Collaborate Ultra Instructor Guide

Collaborate Ultra Logo
Collaborate Ultra is a ​video/audio web-conferencing and collaboration tool in Canvas​ that lets you meet with students in real time. ​Through Collaborate Ultra you can do many classroom activities: present using whiteboards, share screens and resources, interact by voice or text chats, enable group discussion, and administer polls.
Cost Yes Free
Bandwidth Partial High demand
Canvas Integration Yes Works within Canvas
Privacy Yes Collaborate Ultra is FIPPA compliant and data is stored securely in Canada
Similar UBC-Supported Tools Zoom is also centrally supported

What can I use it for?

You can use Collaborate Ultra in Canvas courses for numerous types of real-time interactions:

  • Lectures (up to 500 participants)
  • Office hours
  • Group work
  • Student presentations
  • Oral exams
  • Exam invigilation

The lecture sessions can be recorded and made available after the real-time event.

What do I need to use Collaborate Ultra?

A supported web browser

Collaborate Ultra runs in your web browser and supports using Chrome, Edge, Firefox, or Safari. For which versions work, check the Collaborate Ultra supported browser page.

Audio/visual equipment

Web-conferencing uses a microphone and a webcam.

A Canvas course

Collaborate Ultra only works in Canvas courses at UBC.

Tips

  • Students can download the Canvas Student app to attend sessions on their mobile devices.
  • Using headphones with a microphone will ensure good audio quality for you and your students.

How do I use Collaborate Ultra?

To give everyone access to this shared space for real-time interactions, you will need to turn on Collaborate Ultra in your Canvas course. Note that teaching assistants can also use Collaborate Ultra as moderators, with access to all the same features as instructors.

Click any bar below for instructions and tips for using Collaborate Ultra in Canvas.

Enable real-time interactions with Collaborate Ultra

  1. Log in to your Canvas course, and click Settings in the Course Navigation.
  2. Click the Navigation tab.
  3. Find the Collaborate Ultra menu item, click the options menu (the 3 vertical dots), and choose Enable.
  4. Save your setting changes.
  5. The Collaborate Ultra menu item will now be available in the Course Navigation for you and your students.

Schedule a real-time lecture with Collaborate Ultra

Collaborate Ultra provides a default “Course Room” session for you to use, so you do not have to schedule lecture sessions separately. But if you prefer, you can set up individual sessions for each lecture.

  1. Log in to your Canvas course, and click Collaborate Ultra in the Course Navigation.
    • If you don’t see this option, follow the steps in the accordion above for enabling real-time interactions.
  2. Create a new session by clicking Create Session.
  3. In the pop-up, add a name and then choose from session options that include the following:
    • Setting a start and end time
    • Repeating the session
    • Allowing students to phone in to the session
    • Allowing early entry
    • Specifying what participants can and can’t do
    • Allowing recordings to be downloaded
      • This option is recommended if you will be recording, as it lets students with slower Internet connections watch offline
    • Enabling 250+ students to simultaneously attend
  4. Once you’ve set your options, click Save.

Tips

  • Host online real-time lectures at the same day and time as you would normally hold class.
  • If you use the default “Course Room” session for lectures, instruct students to join you in the room at the designated time, treating this virtual space as they would a physical classroom. The benefit of this approach is the lecture link is always the same.
  • Students can access Collaborate Ultra using their mobile devices to participate in lectures. This is easiest to do if you send them a link or they download the Canvas Student  app to use.
  • Tell students calling in to a session is free only from inside Canada and the U.S. Long distance fees may apply when joining by phone from other locations, as the international number (1 571 392 7651) is a U.S. one.

Prepare for your lecture session

  • Find a private, quiet, well-lit room to avoid interruptions or distractions.
  • Wear plain and neutral-coloured clothing. Clothes with strong detailing such as plaid shirts can create distortions in the video and remove visual detail from your face.
  • Use an external microphone (one that you plug into your computer) to help improve the audio quality of your presentation. Ideally, use headphones with a built-in microphone.
  • Avoid pointing your camera directly at a light source or you will likely appear silhouetted. Instead, sit with the light shining on you directly or at an angle. Make sure there is nothing behind you that will be distracting or revealing for students to see.
  • Test your audio and video beforehand. Also ask students to join the session a few minutes early to test their connection, microphone, and camera.
  • Get someone (e.g., teaching assistant) who can help moderate during the lecture to monitor chat questions and handle technical troubleshooting with students.

Tips

  • Review the 3-minute lecture recording tips video provided by UBC Studios.
  • Help your students feel prepared too. Share UBC’s Collaborate Ultra student guide with them and ensure they understand their options for participation.
  • Share your online etiquette and expectations of students during lectures. This should include setting basic communication protocol, e.g., how students should ask and respond to questions.
  • Keep in mind some students may have bandwidth limitations. You may need to rely less on high-bandwidth tools such as screen sharing and provide lecture materials ahead of time.

