Collaboration Tools



The Collaboration Tools allow the Instructor and Students to participate in real-time lessons and discussions.  Examples of these sessions include real-time, online classroom discussions, TA sessions, and office hour type question/answer forums. Archives of previous sessions are also available for review. Guest speakers and subject-matter experts can also lead sessions using the Collaboration Tools.The Collaboration Session page is used to organize and access sessions.  From this page users can search for and join Collaboration Sessions and view session archives.


Collaboration Sessions


Collaboration Tools

The following Collaboration Tools are available.




Virtual Classroom 

Allows users to enter a real-time discussion with Instructors, Students, and colleagues, access the Web, and engage in question and answer sessions. Users may also access the Whiteboard to display text and images.

 Lightweight Chat

The Lightweight Chat is part of the Virtual Classroom, but can also be accessed separately.  It allows users to open just the chat function of the Virtual Classroom.


Java Plug-in

The Java 2 Run Time Environment 1.3.1_04 or higher is required to use the Collaboration Tools.  This plug-in may be downloaded from the page that appears when a user joins a Collaboration Session, or may be found at


Users should take care to uninstall any existing Java plug-ins before installing a new version.



Find this page

Follow the steps below to open the Collaboration Sessions page.


Step 1                 Click Communication on the course menu in a course Web site.

Step 2                 Select Collaboration.



The following table describes the functions available from this page.


To . . .

click . . .

filter the sessions listed on the page

the arrow next to the drop-down list and select the type of session to display. Click Filter.  The filters include:


·          Show All – The default filter that displays all of the Collaboration Sessions.


·          Open Rooms – Displays all of the sessions that are currently being used.


·          Rooms with Archives – Displays completed sessions that have an archive.


·          Rooms Available in the Future – Displays sessions that are scheduled to take place in the future.

search for a session

the Session Name, Start Date or End Date option and then enter a value in the field.  Click Search.

enter a session

Join next to the session. The Virtual Classroom or Lightweight chat for that session will open.

access the archives for a session

Archives next to the session.  The Session Archives page will appear.


User Roles

There are two roles available for users in Collaboration Sessions: Passive and Active.  Instructors control user access and functionality during a Collaboration session by assigning roles. These roles determine how much functionality a user has during a Collaboration Session.  For example, Instructors determine which users can chat, send private messages, or ask questions during a session by assigning specific Access Rights to the different roles. The Student icon will appear in the Role column next to those Students who are Active.


Student roles can change throughout the Collaboration Session. Users who are Passive, but would like Active rights, can “raise their hand” by clicking the hand icon, which is visible to Passive Students.  The Instructor then clicks the hand icon next to a user name or clicks the Student icon to make the user Active.


Macintosh and the Collaboration Tool

Macintosh users running OS X and Netscape should run Netscape 7. When opening the Collaboration Tool, Netscape may put the tool in the background. If this happens, check under the Window menu for the Collaboration Tool. Netscape 6.2 does not work well with the Collaboration Tool and should be replaced with Netscape 7. For those users that wish to use Safari, be aware that the Safari browser is not yet supported by Blackboard, however, the Collaboration Tool should function normally in Safari so long as Pop-Up Window Blocking is disabled (that is, you allow pop-up windows to display). When Safari is supported by Blackboard, it will be listed in the Client/Browser Configuration Guide available at


Macintosh users running OS 8 or OS 9 must use the Accessible version of the Collaboration Tool. See below for more information on running the Accessible Collaboration Tool.


Accessible Collaboration Tool

An accessible version of the Collaboration Tool is available in the Blackboard Learning System. Users running Macintosh Operating System 8 or 9 should also use this version.


On the launch page, which opens when Join is selected on the Collaboration Sessions page, a link to this version appears. This link will open the Accessible version / Macintosh OS 8 and 9 version of the Collaboration Tool, which resembles the Lightweight Chat. Links to items that appear in the Virtual Classroom, such as items in the Course Map and Group Browser, will appear in this version. Documents created on the Whiteboard may be viewed if the Instructor takes a snapshot of them, using the Snapshot button on the Whiteboard action bar. A link will be created to the snapshot for users to view it.


When a user, using the Accessible Collaboration Tool, enters or exits the room the sound of a door opening or closing will be audible to all participants in the Collaboration Session.



© 2004 Blackboard Inc.