Blackboard Collaborate Ultra - Audio/Video Troubleshooting Guide

Encountering issues with the audio and/or video in a Blackboard Collaborate Ultra session? Use this in-depth guide to troubleshoot the issue.

Related KBs:
Using Blackboard Collaborate Ultra (Guest)
Using Blackboard Collaborate Ultra (Student)
Using Blackboard Collaborate Ultra (Instructor)


The recommended browser to use for joining Blackboard Collaborate Ultra sessions is Google Chrome. Mozilla Firefox and Safari (Mac only) are also supported. To ensure compatibility, make sure that your browser is up to date with the latest updates. Google Chrome is available for free and can be downloaded at www.google.com/chrome. To check if you have the latest version of Chrome, follow the instructions at this link. Browser extensions like ad blockers can interfere with the proper functioning of Collaborate Ultra sessions and should be disabled if you are encountering issues.

In order to share your audio and video, your computer needs to either have an internal microphone and camera or have an external microphone and/or webcam connected to it. Many desktop computers do not have a built-in microphone. Most USB webcams have an integrated microphone, so, if you have a USB webcam, you probably don't need an additional microphone. If you do not have a microphone or webcam, Collaborate provides an option to use your phone for audio.

This guide covers the following issues:

  1. I can’t hear others!
  2. Others can’t hear me!
  3. Others can’t see my video!
  4. I can’t see other people’s videos!
  5. The video and/or audio are choppy or dropping out!

No time to troubleshoot? Use your phone for audio.

If your meeting is starting now and you are missing important content due to computer audio issues, Blackboard Collaborate Ultra has a phone dial-in option for session audio. The phone dial-in option allows you to listen to and share audio over the phone while viewing video, presentation materials, and the text chat in your browser. Use this option to quickly bypass computer audio issues when you don’t have time to troubleshoot. While you are in the session, perform the following steps to use your phone for audio:

  1. In the top-left of the Collaborate session window, click the Session menu button.

    Image of Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Session menu button
    Image of Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Session menu button
  2. In the Session menu that opens in the left side of the screen, click Use your phone for audio. You will see a Dial-In 11-digit phone number and a PIN number appear in the menu in place of the option you just clicked.

  3. Use your phone to call the Dial-In number provided.

  4. When prompted to “enter your conference number followed by the # key” by the automated phone operator, use your phone’s keypad to enter the provided PIN number followed by #.

    Image of the Session Menu before and after clicking the use your phone for audio button
    Image of the Session Menu before and after clicking the use your phone for audio button
  5. Once your phone audio is connected, the microphone icon button at the bottom of the Collaborate session window turns into a phone icon button. Click the phone icon button to mute and unmute yourself as needed. While you are muted, there will be a slash through the phone icon.

    Image of both states of the Phone Audio button
    Image of both states of the Phone Audio button

Please NOTE: There is a maximum of 25 attendees that can use their phone for audio per Collaborate session. If the session you are trying to connect to has reached its limit, you will not be given a phone number when you click “Use your phone for audio” or the automated phone operator will inform you that the session is full and not allow you connect to the teleconference after entering your PIN.


I can’t hear others!

If you cannot hear other people speaking, please try the following steps until the issue is resolved:

  1. Make sure that your speakers or headphones are pugged in and that the volume is turned up and not muted in your operating system. In Windows 10, click the speaker icon near the clock in the taskbar open volume controls. Click and drag the slider to change the volume level. Moving the volume slider will also unmute you in the case your system audio was muted.

    Image of the speaker icon in the windows system tray
    Image of the speaker icon in the windows system tray
  2. Verify that the other participants are indeed sharing audio. Look for the microphone status icon next to the presenter’s name in their video window or in the Attendees panel. The microphone icon turns solid black when someone is speaking. A white microphone icon indicates that a person’s microphone is on but they are not currently speaking. No microphone icon next to an attendees name indicates that they are not sharing audio (their microphone is muted). You can also ask others if they can hear in the Chat panel.

