Collaborate Ultra: Cache of Gold, or Wild, Wild West?

  • Belinda Green (Author)

Activity: Academic Talks or PresentationsInvited talkTeaching


Throughout 2016/17 we have been piloting Collaborate Ultra, Blackboard’s real-time video conferencing tool. With a move to a new campus (with no lecture theatres) this year, and the redesign of all our courses for Active Blended Learning, there are exciting times ahead. Having our students at heart - but with module evaluations, results, NSS, and TEF to consider, it is indeed a brave tutor who implements an evolving technology such as video conferencing, and a radical new teaching approach.... But what could be so different about video conferencing for education? After all, people are already used to skype, whatsapp and facebook video, google hangouts, and watching interviews via video link on tv news programmes - aren’t they? Isn’t it just a case of switching it on?

This presentation will share examples of how we have used Collaborate Ultra for 1:1 tutorials, in-class participation, cross-subject collaborations, international cohorts, and research conferences. We will examine more closely the case study of how one teaching team reconsidered their pedagogy; how they built collaborative video conferencing into their series of cross-programme learning events; and the experiences of all involved - tutors, students, AV support, and learning technologists. With Collaborate Ultra, there is certainly the promise of a Cache of Gold. Alongside really useful tools such as video and audio, whiteboards, breakout rooms, polling, chat facility and recording, it can be embraced as a learning and teaching tool for the 21st century. However, to build it successfully into teaching and learning needs institutional backing, and careful planning, training, preparation, guidance and support (and rock-steady connectivity) or it can all go a bit Wild Wild West. This session will present our experiences of using Blackboard Collaborate Ultra - the Good, the Brilliant and the Uncomfortable – and recommendations for adoption and use. It is targeted towards those staff responsible for delivering and supporting learning and teaching.
Period4 Jan 2018
Event title18th Durham Blackboard Users’ Conference: “The User Experience – the Good, The Bad and the Ugly”
Event typeConference
LocationDurham, United KingdomShow on map


  • Blackboard Collaborate Ultra