How to resolve issues with Blackboard Collaborate

Want to test Collaborate? You can use this test room.

We have received a small number of reports of issues experienced by staff and students when they use Collaborate such as

  • Session not starting (purple wheel never stops spinning).
  • Audio issues e.g. you cannot hear anyone or they cannot hear you.
  • Connection issues, e.g. drop-outs, connection loss, stutters etc.

Whatever the issue facing you, please review these steps that should resolve most issues.  As you try these steps make sure to leave the Collaborate session, close the browser, re-open the browser and then re-join the session via Blackboard, just making the change may have no effect until the browser has been restarted and the session re-joined.

 

Are you using the right web browser?

Blackboard Collaborate works best with Google Chrome.  You can also use Mozilla Firefox.  A full list of supported browsers and operating systems is available here: https://help.blackboard.com/Collaborate/Ultra/Moderator/Get_Started/Browser_Support

While other browsers may be supported, we recommend you should use Chrome in the first instance and then Firefox.

 

Make sure the browser is up to date.

How to update Chrome: https://support.google.com/chrome/answer/95414

How to update Firefox: https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/update-firefox-latest-release

For reference the latest version of Chrome at the time of writing this article was 81 and the latest version of Firefox was 75.

 

Try the other browser

If you are using Chrome or Firefox but still experience issues, the simplest tip is to try the other browser, so if you experience problems with Collaborate whilst using Chrome, try Firefox.  If you experience problems with Firefox, try Chrome.

 

Enable third party cookies

Ensure that your web browser is allowing third-party cookies, these guides explain how:

Chrome: https://support.google.com/chrome/answer/95647

Firefox: https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/content-blocking#w_turn-content-blocking-off-on-individual-sites

 

Try an incognito window

The next step is to try using the session in an private or incognito window.  This resets certain settings and can be an effective way to work around some configuration issues.

How to open an incognito window in Chrome: https://support.google.com/chrome/answer/95464

How to open a private browsing window in Firefox: https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/private-browsing-use-firefox-without-history

 

Clear the Cache

If that does not help the next step is to try clearing your browser cache. This guide explains how: http://www.wikihow.com/Clear-Your-Browser’s-Cache

 

Try the WebRTC troubleshooter

Collaborate uses a technology called WebRTC.  The WebRTC Troubleshooter website tests that this is working for you and can pick up issues and help you to fix them.

 

WiFi or Ethernet?

If you are experiencing difficulties and are on a wireless connection please make sure you are as close to your router as possible.  If that does not help please try a wired ethernet connection.

This publicly available knowledge base article discusses the most common issues when connecting from a domestic connection.

 

Using an Apple Mac?

The latest versions of OS X have extra security settings you need to make for devices to use the camera and microphone.  If you use a Mac / OS X please read through this guide on how to set the correct permissions.

 

Experiencing issues connecting from within an institution or business?

Some corporate and institutional networks may block the HTML5 Web Socket traffic upon which Collaborate relies.  Try on a domestic connection to see if you get the same issues.  If you do not, it could be an issue with the network in the institution or business you are connecting from.  Ask the network administrator to review the relevant information here.

 

Close other programs you do not need

High CPU usage (aka your computer is working hard) can cause audio issues as well. Be sure only necessary programs are running on the computer before starting the session. If you don’t need email, Spotify, Word, etc… open for the session, then close it!

Ensure that no other programs are using the speaker, microphone, or web cam, e.g. Skype, Teams, music player, video player etc.  To be sure, close those types of programs.

 

Give Permission

It is vital that you all Collaborate to use your microphone and camera.  You are likely to ask to approve permissions that look like this:

If you did not give permission

We can be so used to clicking “no” that we may accidentally prevent Collaborate from having permission to use our microphone and web cam.  If you find that people cannot hear you or see you, check that you have given permission for Collaborate to use your camera and microphone.

