While the IDEA Team doesn't provide direct support for Webex (email@example.com, 410-706-5127), we do use it frequently, and have some tips to share! Be sure to think about students' needs for interactivity: this video documents some thoughts students have about synchronous virtual classes.
Logging In (or Re-Logging In) to the Webex Meetings Client
If you are using the Cisco Webex Meetings client on your PC or Mac, you will need to authenticate via a standard looking UMB UMID login screen and DUO multi-factor authentication. When you open the client, eventually, you will have been logged out, and will need to log in again. This looks confusing, because it appears you can just enter your password, but no matter what you do, even using the correct UMID password, it will NOT let you in. The trick is:
- Click the 'back arrow' in the upper left
- Enter "umaryland.webex.com" in the "Enter Site URL" box
- Then click Next, which will pull up the standard UMB UMID login screen and Duo.
Here's a video demonstrating how this looks/works.
Connecting to and Troubleshooting Audio
Much like Zoom, Webex first allows you to choose to connect to the meeting via computer audio or telephone (I will call in or Call me). We highly recommend computer audio whenever you are on a laptop, have a microphone or headset/earbuds, and are on a fairly decent internet connection. Computer audio sounds better, and provides a better experience for everyone, with fewer noise issues. But if you have to use the telephone, use either I will call in or Call me - and be sure to mute/unmute on your telephone during the meeting as needed.
But before you click to connect audio and video - let's do some testing. On the next screen, there are some pulldowns to select the best microphone (input) and speakers (output) using pulldown menus. We highly recommend, at least the first couple times, to click on More options :
When you click on More options, you will see a "Test" icon in the upper right. This will play sound (so you should hear it, or use the speaker pulldown to choose a different output) and also you should see little blue bars showing sound from the speakers and your microphone. If you speak and your microphone does not show blue bars, you should try a different microphone from the pulldown. This way, you can use the Test button to make sure your audio works both incoming and outgoing before clicking OK and then "connect audio and video"
This will become second nature in future times using Webex, and help make sure you can hear and be heard before you enter the meeting. If, after you do, you still have issues, you can still click the 3 dots in the lower right of the meeting to get to "Audio Connection" in order to pull up the same things as above:
If you have done all this and the audio still doesn't work, most likely, some other tools are using your microphone and/or speakers. Often times, quitting all other applications, and/or your web browser will help release that microphone. If that doesn't work, the next step is to reboot/restart your whole computer, and then try again. Sometimes, the microphone and/or camera are "stuck" on another application and will not work until restarted.
Do people in your meeting say they are having a hard time hearing you?
If you are already in a meeting, you can use the black button/3 dots in the lower right to go to "Speaker, Microphone and Camera" and see how many lines go blue when you talk and adjusting the volume level accordingly. There, you can also switch to a different microphone if people aren't hearing you, as well as adjust your output speakers and volume.
Tips for Teachers
Want to use Webex to live stream a class? Record it? Connect with students for office hours? Have a guest speaker? Have a live class while everyone is at home during a snowstorm? Conduct a regularly scheduled virtual live class or streaming hybrid class? Here are some tips for the various ways an instructor might want to use Webex.
Personal Room: Start Nice and Easy with Office Hours
Having office hours is a nice and easy, no stakes way to get comfortable using Webex and troubleshooting with students one-by-one to make sure they can use it. We highly recommend going to umaryland.webex.com and logging in in your web browser to go to your account preferences and set up a personal room link. (Click sign in, enter your full SSW/UMB email address, click Next, Enter UMID/password, authenticate with Duo) - then click Preferences and My Personal Room at the top - and enter a name for your room. Could be your initials, name, course name, whatever you like that someone else at UMB hasn't already taken. This link, you can then use whenever you want. Use it for office hours, meetings, you name it. You can put a PIN on it, lock it, and other settings you can control:
Want to See Everybody? Use the Grid View
By default, Webex will put you into speaker view - where you prominently see the speaker and everyone else is small. For many class situations, people would rather see everyone at once - which is called Grid View. You can locate an icon on your Webex screen in the upper right (if using the Webex client application!) to switch to Grid View or toggle between the 3 different views:
Practice Practice Practice
Provide multiple opportunities for students or guest speakers to get and test connections BEFORE the big important class, event, etc - with time to try out multiple settings if need be. If you can't do so, at least plan to be in the meeting space 15-20 minutes prior to the start of the event or class so that people for the first time can get connected, test audio/video settings, and get to know the environment.