Run a real-time lecture with Collaborate Ultra

  1. Log in to your Canvas course, and click Collaborate Ultra in the Course Navigation.
    • If you don’t see this option, follow the steps in the accordion above for enabling real-time interactions.
  2. Click the name of the session you want to join (“Course Room” or the session you scheduled), then click Join Course Room or Join session, whichever you see at the top.
  3. During the lecture, you can share your video and audio using the menu at the bottom of the screen. Click the purple arrow tab in the lower right corner to open the Collaborate panel, where you’ll see options for:
    • Monitoring and participating in chat (first icon): Chat by text with all session participants or privately with individuals or other session moderators.
    • Managing participants (second icon): Control participants’ audio and video, make participants presenters or moderators, and monitor participation in the session. If you will have participants present/share their screens, make sure that they know to attend using a desktop or laptop computer, as mobile devices cannot share screens.
    • Sharing content (third icon): Share whiteboards / screens / files, poll students, and manage small group discussions called breakout groups.
    • Settings (fourth icon): Change notification settings and what participants can share during the session.
  4. If you are recording the session, let students know this at the beginning, so they are aware any participation will be recorded as well.
  5. To start recording, click the menu in the upper left corner of the screen and click Start Recording at the top. When you are done, go to this same spot and click Stop Recording.
    • When you manually stop recording, Canvas will automatically upload the recording in the Collaborate Ultra area of your course. You can also share a link to this recording that is accessible to anyone.
  6. When the session is over, click the menu in the upper left corner of the screen and select Leave Session.

Tips

  • When you record lecture sessions, audio is recorded for the moderator and any participants who use their unmuted microphones. Visually, whatever is in the main screen and chat window are captured. Breakout groups do not get recorded.
  • If you experience lag time when hosting, try turning off your video momentarily, if you can.
  • Look at the camera to create eye contact with your students. This helps foster a more personal connection.
  • Ask students to mute their microphones unless they are asking questions or responding. This reduces interruptions, echoes, and background noise.
  • Share an agenda at the beginning of each class. This gives students a clear idea of how the session will go and when they should be prepared to engage.
  • Utilize your options for increasing interactivity:
    • Invite collaboration with the whiteboard or annotating feature for shared documents. Note that students on mobile devices will need to type into the chat instead, as they will be unable to annotate directly.
    • Ask students to respond using emoticons, moods, or with text in the chat.
    • Use the polling feature to get opinions or check student understanding of the topic.
    • Divide the class into smaller groups using breakout groups for real-time discussions.

Share files during a real-time lecture with Collaborate Ultra

Preferably before class begins, upload the files you want to show (though you can also do this during the lecture).

  1. In your active session, click the purple arrow tab in the lower right corner to open the Collaborate panel.
  2. Along the bottom bar of the panel that expands, click the third icon for sharing content, and select Share Files from the options presented.
  3. Click Add Files and select the file you wish to share. When uploaded, the file will appear below the add box. Repeat this process for any others.
  4. During the lecture, in the Collaborate panel, click the file you want to share and click Share Now.
  5. While the file is being shared, you can use the annotating bar in the upper left corner to mark or write on the file temporarily (this will not alter the file itself).
  6. To stop sharing, click the Stop icon in the upper right corner.

Tips

  • Sharing files makes your lecture more accessible than sharing your screen with the file open. Screen readers can access text from PowerPoint and PDF files that are shared, but not those that are only shown open through screen sharing.
  • Although Collaborate Ultra uses the term “sharing”, this does not allow students to download what you show on your screen. To allow your files, slides, or images to be downloaded, upload them wherever you are sharing course content (e.g., Canvas Modules).
  • You can upload multiple files, but with size constraints. Individual files cannot exceed 60MB and all files combined for a single session cannot exceed 125MB. If you must share something larger, open the file on your computer and choose to share your application/screen instead.

Use breakout groups during a real-time lecture with Collaborate Ultra

Breakout groups allow you to divide your class into smaller groups for discussions or other group work during a session.

  1. In your active session, click the purple arrow tab in the lower right corner to open the Collaborate panel.
  2. Along the bottom bar of the panel that expands, click the third icon for sharing content, and select Breakout Groups from the options presented.
  3. You can have Collaborate Ultra randomly assign students to groups, or you can manually assign them. Pick the prefered option under "Assign Groups", sort students manually if needed, and click Start.
  4. While groups are active, you can join any of them:
    • Click the purple arrow tab​ in the lower right corner to open the Collaborate panel.
    • Click the ​second icon for attendees​, then click the ​join icon ​next to the group.
    • To leave a group, click the join icon next to the main room in the Collaborate panel.
  5. To end Breakout Groups for everyone, click the stop icon next to “Breakout Groups” in the Collaborate panel.

