I’m sure we are all a lot more familiar with online meeting tools than we were a month ago, I know I am. Nonetheless, updates for these tools and the way we use them are developing on a regular basis. Here’s a quick snapshot on the updates from this week.
Virtual Classroom in Brightspace (lectures, seminars, smaller meetings and 1:1s)
This is our supported tool for learning and teaching. At the start of this week the tool was upgraded to a ‘premium’ license which now means you can have up to 150 participants (from 50), sessions up to 2 hours (from 1 hour) and recorded sessions now remain available (instead of expiring after 2 weeks). We also now have a breakout rooms and attendance monitoring.
Panopto Live Webcast (lectures)
This provides all the recording features of Panopto plus the ability to live stream from your desktop. Interactivity is more limited but it makes up for it in robustness. Useful for lectures, especially for over 150 students.
Zoom isn’t supported at BU but is available for anyone to use with a good range of features for free. You’ll have heard there are security concerns with this platform so please make sure you read the Zoom guidance from IT Services.
MS Teams and Office 365
We know that many staff across BU have started to use Microsoft Teams as a means of communicating and collaborating with colleagues. For the time being, Teams is not supported by IT Services as they are focusing on maintaining the remote working facilities that are already available and supported. However a revised plan for an accelerated rollout of Office 365, and specifically Microsoft Teams and Outlook online is underway.
Increased use of the platform globally has presented some intermittent disruptions, whilst Microsoft have been responsive in resolving issues, it is advised to have a contingency in place for meetings if any disruption should occur.
If you are using MS Teams already IT Services have provided the following guidance:
In addition, if you are using MS Teams with students and are experiencing issues or challenges then you can get in touch with the FLIE team via your Faculty Lead Learning Technologist to discuss alternative solutions. One key aspect to be aware of is that MS Teams opens up instant messaging to students so setting clear expectations on how you will communicate with students is absolutely key to ensure a positive experience.
WebEX is a BU supported tool for staff meetings that provides video conferencing, voice calling, online meetings, screen sharing, and webinars.