Online Classroom Support

The Further Mathematics Support Programme uses Blackboard Collaborate to deliver a lot of its online professional development and tuition.

Below is some help with connecting to the online classroom for the first time as well as some advice if you are having problems.

Connecting to the online environment for the first time

The first time you access the online classroom you will need to allow around 10 minutes for the Blackboard Collaborate Launcher to install and for the room to launch.

When you click a room link for the first time you should be prompted to download the blackboard collaborate launcher. Once you have downloaded and installed the launcher a file called meeting.collab will download. Open this file and the online classroom should open in a new window. This may take two or three minutes and during this time your firewall may ask whether you want to allow the program to access the internet. You should accept all such notifications for Blackboard Collaboarate and Java Web Start.

For a further details of the process of accessing a room for the first time, please see the following document.

Problems connecting to the classroom

In any instance where the Blackboard Collaborate classroom fails to open, it is always worth closing all windows and clearing your java cache; this will solve a variety of problems.

It is safest to click your connecting link and download a fresh meeting file each time you want to access the online classroom, however this may mean that you need to delete old versions of meeting.collab files from your downloads folder in order to avoid some errors.

If you are having problems downloading and installing the blackboard Collaborate Launcher then it can be downloaded separately and installed before clicking your room link.

Occasionally your browser will not realise that you already have the Blackboard Collaborate Launcher downloaded and will therefore prompt you to download it again. In this instance, simply click on the link that says "launch Blackboard Collaborate now" which will then start the download of a meeting.collab file. For further information about this error and the launcher in general, please see the user guide for Windows or Mac.

If problems connecting to the online environment persist then it is possible to circumvent the Blackboard Collaborate Launcher and connect directly through Java Web Start by following the attached instructions.

You may also wish to see Blackboard Collaborate's Support Portal for help with connection issues.

Help for specific error messages

With all of the below errors, it is always worth clearing your Java cache and then trying to open the room again. Clearing the Java cache deletes temporary files that are created when using Java programs and can solve a variety of problems.

{user name} is already in the conference This error may mean that you have opened the room twice using the same link or have left the room and then re-entered the room in quick succession. Close all Blackboard Collaborate rooms and wait for 10 minutes before opening the room again. If this does not work then it may indicate that you have been given the wrong link and you should contact your course administrator or tutor.

Direct call to {server name} failed This is usually in indication that a firewall or unstable internet connection is preventing communication over the internet. Ensure that you are connected to the internet and that the connection is active. You may also need to configure your firewall or proxy settings. You can also try another browser.

Unknown user{user name} This error is caused by closing the purple and white download screen before the room has fully loaded. Close the room, click on the link again and leave the browser window open throughout the loading of the online classroom.

.cab file is corrupt This error is usually caused by a failure to download the launcher properly. Delete all instances of the blackboard collaborate from your computer and download and install another copy before trying to access the room again.

Problems with features in the classroom

If you are experiencing any problems with features within the online environment, it always worth clearing your java cache which will solve a variety of problems.

The majority of sound problems are due to an unstable or weak internet connection. It is possible to change the settings to reduce the sound quality in order to decrease the likelihood of interruption.

Problems uploading PowerPoint presentations can usually be solved by clearing your java cache however it is possible to upload a presentation as a series of images.

A full list of compatible versions of PowerPoint can be found on the Blackboard Support Portal

If application sharing is running slowly or with interruption then please check your internet connection, it is also worth exiting the classroom and clearing your java cache before trying again.

Further troubleshooting

Firewalls

Java Web Start and Blackboard Collaborate both need to be allowed access to the internet in order to be able to access the classroom. This may require both inbound and outbound access. All firewalls are slightly different however there is some advice on Blackboard's own support portal about specific types.

System requirements

Blackboard collaborate will run on most versions of Windows, Mac OS and Linux operating systems and it is possible to use a range of browsers including Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, Firefox, Safari and Chrome. Some combinations of operating systems and browsers however are not supported and full details can be found on the Blackboard Collaborate support portal.

Mobile devices

Live sessions can be accessed from a mobile device through the Blackboard Collaborate app (for android or iOS) however the functionality is more limited than through a computer. In particular, participants accessing through the app cannot write on the white board, send private chat messages or control or host shared applications.

Please note that recordings cannot be currently accessed via the app.

System administrators

Blackboard collaborate support portal has some advice about troubleshooting connection issues.

Please note that Blackboard Collaborate requires a connection through TCP ports 80, 443 and 2187 otherwise users will not be able to connect.

Additional support

Blackboard collaborate has it's own support portal with a searchable index of common issues. There is also a quick reference guide for the launcher.

If you cannot find a solution to your problem anywhere above, please contact [email protected] including information about your browser, operating system, link and any details of the problem.