Participating in the Virtual Classroom at Edge Hill University

Blackboard Collaborate Ultra is the virtual classroom platform for the institution. It can be used via a web browser on a computer or an app on a phone or tablet. The tool is available within every Blackboard course at Edge Hill University. Each online classroom contains web conferencing tools that will allow you to perform two-way audio, multi-point video, interactive whiteboard, application and desktop sharing, breakout rooms, transcripts and session recording.

At present, you may find that your face to face sessions are now being delivered online through this platform. We have created this blog post to help students student prepare and engage with the virtual classroom at Edge Hill University.

Laptop and mobile showing Collaborate features

Tips on Participating in a Session


  • Ensure your using a compatible browser. Please refer to the browser support page for further guidance.
  • Find a comfortable place with no distractions.
  • Before your first session, visit Blackboard Collaborate Help – Getting Started.
  • Plugin your webcam and microphone, if they are not built into your computer. For best results, use headphones with a built-in microphone.

Accessing Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Session:

You may be provided with a link to the Blackboard Collaborate Session from a Blackboard course, or you may have been sent a link in an email. In either case, click on the link provided.

  • From your course menu on the left, click on the ‘Collaborate’ link which is usually under ‘Module Communication’.
  • Click ‘Course Room’ (shown below) or the title of a designated room, then ‘Join Course Room’ to join the session.

Find your way around:

Take a quick tour of the video below before you start engaging. This video is designed to give you a quick tour of all the important features and controls in the user interface.

In Session:

  • Be sure to join your session 5 – 10 minutes prior to the start.
  • Set up your audio and video when you first join a session.
  • Participate in the session by responding to polls and providing feedback to the moderator.
  • Raise your hand by clicking the hand icon when you have a question or a comment.
  • Use Chat to send text messages to other participants and the moderator during the session.
  • Remember that running other applications on your computer can slow your connection to the session.

Should I mute my microphone?

Best practice for a synchronous course is to have your microphone on mute unless you want to speak. If you are participating with an online session, watching and listening is all that will be required unless you need to engage, it only takes an instant to unmute your microphone.

Can I use my Phone or Tablet?

You can participate in a Blackboard Collaborate Ultra session directly from your mobile device (Apple or Android) with the free Bb Student app. Within the app, you are able to fully interact during the session:

  • Join live classes
  • Share audio and video
  • Interact via text chat
  • View content shared by the instructor 
  • Use whiteboard tools
  • Use emoticons, hand raising, polls, breakout rooms

When participating from a mobile device, you will have the best experience over Wi-Fi. Devices running operating systems prior to iOS 8.4 and Android 4.4 can experience rapid battery drain, so it is recommended that you are fully charged or plugged in.


Mark Wilcock
Learning Technology Development Officer

Learning at Work Week – Impact Awards 2019

We are very pleased to announce that in the Learning at Work Week Impact Awards 2019 we have won in two categories ‘Shaping Digital Futures’ and ‘Innovation in Learning & Development’!

Learning at Work Week took place in May and provided staff in Catalyst with an opportunity to not only get to know each other but develop their skills and express their interests.

During Learning at Work Week 28 creative and informative sessions took place, delivered by both internal and external members of staff. These sessions were predominantly delivered by staff within Catalyst, as it gave staff the opportunity to inform colleagues about their services’ developments and an opportunity to share their skills and interests. Sessions included: ‘Creative Card Making’, ‘Rubber Stamp Printing’, ‘Sign Language’, ‘Writing for the web’ and ‘Pocket Photography’

We also added in a range of informative sessions, which allowed staff to learn more about other teams, networking with colleagues and promoting a workplace learning culture. The sessions were very well received with staff commenting on there being ‘plenty of variety’ and ‘something for everyone’.

