We crowd-sourced some advice on Blackboard Collaborate troubleshooting. Thanks to all who have contributed. Additional notes can be made in the comments below.
Basic Set Up
Important Note for MAC Users
If you are using a Mac running Mountain Lion v10.8.4, Blackboard has released a special app called the "Collaborate Launcher for Mac" which is now required for Mountain Lion v10.8.4 and later. More information HERE.
You can join live sessions from iPhone, iPad, or Android device (including Kindle Fire HD)
You are able to interact via text chat and two-way audio; to view whiteboard content and shared applications; to use emoticons, hand raising, polls, breakout rooms; and to stream or download recordings to any mobile device.
There are certain elements of a session that you are not able to see using the mobile platform, including web-tours and desktop sharing.
- Links to download the mobile apps can be found at http://www.blackboard.com/Platforms/Collaborate/Products/Blackboard-Collaborate/Mobile-Collaboration.aspx.
- If using headset, make sure it is turned on and not in Mute setting (common issue!) (From Adele Reid)
Used wired internet connection if at all possible – if wireless, get physically closer to the router. Especially true for those in hotels! Sometimes sitting in lobby is best place to be.
If you continue to have connection/poor audio issues – select a slower session speed: Edit -> Preferences -> Session -> Connection. Choose the next slower connection type. Ie., if you started with Cable/DSL (fastest), click on the Wireless speed.
Worst case scenario – exit session and then reconnect. Make sure to select correct connection speed and do Audio Wizard per above. (From Adele Reid)
- Android - no app.
- We've had good luck with the mobile app for iOS. Sometimes people use it when they can't connect on their computer! But mobile users need to know that web tour won't work for them, nor can they do private chat or breakout rooms or whiteboard tools. But for most participant activities (seeing slides or app share, talking and hearing, and public chat and polling and emoticons), the mobile app works well. (From Debbie Faires)
- Unable to launch Collaborate session from Mac - see SLISWEB FAQ item 18.
- Mac users on Safari - "Safari 6.0.3 security updates may affect your ability to launch sessions, what you do?" - Blackboard Support Document (From Peggy George); PDF version.
- Firefox has been my favorite browser to use so far (Chrome worked for first time for me with Blackboard Collab today, and haven't tried Safari). However, with Firefox I sometimes forget that it goes to downloads and the little box hides behind other windows opened, so I click it again which is a big mistake. I did that the other day and had several tabs opened that I didn't see and had to kill Firefox to get it started. (FYI to kill pages it is option, command, esc). Chrome it downloads to a little icon to open at bottom of window, much like a PC. (From Tracy Watanabe)
- Chrome - if session not launching, see SLISWEB FAQ item 14
- You can always try different browsers too because sometimes one will work when another doesn't work. (From Peggy George)
- When uploading a powerpoint, always open it in ppt first, make sure it is not a pptx then upload to black board. (From Toni Olivieri Barton)
- Do not have another program that uses your microphone or webcam open. (From Toni Olivieri Barton)
- We’ve had a LOT of issues for Mac users lately due to Apple blocking Java but the last couple of weeks have been clean. In general, Mac users should accept all security updates from Apple AND all updates from Java and they will be good to go. (From Valerie Schreiner)
About Java for OS X 2012-006 http://support.apple.com/kb/HT5493 (From Peggy George)
- Here's some info that seems to have helped some other OSx 10.8 presenters: http://support.blackboardcollaborate.com/ics/support/KBAnswer.asp?questionID=2607&hitOffset=81+80+54+53+14+13
These instructions for clearing java cache work perfectly even though they weren't written for Collaborate. The step by step screenshots make it really easy to follow the instructions. Clear Java Cache Lion 10.7 and Mountain Lion 10.8 (Java 7) http://help.photobiz.com/kb/index.php?View=entry&EntryID=269 (From Peggy George)
- Updates: If they aren't done, it tends to be rather slow, and the updates take time. (From Tracy Watanabe)
- Java has had a ton of updates recently and we had several families that suddenly couldn't get in to the online classroom. What we found is that their updates seemed to disable the old Java but be unsuccessful at installing the new version. No matter how many times they would download and install Java 7 it never would take. You will know this is the problem if when they go in to the System Preferences Panel they will not see a Java icon in the 'Other' category. The fix - Install Java 6 again and then try 7. It seems to need 6 to be there before 7 will install. (From Tammy Moore)
This is what the support site on Blackboard explains about java cache: Your Java cache is a temporary storage area where frequently accessed data can be stored for rapid access. Once the data is stored in the cache, future use can be made by accessing the cached copy rather than having to download the Blackboard Collaborate content every time you enter a session, therefore lowering your connection time. Sometimes cached data can become corrupt or outdated. In such cases we recommend that you delete cached content so that storage is complete and current. (From Peggy George)
