Collaborate via Moodle is an effective tool to use for presentations, seminars or lectures in courses with a large number of students. It can serve as a replacement for the u:stream service.
Collaborate is a tool for real-time video conferences with which you can share presentations, files, your desktop or interact via tools such as polls or a virtual whiteboard. Students can give feedback in a chat or via audio/video.
The web browsers Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge are fully supported in the last two stable versions on Windows and MacOS. Others as Opera, Vivaldi as well as Firefox and Chrome browsers on Linux should work too, their functioning cannot be guaranteed, though. If you encounter technical problems, please try a different web browser.
Please do not use Collaborate with an active VPN connection. This may cause interruptions.
Part 1 - Preparation and implementation in Moodle
Adding a session to Moodle
To use Collaborate as part of your Moodle course, you first have to add an activity it by selecting Add an activity or resource.
1. As with any Moodle activity, you have to define the general settings and additional options in section General:
Name your session under Session name (this will be displayed as a link in the Moodle course).
If necessary, add further information under Description. Tick Display description on course page if you would like the description to be visible.
You also have to define the Start of the session. All participants (students and teachers) can join the session 15 minutes before it starts.
Additionally, you have to define the planned Duration (between 30 minutes and 2.5 hours or the duration of the course = semester).
- With the option Allow Collaborate guest access you can grant external users access to your session via a link. If this option is selected, you can choose under Collaborate guest role which role should be assigned participants who are accessing via link. Please find more information on guest links below.
If during a session the planned period of time turns out to be too short, you can extend it in these settings without stopping the current session.
2. In the Instructor settings section, you can define, which capabilities regular participants should be granted during and after the session.
At the moment the option "Download recordings" only controls the download option in Moodle. If students open the recording, they still would be able to download it directly from inside player.
To prevent students from downloading it at all, please use "Collaborate 250+", until this feature is also working with the player.
3. In the Grade section you can define whether the students’ participation should be graded (according to a scale or using points).
If you specify a grading scheme here, in the Grades area of the course a corresponding column is added.
4. Further options to customise the activity can be found in the sections Common module settings, Restrict access and Tags. These options include the availability of the activity on the course page and the group mode, for example.
5. Save your settings and return to the course page.
As any other Moodle activity, Collaborate sessions can be split according to group enrolments in the course, so that every student group gets its own Collaborate session. You can set up group mode in the activity settings in the section Common module settings. The distinction between separate group mode and visible group mode currently makes no difference in this activity and can be ignored.
When group mode is turned on, users who are members of more than one group can chose, which room to enter. Moderators always have the possibility to chose between all available group sessions.
The Moodle group mode is independent of the breakout rooms inside a Collaborate session.
Accessing the Collaborate session
1. Click the new activity you created on the course page.
2. Within the time period you specified in the activity settings under General (+ 15 minutes before the defined beginning), the button Join session will be visible to both you and the students. Click this button to join the session.
If group mode is activated and your account is member of more than one groups, you can also select, which group to join.
This button will not be visible to you or the other participants outside of the specified time period.
You can join with your user-account a session of Collaborate only once a time. If you want to join with a second device (e.g. a tablet), you need to use another u:account or enter via guest link (see below).
Accessing a session via guest link
To grant users without a u:account access to a Collaborate session, you can use the guest link. To activate this option, please open the activity settings in the section General and select the option Allow Collaborate guest access. Then you can choose, which role should be granted participants, accessing the course via guest link. Afterwards, save the changes.
When the guest link option is enabled, you will see a tab with the title Guest links, where you can copy the link to your session to your clipboard in order to forward it to prospective participants of your session.
When a user is accessing the session via a guest link she is presented with a greeting screen, where she has to fill in a screen name.
Please be aware!
All persons who know this guest link are able to join the session.
Part 2 - Using Collaborate
By default, Collaborate is displayed in the language you selected for your web browser. You cannot change this setting manually in the web conferencing tool.
If you click the button Join session to set up and open the Collaborate session.
First, depending on your web browser settings, you will be asked to give permission to access a microphone of your choice. You have to give this permission to be able to communicate with your students during the session.
The next step is a check if the audio and video connections are correctly set up. If this is the case, please click the button Yes - it’s working in the displayed audio test and video test. If you do not have an active webcam, you can skip the video test.
After setup, the software offers you to go through a tutorial for using Collaborate, what you can skip clicking Later, if you are in a hurry.
Collaborate offers the following functions to enrich your session:
- Uploading presentations in different file formats
- Recording sessions
- Sharing audio, webcam and/or screen
- Chat feature, both private and public
- Whiteboard function, i.e. writing or drawing on a virtual whiteboard or directly on the uploaded slides
- Breakout-rooms for working in smaller groups
Collaborate user interface
Collaborate offers various features grouped in four areas (see details in the following section):
A - Content presentation area for displaying presentations, the digital whiteboard and videos
C - Functions to participate actively in the session
Collaborate Session menu
To open the session menu, click the ≡ icon (hamburger icon) on the top left of the window.
In a recording, all interactions as well as the chat are recorded. These recording can be downloaded by the students afterwards.