Alongside face to face activities we also launched DigiQuest 2.0. This year’s quest prompted staff to explore and investigate new pieces of digital technology, allowing them to enhance and develop their digital capabilities. Activities included creating an infographic, learning the basics of Excel, analysing their digital footprint, making online quizzes and participating in Twitter chats. The choice of tasks were described as ‘varied’ and staff relished the opportunity to try out tools they had never explored previously. The theme for DigiQuest 2.0 was around space exploration, selected to coincide with the theme of Learning at Work Week. The exploration of space links to ‘Shaping the Future’ as they both revolve around progression, development and progress. Staff enjoyed the ‘inventive’ space theme and found the opportunity to achieve digital badges ‘motivating’. The variety of sessions on offer and focus on innovative staff development therefore meant that staff had the opportunity to take an active hold of their learning with a blended learning offer.


Learning at Work Week has successfully helped establish a positive learning culture and colleagues are keen to develop their digital skills further by getting involved in professional development initiatives. It has shown that learning and staff development works best when embedded in the culture of the department, so we have recently delivered ‘Learning at Work Week – Halloween Spectacular’ to continue the blended learning approach and further build a culture of learning at work.

For more information about the award please take a look at the following webpage:

Photograph of Laura

Written by: Laura Riella

Digital Capabilities Coordinator

Staff Development in January

Make the most of the new year and any new devices you might have got as a Christmas gift, and come along to one of our Developing Digital Excellence staff sessions.

In January we have sessions running within the Digital Practitioner strand which will focus on getting the most from your mobile device and the digital tools which are out there.

The Digital Practitioner

Help! My Mobile Is Smarter Than me                        9/1/14              12pm–1.00pm

Making research easier with mobile devices             14/1/14            12pm–1.00pm

(eJournals, Annotation and Referencing)

Keeping The Conversation Going Online                 20/1/14            1.00pm–2.00pm

eShare: Making the Most of Your Digital Repository 22/1/14            2.00pm–3.00pm

Electronic Assessment Management                        29/1/14            1.00pm-2.00pm


ICT skills very much run alongside those skills needed to develop your Learning Edge and use more mobile technology with students.  If you have got a new mobile device or PC why not find out more around using Outlook, including using the web access version.  There are also sessions around the two most popular Microsoft Office products, Word and PowerPoint.

The Digital Office

Outlook email                                                        6/1/14                2.00pm-4.00pm

Outlook Calendar                                                  7/1/14                10.00am–12pm

Outlook Web access                                             9/1/14                10.00am–12pm

Folder and file management                                 15/1/14             2:30pm–3:30pm

On the Edge Hill University Network

PowerPoint 1 – Introduction to On-Screen            16/1/14             9:30am–11:30am


Word 1 – Managing Paragraph                             23/1/14            10.00am–11:30am

and Page Formats

Book your place via the HR Staff Development wiki

Happy New Year, the Developing Digital Excellence Team


Developing Digital Excellence in December – come a long for a coffee and a mince pie

As semester 1 draws to close there are a number of opportunities for staff development and maybe reflect on some of the success of the term around using the VLE and share those with us and colleagues or you might be thinking about what you can do differently next year.  The sessions within our Digital Practitioner strand are sessions we have run previously but have been our most popular, especially the students’ ideal VLE


The Digital Practitioner  

Your Digital Tattoo – What the web says about you!              4/12/13      1.00pm- 2.00pm
Professional and employable digital identities                                  

Radio Ga Ga, Host Your Own Podcast                                  5/12/13      12noon – 1.00pm

Learning Edge – The Students’ Ideal VLE                               11/12/13    1.00pm – 2.00pm

Bring Your Course to Life With Video and Audio Content       17/12/13   12noon – 1.00pm

Another popular session in the past has been Michelle Maden providing help and guidance around beginning a systematic review so this session is running again on the 10th of December.

The Digital Researcher

Systematic Reviews: Where to Search                               10/12/13    11.00am- 12:30pm


Elaine Czotter continues to provide support in terms of staff using our new email system and has two sessions, one looking at the use of the calendar and all the opportunities that can bring and also using and managing your Outlook email.

The Digital Office

Outlook calendar (new session)                                           4/12/13      2.00pm-3.30pm

Outlook email (new session)                                                5/12/13      10.00am-12.00pm

Publisher- Introduction to desk top publishing                      6/12/13      1.00pm-3.00pm

ECDL Induction                                                                     10/12/13    10.00am–11.00am

We will be offering coffee and minces pies at our Christmas sessions so we hope to see you over the next few weeks.

All off the sessions are held in the ICT Staff Development training room S 5 on the second floor of the LINC Building.

Please book online via the HR Staff Development bookings

 If you have any areas of development which you feel you would like more support with please don’t hesitate to get in touch, we can add sessions to our regular programme or we can provide bespoke sessions for you and your team.

Please contact  me via email or telephone ex 7757 or 01695 650757

Rachel Bury

Learning Services

Academic Liaison Manager – Quality, Marketing and Communications

Learning how to share

Staff Development: eShare: Making the most of your Digital Repository

What is eShare? Why do we have it? How can it benefit me? Come along for an introduction to our digital repository for teaching and learning and see how you can make the most of eShare.

eShare offers you the opportunity to showcase your work to the world, store presentations, video clips and images in an easily accessible way and find ready-made, adaptable materials for your teaching.

In this hands-on session you will:

  • Create a profile – your profile can then be used for departmental webpages, EHRA and CV creation.
  • Learn how to search the repository for teaching resources, guides to technologies and learning resources.
  • Upload your own items – copyright and creative commons will be explained and demystified.

Book on to this session online via the Staff Development Booking system.

Michelle O'Connell




Michelle O’Connell

To arrange for a bespoke or 1:1 eShare session please contact me on x7229.

Developing Digital Excellence

As term begins we wanted to take this opportunity to let staff know about the skills and development opportunities Learning Services are providing as part of our Developing Digital Excellence programme.

This is the second year we have created a series of workshops where we wanted to share our expertise and collaborate with staff within a number of key development areas.  We are continuing to use the 4 strands as we feel they resonate with the key drivers for teams.  We have also got some new developing areas, following the feedback we had last year.

If you are a new member of staff, the sessions on using classrooms and lecture theatres may be very useful, and we are also keen to welcome all new academic staff to our introudctory session around using Learning Edge.  This session introduces staff to thier test area in Blackboard and looks at some of the key elements of the system for all new starters.

These sessions are face to face and are all delivered in our training room on the 2nd floor of the LINC building, however we are keen to deliver more sessions as online using Collaborate as we had some excellent feedback from our online session in July when we had over 50 people logged into the Blackboard Service Pack 12 update session.  

These sessions are all within our programme and you can book your place online via the HR Staff Development booking system..  If there are sessions you feel might be beneficial to your team as a bespoke event, or you feel your team could attend as an online session, please get in touch with me.

The Digital Classroom

Lecture theatre equipment            Wilson 1                    04/10/13         11.00am – 11.30am

Introduction to classroom equipment    B004                  04/10/13         4.00pm – 4.30pm

The Digital Practitioner   

Getting started with Learning Edge – essential skills for tutors using BlackBoard 

                                                                                        15/10/13           10.00am – 12.00pm

Restock your presentation toolkit                                   16/10/13           1.00pm – 2.00pm

Successfully managing online marking –    A guide to using the grade centre in  Blackboard                                                                      17/10/13          12.00pm – 1.00pm

Capturing workshop or seminar work in Learning Edge/Blackboard 

                                                                                         23/10/13         1.00pm – 2.00pm

Beyond the Baseline – building an exemplary course     30/10/13          2.00pm – 3.00pm

The Digital Researcher

Systematic Reviews: where to search                           10/10/13       10.00am – 11.30am                           

The Digital Office

Outlook desktop email                                                     3/10/13         9.30am – 12.30am

Outlook desktop calendar                                                4/10/13        11.30am – 1.00pm

Folders and file management on the Edge Hill  network    7/10/13        9.30am – 10.30am 

Word 1 – managing paragraph and page formats            8/10/13        10.00am – 11.30am 

PowerPoint 1 – introduction to on-screen presentations  14/10/13       2.00pm – 4.00pm

Excel 2 – functions and workbook management               22/10/13       10.00am – 12.00pm

Publisher 1 – introduction to desk top publishing              24/10/13       10.00am – 12.00pm


Rachel Bury

Academic Liaison Manager – Quality, Marketing and Communication

Award Winning Leadership in Mobile Teaching and Learning!

