Why WebEx?

WebEx Meeting Centre provides on-demand, real-time, collaborative web meetings and conferencing. As part of the U of S campus-wide license, faculty and staff can schedule meetings in which anyone may participate or present.

  • Teach to remote students
  • Blended Seminar or Classroom
  • Remote lecturer/Guest Presenter
  • Virtual office hours
  • Ad hoc collaboration
  • Webinar
  • Troubleshooting

The ICT Service Desk provides WebEx support. For assistance please call 306 966 2222 (or toll-free 1 800 966 4817), email it.support@usask.ca or in-person support at Room 70, Arts Building.

Cisco provides 24-hour support via ticket or phone. To contact Cisco directly please call toll-free 1 866 229 3239 (for WebEx specific questions ; not Blackboard Integration)

Visit help.webex.com for FAQs, documentation and video tutorials. 

Additional video tutorials are available on lynda.usask.ca 

For use in teaching, teaching.usask.ca

How does it work?

WebEx available inside and outside Blackboard

1. Inside: Tools > WebEx Meetings (enabled by default in Blackboard Courses at the U of S)

Integrated with class list; provides list of scheduled sessions; access to view/download recordings; attendance within classes/sessions; controlled access for students

2. Outside: http://webex.usask.ca 

Schedule using the WebEx interface; invite via email; recording links can be emailed

Both give you access to Meeting Centre.  If you need Training Centre, contact ICT Service Desk and they can enable it.

Four Different Pieces

  1. Personal Meeting Room
  2. Meeting Centre
  3. Training Centre
  4. WebEx for Students
  • Always there, just for you
  • Quickly available from http://webex.usask.ca
  • Personalized link to access meeting https://usask.webex.com/join/abc123 or https://usask.webex.com/join/firstname.lastname (depends on your preferred email address)
  • Limited numbers (8) of participants
  • Quick place to have informal meetings or one-on-one sessions
  • Very similar to Personal Meeting Room except:
    • More participants (up to 500, typically 30-40 )
    • Can be scheduled ahead of time
    • Better options for inviting users
    • Integrated with Blackboard for use in courses
  • Use for small classes, seminars, interviews, guest speakers
  • Relatively “informal”

Different interface from Meeting Centre, more complex to set up as there are more choices.

More focused on formal training sessions for large numbers:

  • Up to 500+ participants
  • More control over what tools are available to participants, what privileges they have (eg. mic muting on login)
  • Breakout Rooms 
Separate service for students at http://usask-students.webex.com
Identical to Personal Meeting Room except:
  • Limit of 8 participants
  • No recording capability
  • No telephone conferencing capability

Roles in WebEx

  • Host, Presenter, Attendees
  • Only one host and one presenter (at a time) in any WebEx session
  • Usually, meeting owner is both host and presenter.  “Pass the Ball” or “Assign Privileges” to make someone else a presenter
  • Requires some extra planning when working with blended classes 