    Image of both states of the microphone status icon in Collaborate Ultra
    Image of both states of the microphone status icon in Collaborate Ultra
  3. Leave the session, close your web browser, close all other applications that could be accessing your microphone or camera, and then try rejoining the session. Use Google Chrome to join if available. Chrome can be downloaded for free from www.google.com/chrome.

  4. Open the My Settings panel in Collaborate Ultra and verify that the Speaker Volume slider is set to 100%.

  5. Make sure that your browser’s security settings are set to allow us.bbcollab.com to play sound. Perform the following steps in Google Chrome:

    1. Click the padlock icon in the address bar.
    2. Make sure the drop-down box next to Sound is set to Allow.
    3. If you had to change the setting, refresh the page to rejoin the session with the new setting.
  6. Make sure your browser’s security settings are not blocking sound from all websites. Perform the following steps in Google Chrome:

    1. Click the button with three vertically stacked dots in the top-right corner of Chrome to open the Customize and control Google Chrome menu.
    2. Click Settings.
    3. Scroll down to Privacy and security and click Site Settings.
    4. Scroll down to find Sound under “Permissions” and click it.
    5. Make sure that the Sound site setting is set to “Allow sites to play sound (recommended)” and the slider switch is set to the ON position. If you see instead see it is set to “Mute sites that play sound,” click the slider switch to change the setting to “Allow sites to play sound (recommended).”
    6. Verify that there are no sites with addresses that include bbcollab.com listed under the “Mute” header. If there are, click the More actions (three dots icon) button across from that site and then click Allow.
  7. If you are running any Chrome extensions that could interfere with the session, such as ad blockers, disable those extensions and rejoin the session. You can also try to join the session in a Chrome incognito window to avoid issues with extensions and other browser settings. To open an incognito window, right-click the Google Chrome icon in the Windows taskbar and select New incognito window.

  8. Verify that your system’s sound output is set to the correct device. Perform the following steps in Windows 10:

    1. Right-click on the speaker icon near the clock in the taskbar.
    2. Select Open Sound settings.
    3. Select the name of your desired audio playback device in the drop-down menu under Choose your output device.
    4. Test your system audio by clicking and dragging the Master volume slider to a position near 50. When you release the slider, you will hear a tone if your system’s sound is working properly.
    5. If you do not hear a tone when you release the Master volume slider, click the Troubleshoot button and follow the on-screen instructions. Windows will attempt to detect and fix the audio issue.
    6. If you do not see the name of the desired audio device among the options in the “Choose your output device” drop-down menu, try the following:
      1. Click Manage sound devices.
      2. Look for your output device in the list. If your speakers or headphones appear under “Disabled,” click on the device name.
      3. Click Enable.
      4. Click once more on the device name.
      5. Click Test. If the device is working properly, you will hear a tone.
  9. Reinstall your audio output drivers. Perform the following steps in Windows 10:

    1. Right-click on the Windows Start button (the Windows logo in the bottom-left of your screen).
    2. Click Device Manager.
    3. Depending on the type of audio output device you are using, it can show up within one or more device categories in the Device Manager window. Check to see if your audio output device is listed in each of the following categories and perform steps 4 and 5 for each category and listing of the audio output device:
      • Audio inputs and outputs
      • Sound, video and game controllers
      • Universal Serial Bus controllers
    4. In the Device Manager window, expand the category by clicking the > next to the category title.
    5. If listed, right-click the desired Speakers (or headphones/headset) audio device. Click Uninstall device, then click Uninstall in the warning box that pops up.
    6. If you are using an external audio output device, unplug it from your computer.
    7. Restart your computer then plug in your speakers or headphones if they are external devices. Windows will automatically reinstall the device drivers on startup or when the device is plugged in to the computer. The driver reinstall process happens in the background and may take a few minutes to complete.

Others can’t hear me!

If other attendees cannot hear you, please try the following steps until the issue is resolved:

  1. Check the Share audio (microphone icon) button at the bottom of the Collaborate session window to make sure your microphone isn’t muted. If the button has a slash through it, you are currently muted. Click the button to unmute your microphone.

    Image of Collaborate Share Audio button muted and unmuted states
    Image of Collaborate Share Audio button muted and unmuted states
  2. If the Share audio button is missing from the row of buttons at the bottom of the Collaborate session window, the session moderator has disabled audio sharing for participants.

