DePaul University Teaching Commons > Teaching Guides > Technology > Desire2Learn > Tools > More Tools > Online Rooms

Online Rooms

Online rooms allow you to create a real-time online teaching and learning environment. Rooms can include two-way audio, multi-point video, interactive whiteboard, application and desktop sharing, dynamic media, breakout rooms, and session recording. With an Online Room, you can engage with your students in many of the same ways as in a traditional classroom.

Creating a New Online Room

  1. Click More in the course navigation bar, then select Online Rooms from the dropdown menu.
  2. Click New Room.
  3. Name the room (e.g., Week 1).
  4. Select Public Room in the Room Visibility section. (A Public Room is open to everyone in your course, not the whole university or the entire world.
  5. Change the room’s start and end dates and time from the default one-hour time frame to your desired time frame in the Availability section.
  6. Click Save. You will be returned to your Rooms List page, where you should now see your new Online Room.

Adding Guest Users

Use these steps to allow someone outside your class to access your Online Room, such as a guest speaker. This automatically sends an email invitation containing a direct link to the Online Room.

  1. On the Rooms List page, click the name of the room in which you want to add a guest user.
  2. Click Add Attendees at the bottom of the page. The Add Attendees window will open.
  3. Click Add External Attendee under the list of users. A text box will appear.
  4. Enter the guest user’s email address in the text box.
  5. Click Add. The guest user’s email address will now be displayed under the Review Selected Items heading.
  6. Click Add at the bottom of the screen. The Add Attendee window will close, and the guest user’s email address will now appear in the Attendees section.
  7. Click Save when you are done adding guest users.

Setting Permissions

By default, students can only observe an Online Rooms session. To give students the ability to chat, use voice and video, and more, you must modify the room’s permissions. Permissions can also be set for individual students from within the room. See the Change Permission section at the end of this guide for more information.

  1. On the Rooms List page, click the name of your room to edit it.
  2. Under the Advanced Properties heading, click Show Advanced Properties
  3. Set your desired permissions.
    • Click Participants have unrestricted access to resources to give students access to chat, audio, and video, enable polling, and allow students to raise their hands and use the drawing tools.
    • Click All attendees join as Moderators to give students access to the full presenter controls.
  4. Click Save.

Joining an Online Room

Online Rooms are hosted by a program called Blackboard Collaborate, and it requires Java to be installed on your computer to operate. Make sure you have the latest version of Java by visiting Also, this process will be slightly different for Mac users who are running older versions of OS X.

NOTE: If your browser has a pop-up blocker, it may prevent Online Rooms from opening. Allow pop-ups in order to continue.

Windows and Mac OS X 10.8.3 and Earlier

  1. On the Rooms List page, click Join next to the name of the room you want to enter.
  2. You will be prompted to open a JNLP file; click OK. Your Online Room will open in a new window.
  3. Approve requests to allow software to install on your computer and grant security permissions (usually only required the first time you join an Online Room.) The room will open once the software installation is complete.

Mac OS X 10.8.4 and Later

  1. Click Join to enter your room. The Blackboard Collaborate webpage will open, and a meeting.collab file will automatically begin downloading.
  2. Download the Blackboard Collaborate application launcher by clicking Download on the right side of the Blackboard Collaborate webpage to download it as a .zip file (only required the first time you load Online Rooms.)
  3. Open your download folder, then click on the meeting.collab file that just downloaded. Blackboard Collaborate will open to the online room you are joining.

Participating in an Online Room

Record Your Session

  1. Click Record in the toolbar in the top-right corner of your Online Room.
  2. Click the Record button again any time to pause or stop recording.

NOTE: Students can access the recording by clicking View Archive from the drop-down menu for your Online Room in D2L.

Use Talk and Video

In an Online Room, you can transmit and receive both video and audio.

NOTE: To facilitate better discussion, reset the number of Talk and Video Users prior to each online room session. In the top menu, click Tools > Audio/Maximum Simultaneous Talkers and set it to three. Then, click Tools > Video/Maximum Simultaneous Cameras and set it to three.

Use Talk

  1. Make sure you have a properly configured microphone connected to your computer.
  2. In the Audio and Video pane, click Talk.
  3. Speak into your microphone. Your audio will be shared with students until you click Talk again.

Use Video

  1. Make sure you have a properly configured webcam connected to your computer.
  2. Click the Preview button and make sure that your feed is transmitting properly.
  3. If your preview feed looks good, click Video to begin your broadcast and Talk to add sound.

