Part 8: Fall 2018 Labs

135 BBCollaborate Ultra – 10.18.2018

Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, part of the Learn@UW suite of learning technologies, can be used inside or outside of Canvas. Within Canvas, it is displayed as BBCollaborate Ultra. It helps facilitate video conferencing for small or large groups. At the October 18, 2018 Active Teaching Lab, participants explored how Ultra can be used for office hours, study groups, and breakout sessions. Attendees experienced the tool from both the instructor and student perspective and discussed common pitfalls to avoid and strategies for success.


  • Host a few low-stakes sessions to work out technical kinks before hosting important meetings.
  • To avoid hiccups, send instructions prior to a session, be available 30 minutes prior to the start of the session for technical assistance, and, once in the video session, remind students of available features and where to find them.
  • Arrange for a second person to help with managing the chat, questions, and troubleshooting so that the presenter/moderator can focus on content.
  • Use Google Chrome (BBCollaborate Ultra was designed for it), test all features before hosting a session in case any updates/restarting are required, and turn off email notifications/clean off your device’s desktop for screen sharing.
  • Require use of headphones to eliminate unwanted and distracting noise.
  • Be transparent to students regarding what is being recorded. The session recording feature is incredibly useful for exam review sessions, for example, but less so for personal office hour conversations.
  • If using the Breakout Sessions feature to make large-class discussions more manageable, keep one group in the main session room so that late joiners have a group to land in. If a student loses connection and has to re-enter the session, they enter into the main room, not the original breakout group.
  • Take advantage of file/screen sharing and live chat to capture the collaboration process in a recording.
  • See Blackboard’s Session Best Practices and UW-Madison’s KnowlegeBase Tips for Presenters for more BBCollaborate Ultra recommendations.

For step-by-step instructions on using the various features of BBCollaborate Ultra, visit the session’s activity sheet.


The Active Teaching Lab is a Faculty Engagement program with sessions held on Thursdays from 1:00-2:00pm (room 302) and Fridays from 8:30-9:45am (room 120) in the Middleton Building (1305 Linden Dr.) during fall 2018. Check out upcoming Labs or read the recaps from past Labs. We build interdisciplinary conversations that are more emergent than a presenter and more dynamic than a panel — a conversation with colleagues sharing challenges, solutions, and experiments on topics selected by a variety of stakeholders.

Sign up for regular Lab announcements by sending an email to


Active Teaching Lab eJournal Copyright © 2016 by DoIT Academic Technology and the UW-Madison Teaching Academy; Jennifer Hornbaker; John Martin; Julie Johnson; Karin Spader; Margaret Merrill; Margaret Murphy; and Jeffrey Thomas. All Rights Reserved.

Share This Book