Learning Services have been awarded a Mobile Innovation Award as part of the 2013 Blackboard Catalyst Award programme. This exciting achievement recognises the impressive growth of mobile enhanced provision and practice at Edge Hill University and specifically, Learning Services’ strategic approach to supporting all staff and students to embrace the educational affordances of mobile technology.

BB_Catalyst_AwardIn September 2011, evidence of increasing mobile device ownership and student feedback about the potential of mobile technology led the university to invest in the Blackboard Mobile Learn app and our journey to mobility began! Following installation, set-up and testing, a strong communication and marketing campaign was initiated to promote and encourage uptake. Resource guides and support events like the technology roadshow mobile clinics were provided to help students and staff get started downloading apps, connecting to the campus wifi and using the vast range of mobile compatible library resources, such as the Library Catalogue app, Discover more and Ebrary eBooks. Concurrently a comprehensive staff development programme, which included innovative workshops like ‘A Mobile Field Trip’ & ‘Help My Mobile Is Smarter Than Me’, began, in order to support the effective adaptation and development of new mobile friendly teaching and learning practices – with areas such as Postgraduate Clinical Education, HEA4065 Clinical Research, SENCo, Dyslexia, and Sports Therapy leading the way to design and develop course environments that work seamlessly with the Mobile Learn app and enable their students to engage and learn at a time and place that is convenient to them.

Over the last 18 months mobile usage has increased dramatically and pockets of mobile friendly practices are expanding to become the standard modus operandi, accordingly both the service and the university have continued to invest in a portfolio of mobile facilities and activities to develop staffing expertise in order to positively enhance the student experience.

Mobile_Learn_Users_ComparisonFigure 1. Yearly Comparison 2011-12 2012-13 : – Number of Mobile Learn app users

Mobile_Learn_ComparisonFigure 2. Yearly Comparison 2011-12 2012-13 : Number of visits to the VLE via Mobile Learn

The mobile landscape continues to shift and provide new opportunities to enhance education and we’re working to build on these strong foundations to explore and exploit these exciting  developments. (Augmented reality is next on our agenda so watch this space!) Ongoing evaluation through analytics, user feedback, research and benchmarking is helping to ensure we are in a position to respond to changing behaviours and continue to implement a progressive mobile strategy.

This Blackboard Catalyst Mobile Innovation Award celebrates the hard work and achievement of many colleagues and students across the university. The product of constructive relationships and collaboration makes innovation and transformative teaching and learning practices possible- so this award goes to everyone at Edge Hill who is involved, engaged and working together to embrace mobile learning!

The awards ceremony will take place amongst a global community of peers at the Blackboard World 2013 Education Technology Conference this July in Las Vegas. As Learning Technology Development Manager I have been lucky enough to be invited to represent Edge Hill and Learning Services to accept this prestigious Mobile Innovation Award.

Congratulations everyone – keep up the good work!

Meg Juss, Learning Technology Development Manager





Meg Juss
Learning Technology Development Manager

The Blackboard Catalyst Mobile Innovation awards honour those who have pushed boundaries and embraced mobility to positively impact the educational experience at their institution.

For more information about the award visit the Blackboard Catalyst Awards web pages.

Spring clean your digital skills

Staff Development Programme – Developing Digital Excellence

Calling all staff, dust off your keyboard (sorry maybe taking the spring cleaning pun too far..)

Staff from across Learning Services are delivering sessions this month around a number of themes.  There are three sessions from our Digital Practitioner series – maybe you might want to start with the essentials skills in Learning Edge and then follow up with sessions looking at enhancing the online experience for your students using podcasting and also, how you can further support your students in a very positive way by using the tracking tool within Blackboard.

Digital Practitioner

Radio Ga Ga, Host Your Own Podcast

11/04/2013 12.00 – 1.00pm

Learning Edge Essential Skills

18/04/2013 10.00 – 11.30am

Big Brother Knows: Supportive Online Tracking

26/04/2013 12.00 – 1.00pm


Our librarians are here to support your research and information retrieval skills, which includes searching, critical analysis, storing and recording your references and copyright and intellectual property. 

