New and Upcoming Features in Blackboard Collaborate

Blackboard Collaborate is updated on a monthly basis, usually the second week of each month.

Below you will find a list of the important new features that have become available in the last year and a preview of features that are coming soon. 

New Features Coming Soon

Beta release of Collaborate’s New Audio/Video Service in May and JuneNew

Date added: Anticipated for May or June 2022
Type: Beta Version

Blackboard is in the process of rebuilding Collaborate on top of a new video and audio service, Amazon Chime. This will allow for increased reliability and scaling for large audiences as well as higher quality video and application sharing. 

When the beta version becomes available in May or June, you can choose to use AWS Chime for audio and video when you schedule your session. Initially, the beta release will not include some key features, so we recommend NOT enabling the AWS Chime option if you need any of these features:

  • Breakout groups
  • Polling
  • Large sessions (more than 250 attendees)
  • Telephony (dialing in via phone)
  • Captioning

These features will be developed and made available in a future update. 

Add Automated Transcription to RecordingsNew

Dated added: Anticipated for summer, 2022
Type: New Feature

When a session is recorded, Instructors and Teaching Assistants will be able to request automated transcription of the session recording. This leverages AI-powered speech-to-text recognition to generate a transcription of what was said during the session. While automated captioning can't match captions created by humans, it is an easy solution to start with. 

Once enabled in our instance of Blackboard, you can request the automated captions from the recording settings panel. Once generated, the automated captions will appear in the recording player. You may also improve or correct the captions by downloading the caption file, editing it, and uploading the revised file.

This feature requires an update to NIU's license agreement with Blackboard, so it will not be available immediately. 

Download Whiteboard and Annotated DocumentsNew

Date added: Anticipated for May, 2022
Type: Enhancement

This update provides the ability for attendees (students) to download any files uploaded to Collaborate for sharing, such as a PowerPoint presentation or PDF. The download will include any annotations made during the session. 

If you do not want students to be able to download the file, you should use application sharing to display the file instead of uploading it to Collaborate.

Small Improvements to Poll ReportsNew

Date added: Anticipated for May, 2022
Type: Enhancement

Based on user feedback, Blackboard is adding small improvements for poll reports:

  • If an attendee is disconnected, their poll answers will still be included in the poll report
  • If the poll question or options is updated by the moderator, the poll report will include the updated version and not the original version

New Features Now Available

Live Data Insights on Engagement During the Session New

Date added: April, 2022
Type: New Feature

While facilitating a session, it can be challenging to deliver content, maintain conversation, and monitor the engagement of your students. The new engagement insights panel is a companion that provides instructors (and anyone with the moderator role) with data on how students are engaging while the session is occurring.

In the initial release, you can see at-a-glance the number of hands raised and the number of chat messages that have been sent, both in the main room and the breakout groups. You will also see the percentage of attendees that have either raised their hand or sent a chat message to give you quick insight on how widely your students are participating.

screenshot of Blackboard Collaborate session showing the session engagement insights bar, highlight that 2 students have raised their hand and 1 attendee has sent a chat message.

Learn more about Engagement Insights.

Insights on Recording UsageNew

Date added: April, 2022
Type: New Feature

With the new recording usage tab, you can determine how your students are engaging with your session recordings. The recording usage tabs allows you to see how many students have watched and downloaded recordings as well as the date and time for the last time each recording was viewed or downloaded.

This new tab also helps you make data-informed decisions about which recordings to keep, download, or delete. Note that all recordings over 6 months old are periodically deleted to maintain our storage capacity.

screenshot of the Collaborate recording usage tab showing the number of views, date and time of last view, number of downloads, and date and time of the last download for each recording

More Flexibility for Large Sessions

Date added: March 2022
Type: Enhancement

Until now, some features were restricted for large sessions with more than 250 attendees. Blackboard has been able to lift those limitations so that you can now create :

  • Large sessions without an end date
  • Large sessions with an end date more than 24 hours after the start date
  • Large sessions as recurring sessions
Pointer in the New Whiteboard

Date added: January 2022
Type: Enhancement

The initial release of the new whiteboard didn’t include a pointer for moderators and presenters. Based on user feedback highlighting the importance of a pointer for teaching, Blackboard has added a pointer function to the new whiteboard. And to make visibility better, the icon is now more consistent with common design standards.

screenshot of whiteboard tools in Blackboard Collaborate highlighting the pointer icon

Updated Whiteboard for Annotating Shared Content

Date added: October 2021
Type: New Feature

With the new whiteboard all attendees can enjoy better formatting, usability, and annotation persistence on a session whiteboard or shared file.

  • Better formatting: Pencil thickness, fonts and font size, shapes with color fill, arrows, and more are added to the annotation tools.
  • Usability: It's easier to copy and reuse elements and paste text. You can now erase part of the annotations or clear all. There are multi line text blocks, text wrapping, and safeguards before clearing all annotations.
  • Interaction with breakout groups: You can annotate a file in the main room and then share it with the breakout groups including annotations. You can bring a breakout group's own annotated file into the main room together with its annotations.
  • Annotation persistence: Annotations made to the whiteboard, or on a file, are saved in the session. You can share something new, go to a new slide, or stop sharing. The annotations remain. Select Clear Annotations to remove them all.
Breakout Group Integration with Course Groups

Date added: September 2021
Type: New Feature

Groups created in your Blackboard Course are now available in your course Collaborate sessions for breakouts, saving you time setting up breakout groups in the session. You can use this new feature to easily have your students join their ongoing groups to work on a project, or you can set up groups in advance in your course to be able to quickly move to and from breakout groups in your sessions.

For the integration to be successful, you must be using the Collaborate scheduler in your course, and students must join via the scheduler (i.e., students can't join via a guest link). 

In addition, the integration only works with course-level groups in the Ultra Course View (not Assignment/Discussion groups) or group sets in the Original Course View (not individual/standalone groups). 

Gallery View for Video Display

Dated added: June 2021
Type: New Feature

 

The new Gallery View for displaying webcam videos will help you and your students see each other and feel connected. 

In gallery view, moderators, presenters, and participants can see up to 25 videos at a time, based on device screen size and bandwidth. Moderator videos appear at the start of the first page and other participants appear in alphabetical order. Arrows on either side of the gallery allow you to page through the participant videos. 

screenshot of a Blackboard Collaborate session showing 25 webcam videos arranged in a 5 by 5 grid. The menu in the upper right corner is open to demonstrate the ability to select gallery view, speaker view, or tiled view.

Every participant can determine whether they want to see the speaker view or the gallery view based on their preference, using the controls in the upper right corner. The moderator can also disable the gallery view if it will be too distracting for participants. 

All participants also have the option to pin videos to the top of the gallery. For example, students may want to pin a sign language interpreter so they are always in view.

Future updates are planned to display a gallery or tiled view side-by-side with shared content.

Camera as Content on Mobile Devices

Date added: June 2021
Type: Enhancement

When presenting from a mobile device, you can use the Share Content menu to broadcast the camera on your mobile device as the primary content on the screen. This also allows you to choose whether you want to use the front-facing or rear-facing camera, unlike when you share your camera using the main camera tool along the bottom of the screen (which assumes you are sharing a video of you and is restricted to the front-facing camera).

 

 

series of 4 images demonstrating opening the Share Content panel, choosing to Share Camera, selecting and previewing a camera, then sharing the camera with participants

New Features Roadmap

Get an exclusive look at upcoming Blackboard product and feature releases by joining Blackboard product management leaders for an upcoming Blackboard roadmap webinar. Learn More.


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