Annual Conference 2021 – Participating

Oral sessions

The conference’s oral sessions will be hosted in the University of Sheffield’s Blackboard Collaborate environment. If you have registered, the link to access the Blackboard Collaborate sessions will be emailed to you.

For information on supported browsers, visit Blackboard’s Browser Support page. We recommend that you use Google Chrome (although Firefox, Safari, and Microsoft Edge should be fine).

Note that if you will be presenting, Chrome, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge (Chromium) work fine (no plugins required). Presenting will not work in Safari. Application sharing is not available on mobile devices and tablets. If you want to share your screen or application you must be on a desktop computer.


Open the link in your browser. After the page loads, type your name and select Join Session. If this is your first time joining the session, complete the audio and video set up and add a profile picture.

Check out this quick video tour of Blackboard Collaborate and its interface°:

For fuller details of using the Blackboard Collaborate interface (including setting up your audio and video), visit Get Started with Collaborate Ultra for Participants.


If you are presenting, check out these two videos which explain different ways in which you can share your presentation in Blackboard (left hand video °) and two ways in which you can use PowerPoint within Blackboard (right hand video °).

Poster session

The conference’s poster session as well as coffee and lunch breaks will be hosted in Gather.Town. Gather is a relatively new tool for interacting with groups of people in a manner that is very similar to being in-person.

This section is to help you with the basics so you can get the most out of the conference sessions.

Check out Gather’s Gather 101 which takes you through the essentials of how to use Gather. Try out Gather.Town with a walk-through now. We suggest that you visit Gather.Town prior to the poster session so that you are comfortable using and navigating the space during actual session.

What you need

  • A desktop/laptop with a mic and camera .
  • A web browser (Chrome or Firefox strongly recommended).
  • We strongly recommend using headphones to help prevent feedback.
  • That’s it! There’s nothing to install, no software to download.


If you have registered for the conference, you will receive a link and password via email giving you access to the poster session. If your browser asks for your permission to use microphone and camera, please answer “Allow”. This is how others will be able to see and speak to you.

If it’s your first time using Gather.Town, you will have the opportunity to do a short tutorial to learn the basics of how to interact in the environment. Feel free to join the Poster Session space before the conference to do this tutorial and explore the space.

The Conference Space and Poster Room

You will ‘spawn’ in a virtual representation of Regent Court’s central quadrangle. Here there is opportunity to network with other conference attendees. You can do this as one-to-one chats or move to one of the picnic benches to chat in a larger group.

The posters are hosted in a separate room. Each poster is numbered according to the poster list on the conference website. To view a particular poster, move your avatar towards the space in front of the poster. This will connect your audio and video with both the person presenting the poster and any other attendees visiting that poster. When you are close enough, the poster “object” will glow yellow and there will be a notification that shows up saying ‘Press x to view poster’. Doing so allows you to view the poster in a larger format. You can pan around the poster by dragging with your mouse. To stop viewing the poster, press Esc or click the “X” icon in the top right.

Using Gather

  • Gather is a video chat platform that has avatars move around a map. As you get close to other avatars, your videos will pop up and you will be able to chat.
  • Move around the space using the arrow keys.
  • By moving your avatar around you can have spontaneous conversations with those around you. These can be either one-on-one or small groups depending on how many people are around your avatar.
Enable/disable your audio and video

After signing in, you will see yourself in the bottom right corner window. This is where you can enable/disable your audio/video. Please keep in mind if you turn these off others will not be able to communicate with you.

Change Character

If you should decide to change your character, click the character icon in the bottom menu to select another one

Search for an Attendee

You can search for a specific person with his/her name in the “Participants” icon on the left. There are three ways to contact them.

  1. Select “Message” to chat directly.
  2. Use “Locate on map” to see a path to reach the person.
  3. Use “Follow” and the system will automatically take you to the person.
Private spaces with Tables / Chairs / Benches

Each picnic table, set of chairs, or benches make up a private space, and only people sitting on the chairs around the same table can talk to each other.

No-so-obvious features

Here are some things you might find useful but aren’t immediately obvious.

  • Want to full screen someone else’s video? Just click on their video.
  • Talking to a group of people? Click the down arrows centered below the videos to shift into grid view.

Technical difficulties

  • Refreshing the page will fix most things!
    • If that doesn’t work, try muting and unmuting your mic and camera in Gather.
    • Check if your browser permitted camera and mic access

Additional troubleshooting at

° The CDT is not responsible for the content of external sites.
Gather.Town is an external service beyond the control of the CDT and University of Sheffield. Access to Gather.Town is at your own risk.

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