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NILE & Other Technology Guides

Information for Students

Blackboard Collaborate

Important: Please update your web browser for the best experience with virtual classrooms. Use a Chrome or Firefox web browser where possible and ensure it is up to date.

A virtual classroom is an online meeting space which provides interactive tools for tutors and students to teach and learn. At UoN, our Virtual Classrooms work through a system called 'Blackboard Collaborate'. It works directly in your web browser without the need to install software onto your computer. If your tutor uses Virtual Classrooms on your NILE site, the following basic guidance may improve your experience when using the system.

Getting started

Important Notes:

  • To access the virtual workshop you should use a laptop or desktop computer that has a Chrome, Firefox or Microsoft Edge browser installed. You should use Chrome or Firefox if at all possible.
  • You will need a good, reliable Internet connection.
  • You will need speakers or preferably headphones to hear others and you will need a microphone to be heard yourself. It is also possible to use a webcam if you have one connected.
  • Your instructor controls whether you can use your microphone and camera, but you should usually be able to raise your hand (hand icon) or post a chat message (speech bubble icon).
  • If you have a problem with sound or video, leaving and re-joining the session usually fixes a lot of issues. If you still have a problem please try these links:  Windows | Mac | Chromebook

User Interface

Please watch this introductory video to Blackboard Collaborate. The options available to you will depend on your instructor; for example, you may not be able to use the presentation tools, but you may be able to use your microphone.


At times, your instructor may provide you with the ability to present your screen or an application over Collaborate. Please refer to the linked guidance at the bottom of this page which covers presentation features in more detail.

Collaborate technical requirements

Collaborate is designed to run in the web browser 

Software: The latest version of a Chrome or Firefox internet browser.

Internet: A reliable Internet connection, preferably broadband.

Device: A laptop or desktop computer. Students can use a mobile or tablet to join but may be subject to more restricted capabilities.

Peripherals: A microphone to speak, headphones or speakers to hear, and a webcam to share a video feed.

Original courses: Accessing Collaborate sessions

The specific names and location of links used in each NILE site may differ, but many NILE sites will look similar to the below image.

To access your session, choose 'Blackboard Collaborate' from the left-hand menu (1), select either the course room, or the session name that applies to you from the list (2) and click on Join session (3). Sessions are only available to click on during the start and end times shown.

The Blackboard Collaborate link is under the heading Module Content in the course menu

Ultra courses: Accessing Collaborate sessions

Navigate to the Details & Actions menu and look for the heading Blackboard Collaborate. Choose Join Session underneath the Blackboard Collaborate heading and select either the Course Room, or the Session name that applies to you from the list.

NOTE: Sessions will only be visible once the start time has been reached.

Join session is the fourth link in the details and actions menu

Audio and video setup

When you first join a virtual classroom session, the audio and video setup wizard will guide you through steps to select the microphone and webcam you wish to use. If you have problems with your audio and video not working, please use the link below and follow the guidance provided by Blackboard, who supplies our virtual classroom software called Collaborate.

Using Collaborate when the Internet is slow.

Sometime it seems like the Internet is on a ‘go slow’. This can happen for a variety of reasons, including simple things like how many people and devices in your house are connected to your router/hub, and whether they are gaming, downloading large files, or streaming videos, all of which can use up a good portion of your limited bandwidth. If you are taking part in a Collaborate session and you find that you're having problems connecting to the session, or if you get a message from Collaborate warning that your connection is poor, you may find some of the following tips useful.

1. Close all unnecessary programs on your computer.

If you’re taking part in a Collaborate session, the only program that needs to be running is your browser, Chrome. Shut down all the other programs on your computer to get the best performance.

2. Close unnecessary browser tabs.

If you’re used to having loads of tabs open in your browser, then now’s the time to change this habit. Usually you only need one or two tabs open to take part in a Collaborate session – one is NILE, the other is the Collaborate session.

3. Restrict webcam usage to a minimum.

If you don’t need to share your webcam feed, then don’t.

4. If it gets really bad, turn off all your other devices, and everybody else’s too.

If the other people in your house are gaming, or streaming Netflix, etc., ask them to turn off their computers and read a book or do the washing up instead. Turn off your phone, and everybody else’s. Turn off all other computers, other mobile devices and anything that you can think of that might be connecting to the Internet for the duration of your Collaborate session.

Current known issues

Below is a list of known issues currently affecting some of our Collaborate users. This list will be kept up to date as LearnTech becomes aware of the problems UON staff and students are experiencing and recommend ways to avoid issues where possible.

Title Description Recommendation
Ad-blockers Some users have installed third-party ad-blockers on their web browsers. These can interfere with the proper operation of Collborate. Disable any ad-blockers you have installed, or add an exception for
Web browser freezes intermittently when sharing screen or application Some users have reported that browsers freeze, or become unresponsive, intermittently when sharing an application, or sharing their screen in Collaborate on Windows. This issue does not affect all users and does not occur during all sessions.

While this issue is being resolved, please consider trying a different supported web browser. Also please consider uploading and sharing files where possible instead of sharing the screen.

Chrome 78 isn't supported Chromebook users may see the error message 'Chrome 78 isn't supported' when trying to access Collaborate sessions. Update Chrome if possible, or use an alternative browser. Full details on this issue are here: FAQ - Chrome 78
Mac OS "Big Sur" or "Catalina" and Safari 14

When using Mac OS "Big Sur" 11.0 or "Catalina" 10.15 and Safari 14 with Collaborate the audio a user hears is breaking up or cracking.

Please do not use Safari 14. Instead, download and use Google Chrome:
Some older ChromeBooks and iOS devices are experiencing audio breaking up. Some users on older ChromeBooks and iOS devices (iPads and iPhones) may experience their audio breaking up due to hardware configuration and CPU capabilities Please use an alternative device where possible, or read the full documentation for suggested ways of improving your experience if you are affected by this issue.

Report genuine Collaborate issues to Blackboard

If you do find that there is a genuine issue with Collaborate which is not linked to a poor internet connection, or microphone and webcam setup as described above, then please see the link below on the quickest way to report the issue and have it resolved by the supplier, Blackboard. Reporting this way will provide their engineers with all the details they need to help you.

Access Collaborate recordings

If virtual classroom events have been recorded, you can find the link to those recordings within the associated NILE module using the steps below.

NOTE: Recordings will not be available immediately after the virtual classroom session has ended. It may take some time for the system to encode the video and make it available to watch, depending on the length of the recording.

In an Original course, navigate to the Blackboard Collaborate link on the left-hand menu to open the scheduler view.

The Blackboard Collaborate link is usually underneath the Module Content heading

Open the menu in the top left corner and choose Recordings

Collaborate recordings menu


In an Ultra course, navigate to the Blackboard Collaborate heading in the Details & Actions menu. Select the three dots next to the Blackboard Collaborate heading and choose View all recordings.

Blackboard Collaborate is the second heading in the Details & Actions menu.

The Recordings page will only include recent recordings. To see earlier recordings, specify a date range using the filter options at the top of the page.

Recording date ranges


The list of recordings will update accordingly. Click on a title to view it in your web browser. If the tutor has allowed downloads, the recording can also be saved to your computer from the menu to the right of each recording, should you need to watch it offline.

Recording menu with download option


NOTE: Recordings watched online will include chat messages, but the downloaded versions will only include the main content without chat comments.


Should you require urgent assistance with NILE, please contact the LearnTech Support Helpdesk via the online contact form