How to Use it When Teaching

This is the most common use of WebEx in teaching. The students and instructor are not in the same geographical location and  interact in real time using a "virtual classroom”.  To be most effective, the students and instructor need a good computer, a high speed network connection and a headset (microphone and earphones).  A webcam is desirable, but not essential.
Use Meeting Centre or Training Centre within Blackboard.
The instructor is teaching small seminar course, but has one or more students joining the class from a different geographical location using WebEx.   The instructor needs a speaker and one or more microphones or a conferencing microphone connected to WebEx for local and remote students to interact.   
This works best in smaller classes.  As numbers increase, it becomes more difficult to interact, and for the instructor to balance between remote and local students.   
Having remote students connecting from their OWN computer with their own headset works best.   The setup for students becomes technically unworkable if they need to think about getting speakers and microphones for a group of students in the remote classroom.
Use Meeting Centre (either inside or outside BBLearn)
WebEx can be used to "broadcast" lectures or seminars classes in which local participants "blend" with a similar or smaller number of remote participants in a similarly equipped classroom.  For this to work, there is a need to have audio for both instructor and students in the classroom.  Remote students become frustrated if they can’t hear discussion or questions and equalling important is to have audio from the remote students.
Video to and from remote classroom/students is desirable, but there’s a tradeoff between how much screen space you have and how many students you want to see.
Use Meeting Centre or Training Centre within Blackboard Learn
Web conferencing provides opportunities for instructors teaching face to face courses to take advantage of resource people who might be otherwise unavailable to their students. Ensure you have sound system and projector in the classroom. A conferencing microphone or second microphone for student questions is also very desirable. A web cam in class is nice for the remote presenter.
Use either Personal Room or Meeting Centre outside of Blackboard Learn
Instructors teaching distance courses can use WebEx to provide their remote students with additional live "outside of class" access. It is nice to have a web-cam (lets you both get to know each other), but not essential.
Use Personal Room and its unique link
Web conferencing tools can assist students taking distance or face to face courses in collaborating on group projects or assignments.  
Use WebEx for Students (http://usask-students.webex.com)
Ad hoc faculty and staff meetings/Research Team meetings: For groups that are distributed over a wide geographical area, WebEx is an inexpensive and time-saving alternative to traveling to other locations for group meetings.
Ad hoc meetings can have varying technical requirements depending on the size of room/audience and the number of locations involved.  Generally, however, ad hoc meetings have similar technical requirements to those of teaching to remote students.
Use Meeting Centre to schedule ahead of time
Use Host Key and Meeting Number to give non-U of S participants host access as required.
WebEx can either be used to “broadcast” face to face conference proceedings to remote participants OR it do a completely web-based webinar.
A webinar or face to face conference requires coordination with conference planners and technical support team for the conference. 
To plan a webinar, you need to ensure that you have access to:
  • wired, high-speed internet connection (wireless connections are often saturated by conference participants)
  • a connection to the house sound system to capture presenter audio
  • a video/webcam feed of presenter (often difficult to arrange with the conference tech support).
  • WebEx audio output to the house sound system (if you want remote participants to be heard in the room)
This requires coordination and testing in advance to ensure remote participants can successfully connect and participate in the webinar.
Use Meeting Centre or Training Centre outside of BBLearn.   For more formal webinars contact ICT Service Desk about using Event Centre
Purely online Webinar:
The requirements for a purely online webinar are almost identical to those of teaching to remote students, with the exception that you may have multiple remote presenters at multiple sites, and since it is usually a “one-off” type of event, it is very important to test with all of your remote presenters and participants ahead of the event.
Use Meeting Centre or Training Centre outside of BBLearn.   For more formal webinars contact ICT Service Desk about using Event Centre
WebEx has the capability to let a user "share" their computer screen, applications and/or documents with other participants, and even let other participants control one another’s computer.  This helps with troubleshooting of issues that co-workers or students might encounter.The technical requirements are usually not very steep; however, this type of use does require a fairly in-depth knowledge of WebEx.
Use Personal Room or Meeting Centre outside of BBLearn

Note:  Be aware that your classroom must be equipped with a microphone and speakers connected to the classroom computer in order for you to teach using WebEx.  If the room is not equipped with a microphone, you can either bring your own external USB microphone or headset to use or, (where appropriate), contact your College or Department support staff to see if they have any available for loan.  

Some classrooms on campus are equipped with a microphone on the instructor computer console. Consider checking out the room assigned to you prior to your session.

Course Rooms

Course Rooms may be set up in WebEx in the following ways:
  • Scheduling multiple sessions
  • Giving Host Key/Meeting Number to people if you cannot be there to host
  • Adding Substitute Hosts

Recording

Recording a session outside of Blackboard:
  • Can record a session however this is not a great recording and has to be converted to distribute  and uploaded somewhere for students to access
  • Users can record to the Network Recorder, but there is very limited space (95 gigs for entire campus), so don’t keep recordings there for long.  There are no user quotas, so one person could accidentally fill that up.
  • Records as an .arf file, viewable within the WebEx viewer.  This link can be sent to participants/students.  To put this recording anywhere else, it has to be converted from .arf and the  converter is only available for Windows 
WebEx integration with BBLearn handles recordings by:
  • Automatic conversion to M4V
  • Links within the integration to view/download recordings (note: for students too)
  • Even less space (20 gigs) for recordings on the integrated tool…  So, move them somewhere quick before deleted by our blackboard admin team

Technical Details

WebEx is either an add-on or extension you need to download (on the desktop), or an app (on the phone) and only ONE WebEx session at a time can be run.

References

Training Videos

How to start a meeting or class INSIDE Blackboard
Scaling the video and chat panels
How to SCHEDULE a meeting or class inside Blackboard
Creating BREAKOUT ROOMS Inside Blackboard
How to test WEBEX on my computer
How to start a TRAINING session within Blackboard
How to Start a Meeting OUTSIDE Blackboard