You can close this menu by clicking the X icon.
Participating in the session
In the area on the bottom of your screen you can find several functions that enable interactive communication (from left to right):
- Switch Status and Settings
- Share audio
- Share video (giving permission to access your webcam)
- Raise hand (to signal consent or to attract the attention of moderators or other speakers)
If you share content, additional functions may be displayed in this area.
To open the Collaborate panel, click the pink « button at the bottom right of the window.
In this panel, additional functions for holding a session are displayed (from left to right):
- Chat feature, both for chats with moderators and all other participants
- Overview of session attendees
- whiteboard, screen, presentation files, polls, breakout rooms, etc.) Functions to Share Content (
- Settings for the session like notification settings, audio settings and session settings
By clicking the X icon you can close the collaborate panel again.
Uploading and sharing presentations
You can upload files directly in Collaborate to share them with other participants on the session screen.
Possible formats are images (*.jpg, *.png), PowerPoint files (*.pptx, *.ppt) or PDF files. You can also upload several files all at once and select then one by one to display them for your students.
You cannot upload OpenOffice presentation files (*.odp). Please, export them to PDF files before uploading.
To publish or share your uploaded file, select it in the overview and then click the Share Now button.
To rename or remove a file, click the ... icon on the right-hand side of the file name.
If you share a file that contains several slides or pages, you have to click Share Now first before being able to Select a slide to begin sharing with your students.
On the top left of the content presentation area, you find various tools with which you can point something out or write on slides or pages.
You can Stop Sharing the file at any time by clicking the relevant button on the top right of the content presentation area.
You can find the recording function in the Collaborate Session menu in the upper left corner of the screen.
Click the button Start Recording to start recording the session. If you click the button (now labelled Stop Recording) once again, the recording of the session is stopped.
Several minutes after the recording has been stopped (if applicable, already during the session if the recording was stopped beforehand), the recordings are available in Moodle to you and your students.
The following contents will be recorded:
Please find information on viewing and downloading recordings in the section Follow-up in Moodle / Publishing recordings below.
Sharing audio, webcam and/or screen
You can share audio and video from your computer by clocking the respective icon in the middle of the bottom of the window:
You can share the entire screen, single windows or tabs of the current browser or a specific window of an opened application (according to the used browser).
It is only possible to share windows of applications which are currently in the front of the window/ tab of the browser, where you want to start the screen sharing (> the window/ tab where the videoconference tool has been opened).
Application windows which are minimised or in the back of the window/ tab of the browser, where the session of videoconference tool is running, won't be shown in the list of available windows.
Using the browser Google Chrome you are also able to share audio/ video of external resources or files, which are opened in another tab or window of Google Chrome.
You can communicate with all attendees in a public chat, in a group chat with the moderators of a session or with individual participants in a one-to-one chat.
To do so, open the Collaborate panel and then click the Chat icon.
If you make a recording of the session, the chat history will also be part of it. Please bear this in mind and also notify your students, that their actions are being recorded.
Writing and drawing on slides (whiteboard)
In the Collaborate panel you can find an area for sharing content. This also includes the whiteboard, which you can use together with your students if wanted.
This function is disabled for participants by default. You can activate it for individual or all participants at any time.
As with the options for shared presentation files, several tools as well as a button for stopping the whiteboard are displayed.
The resulting whiteboard can be saved as an image at any time before stopping the whiteboard function, by right-clicking the whiteboard itself.
You can ask your students one question at a time by using a poll.
There are two types of polling you can choose from:
- Multiple Choice (no more than 5 answers)
- Yes/No Choices
We recommend that you create a dedicated slide on which the poll question as well as all answer choices with their respective letters (max. A- E) are displayed.
Click the Start button to start a poll among all students.
If you would like to end the polling, click the End polling icon (the square in a circle on the top right of the polling panel). If you would like to lock the poll temporarily, click Lock Poll at the bottom of the polling panel.
Click Show Responses to publish the results
During a session you can set up breakout-rooms in which participants can discuss and work on tasks in small groups. In those, the same tools as in the main room are available.
Proceedings in breakout rooms are not part of a session recording!
Breakout rooms function independently of the Moodle group mode, which is also available for collaborate sessions.
To activate breakout rooms, click on Breakout groups in the Share content menu in the lower right corner of the screen.
A window opens, where you can create and delete groups and match participants to groups.
In default the option Custom assignment is available. If at least four participants are attending the session, you have also the option Randomly assign to distribute participants automatically randomly to the rooms.
To add a participant to a group, you just have to click a name, hold the mouse button and drag the name to the desired group. If you checked Allow attendees to switch groups, users can choose their groups and move between groups by themselves.
When you finished to distribute attendees to groups, click Start to apply those changes. Attendees that were moved to different groups are logged out from the their room and logged in to their respective group room.
Moderators are able to switch between all groups by clicking the green arrow symbol right to the respective group name. If attendees are allowed to switch groups, they also have the possibility to switch groups in this way.
To end the breakout room setting, as a moderator, click the stop button in the upper right corner. All participants are moved automatically to the Main Room again.
You also can allow participants to attend their favourite group on their own.
For this, please use the option Custom assignment and activate Allow attendees to switch groups. Afterwards you just have to click Start (a distribution of participants to specific groups is not necessary).
Participants are now allowed to sign in for a group directly via the overview of session-attendees.
For information on further features of the breakout mode, please consult the respective help documentation of Collaborate.
In Collaborate itself you can start a tutorial or view help topics later via the navigation menu if needed. You find it in the menu on the left.
Ending/leaving the session
There are several ways to end a session, so participants can no longer attend the session.
- After the scheduled duration has passed
- When all moderators leave the virtual classroom
- To end a session actively, as a moderator click the ≡ icon (Collaborate session menu) on the top left of your screen and then select the option Leave session.
After ending your course unit, please use this option to leave the session. This way, the session is completely closed and server resources can be redistributed.
Editing participant permissions
You can edit the participant permissions in the Collaborate panel by clicking the gear icon (My settings).
If you need additional functions, you can activate them manually for individual participants by making them presenters. You can assign them the participant role again later.
These settings can also be made directly in the settings of the Moodle activity. Open the activity settings on the Moodle page of the session by clicking on the gear icon in the upper right corner and choosing Edit settings.
Now you can make the desired settings in the section Instructor Settings.
Do not forget to save your changes afterwards.
Part 3 - Follow-up in Moodle / Publishing recordings
If you want to make a screencast of a recording, you can create a Collaborate activity, make it invisible in Moodle, do the recording and switch the activity back to visible. Another possibility to create screencasts is the tool Kaltura (manual currently German only).
It takes several minutes for the audio and video recordings to be fully rendered. If it is a very long recording, the process can take up to several hours.
If you have started and stopped the recording several times during the session, separate recordings are created.
You can play back already existing recordings by clicking the link of the recording.
The recordings can be deleted by clicking the X icon.
Download of recordings
Recordings can also be downloaded by moderators (on the right-hand side, by clicking the download icon). Other participants can download them too, if they were given the right to do so in section Instructor Settings of the activity settings.
Please bear in mind, that students can always play back and (if set in the activity settings) download the recordings (please be aware that all content is recorded, including e.g. the chat history).
- What information do I have to give to students for using Collaborate?
You can find instructions for students under Collaborate for students.
- Can I record my session?
Yes, further details are available under Recording sessions.
- More than 250 people will join my session. Which options do I have with Collaborate?
You can use the "Collaborate 250+" (manual in German only) for up to 500 participants or for groups of more than 500 participants, we have defined some further scenarios (German only) for you.
- Who has the moderator permissions in Collaborate?
All roles in the Moodle course with editing permissions (i.e. teachers, tutors, assistants).
- Why can some of my students not hear me?
Please consult the troubleshooting tips on the information page for students.
You only can join a session of Collaborate once a time with your user. To be able to join furthermore, you have to create an u:account for external persons or to use a guest link.
If you already use the guest link for external students or guests, you have to adapt the rights of your second user after joining the session.
I will use more than one device during my session. How can I manage this?
- I had to switch the browser, but now I can't join Collaborate anymore.
Please check whether you still are login with your user in the session. If so, please close this browser tabs or windows.
A user only can join a session of Collaborate once a time!
- Can I prevent students from downloading recordings at all (via Moodle and the player of Collaborate)?
At the moment, the option "Download recordings" in the Moodle settings only controls the download in Moodle. Further information on how to deal with that and how to control downloading via the player of Collaborate, you will find here.
- Can students download annotations on the slides or whiteboard directly?
You can publish notes either as part of a recording or save them as an image. Detailed information is available under Writing/drawing on slides (whiteboard). Students cannot download files used for presentation. If needed, you have to upload them directly to Moodle.
- My PDF-presentation contains links and animations. If I upload it into a Collaborate session, I am not able to use them / they are not displayed. What can I do?
Presentations are converted into images upon upload to Collaborate. Therefore elements like links and animations will not be available during the Collaborate-session. As a workaround, you can open the presentation on your computer and share the presentation via screen sharing.
Yes, in this case you have to use the browser Google Chrome and the function "Share Application/Screen".
The following steps are reqired for this:
Is it possible to play audio and video of external sources or files saved on my computer?
- Open Google Chrome.
- Open a new window or as much tabs in the browser, as needed (according to the number of audio or video files or external resources you want to show).
- In each tab...
- for locally saved files please press [Ctrl]+[O] or according to other operating systems directly in the address bar the path to the file, to open it.
>> The file will be opened in this tab and can be played within an integrated player (you are able to stop/ start it).
- for external resources (e.g. Youtube), open it directly via the browser.
- for locally saved files please press [Ctrl]+[O] or according to other operating systems directly in the address bar the path to the file, to open it.
- Open another window and login at Moodle and switch to your Moodle course.
- Start your session in Collaborate.
- Open the Collaborate panel, go to "Share content" and click on "Share Application/Screen".
- Now you have to choose the tab with the opened file/ resource and check the checkbox "Share audio" and click "Share" afterwards.
- Start playing the file or resource and stop the Screen sharing afterwards.