The Blackboard Collaborate web conferencing tool was purchased by Class in 2022. It will remain available to NIU faculty through the end of our contract in August 2026. In the meantime, it has been renamed from Blackboard Collaborate to Class Collaborate. You may see both names used for awhile as the branding is fully changed.
Class Collaborate (formerly Blackboard Collaborate) is available for all faculty and staff at NIU! Collaborate has been completely redesigned to make anytime synchronous collaboration simpler, more reliable, and more enjoyable with exciting new features like:
Brand-new architecture that runs directly in a browser - no need for Java!
A modern aesthetic and streamlined interface
HD audio and video
Personalized participant profiles
Quick & easy file and application sharing
Easy guest access for guest presenters or participants from outside NIU
Mobile access to live sessions and recordings via the Bb Student app (mobile presenting coming soon!)
Instant and convenient text chat
Live closed captioning (with a captioner)
Integrated telephony for listening/speaking via a telephone
Breakout rooms for small group collaboration
Polling to get real time feedback from your students
Collaborate is a comprehensive online learning and collaboration tool designed specifically for education. It is already part of your Blackboard Courses and Communities at NIU. Faculty and staff can create live sessions easily and free-of-charge, to facilitate engagement and interaction for teaching, learning, and other purposes.
Collaborate helps you to create virtual classrooms, offices and meeting spaces that open more possibilities for effective learning experiences and interactions for online, blended, and mobile learning. It helps to open up all-new aspects of real-time learning to engage more faculty, staff, students and guests.
For first-time users, Collaborate provides an in-session set up wizard, so that you can ensure your speakers, microphone and camera are set up and ready for you to get started.
Faculty can schedule and deliver live classes using Collaborate web conferencing. Capabilities include high-quality audio, multi-user video, integrated teleconferencing, PowerPoint import, shared whiteboard, public/private chat, breakout rooms, application/desktop sharing, guest participation, and more.
View participation reports to determine who attended the session, and for how long.
View recordings online or download in the MP4 format (for storage, or hosting on another video platform, like YouTube or Helix Media Library).
Students can access Collaborate sessions and record directly from within a Blackboard Course, for a great user experience every time.
Join live classes and meetings on the go from mobile devices or tablets.
Collaborate with classmates via Collaborate for more convenient team or group projects.
For Non-Instructional Web Conferencing (Training, Committees, Meetings, etc.)
Conduct live skill development and training sessions for faculty, staff, and students.
Record training sessions for on-demand viewing anytime, anywhere.
Schedule online interviews for search committees to see candidates, instead of phone interviews. Decrease expenses related to on-campus interviews by identifying the strongest candidates and bringing fewer candidates to campus.
Feature guest speakers in live presentations or professional development offerings, without the travel expense.
Organize synchronous sessions on research and scholarly activities with collaborators outside NIU.
Collaborate was purchased by Class in 2022. Class began rebranding Collaborate in late-2022 to change the name from Blackboard Collaborate to Class Collaborate. Collaborate will remain available to NIU faculty for the duration of our contract through August 2026.
If you would like to explore other options, NIU currently supports Zoom and Microsoft Teams as alternative web conferencing tools.
At this time, we do not foresee many updates or changes being made to Collaborate as a result of the sale to Class. In addition, Class has committed to maintaining Collaborate through the duration of existing contracts (our contract ends in August 2026).
In the meantime, the name has already changed from Blackboard Collaborate to Class Collaborate. We also expect the integration between Blackboard and other web conferencing tools, like Zoom, to be improved.
Online support documentation and links to tutorials are available. Hands-on training workshops are offered throughout the year by the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning. Check the Upcoming Workshops for any sessions currently scheduled.
Yes, Class Collaborate (formerly Blackboard Collaborate) is available in all NIU Blackboard courses and communities. In the Ultra Course View, Class Collaborate is in the left panel under Details & Actions. In the Original Course View, you can access Collaborate from the Control Panel by clicking "Organization Tools" and then "Blackboard Collaborate".
Yes you can! You can easily invite a guest speaker when you are creating the session. To do so, edit the Settings for a particular session and ensure that the Guest Access setting is checked. Copy the Guest Link and send it to your guest speaker.
Yes! Create the session within one course, and then post the Guest Link in the second course. Students from the first course will log in automatically with their name, and students from the second course will simply type their name when they join the session.
Class Collaborate (formerly Blackboard Collaborate) runs entirely in the browser and requires no plug-ins or specialized software. In general, it is recommended that you keep your browser up-to-date for the best experience. View the supported browsers to be sure that you have a browser on your computer or mobile device that is supported.
Yes, you can participate in Collaborate sessions directly in the browser on your mobile device. Participants can join the session by clicking a guest link (such as in their email or on a website) or from a Blackboard course. Students can access the course from the Blackboard app for students or by logging into Blackboard in their mobile browser.
At this time, the options for presenting on a mobile device are limited. You cannot share content, such as PowerPoint slides, or application share from a mobile device.
Because Collaborate runs entirely in your browser, you need to give permission for your web browser to use your webcam and microphone. Usually, you will be prompted to grant permission the first time you access Collaborate on your computer. If you inadvertently blocked the request, you can clear your cache and launch the session again. Your browser should ask you for permission again.
You can also change the permissions in your browser without clearing your cache. Here are the steps to do so in each browser: