Tips for Moderators
This page concerns functions specific to Collaborate moderators (Collaborate session participants with moderator status). All of the features being discussed are available only to Collaborate moderators.
This is not a comprehensive list; it consists of some of the more widely-used moderator functions, and focuses more on knowing what to expect and getting the most out of the tools than on how to use them. There is a fair amount of "how," but it is not the central point.
Section I includes brief introductions to the moderator features. Section II includes more detail on each.
Be sure to also visit the vendor's Blackboard Collaborate training and tutorial site. Click on the section labeled "For Moderators" to expand the list of resources. This section has much more on moderator tools and their use, including the comprehensive Blackboard Collaborate Web Conferencing Moderator's Guide [PDF].
Section I: Introductions
Recording a session — to manually begin recording, a moderator should click the Record button in the upper right-hand corner of the interface (next to the Blackboard logo) OR go to Tools > Recorder > Record; to pause or stop recording click the Record button again. More…
Loading a presentation — may be effected by clicking the Load Content button available for moderators in the upper right-hand corner (near the Blackboard logo); load Powerpoint and other Microsoft Office presentations; load any type of image file; Keynote and Photoshop presentations must first be converted to image files. More…
Conducting a web tour (or web push) — share web sites with others in the group in real time; open a common browser with web tour, or push the site into user's default browser with web push; all participants have the freedom to browse on their desktops, but automatically are forced to follow moderators when they browse. More…
Granting moderator privileges to others — moderators may "promote" regular participants by selecting the participant's name, right-clicking and selecting "Give Moderator Privilege"; moderators may also take moderator privileges away from participants they promoted. More…
Working with breakout rooms — breakout rooms are convenient for small brainstorming sessions within larger groups; good for private conversations between two or three within any size group; create public or private breakout rooms; private breakout rooms close automatically when everyone has left them; moderators can allow participants to send themselves to rooms; whiteboard activity can be saved from the main room to breakout rooms OR from breakout rooms to the main room. More…
Using simultaneous microphone control — control of the Elluminate microphone can be shared by up to six simultaneous speakers; go to Tools > Audio > Maximum Simultaneous Talkers; reduces lag time in conversation that results from passing mic control back and forth, one at a time; susceptible to reverberation if any participants use internal microphone devices. More…
Using video conferencing — enhances the virtual-meeting experience by making face-to-face interaction possible; go to Tools > Video > Maximum Simultaneous Cameras; works best for those with high-speed internet (cable or better) and adequate RAM. More…
Inviting additional participants from within your session — To send invitations by email to others outside of the meeting, click on the Tools menu, select In-Session Invite, and then select Invite New Participants. Note that you will need a desktop email application set up (e.g. Outlook, Entourage, or Apple Mail) for this feature to work. More…
Section II: Details
Recording a Session — there is an option in Collaborate to set a session to record automatically. If this option is used, the recording will begin as soon as the first person enters the room and will not stop until the last person leaves. This will be beyond anyone's control. There is no stopping or pausing the recording process. We generally do not recommend using the automatic recording option.
With manual recording, anyone with moderator status will be able to start the session recording by clicking the Record button in the upper right corner of the Collaborate interface or by going to Tools > Recorder > Record. You can also erase everything recorded up to a given point by selecting Tools > Recorder > Erase Recording…
Moderators will notice a "recording reminder" when they enter the session prompting you to begin recording right away if you desire. You can either click "Start" to begin recording or "Close" to postpone recording for later.
Note: In order to avoid a situation where the moderator forgets to begin recording the session (yes, it can happen to the best of us), some moderators choose to leave the recording reminder up but move it aside to a prominent place (for instance, near the Talk button or in the center of the whiteboard), thereby serving as a reminder that you need to start the recording for the session.
Note: Be sure that everyone properly leaves the session! The recording will not post until they have. [Return to Top]
Loading a Presentation — Anyone with moderator status is able to load presentation materials to the white board area, using the Load Content button located in the upper right-hand corner of the screen (near the Blackboard logo). Powerpoint presentations are the most common file types loaded, but you may also load StarOffice, OpenOffice and NeoOffice.
Pretty much any type of image file may be loaded to the whiteboard as well, which will come in handy if you use presentation software that Collaborate does not support — like Keynote or Photoshop — or if you experience any difficulty with Powerpoint slides. You may convert any presentation slides to individual image slides and load them one at a time.
In fact, it is worth knowing that when presentation files are loaded to the whiteboard, Collaborate converts the slides to static images first, so if your file includes animation or embedded audio, use the application share tool instead. [Return to Top]
Conducting a Web Tour (and Web Push) — The web tour tool is a highly useful tool; it can quickly become a favorite for group meetings. You'll notice the appearance of the web tour tool at the top of the interface. It looks like a globe. (Place your mouse over the button for a couple of seconds and it should say "Web Tour"). You can also go to the View menu: View > Web Tour. The Web Tour window will display on the whiteboard. Type, or cut and paste your target URL in the web tour address bar.
Launching a site in the web tour tool will open a browser (proprietary to Collaborate) in the whiteboard area of the interface. All participants (whatever their status) will be able to click on any live links and browse around at will that way, but the browsing of any moderator rules. That is to say, if you as a moderator click a given link, all other participants will follow you and the same navigation result will appear on all their desktops.
The application share tool would actually be a better choice in case you need to share a web site and control the content the other participants see at all times. There is no independent browsing when you use application share. The application share tool is also a better choice if the web site you wish to share includes a restricted and/or searchable database. Participants looking at the web tour browser are actually on their own Internet connections on their own desktops and are unable to duplicate your permissions or share in the results of your database queries. On the other hand, the application share tool displays your browser on their desktops and the others will see exactly what you are seeing.
Note: you can also use the web push function, which opens the selected URL in the participant's default browser — but all the above caveats still apply. To use the web push, go to View > Web Tour. But, instead of typing in the URL in the address field, click on the small pulldown menu to the right of the address field and select the menu option labeled "Open URL in Browser". Use this function to push the URL out to all participants. [Return to Top]
Granting Moderator Privileges to Others — In the world of Blackboard Collaborate this action is known as "promoting" participants, so they have the same status you are enjoying. Performing the action is simple: in the participants window, left-click on the participant's name, then right-click to access a menu of options and select "Give Moderator Privilege." A dialog box will appear asking if you really want to grant this privilege; click on "Yes." Everyone will see the change in status in the participants window.
A very similar process is followed to take away moderator privileges — but one moderator can take away privileges only from participants they promoted to moderator.
Here is a type of situation when a moderator might promote and then demote a participant:
Michael is moderating a session that features a number of student presentations. Their presentations have already been loaded to the whiteboard. In order of presentation Michael promotes each student in turn so they may advance through their slides using the presentation navigation arrows as they speak, demoting them after they have finished. Promote one student, watch their presentation, demote that student, and promote the next one. [Return to Top]
Working with Breakout Rooms — Breakout rooms are terrific for breaking up tasks or discussion points into smaller groups within large meetings. They are also useful for private, one-on-one, or one-on-two or three conversations in any size meeting. Nobody in the main room may hear or see the activity in a given breakout room (though everybody in the main room can tell the kind of activity going on by watching the permission activity indicators in the participants window).
Two main distinctions about "private" breakout rooms are that they are typically created "on the fly" and once they have emptied of participants they disappear. As a moderator, you can simply select and then right-click on a participant's name and then select Send to Breakout Room > New Private Breakout Room (or select the name and then go to Tools > Breakout Rooms > Send to Breakout Room > New Private Breakout Room). After that, any other participant, including yourself, may be sent to the same room under the name Private Breakout Room (1) or Private Breakout Room (2) and so on.
Public breakout rooms can be created through the Tools > Breakout Rooms > Create Breakout Rooms menu
Moderators may also click on participant names and drag those names from one room to the other. Another feature is that moderators may grant participants the ability to move themselves into breakout rooms and from one room to another. Go to the menu tools: Tools > Breakout Rooms > Allow Participants to Move Themselves to Breakout Rooms. This could be a time-saving option for moderators who prefer simply telling people where they should go.
