In order to participate in a Blackboard Collaborate session, you will need to have a headset with a microphone set up on your computer. Trying to use your speakers and built-in microphone will cause feedback during class discussion and should not be done.
USB headsets tend to work best with Blackboard Collaborate, but 3.5mm audio plug headsets may also work if your system has the proper jacks built in.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Why don't I hear anything?
Have you tried running the Audio Setup Wizard?
We recommend running the Audio Setup Wizard, under Tools > Audio > Audio Setup Wizard (see Fig. 1). You should be able to check both your input (what you sound like when you are speaking) and output (the volume levels of the speaker and what the speaker/instructor will sound like) with this tool.
Fig. 1, Audio Wizard under Tools Menu
If the Audio Setup Wizard didn't successfuly solve your problems, please make sure your headset mic is on and not muted. Windows users: Check Windows volume control. Mac users: Use volume control keys or Mac OSX volume control. All users: Be sure speakers are turned up, and/or headset volume is turned up if it has a separate volume control. If there is no audio before class, it is likely that no one is speaking yet.
How do I know if I can talk?
When you log into Blackboard Collaborate you should automatically be given audio privileges, although no icon will appear next to your name. However, your audio privileges may be taken away by the moderators. If your audio has been taken away, an icon containing a microphone and a red 'x' will appear next to your name (see Fig. 2).
Fig. 2, Audio icon indicating audio has been taken away
When your microphone is live a blue microphone icon will pop up next to your name, and anything you say will be heard by everyone in the room, so make sure you have your talk button turned off when you aren't speaking (see Fig. 3). Most moderators will encourage you to raise your hand in the session to let them know that you are ready to ask a question or contribute something by voice.
Fig. 3, Audio icon indicating audio input is turned on
Why does my voice sound distant?
When using the Audio Setup Wizard, it is important to be careful about the settings you choose. Often, Blackboard Collaborate will have the wrong speaker or microphone chosen by default. If your voice sounds distant, it could be because you are using an incorrect audio input device (i.e. your laptop microphone) instead of your headset microphone (see Fig. 4).
Fig. 4, Audio Setup Wizard indicating USB headset microphone is not being used
In the picture above, the 'Realtek High Definition Audio' microphone was selected for Blackboard Collaborate by default. The user will need to select 'USB Audio Device' microphone for the proper audio source.
What if participants say my voice sounds very soft?
You might need to turn up the microphone volume on the Audio box. As a general rule of thumb is it good to start with the Microphone and Speaker sliders at the 50% point (see Fig. 5).
Fig. 5, Microphone and Speaker sliders set to at least the 50% point
Note the blue mic icon on the mic button and how there are now audio levels (in dark gray) shown on the top bar. If your voice is barely registering in the Microphone slider when you speak, you might need to position the microphone closer to your mouth or speak louder.
Why can't anyone hear me when I speak into my microphone?
Did you press the talk button on the Audio Window? The icon looks like this (Fig. 6):
Fig. 6, Talk button on the Audio Window
If the blue mic icon does not appear, you either don't have Talk privileges, you have not set up your microphone in the Audio Setup Wizard, or your session has reached the maximum number of simultaneous speakers. If you think you should be able to talk but can't, send a private message to the moderator in your class.
Why do I hear an echo when people are speaking?
This usually means someone who is talking does not have a headset mic and is creating an audio feedback loop. They could also be wearing a headset but have their settings wrong in the Audio Setup Wizard. In extreme cases this can cause loud feedback similar to what you might hear from a PA system.
If someone reports that they hear an echo when you are speaking, be sure that your headset is working properly and that the Audio Setup Wizard has the right settings.
You can help avoid this problem by thinking of the Audio box on Blackboard Collaborate as a walkie-talkie. Press the "Talk" button on when you are ready to speak and off when you are finished with your statement.