshot, saving to your computer, then reloading in the main room).
  • Chat and Participant List: these are contained within the browser window.  They CAN be viewed at the same time by detaching the Participant list, although this menu is hard to find! It is hard to view either while screen sharing unless you have two monitors.
  • Recordings: As with classic you can record sessions and convert recordings to mp4 movies. Unlike Classic a separate recording is created each time you start or stop during a session.

For more details about the comparison see: Collaborate Ultra Compared to Collaborate Classic (pdf)

Enabling Collaborate Ultra in a Blackboard Course

Collaborate Ultra is a component of the Blackboard course menu. It is independent of Collaborate Classic and you can use either or both in your class.  If you use both (for different purposes - for example you might use Classic for your scheduled class sessions but prefer Ultra for office hours or other meetings) then it will be confusing to students unless you clearly name the menu items and let your students know the purpose of each.

Step-by-Step Instructions for Enabling Collaborate Ultra in Your Blackboard Course (pdf)

More help for Collaborate Ultra


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