Every participant in multiple breakout rooms can be returned all at once to the main room by doing one of the following:
Also, whiteboard screens from the main room may be copied to selected breakout rooms, and screens from breakout rooms may conversely be copied out to the main room. Look for the options to do so under Tools > Whiteboard. In a large session, this is a great way to assign groups to brainstorm on given aspects of a project, and share the results in a central location. [Return to Top]
For additional information on breakout rooms, please see Chapter 14 (Breakout Rooms) in the Blackboard Collaborate Web Conferencing Moderator's Guide [PDF]
- From the Room menu in the Participants panel toolbar, select Return Everyone to Main Room.
- From the Tools menu, select Breakout Rooms, then Return Everyone to Main Room.
Using Simultaneous Microphone Control — For some it feels more like natural interaction when more than one person can have access to, or control of, the microphone at once. There is sometimes a sense — especially on occasions when someone finishes speaking but forgets to release the mic — that the flow of conversation suffers from an interruption of rhythm.
A popular corrective for this situation is for moderators to set up multiple speakers at once. Under Tools > Audio > Maximum Simultaneous Talkers you can chose to allow up to six people to use the microphone at once.
Be aware though: this can get almost too natural when, and if, people start talking over one another. Confusing enough when everybody is in the same room — but exacerbated still more when it becomes a clamor of disembodied voices. People tend to start up all at the same time, and then abruptly stop all at once in deference to the others. Without visual cues a stilted stop and start pattern can make things seem as unnatural as the interrupted rhythm of one at a time speak and release.
Also, be aware that if one or more of your simultaneous talkers is using an internal microphone (that is, no headset), there is a tendency for echo and reverberation coming back from that person's computer when they have the mic on and someone else is speaking. If the group decides to go with simultaneous microphone control every user should agree to use headsets — or at least headphones to avoid this terribly annoying complication.
Using Video Conferencing — The video conferencing tool is an excellent addition to the virtual meeting experience, and can even mitigate somewhat the problem of talking over one another mentioned in the previous section (Using Simultaneous Microphone Control).
Like the simultaneous talkers option you may choose to allow up to six simultaneous video transmissions. To enable simultaneous cameras, Go to Tools > Video > Maximum Simultaneous Cameras. When maximum simultaneous cameras is enabled, all video transmissions will show up in the Audio and Video panel, although the active speaker will be the dominant (largest) video window.
By default, maximum simultaneous cameras is set to one, and the camera is set to follow the active speaker. In this scenario, if a participant is transmitting video, then when that participant speaks their video will be displayed in the Audio & Video panel. That is to say, the video window will track the active speaker. When someone else speaks, the video window will switch to the video transmission for the new active speaker.
The video window can be accessed by expanding the Audio and Video panel, which by default is located in the upper left-hand corner of the interface.
It may go without saying, but only participants with video-transmitting capability (with webcams or internal cameras) will be able to transmit any video; not having that capability will not stop them viewing those who do, however. [Return to Top]
Inviting Additional Participants from Within Your Session — As a moderator you can send invitations to others to join your meeting from within it, while it is in session. You may do so by going to: Tools > In-Session Invite > Invite New Participant. Selecting this brings up a dialog box with a default message that includes the link to your session. You can customize the message if you wish. Once you are satisfied with the content of the invitation, click "Compose Email."
Clicking "Compose Email" will launch whatever desktop email application your computer uses. This means, of course, that you must have a desktop email application, and it helps if you have used it once or twice so that it is not necessary to configure the application before sending the invitation. Another caveat: you will want to be reasonably confident that the invitee will be checking his or her email while you are still in session. It might help to call ahead if you happen to know their phone number.
[Return to Top]
For additional information on in-session invites, see Chapter 5 (In-Session Invitations) in the Blackboard Collaborate Web Conferencing Moderator's Guide [PDF].
- Additional Resources — You should be sure to explore the training and tutorial resources available for Blackboard Collaborate moderators on the Blackboard Collaborate On-Demand Learning Center website. Click on the section labeled "For Moderators" to expand the list of resources for moderators. This is quite a useful collection of resources. Check it out.