I just joined the Blackboard community after some rough experiences with the new Collaborate Ultra interface and am wondering what you all think?
I was an avid user of Collaborate last spring when I discovered it - I held reviews for all of my exams last year in a collaborate session on Sunday evenings and the students loved them. My two favorite aspects of the Collaborate setting were the multiple whiteboards and the recording - which ended up going hand in hand. These are now gone/much less useful in Ultra.
1. For the whiteboards I could assign students to different white boards and have different students working on different things all at once - and they could track through the pages on their own. This worked fantastic when I wanted students to draw life cycles for different plants. It also worked well when I wanted 16 different students to answer one question at once by drawing it. I spread them across 4 white boards and I could track back and forth.
ULTRA issue: I can only seem to get one white board at a time in the new interface. Has anyone else had this trouble? Am I missing the button that allows me to create new white boards? If anyone else has some recommendations regarding this issue, I would freely welcome it. It makes it very difficult to do anything with more than 3 or 4 people in the room at once (and I usually get 20 or 25 students coming to the collaborate reviews).
2. The recordings were fantastic on the old collaborate interface. In fact, I actually brought other faculty members into my office to review them with me. I was amazed that it was an interactive recording - I could go back to the recording the next day and page back and forth between the different white boards while seeing the chat messages show up in real time. If I didn't have time to look at all of the white boards during the actual session, I could go back in the recording and see what some groups of students were doing in the other white boards at the time that I was in whiteboard 1. The students loved it too because if they missed the review in real time for one reason or another they could go back afterwards to see what we discussed. Others who were in the review liked going back to use the recording to study. All in all - it was perfect.
ULTRA issue: the recordings are now practically useless. There is no way to see the chat room anymore. While I talk during the reviews, many of the students are too nervous to talk, or they are in the library, or they don't have a mic. This means they usually respond by typing in the chat room. I also type in the chat room instead of talk for one reason or another. The recording now only records the audio and the whiteboard (if you have it up). And since there is only one white board, I can't use the white board nearly as much as I used to. It ends up being pretty boring.
Why were these aspects taken out of the Collaborate interface when Ultra was released? What is actually Ultra about Ultra? The only non-superficial changes I saw were the ability to create groups (which would have been super helpful if I had multiple boards) and the ability for students to "raise hands". Other than that it looked more like a pretty face lift.
I am probably missing the point of this community since I am probably a bit too negative. I am just very bitter right now because this tool was amazing last year - and now it is making it very difficult for me to embrace.
Anyone else had similar problems? Anyone else come up with solutions?