Tips

  • Breakout groups create mini Collaborate Ultra sub-sessions within your session that have private audio, video, whiteboard, screen sharing, and text chat in each.
  • You can break your class into up to 20 different groups. Each group will have a limit of seeing 4 participant videos or screens at once.
  • Breakout groups are the best way of emulating exam conditions with Collaborate Ultra. You, your teaching assistants, or other invigilators can join and move between groups as needed.
  • Consider having a teaching assistant help you manage moving students in and out of breakout groups for lectures, office hours, and invigilated exams.
  • Breakout group audio and video is not recorded, even if the session is being recorded.

Host a virtual office with Collaborate Ultra

  1. Log in to your Canvas course, and click Collaborate Ultra in the Course Navigation.
    • If you don’t see this option, follow the steps in the accordion above for enabling real-time interactions.
  2. Click Create Session.
  3. Enter a session name (e.g., “Office Hours”), start time, and end time.
  4. Check the Repeat session checkbox.
    • Your office hours can be set to repeat on a daily/weekly/monthly occurrence. Click the days you would like.
    • Use the “End after Occurrences” drop-down to set an end to your recurring sessions.
  5. Click Save. After you save, you’ll see a new series of sessions. You can view and modify upcoming sessions by clicking the down arrow icon to the right of the session title.
  6. On the day of the session, you can use the session room you’ve created as a waiting room. Think of it like the space outside your physical office. You’ll then invite students into a private space (your “office”) using a Breakout Group.
  7. When a student enters the session, click the purple arrow tab in the lower right corner to open the Collaborate panel.
  8. Along the bottom bar of the panel that expands, click the third icon for sharing content, and select Breakout Groups from the options presented.
  9. Move the student and yourself into a Breakout Group by dragging both names into “Group 1”. Click Start.
  10. Conduct your private meeting with the student. When you have finished, click the stop icon next to “Breakout Groups” in the Collaborate panel.

Tips

  • If you use breakout groups for office hours, make sure your students know to expect this when they show up or allow them to sign up for time slots ahead of time.
  • You can create a discussion beforehand for students to post topics they want to address, to make the most out of virtual office hours. This approach gives you time to prepare answers and a way to respond to the whole class, if a question or concern is shared.
  • Consider requiring students to attend virtual office hours at least once at the beginning of term. Students can be reluctant to meet with you one-on-one under normal circumstances and that feeling may be heightened with uncertainty around how the technology works.
  • Take advantage of the multiple ways you can communicate and collaborate with students in breakout groups. You can talk over audio, see each other on video, chat with text, share a whiteboard, and share screens. All of this interaction is private from any other students in your waiting room.

Collaborate Ultra FAQ

Find UBC-specific answers to frequently asked questions by clicking any bar below.

Yes, teaching assistants can use Collaborate Ultra as moderators, with access to all the same features as instructors.

Although calling in is possible, it is not recommended, as fees may apply for students when joining because the dial-in is a U.S. number (1 571 392 7651). Depending on their phone plan and where they are located, students may incur long-distance or international charges.

You can disable the dial-in when you set up a session, and tell students to join sessions through the Canvas course (using a web browser on their computer or the Canvas Student app on their phone) or by clicking the link you send (which will work on either their computer or their phone).

No consent is needed if you will only share recordings within the course. Collaborate Ultra is FIPPA compliant (it follows provincial privacy policy) and its data, including recordings, are stored securely in Canada. Therefore, student consent is not legally required for its use or for recording. But you should let students know you will be recording at the beginning of class, so they are aware any participation will be recorded as well.

If you will share recordings outside the course, you do need to obtain consent first. Contact us for more information on how to do this.

Students may choose to have their cameras off for numerous reasons, including bandwidth issues and privacy concerns (such as other people in the background). You should only require students to have their cameras on in the following circumstances, to respect their privacy:

  • When video is necessary for evaluation, for example, if a student must deliver a formal presentation or performance and it is necessary for you to see them in order to grade effectively.
  • When video is necessary for academic integrity, for example, if you need to confirm the identity of a student and invigilate online exams.

Audio is recorded for the moderator and for any participants who use their unmuted microphones. Visually, whatever is in the main screen and the chat window are captured. For more details, see Collaborate Ultra’s information on recordings.

Where can I get more support with Collaborate Ultra?

Technical support

If you have trouble with Canvas or Collaborate Ultra:

For 24/7 technical support:

  • Contact Collaborate Ultra directly:
    1 877 382 2293 or use live chat

For supporting your students:

Learn more


« See all tools