  3. Perform the following steps to set up the proper microphone within the Collaborate session:

    1. In the lower-right of the session window, click on the pink Open Collaborate panel button.
    2. At the bottom of the Collaborate panel, click the My Settings button (cog/gear icon).
    3. Click Set up your camera and microphone.
    4. On the Audio Test page, select the microphone you wish to use from the drop-down menu.
    5. Test the microphone by saying a few words aloud. If you see the purple audio meter bar bouncing, your microphone is setup correctly. Click Yes - It’s working. Clicking No - I need help will open Blackboard’s troubleshooting website in a new tab in your browser.
    6. Complete the setup process by selecting your video device from the drop down-menu on the Video Test page and clicking Yes - It’s working if you see yourself. Note: You do not need a working camera to use your microphone.
    7. If needed, you can abort this setup process by clicking the X in the top-right of the session window.
  4. Make sure that your browser’s security settings are set to allow us.bbcollab.com to access your microphone. Perform the following steps in Google Chrome:

    1. Click the padlock icon in the address bar.
    2. Make sure the drop-down box next to Camera is set to Allow.
    3. If you had to change the setting, refresh the page to rejoin the session with the new setting.
  5. Make sure your browser’s security settings are not blocking all websites from using your microphone without asking you first. Perform the following steps in Google Chrome:

    1. Click the button with three vertically stacked dots in the top-right corner of Chrome to open the Customize and control Google Chrome menu.
    2. Click Settings.
    3. Scroll down to Privacy and security and click Site Settings.
    4. Under Permissions, click Microphone.
    5. Select the microphone device you would like to use from the drop-down menu.
    6. Under the device selection drop-down menu, verify that the selected device is set to “Ask before accessing (recommended)” and that the slider switch is in the ON position. If you see that the device is set to “Blocked,” click the slider switch to switch the setting to “Ask before accessing (recommended).”
    7. Verify that there are no sites with addresses that include bbcollab.com listed under the “Block” header. If there are, click the trash can button across from the site(s) to remove the entry from the list of blocked sites.
    8. Rejoin the session.
  6. Make sure the Windows 10 operating system privacy settings are set to allow your browser to access your microphone. Perform the following steps in Windows 10:

    1. Click the Windows Start button.
    2. Click the Settings cog/gear button.
    3. Click Privacy.
    4. Under “App permissions” in the left-hand navigation pane of the Settings window, click Microphone.
    5. Under the header “Allow access to the microphone on this device,” verify that “Microphone access for this device is on.” If you see that microphone access is off or blocked, click Change then click the Microphone access for this device switch to the ON position.
    6. Scroll down past the list of Microsoft Store apps to the “Allow desktop apps to access your microphone” header. Verify the switch under this header is set to the ON position. If it is OFF, click the switch to turn it ON.
    7. Close and relaunch your browser then rejoin the Collaborate session.
  7. Verify that your system’s sound output is set to the correct device. Perform the following steps in Windows 10:

    1. Right-click on the speaker icon near the clock in the taskbar.
    2. Select Open Sound settings.
    3. Select the name of your desired microphone device in the drop-down menu under Choose your input device.
    4. Say a few words into the microphone and watch to see if they register on the audio meter under “Test your microphone.”
    5. If your microphone test did not register on the audio meter, click the Troubleshoot button and follow the on-screen instructions. Windows will attempt to detect and fix the microphone issue.
    6. If you do not see the name of the desired audio device among the options in the “Choose your output device” drop-down menu, try the following:
      1. Click Manage sound devices.
      2. Look for your microphone in the list under “Input devices.” If your microphone device appears under “Disabled,” click on the device name then click Enable.
      3. In the top-left of the Settings window, click the back arrow to return to the main Sound settings page. Repeat steps 3–5 to select and test your newly enabled microphone.
  8. Reinstall your microphone device drivers. Perform the following steps in Windows 10:

    1. Right-click on the Windows Start button (the Windows logo in the bottom-left of your screen).
    2. Click Device Manager.
    3. Depending on the type of microphone you are using, it can show up within one or more device categories in the Device Manager window. Check to see if your microphone device is listed in each of the following categories and perform steps 4 and 5 for each category and listing of the microphone device:
      • Audio inputs and outputs
      • Sound, video and game controllers
      • Universal Serial Bus controllers
    4. In the Device Manager window, expand the category by clicking the > next to the category title.
    5. If present, right-click the name of the desired microphone device. Click Uninstall device, then click Uninstall in the warning box that pops up.
    6. If you are using an external USB microphone, unplug it from your computer.
    7. Restart your computer then plug in your microphone if it is an external device. Windows will automatically reinstall the device driver on startup or when the device is plugged in to the computer. The driver reinstall process happens in the background and may take a few minutes to complete.

Others can’t see my video!

If other attendees cannot see your video, please try the following steps until the issue is resolved:

  1. Check the Share video (camera icon) button at the bottom of the Collaborate session window to make sure you are sharing your video. If the button has a slash through it, your video is currently turned off. Click the button to open the Video Preview screen, then click Share Video to start sharing your camera video with the other attendees. If this button is missing from your screen, the session moderator has disabled video sharing for participants.

    Image of the share video button on and off states
    Image of the share video button on and off states
  2. Collaborate Ultra sessions are limited to showing four participant videos at the same time. The last four participants that have spoken are the four that are shown in the video layout. If you haven’t spoken for some time, try to say something and then ask if other participants saw your video appear in one of the four video slots. Note: You’ll never see your own video in the main video layout on your screen. While you are sharing video, you can see your own video in a small thumbnail in the bottom-left of the session window.

  3. Perform the following steps to set up your camera within the Collaborate session:

    1. In the lower-right of the session window, click on the pink Open Collaborate panel button.
    2. At the bottom of the Collaborate panel, click the My Settings button (cog/gear icon).
    3. Click Set up your camera and microphone.
    4. On the Audio Test page, select the microphone you wish to use from the drop-down menu.
    5. Test the microphone by saying a few words aloud. If you see the purple audio meter bar bouncing, your microphone is setup correctly. Click Yes - It’s working. Clicking No - I need help will open Blackboard’s troubleshooting website in a new tab in your browser.
    6. On the Video Test page, select the camera device you wish to use from the drop-down menu.
    7. Look for a preview of your video to show up above the drop-down menu. Click Yes - It’s working if you see yourself.
    8. If needed, you can abort this setup process by clicking the X in the top-right of the session window.
  4. Make sure that your browser’s security settings are set to allow us.bbcollab.com to access your camera. Perform the following steps in Google Chrome:

    1. Click the padlock icon in the address bar.
    2. Make sure the drop-down box next to Camera is set to Allow.
    3. If you had to change the setting, refresh the page to rejoin the session with the new setting.
  5. Make sure your browser’s security settings are not blocking all websites from using your camera without asking you first. Perform the following steps in Google Chrome:

    1. Click the button with three vertically stacked dots in the top-right corner of Chrome to open the Customize and control Google Chrome menu.
    2. Click Settings.
    3. Scroll down to Privacy and security and click Site Settings.
    4. Under Permissions, click Camera.
    5. Select the camera device you would like to use from the drop-down menu.
    6. Under the device selection drop-down menu, verify that the selected device is set to “Ask before accessing (recommended)” and that the slider switch is in the ON position. If you see that the device is set to “Blocked,” click the slider switch to switch the setting to “Ask before accessing (recommended).”
    7. Verify that there are no sites with addresses that include bbcollab.com listed under the “Block” header. If there are, click the trash can button across from the site(s) to remove the entry from the list of blocked sites.
    8. Rejoin the session.
  6. Make sure the Windows 10 operating system privacy settings are set to allow your browser to access your camera. Perform the following steps in Windows 10:

    1. Click the Windows Start button.
    2. Click the Settings cog/gear button.
    3. Click Privacy.
    4. Under “App permissions” in the left-hand navigation pane of the Settings window, click Camera.
    5. Under the header “Allow access to the camera on this device,” verify that “Camera access for this device is on.” If you see that camera access is off or blocked, click Change then click the Camera access for this device switch to the ON position.
    6. Scroll down past the list of Microsoft Store apps to the “Allow desktop apps to access your camera” header. Verify the switch under this header is set to the ON position. If it is OFF, click the switch to turn it ON.
    7. Close and relaunch your browser then rejoin the Collaborate session.
  7. If Collaborate detects that your internet connection is slow or unstable, it may disable your video in an attempt to prioritize clear audio transmission over the limited bandwidth. If you are experiencing video issues due to a poor internet connection, you will see one red bar or two yellow bars in the connection status indicator next to your name in the Attendees panel. To troubleshoot a poor connection, please follow the tips in the The video and/or audio are choppy or dropping out section below.

  8. Reinstall your camera device driver. Perform the following steps in Windows 10:

    1. Right-click on the Windows Start button (the Windows logo in the bottom-left of your screen).
    2. Click Device Manager.
    3. Depending on the type of camera you are using, it can show up within one or more device categories in the Device Manager window. Check to see if your camera device is listed in each of the following categories and perform steps 4–6 for each category and listing of the camera device:
      • Imaging devices
      • Sound, video and game controllers
      • Universal Serial Bus controllers
    4. In the Device Manager window, expand the category by clicking the > next to the category title.
    5. If present, right-click the name of the desired camera device.
    6. Click Uninstall device, then click Uninstall in the warning box that pops up.
    7. If you are using an external USB webcam, unplug it from your computer.
    8. Restart your computer then plug in your camera if it is an external device. Windows will automatically reinstall the device driver on startup or when the device is plugged in to the computer. The driver reinstall process happens in the background and may take a few minutes to complete.

I can’t see other people’s videos!

If you are unable to see the video of other attendees or the shared presentation materials, perform the following steps:

  1. Collaborate Ultra sessions are limited to showing four attendee videos at the same time. The last four attendees that have spoken are the four that are shown in the video layout. Attendees who are not sharing their video will instead have their profile picture appear in the video layout when speaking.

  2. Verify that the other attendees can see video. It is possible that nobody is currently sharing video or presentation content or the moderator has turned off these features for participants.

  3. Leave the session, close your web browser, close all other applications that could be accessing your microphone or camera, and then try rejoining the session. Use Google Chrome to join if available. Chrome can be downloaded for free from www.google.com/chrome. Make sure to follow the on-screen instructions to complete the audio and video setup process if it opens when you join the session. Close all tutorial tips that pop up on the screen.

  4. If Collaborate detects that your internet connection is slow or unstable, it may disable video for you in an attempt to prioritize clear audio transmission over the limited bandwidth. If you are experiencing video issues due to a poor internet connection, you will see one red bar or two yellow bars in the connection status indicator next to your name in the Attendees panel. To troubleshoot a poor connection, please follow the tips and best practices in the section below.


The video and/or audio are choppy or dropping out!

If your audio or video experience is poor because of intermittent disconnections or choppy audio and/or video, you may be experiencing problems with your internet connection or strained system resources. Perform the following steps to troubleshoot the issues:

  1. Close all programs on your computer except for the web browser you are using to connect to the session. Close all browser tabs except for the tab with the Collaborate session.

  2. Use a wired (Ethernet) internet connection if possible.

  3. Sharing video adds extra strain to your system and internet connection. If feasible, turn off your video if you are experiencing call quality issues.

  4. Restart your computer.

  5. On a home network, make sure other members of the household are not overtaxing the network bandwidth by streaming video, downloading or uploading files, or using a video chat application on another device.

  6. If your computer is connected to a home WiFi network, try rebooting your modem and wireless router. Perform the following steps:

    1. Unplug the power from the wireless router.
    2. Unplug the power from the modem.
    3. Wait one minute.
    4. Plug in the modem and wait a few minutes for it to finish booting.
    5. Plug in the wireless router and wait a few minutes for it to finish booting.
    6. Once your computer reconnects to the wireless network, rejoin the session.

    Note: Sometimes the modem and the router are combined into a single device.

  7. If connection issues persist after rebooting your home network equipment, call your internet service provider (ISP). If you are at the office, contact the IT Help Desk.