Using the Whiteboard

The Whiteboard allows you to upload PowerPoint slides and images, write text, and draw on a shared screen your students will see. Whiteboard launches when you first load your room.

Upload Files into the Whiteboard

The Whiteboard supports PowerPoint and image files.

  1. In the top-left, click Load Content.
  2. Locate the file you want to load, select it, and click Open. The image or first slide of the PowerPoint will display on the screen, and the PowerPoint program may open on your computer while Blackboard Collaborate converts and uploaded your file. A second window, called Page Explorer, will open that will allow you to see all of your slides while you are moving through the presentation.
  3. Share your slides with participants:
    • Use the arrow buttons at the top of the Page Explorer window to move to next or preceding slide.
    • Double-click any slide to display it to students.
    • Drag and drop slides to reorder them.

Insert Text on the Whiteboard

  1. On the left side of the whiteboard, click the text icon twice. The properties editor will appear; you change the font, color, size, and styling using it.
  2. Click somewhere in the whiteboard to set an insertion point for your text.
  3. Use your keyboard to type your message. Press the Enter key when you’re done typing or you want to start a new line of text.

Draw in the Whiteboard

The Online Rooms whiteboard allows you to highlight, insert pointers for emphasis, draw lines and shapes, and more.

NOTE: Click New Page at the top of the screen to clear the whiteboard.

Sharing Web Sites

The web tour feature allows instructors to share web pages with students in the session.

  1. Click the web tour icon at the top of the page.
  2. Enter the URL of the desired site in the address bar.
  3. Press the Enter key. Students will see the same page as you as you navigate the internet. If you want them to be able to freely browse the web site, uncheck the Follow Me box.
  4. To end the web tour, switch back to the whiteboard.

Polling Students

You can conduct polls in your Online Room using four different poll types: Yes/No or multiple-choice with three options (A-C), four options (A-D), or five options (A-E). Students can respond to your poll using the poll icon in the Participants frame.

Create a Poll

  1. Create and upload a slide with your poll question, or use the whiteboard controls to enter a question on the screen, along with possible answers if you are conducting a multiple-choice poll.
  2. From the Tools menu, select Polling.
  3. Select Polling Type.
  4. Select your desired poll type.

Publish Poll Responses to the Whiteboard

  1. From the Tools menu, select Polling.
  2. Click Publish Responses to Whiteboard. Poll results will appear as an object in the whiteboard.

Using Breakout Rooms

To facilitate small-group collaboration, instructors can create breakout rooms and place students into these rooms.

  1. From the Tools menu, select Breakout Rooms.
  2. Click Create Breakout Rooms.
  3. Enter the number of rooms you want to create.
  4. Select a distribution option:
    • Don’t move participants allows you to move students into breakout room(s) later.
    • Distribute participants evenly divides students up as evenly as possible into the rooms you are creating.
    • Divide into groups of allows you to choose the number of people you want in each room.
  5. Click Create. A new tab will be created in the Participants frame, and the Room menu will be added to the Participants toolbar.
  6. To move between rooms, click the Main Room dropdown in the Participants frame, then select the room you wish to enter.
  7. Move students between rooms by dragging and dropping their names.
  8. End your breakout session by clicking the Rooms drop-down menu in the Participants frame and selecting Return Everyone to Main Room.

Using Application Sharing

You can use this tool to demonstrate discipline-specific software or processes.

NOTE: To save time, you can complete step 1 before the session begins.

  1. On your computer, open the program and file you wish to share.
  2. Click the Application Sharing button.
  3. Select the program you want to share from the list, or click Share Desktop to share your entire screen. Your shared application will now appear with a yellow border indicating an active share. Participants will see this in the whiteboard window, and the moderator's whiteboard will disappear until sharing is ended.
  4. In the upper right corner of your application window (or your screen if you are sharing your whole desktop), you will find a control panel.
    • To pause sharing, click the pause icon.
    • Click the camera icon to send a photo of the view to the whiteboard.
    • Click the square button to end sharing.
  5. To end sharing, click the square button on the control panel or click on the whiteboard button to return to the presentation slides.

Changing Permissions

You can grant or revoke student access to audio, video, chat, whiteboard controls, application sharing, and web tour during a session. This can be done for all users in the session or for an individual user. Permissions that are unavailable are shown with a red “X” in the Participants window.

Change Permissions for All Users

  1. In the Participants pane, click the menu icon.
  2. Select the permission you wish to toggle to available or unavailable.

Change Permissions for an Individual User

  1. Hover your mouse over the name of the student. A menu icon will appear.
  2. Click the menu icon.
  3. Select the permission you wish to toggle, available or unavailable.
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