Digital Researcher

Copyright and Intellectual Property Rights for Research

09/04/2013 12.30 – 1.00pm

Advanced RefWorks

11/04/2013 10.00am – 12.00pm

Critical Analysis of Information Sources

15/04/2013 1.00 – 2.00pm

A core component of our Developing Digital Excellence programme is ICT skills.  If you or staff you manage are keen to improve their skills, there is a ECDL induction on the 9th April.  You can come along and meet Elaine Czotter, the ICT staff development trainer who can tell you more about the qualification, our ECDL test centre and the programme she delivers.

Digital Office

ECDL Induction

09/04/2013 10.00 – 11.00am

POWERPOINT 1 – Introduction to On-Screen Presentations

16/04/2012 9.30 – 11.30am

Find out more about the whole programme and future sessions in May and June via the Learning Services wiki

Rachel Bury

Academic Liaison Manager – Quality, Marketing and Communication

Highlights of the Technology Road Show & Mobile Clinic

Last month Learning Services and IT Services combined forces to bring the first ever Technology Road Show & Mobile Clinic to the University.  The event was hosted in the Hub, to which students and staff took the opportunity to see demonstrations of Edge Hill mobile applications, and to speak to us and obtain technical support for mobile devices (phones, tablets and laptops).

Road Show 2013

Application wise, we showcased all of the institutions’ mobile apps and online resources, and when we demonstrated our very own Edge Hill Central we found that many students didn’t know this was available, or what it could do.  The combination of having Blackboard Mobile Learn, Email and library access all in one place was quite a surprise to users – prompting them to download the app on the spot!


In terms of the hardware issues we encountered, practically all the concerns were focussed on Wi-Fi connectivity.  Of course, with digital natives becoming the majority on campus and in the classroom, it’s vital we ensure your internet enabled devices are connected.  So to clarify and resolve this issue, please ensure you connect to eduroam.  Like the users we encountered, you’ll find that if you use EdgeNet it will repeatedly ask you to authenticate on a daily basis and even building to building. The new, and much easier way for continuous access is eduroam.

Eduroam will ensure you won’t have to enter your account details on a daily basis, your connection will roam around campus with you and will be active until you change/reset your network login password.  Make sure you connect your device to eduroam today. 

Mobile Flyer

For more information please take a look at the IT Services Wi-Fi pages.

Overall the Technology Road Show was a success and we’re pretty sure everyone we spoke to took something out of the event. If you missed out on the Road Show and have a question for us, please do get in touch on the following address: [email protected]



Mark Wilcock

Learning Technology Development Officer 

Developing Digital Excellence

Developing Digital Excellence – staff development and training in February

We have got a number of sessions for staff this month – many looking at some of the new ideas in the digital world, such as QR codes, data curation, and an interesting look at how you manage your digital identity.

Sessions are developed by various staff in Learning Services, utilising our skills and knowledge from our academic support librarians, learning technologists, our ICT trainer Elaine Czotter and specially trained staff from our media teams.

Digital Classroom

Sessions w/b 14th and 22nd February
Introduction to classroom equipment and lecture theatre technology
Please contact Glenn Allan direct ex 7227  or [email protected]

Digital Practitioner

12th February 12.00pm – 1.00pm
Learn and interact at the touch of a QR code

28th February 12.00pm – 1.00pm
Avoiding digital disaster in your presentations

Digital Researcher

12th February 12.15pm – 12.45pm
Web 2 and research

14th February 10.00am – 11.30am
Research data curation and sharing

19th February 12.00pm – 1.00pm
Your digital identity as a researcher

Digital Office

12th February 10.00am – 11.30am
Word – Managing paragraphs and page

25th February 2.00pm – 4.00pm
Excel – session 2

All of our training sessions are held in the staff training room, 2nd floor, Learning Innovation Centre.  You can find out more details via the Learning Services wiki, and you can book your place on line using the online booking link.

Learning Services wiki