- Bandwidth issues can definitely cause problems but there's not usually much they can do about that except to close down anything else that may be consuming bandwidth like Skype or Twitter/Tweetdeck. (Peggy George)
Every once in a while your navigation tool (triangles to go forward and backward through the slide deck) will be unresponsive. The fix is to use the drop down to go forward to the next slide and then the navigation triangles will begin working again. I teach 38 plus hours a week in the online classroom and with that much time in there, I see this occur about 2 to 4 times a week, but the fix is quick and easy. (From Tammy Moore)
Every once in a while right click will open up the right click menu but when you try to click an option in the menu it will close before you get the option selected and so you cannot get any right click functionality to work. The fix - It will just start working on its own again in a minute to ten minutes but until it does, use the tool bar along the top to make selections. The only ones you cannot do with the top menu are to give and take tools for participants and whiteboard right click menu items. Those don't have a top menu control. I have had to bump up a participant to moderator power to be able to turn the tools off and on or work with the whiteboard when I couldn't be spared to log out and back in to try to clear the error. On occasion it will still be out even when I log back in. This is another 2 to 4 times a week phenomenon. It takes more to get the problem to go away, so it can be very distracting when it does occur. (From Tammy Moore)
- Known bug on the Mac - Application sharing controls have been missing for months now. I have to end app share by taking my own app share tools away. Quick fix/work-around. (From Tammy Moore)
- When you drag names from room to room for breakout sessions and when you drag the names from the participant's list to the whiteboard, be sure to go vertical or horizontal. If you go at an angle it will sometimes freeze up Collaborate and you will have to force quit to end the program and log back in. The same recommendation applies to resizing any panel that you pull to float. Lengthen separate from widening or the program will freeze. THis is an easy problem to avoid if you are just careful. (From Tammy Moore)
- When doing webtour remind Mac participants to click stop on video sound before you navigate back to the whiteboard screens. If they miss hitting stop and the sound is still playing when you go to the whiteboard screens they will still be hearing the audio from webtour making it hard to hear what the presenter is saying and they don't have any way to stop the audio until it would reach a normal end at the end of play in the video. I don't use this tool often, so it could have been fixed by now. The last time I heard it happen was about two weeks ago (early March 2013) in a Classroom 2.0 Live session and about a third of the 50 or so participants were still hearing a long stretch of audio. It seemed to be all the Mac users. (From Tammy Moore)
- This one has been a bug since last October/November and is the one I find the most frustrating since we use breakout rooms a lot and we have to deal with the bug all day long every day - when participants leave the session or when people move between breakout rooms the chat will stop scrolling and the chat window loses focus. Usually it isn't too much of a problem mid session because people are sitting in one place for a while, but it can make end of session communication in a large session really hard. Just be patient an keep looking to see if what you are typing is really going in the window. If it stops, just click back in to the chat window to bring the focus back again. To fix the scrolling problem just pull the scroll control back to the bottom. (From Tammy Moore)
For myself, I usually File>save the whiteboard when I start a session - it creates a pretty bloated PDF file, which I take into Acrobat and save as a reduced size PDF (many times smaller...)
I also open Notepad and copy/paste hyperlinks from the chat - I think it would be great if Bb would add a pin or bulletin board to post those into as the session runs - the chat is often too chatty to wade through...
And of course, using a headset with mic, etc. When I run a Collaborate session, I sometimes open a laptop and login as a dummy user, to see how fast the screen is updating, check the sound, etc. - a bit of personal paranoia... (From Doug Henry)
- I'm so sorry you're having java issues on your MacBookPro! The problem you are describing is an Apple problem because they are no longer updating the Java with Software Update and the new java version doesn't work on Macs. I knew that was an issue so I have not updated java and I have no problems accessing the sessions on my iMac and MacBookPro. I can also access them on my iPad using the Blackboard Collaborate app and can see and hear everything except for web tours.
"There is a difference between running applets and having Java installed. Apple -installed- a new version of Java. Apple -uninstalled- the automatic running of web-based applets using that Java."
Do you have a backup copy of Java in your TimeMachine? You might be able to go back to that version. I'm using Java SE 6 version 1.6.0_35-b10-428. This is an explanation offered by AppleInsider about the java updates
If you are brave and want to try using your Terminal commands you can fix it following this advice shared on my Mac Users Group.