Microsoft Teams

All staff and students can access Microsoft Teams, regardless of whether or not they have a mobile device. Microsoft Teams can be accessed via a downloadable app, or directly through a web browser.

Both staff and students can create Teams, and can add the appropriate parties to the team. All teams will come with a default channel. To streamline content, creating extra channels can keep discussions relevant. If you want to get an individuals attention, you can use the @ symbol to notify them. This can be extended to the entire team, so everyone gets a notification via the app.

Within a Team, files can be uploaded. This lets students share content within the Team. Files can then edited by the team.

Another feature of Teams that is beneficial when working remotely is the accessibility of being able to chat. Chat is private communication but you can extend its functionality to including multiple parties to the chat space. Remember: any conversations that take place in the channels are open to everyone in the Team. Conversations in Chat are only between invited individuals.

Finally, you can use Teams to instigate meetings. A meeting can include both audio and video, and meetings can be recorded for later consumption.

Blackboard Collaborate

Blackboard modules all come equipped with a synchronous online classroom tool called Blackboard Collaborate. This tool provides an online seminar virtual room that staff and students can use to run online, distance sessions.

Webinars can draw in new learners and add more value to your courses, however, consider pedagogy carefully. Running a webinar is not as simple as opening the platform and talking. You will quickly lose students if the webinar becomes ‘transmission only’. There is a lot of organisation that needs to happen prior to the event in order to be successful.  It is easy for students to disengage during webinars, so make sure to keep them engaged through polling, questions, cold calling, discussions, small break-out sessions.

It is recommended staff only use Collaborate to host a synchronous session if they have already done so, are confident in the use of the tool and have used it previously with the target group of learners.

Blackboard have produced a Communication & Adoption Toolkit for staff who have existing experience with Collaborate Ultra which provides the following information:

  • Blackboard Collaborate Video Tour
  • Cheat Sheets
  • Getting Started
  • Communication Checklist

Our support guide on Blackboard Collaborate Ultra covers how to make the tool available in your module and guidance on running a session.

Online Communication & Collaboration Advice

Getting Started with Webinars –
Planning and Delivering Webinar Sessions –
10 tips for inclusive webinars –