Here are some ideas for presentations involving a lot of writing by hand.

Using the built-in drawing tools

Blackboard Collaborate Ultra has a built-in whiteboard with some basic drawing tools.  It is difficult to write legibly using these tools with a mouse.  A graphics tablet is an improvement over a mouse.

The blackboard tools are also available for drawing on top of pages that have been shared via the “Share Files” feature.  This could allow one to prepare more of the material using other methods and then do simple annotations using the blackboard drawing tools.

Using external drawing tools

The blackboard drawing tools cannot be used on top of external application windows that are shared in a blackboard session.  However, the external application may provide its own methods for annotation (e.g. Powerpoint).  The application could even be an app running on an iPad.  See the next section.

Using an iPad

There are two main ways to use an iPad in a Blackboard Collaborate Ultra presentation.

  1. Share the iPad screen through a computer connected to Blackboard Collaborate Ultra
    • Any iPad app can be used (e.g. PowerPoint, illustration programs, and so on).
    • The iPad apps may provide better tools for drawing than Blackboard’s drawing tools.
  2. Connect to Blackboard Collaborate Ultra from the iPad and present using a shared file
    • Does not require anything but the iPad.
    • Cannot share the iPad screen, so cannot use PowerPoint or other iPad apps.
    • Can share a presentation file and page through the slides.
    • Can use Blackboard drawing tools to draw on the presentation and point to things.

Writing on paper, an overhead view

Join the Blackboard Collaborate session from a device with a camera (e.g. a smartphone or laptop).  Suspend the camera above the writing area.  An oven rack supported by three-ring binders or textbooks works well.

If there is not a convenient way to suspend the camera directly over a horizontal surface, you may be able to position it at some other angle.  In this case, prop up the writing surface at roughly the same angle, so that it is roughly parallel to the camera.

Smartphone suspended above writing area.
A laptop webcam suspended above the writing area.
Remote view. If you have one, a sharpie is preferable to a ballpoint pen.

Using a mirror to turn a laptop camera into a document cam

See a description here.