Tutoring Services & Academic Support
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Tutors, you will be working online through Collaborate Ultra, a Blackboard Ultra tool. (Yes, you will be showing students how to use Collaborate, too!) Please read through all the information — there are some valuable tips and tricks included here!
Tutors doing Embedded (CR, Math 134), Supplemental Instruction (SI) and In-Class Tutoring (ICT): You likely will be working in Collaborate sessions, or rooms, that your instructors open within their Blackboard Ultra courses. Your instructor must add you to the class.
Walk-in (WI) tutors: When working online, you are offering Online Drop-In (ON-DI) tutoring. You will be working in a pathway, program or subject Collaborate session (room) that we in Tutoring Services open. You will want to become familiar with the breakout groups feature, as you will be sharing the room with other tutors and ASC staff.
If you're in a WI/DI room we set up for you, you're a moderator by default. If you're in an instructor's room, the instructor has to make you a moderator.
Let's remind students that private info, including ID numbers, should be shared ONLY with the specific tutor via the private chat feature:
The same goes for students who want to share homework with you in Collaborate. Please remind them they may be sharing with more people than they realize ...
Other options include: using the breakout group feature to limit the audience or instead getting an email address, which can be used to ask the student privately what their ID# is.
For instructors (who may need your input in setting up rooms):
The HelpDesk is currently staffed from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays. Voicemail service is available Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
We suggest you use Chrome as your browser so all features are enabled.
Potentially the most useful feature of Collaborate for tutors is the ability to share content, especially the ability to share another open application or browser tab on your computer.
For example, you can play a YouTube or Khan Academy video in a browser tab on your computer, then in Collaborate share that tab with students. They can watch the video with you! (Remember to click the "share audio" box in the lower left-hand corner of the pop-up window, then mute your own mic to avoid an echo!)
You can also upload files to share, which both you and the students can mark up. Remember, though, that you are sharing space with other people, so delete when done.
A&P tutors: MATC Libraries provides you with online virtual A&P models. It's a pretty sharp database, with vibrant colors that create a 3D effect, you can open in your browser and share with students.
Math and science tutors: Figuring out how to draw or type symbols on the whiteboard is tricky without a stylus or touch screen. Instead, work in WolframAlpha (home screen is free), LaTex, Excel, or another equation- or formula-friendly application, while also working in Collaborate. You can share the app for students to see what you are doing on screen. The app must be open before you hit share.
Note: If you are willing to use your smartphone camera (or happen to have a second/external camera laying around), you can use it to share your handwriting on paper. You have to angle the camera in weird ways, but it works (just as well in Collaborate as in Zoom)!
Another option is to try using the text tool and right-clicking inside the text box that appears — if you see an emoji option, you can get to math symbols. It doesn't work on all systems, though.
Our tutors have discovered some quirks of Collaborate Ultra. These tips and tricks should help you have a good experience.
First, play around with notifications. You may have dead times when you want to do something else on your computer. If you set up sound notifications, you will hear when someone joins the room. But remember ...
Collaborate will kick you out after 30 minutes of inactivity. You have to "do" something — scribble on the whiteboard, speak into your (working) mic, anything that the computer will register as in-room activity — to avoid getting bumped out. Hitting the keyboard or wiggling the mouse won't work. Basically, you've got to "touch" something in the "room." Warning: The room isn't affected when you get bumped out. Students may pop in while you're kicked out, so consider setting a timer for every 20 or 25 minutes to remind you to reach out and touch something.
Video is a bandwidth hog that may slow down online interaction, plus it requires you to have and use a camera. Feel free to work without video. (If you do use video, please remember to first check out your space to ensure the camera isn't capturing anything inappropriate in the background.)
Audio can also slow down connections, but it is more essential than video. We recommend using headphones with an inline microphone for your sessions. Remember, though, that it is proper online etiquette to mute your mic while you are not talking. (Otherwise, students can hear you cough, talk to your cat, use the bathroom and curse coronavirus.)
It is easy to forget to check the chat panel. Students will like it, though — it's basically texting. (Students who have trouble with audio technology or who have hearing issues may really rely on it.) Please check it frequently for new questions or comments.
When sharing your screen with a browser open, you may get a feedback loop, also called the infinity room effect. (There's an infinite number of screens shown, each smaller and smaller and smaller.) This video demonstration explains how to avoid it. It is best to share only what you need — a single browser tab, for example (possible in Chrome), instead of your screen.
The whiteboard is a fun tool in Collaborate. You, as moderator or presenter, can type, write and draw on it. Potentially, students (if logged in as presenters) could also work on the whiteboard. Warning: It is easy to accidentally erase the whiteboard, and it automatically clears when you switch to another "Share Content" feature. Use with caution.
Blackboard Ultra contains two tools to support students learning online.
Beebee Chatbot is a digital assistant. Students and faculty can ask questions about common Blackboard tasks and receive help. To access Beebee, select the help icon in the bottom right corner of the Blackboard screen and select Chat Support.
Blackboard Assist is a new page in Blackboard’s base navigation. Students click on the Assist link to review and access free virtual healthcare, tutorials, advising and more.