 

How to review permissions in Chrome:

Review the guide at https://support.google.com/chrome/answer/114662

Having reached the Site Settings page, choose “View permissions and data stored across sites” and search for bbcollab.  Open all that appear one after the other and choose to allow Camera and Microphone.

 

How to review permissions in Firefox:

The process is fairly similar in Firefox, see: https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/firefox-page-info-window

 

Sound output?

Blackboard Collaborate allows you to alter the microphone input and webcam settings, but not the audio output. Blackboard Collaborate will use the system default audio output / playback device, so ensure this is set correctly before opening Blackboard Collaborate. This is particularly important if you have multiple devices connected to your computer, such as speakers, headsets and external monitors.

 

No sound (you can’t hear other attendees)

  • Ensure that the correct audio device (speakers) is selected.
    • Windows 10 users, select your audio device by selecting the Speaker button near the clock as shown below:
    • Mac users please refer to the following article: Change the sound output settings on Mac
  • Ensure that sound volume on the computer is not muted or set really low.
  • Ensure that sound volume on the desired audio output device (e.g., speakers or headset) is not muted or set really low. Some headsets have a mute or volume knob on them.
  • Ensure that cables going to speakers or headset are all firmly plugged in.
  • If the above do not work, try rebooting the computer and/or try another web browser.
  • Try playing a YouTube video to see if there is sound. Collaborate will produce sound using the same audio device (e.g., speakers or headset) as other websites such as YouTube.

Windows 10 Sound

Windows 10 allows users to set audio preferences for individual apps. Some apps listen, others don’t. Because Collaborate runs entirely in your browser, you have to check settings for your browser.

1. Right-click the speaker icon in your system tray. This is usually at the lower right of your computer monitor.


2. Select Open Sound Settings.

3. Check your default Output device. Normally this will be the speakers or headphones you regularly use, but not always. You can use the dropdown menu to change your default for the system.

But some apps will save their own preferences. So we will need to check those as well.

4. Scroll down until you see the Advanced sound options section.

5. Click on the App volume and device preferences link.

6. Find your browser that you use for Collaborate in the list and check if you have options in the dropdown to select the sound source you expect to hear it from.

Notice that there is also an Input option if you are having problems selecting the correct microphone.

Go through Blackboard’s own browser support pages

Read through and try everything suggested in Blackboard’s support page for

Chrome: https://help.blackboard.com/Collaborate/Ultra/Participant/Support/Chrome_Support

Firefox: https://help.blackboard.com/Collaborate/Ultra/Participant/Support/Firefox_WebRTC_Support

Select the right audio and video device

When you use Collaborate for the first time a wizard will guide you through the setup.

It is important to pay attention to the device you choose to use with Collaborate if you have a choice.

The recommendation is to use a headset with microphone.

 

Run through the wizard again

No luck?  Please try going through the wizard again and double check that you have selected the right devices.

  1. Open the Collaborate Panel.
  2. Click on the Cog.
  3. Choose Set up Camera and Microphone.

Go through Blackboard’s support page about audio and video set up

Still not working?  Read through the page linked below and check through everything it recommends.

https://help.blackboard.com/Collaborate/Ultra/Participant/Participate_in_Sessions/Audio_and_Video

 

If all else fails – 1

Read through our guide on technology to use with Collaborate, there is lots of information there that will help.

 

If all else fails – 2

You’ll have to send us a ticket, but before you do there are two things to do first:

  1. Install TeamViewer.  If we need to phone you and remote to your computer in order to investigate the issue we will ask you to install TeamViewer.  Please install TeamViewer now, to save time for later.
  2. Collect some useful information that will help us, and add it to the ticket you will raise.

Within the Collaborate session you can capture some date which will be very useful for us to check.

  1. Open the session menu (the hamburger button at the top right).

  1. Click on Report an issue.

  1. The collaborate panel on the right will open, scroll down this section.

 

  1. At the bottom will be a box of diagnostic text, select this text, right click on it, and choose copy. Then raise a ticket via ServiceLine describing the problem you are experiencing and paste in this diagnostic text so we can take a look.