Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon Portland Community College

This content was published: March 23, 2018. Phone numbers, email addresses, and other information may have changed.

Online Rooms and Collaborate Ultra changing for Summer 2018

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Distance technical iconWe will be replacing the Online Rooms/Web Conferencing provider Blackboard Collaborate with Zoom on June 18th, 2018. The two platforms provide nearly identical functionality, but the State of Oregon will no longer pay for the licenses of both products. We had hoped to find a way to cover the cost of our license to reduce disruption, but the current budget climate makes this impossible.

This is not the normal way that we evaluate and implement technology. However, given our inability to take over the license costs, we’re forced to switch tools in a rapid fashion. This is neither the timing or process we prefer to use and apologize for the disruption.

Transition timeline

We recommend that current Online Rooms/Collaborate Ultra users continue to use that tool normally through spring term then switch during summer or for fall.

We will no longer be offering Blackboard Collaborate/Online Rooms training in spring. Instead, we will update the web tutorials page and  training workshop schedule to cover the new tool, Zoom. We will also have a student-focused guide available shortly on the Student Help Desk page.

In summer, we will rename the current Online Rooms link in D2L Brightspace so that it points to Zoom instead of Collaborate Ultra.

Functionality: Collaborate Ultra vs. Zoom

While Collaborate Ultra worked pretty well for our needs, Zoom brings the same basic functionality. The major differences are largely behind the scenes with licensing and management. However, there are a few things that we think you’ll like based on our testing and use of Zoom:

  • Better video quality
  • More adaptable to slower and spotty internet connections means fewer people get kicked out of meetings
  • More options for sharing (e.g. share your tablet/phone screen like a whiteboard)
  • Phone bridge support (you get the bridge info when you set up the meeting – this was only added to Collaborate this month)
  • Dedicated app works on all major desktop and mobile OSes
  • Automatic audio transcript

Our staff have been using Zoom for state meetings and for accessibility testing for some time now. It’s stable (Andre isn’t always getting kicked off at SE), it’s mature, and it does video well.

The Zoom integration will look very similar to Collaborate Ultra with links to meetings and recordings happening within the D2L course.

The zoom schedule now loads within D2L's content area

What happens to my Recordings in Collaborate?

Many of you use the recording feature in Blackboard Collaborate extensively. Access to recordings will end on June 28th, 2018.

  • If you want to keep your recordings, follow these steps to download recordings (mp4 file).
  • If you would like to post the recording in your course, we recommend that you upload them in to Kaltura within D2L Brightspace.

However, if you didn’t enable downloads, you will need to change your session settings to allow downloads. We can help with downloads if you have a lot of them. We’re still working on this workflow, so please let me know if you need help with migrating recordings of past sessions.

The last option would be to re-record your session in the new environment.

Next Steps

Please continue to watch for updates from Online Learning about the transition and training opportunities over the coming months.

About Andy Freed

I'm the Director of Learning Technology & Innovation (LTI!), where I oversee our infrastructure, technical support, and online student services teams. I've been with the College since 2001 and have worked in several positions, from tech... more »