Practice muting, unmuting, sharing your screen or various applications, using the chat, polling, recording, etc.
Start Meetings Right
Always start by having each person mute/unmute and introduce themselves. This way, if someone can barely be heard, you can coach them through turning their mic up or down. Also, this lets them know how to mute/unmute - and be sure to express your expectations about that. (In some cases, folks want most people unmuted so that it is more spontaneous, and you can hear laughter and responses. In others, people stay muted until they want to speak - so the unmuting becomes an indicator like raising a hand. Muting does keep out unwanted sounds, like fans, car horns, helicopters, sirens, barking dogs, construction, etc... however it can also make it uncomfortably quiet and less spontaneous.
Before the meeting, make sure any and all documents and materials are available to everyone in the meeting. Don't make virtual attendees feel left out by handing out papers that they can't see, or writing on the chalkboard - leaving them out.
Be a Good A/V Host
As the host, you have the ability to do things like see whose microphone is being so noisy (and mute them) or control many various aspects of the meeting - who can or cannot share audio/video or screen, etc. Click the Participants icon in the lower toolbar and keep an eye on Participants throughout the meeting. If you are going to be sharing your screen or slides, it's even better if you have 2 screens, so that you can have your slides on one monitor and the meeting controls on the other, so that you can still see the participants and chat.
Seeing while Screen Sharing
Below is a screenshot of what the control panel looks like at the top of your screen when screen sharing. This shows/hides automatically when you move your mouse to the top. From there, you can click on Chat - and it opens the chat in a separate pop-out window (for you). The students don't see that, so you don't need to worry about that on their end, but do need to get used to having it float in front of your slide.
If you right-click or control-click another person, you get a menu of options, that includes muting them, muting all, or stopping their video. Or even expelling them from the room if necessary.
Your Very Own TeleConference Number!
While we highly recommend everyone using computer audio rather than telephones, sometimes this is not possible for all. Since Webex meetings can be connected via either computer or telephone, you can also use it for your own teleconference phone line (with no need for a computer)! Here's how:
- In your web browser, (not the Webex client) - log into https://umaryland.webex.com (3 step process to log in! a. Enter your email address b. Insert your UMID and Password into the standard UMB login page) c. Duo multi-factor authentication
- Click on Preferences, then Audio and Video, and type in an Audio PIN number:
- (NOTE: You cannot run a conference call unless you have set a PIN number, as that is needed for the Host (you) to start the conference call. Nobody will be admitted into the call unless the Host has joined and set in the PIN number to start the meeting.)
- Keep scrolling down, and you'll see a section for a conference number. There, you'll see a US toll number that you and your participants can call into, as well as an access code for the host (you) and a separate access code that you give to your participants/attendees at the bottom:
- So you now have the option to set up a phone only conference call OR use your Webex personal room (more on that below) - for attendees to choose whether they'd like to join by computer or phone. Keep in mind that if you intend to use screensharing for attendees to see the same thing while talking you should use your Webex personal room or create a new scheduled meeting.
Another way to generate this is simply by click on "More ways to join" from the Home screen. There you see the phone numbers and access codes associated with your personal room - which you can always use for either videoconferencing or phone conferencing:
But again, you have to visit the preferences to set your PIN number first:
Stream a Video Live With Your Class
Webex does allow you to stream a video and stream the audio that goes with it from your computer to the other attendees. Here's how:
Using Webex for Lecture Recordings
You can use your personal meeting room to record yourself - just don't invite anyone else to the meeting, join it, turn on your audio and/or video camera, start sharing your screen, and then start recording. You do it like this, except without inviting other people to the meeting: