Meeting and Collaborating online

Webinars  Back on familiar ground! I’ve used Google+ Hangout once – to join a conference held in London – whilst sitting in Dundee. Unfortunately, despite decent bandwidth at both ends, the buffering was poor – which meant that audio and video kept breaking up. Turning off video helped but limited the usefulness as I couldn’t see the slides being presented!

Working with colleagues who are many miles away I frequently use GoToMeeting or Skype. Apart from attending presentations or remote meetings I’ve also delivered training remotely by sharing my screen. (The feedback received was that it was clear and easy to follow but the attendees wished they could see me at the same time.)

I’ve also used Adobe Connect, WebEx, Lync and PowWowNow (audio only but so easy to use) and been an attendee on other systems.

Bandwidth is definitely a large factor. So, when working from home (poor bandwidth) I turn off all webcams when meeting with colleagues so that I get a reasonable quality (GoToMeeting). Skype works better and I can usually leave the webcams on.

Being in the Glasgow office of the University we join cluster meetings using Skype for Business – which is great. No need to fly to Gatwick for a short meeting. Recently I took part in a meeting in Norway – from Scotland!

This type of technology has been and is being looked at for telehealth applications. There are concerns around security of the transmission and some NHS boards use VC connection over a bridge – which is secure but is a lot more expensive. Some patients are familiar with Skype and Facetime.

So – all in all, it’s very useful technology. For webinars with high attendance consider functionality like an attendee putting his/her hand up (electronically) to indicate that s/he wants to speak, being able to write messages during the webinar etc.

Some of the potential pitfalls are around the layout of the room. For example, if there is good light behind the people in camera the attendees just see a silhouette. Another thing to consider if delivering a presentation remotely is how to point out things on the screen. For example, at one presentation the slides were shared (gave a good, sharp image at the remote end). We didn’t see the presenter or the “silver screen”. The presenter must have been using a pointing device and said “by clicking here…” but we didn’t know where “here” was! In these circumstances describe where to click!! For Q&A session, either use a roaming mic or have the presenter repeat the question before answering.

Happy attending!

Thing 19 – Setting a date for your webinar etc. using Doodle  Another thing which I’ve used extensively for 4 years. Again it’s a boon.

When setting up a meeting and it is proving difficult to get a mutually convenient date / time, consider accessing the settings and choosing the Yes / No / If needs be option. Some people will then choose “if needs be” when they might otherwise have said “no”.

I didn’t know about using text – so can now arrange who, when, where, menu choices in a series of Doodles – brilliant. I also need to look into integrating it with Outlook calendars.

Thing 20 – collaborating online  I’ve used both Google Docs and Dropbox. It’s worth considering where the data is stored, which data protection legislation applies and checking the T&C etc. when deciding which tool to use for the material in hand.

Meeting and Collaborating online