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EPD - Best Practices - Web Conferencing Best Practices

Conferencing Tips & Techniques for Attendees and Presenters


Web Conferencing Tips & Techniques for Everyone

EPD Courses use Blackboard Collaborate Ultra for their web conferencing needs, but these tips work for all kinds of web conferences.
  1. Complete a system and web browser check at least 24-48 hours prior to the web conference.
  2. Participate from a location with a strong and stable internet connection.
    • Particularly when presenting, any dropped connections from the web conferencing system can be very disruptive to a meeting. 
    • Close all other applications on the computer that are not necessary for the presentation. This will help the software operate more efficiently, and will help to conserve the individual network bandwidth.
  3. Participate from a quiet location.
    • To avoid disruption, post a note on your door, notify staff and/or family that you're in a web conference. 
  4. Be on-time.
    • It can take a while to get logged in and setup for a web conference, so plan to arrive a little early (~5 minutes prior to the conference start time).
  5. If using VoIP for audio, use a headset with a microphone. 
    • It provides better sound quality, and helps reduce background noise.
  6. Mute your phone/microphone when not speaking.
    • Every noise that is made, including paper shuffling, pencil tapping, typing, coughing, and chatting with others, will be heard by everyone else in the conference.
  7. Engage in the web conference.
  8. Identify yourself by name when verbally asking a question or making a comment
 

Additional Tips and Techniques for Presenters & Moderators

  1. Remind participants how to access the web conference and perform a systems/browser check, and to enter the web conference early.
  2. Follow Blackboard 's recommendations for sharing content as a moderator.
  3. Create a "Welcome" slide for the start of the conference and a "Thank You" slide for the end.
    • This will help signal the beginning and the end of the presentation. Include the course name on the Welcome slide.
  4. Prior to the conference start, upload any documents or slides to verify that they display correctly.
  5. Start the recording. This is a manual process. If you don't start the recording, there will not be an archive. Consider including a reminder within the start of your slides.
  6. At the beginning of the conference, establish expectations and etiquette for the Participants to engage.
    • For example, should they interrupt with questions or comments at any time, hold them until an appointed time, or use the Chat?
  7. Monitor the Participants panel.
  8. Monitor and Manage the Chat (backchannel).
    • The Chat tool provides an opportunity for real-time conversation at the same time as the primary presentation or activity. Often times, students will post in the Chat in order to share their thoughts and questions, without interrupting the Instructor. It is important that the Instructor frequently pause during their presentation in order to review, synthesize, and/or respond to what's been posted in the Chat. Also, the text posted in the Chat tool is not captured in the recording, so the Presenter should repeat the question or provide a general summary of what's being posted in the Chat in order to provide context to those who view the archived recording.
    • The Chat tool can be used to:
      • Ask questions
      • Answer questions
      • Brainstorm ideas
      • Provide feedback 
      • Make comments 
      • Respond to peers
      • Share links to websites/resources
      • Post written instructions to underscore verbal instructions during an activity
  9. Manage Raised Hands
  10. Practice, practice, practice.
    • Make sure you understand the capabilities of the software, so you can effectively moderate the web conference session. It will help you be more confident with the application, and concentrate on the content during the web conference.
    • In addition to joining the web conference as the Moderator, consider joining the conference as a Participant as well, using the conference Guest Link in another browser window or on another device. Viewing the conference from the Participant's perspective can ensure that what you intend to present is what the students actually see.
      • Review archived recordings to critique yourself and to identify potential opportunities for improvement.
    • If you plan to use breakout groups, make sure to read EPD - Blackboard Ultra: How to Manage Breakout Groups.

Troubleshooting

  1. Follow slide Best Practices when creating slides for web conferences.
  2. If you don't plan to use an EPD PowerPoint template, follow these guidelines (modified from the University of Edinburgh's Information Services Best Practices for Blackboard Collaborate)
    • Use Arial or another web safe font. Examples include Arial, Verdana, Georgia, and Times New Roman
    • Do not extended margins (keep default)
    • Not too much wording as may cut off bottom of slide - create a new slide instead
    • Keep the file name short without special characters
    • File size limit of 60MB - best to keep as small as possible
    • No animations (these will not work in Collaborate as the conversion tool flattens the documentation)
    • No embedded video or audio files
    • No high resolution images
  3. If your slide deck doesn't use animations, consider exporting the PowerPoint slides to PDF before uploading the file to Blackboard. This also helps prevent conversion issues.
    1. To export slides as PDF In PowerPoint (for Mac), go to File > Export > PDF
    2. If your slides save to PDF in the wrong orientation, eg portrait instead of landscape, you can change the page orientation. Please see Page Setup options in PowerPoint for instructions on changing the orientation.
  4. Test your slides before the first presentation and reach out to EPD Online Support if you have questions.




Keywords:EPD eHelp, Blackboard Ultra, Web conferencing   Doc ID:46156
Owner:Rebecca K.Group:Engineering Professional Development - Department Resources
Created:2015-01-13 10:59 CDTUpdated:2020-04-22 16:50 CDT
Sites:Engineering Professional Development - Department Resources
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