This guide is for participants attending Collaborate Ultra sessions, and offers advice about some of the problems you might encounter.
What if it all goes wrong?
What if you can’t join a session or it ends abruptly because a Blackboard server fails, you lose your broadband connection or your PC freezes?
Most sessions are recorded so you will be able to catch up later, or your tutor will provide alternative activities and resources.
Your tutor will have given you advice about what to do if you are unable to attend a session or experience technical problems joining or during it. They may ask you to email them so they have a record of who had problems, but note that they won’t be able to provide any technical advice or individual support apart from a link to this help page.
Your tutor will also have given you advice about what to do they do if they missing from the session. For example they may have lost their broadband connection. They may tell you to check your email or the Blackboard module announcements for an update. Remember that they may not be able to post that update until they are back online, so please be patient.
Your connection fails
It happens. Home broadband sometimes drops your connection for a minute or so, and that will make Collaborate Ultra unresponsive and may eject you from the session. Our advice is don’t panic, be patient and after a minute or two try to re-join the session.
Wait a minute to see if your connection returns. If it doesn’t, close the Collaborate Ultra browser tab, access the Blackboard module and click to join the session again.
If it doesn’t re-connect, possible solutions include:
- Close your browser and start again.
- Restart your PC and try again.
You may want to install and configure the Blackboard app (Android and iOS) on your phone in advance so you can use your 3G/4G to access your modules and join Collaborate Ultra sessions in just a few clicks.
Only do this if your data allowance is sufficient – webinars are like videos in the amount of data they use.
Your tutor has a problem
Your tutor may also experience technical problems that prevent them joining a session or that unexpectedly eject them from it. You should remain in the session for five to ten minutes to give them time to reconnect. You can get on with other work, check your emails or chat while you wait.
Check your email and/or the Blackboard module’s announcements for updates.
Slow response when starting breakout groups
Collaborate Ultra is a cloud-hosted service, and Blackboard works hard to ensure it always has the technical capacity to run all of Aston’s sessions. There may be occasions on which very high demand leads to a slower than usual response, in which case our advice is don’t panic, be patient and don’t click to refresh your browser.
A slow-down is most likely to happen when you split into breakout groups. This normally takes about 10 seconds, but rarely some groups may take up to a minute to activate. You will see purple “busy” indicators around your microphone and webcam controls while you wait, and need to be patient.
Minimising the risk of connection problems
A slow or poor quality connection to the internet will adversely affect your use of Collaborate Ultra. If your connection seems slow, try these:
- Turn off your webcam and just use audio.
- Close other internet applications e.g. Teams, social media, email.
- Are other people using your connection with other devices? Can you ask them not to watch videos or play games while you are teaching?
- If connecting via WiFi can you get closer to the router to improve the signal?
- If that isn’t possible, can you use a WiFi signal booster?
- Can you get a wired (LAN) connection to the router?
See this article from PC Mag about 10 ways to boost your WiFi signal.
One of the things that can really affect your connection speed is the automatic download of system updates by Windows and macOS. It can also make your PC slow to respond. Turn on your PC at least 30 minutes in advance so it can complete those downloads first. If your PC asks to restart to install those updates, try to postpone that until the end of the day.