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Learning Technology Team

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 Ultra'. 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.


If you are having problems connecting to a Collaborate session on your laptop, or are having audio problems with your laptop, please note that you can also take part in Collaborate sessions on a mobile device by installing the Blackboard App.
Once you've installed the app on your mobile device, follow the instructions in this guide to help you connect to the Collaborate session from the app: Collaborate in the Blackboard App.


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 'Virtual Classroom' 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.

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 Ultra. 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 Ultra technical requirements

Collaborate Ultra 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.

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 Ultra.

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.

Report genuine Collaborate issues to Blackboard

If you do find that there is a genuine issue with Collaborate Ultra 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 on NILE

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.

Go to the Virtual Classroom link on the left-hand menu of the NILE course in order to open the scheduler view.

Open the menu in the top left corner and choose Recordings

Collaborate recordings menu


The list 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