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Information Technology

Information Technology is responsible for all computing, classroom A/V, and distance learning capabilities at the MD Anderson UTHealth Graduate School. For IT support at MD Anderson Cancer Center, please call 4INFO at 713-794-4636 or email support@mdanderson.org. 

CONTACT

Listed below are best practices and how-to guides for video conferencing GSBS classes, both on and off-site. If you have questions after referencing the information below, please let us know at gsbs.support@uth.tmc.edu.

If you are needing to record a WebEx session a request must be made through the IT department three days prior to your event. Email us at gsbs.support@uth.tmc.edu to enable recording capabilities.

  • WebEx Classroom

    WEBEX CLASSROOM

    "Prepared in collaboration with the MD Anderson Cancer Center Research Medical Library, Laurissa Gann, Mahsa Dehghanpour and Robert Tillman.”

    PREPARE PARTICIPANTS FOR THE SESSION

    Video

    • Visual presence and eye contact are important
    • Share your expectations with students
    • Bandwidth issues may impact the use of video

    Preparation

    • Send agenda/material with hyperlinks ahead of time
    • Create an opening slide with a visual diagram of the virtual meeting features and expectations

    Engage Participants

    • Welcome participants verbally if possible
    • Conduct non-verbal check-in at the start of meeting by asking a question

    Be Transparent

    • Create virtual meeting norms or netiquette
    • Guide participants about the actions you take/expect them to take
    • Roll model expected behaviors

     

    CREATE THE OPTIMAL ENVIRONMENT

    Reduce Background Noise

    Much like an in-person class, it is important to set expectations for student participation.

    • Close out all applications you won’t be using during the session. Applications like your email can be both visually and verbally distracting.
    • Use a headset with a microphone. This will help your voice to be clear when you are speaking and reduce any noise in your environment.
    • To configure your meeting to mute each participant as they join the meeting, from the Participant menu, select Mute on Entry. Students will be able to unmute themselves when they are ready to speak.
    • To mute or unmute specific people, go to the Participants panel, find their name, and select Mute or Unmute.
    • To mute everyone at once, from the Participant menu, select Mute All or Unmute All.
    • You can turn off beeps and name announcements if you prefer not to hear notifications while you are engaging with participants. From the Participant menu, deselect Entry and Exit Tone.

     

    Manage Bandwidth

    Keep in mind that Webex requires a lot of bandwidth to operate and your attendees will have different levels of connectivity.

    • You may want to ask attendees to turn off their video when they are not speaking. This will reduce bandwidth significantly.
    • If you are concerned about engagement, another option would be to have attendees rotate their video, for instance, people whose last name start with A-G will have their video on for the first 15 minutes of class, H-N for the next 15 minutes, and so on.
    • The third option is to start with video and if you notice issues, you can ask participants to turn off their video for a while.

     

    Manage Chat

    • A room advocate is a huge help when monitoring chat. They can watch the chat box and relay the question to the instructor at the appropriate time.
    • If you do not have a room advocate, you can open the chat panel while you are sharing your screen. The chat panel will not interfere with your screen sharing. In other words, the participants will not see your chat panel, only their own chat panel.
    • In Webex, participants can chat with “Everyone” or privately. To block private chatting in the meeting room from the Participant menu, select Assign Privileges, and uncheck Other Participants. This may help to reduce off topic conversations.

    WebEx1

     

    Lock Video View

    From the active speaker video view, click on the Lock Video View (thumbtack icon).

    • Select Me to lock the main video on a specific participant for yourself only.
    • Select Everyone to lock the main video on a specific participant for everyone in the meeting.

    WebEx2 (2)

    Change Presenters

    The host has the ability to designate another meeting attendee as the Presenter. 

    • Right-click the desired participant’s name on the Participants panel, then select Change Role To > Presenter.

    WebEx3 (2)

     

    ROOM ADVOCACY

    Assign a Room Advocate

    A room advocate or assistant is extremely helpful when teaching. An advocate could be a colleague or teaching assistant. Their role is to manage any issues that might arise so the instructor can focus on instruction.

    A room advocate can assist in the following ways:

    • Manage chat and files. An advocate can relay questions to the instructor or answer them in the chat without interrupting the session.
    • Troubleshoot by muting attendees, turning off video, and troubleshooting student issues with sound and video.
    • Take attendance.
    • Watch for raised hands.

    SET EXPECTATIONS FOR STUDENTS

    Much like an in-person class, it is important to set expectations for student participation.

    • Do you want them to have their video on? If so, they should test their video capability. Keep in mind that if their internet is slow they may not be able to use video. How should they communicate this to you?
    • How should they ask a questions? Do you want them to use the chat? Should they raise their hand and wait for you to call on them?
    • How would you like students to use the chat box? To ask questions, share feedback?

    POLLING

    Polling can be used in education to:

    • Evaluate students' understanding, obtain anonymous feedback, ask for opinions, or assessment.

    Turn on Polling feature

    For first-time use, users must add the polling panel.

    • Select View > Panels > Manage Panels to add the Polling panel to your meeting.
    • On the Manage Panels page, select Polling from the Available panels and click Add. Then, click OK.

    WebEx4

     

    Create a Poll

    • Select the question type from the drop-down list in the Question section of the Polling panel.
    • Click New to create a new question.
    • Type your question in the text box that appears and press Enter. In the text box that appears, type an answer to your question and press Enter. Repeat this process for as many questions and answers that you want to add.
    • Click Open Poll.

    View Webex support article in Polling

     

    BREAKOUT ROOMS

    WebEx has a easy to follow guide on breakout rooms listed here on their website.

  • WebEx Meetings

    Webex Meetings is available for remote meetings and collaborations.Please familiarize yourselves with Webex Meetings by visiting their online training on the Webex Website. Additionally, visit their Transition to Virtual Learning page.

    Issues with Webex? Please check their Global Service Status page.

    LOGIN:

    Those with UTHealth login credentials can access https://uthealth.webex.com/ 

    Those with MD Anderson login credentials can access https://mdacc.webex.com

    HELP:

    For Help for Webex Meetings, click on the Support link on the left hand menu, or go to https://help.webex.com/en-us/. To join a test meeting hosted by Webex go to https://www.webex.com/test-meeting.html 

    Email: gsbs.support@uth.tmc.edu to reach GSBS IT Support. We can assist in testing by joining your meeting. 

    For best results, download and use the Webex Meetings Desktop App. Instructions here. If you do not have the privileges to install programs on your institutionally managed computer, click on the down chevron to the right side of the green Start a Meeting button, and select Use Web App.

    STEPS:

    Share your personal room link to those you would like to join your video conference. They will click on this link to join. 

    Users can also join your video conference via phone. This is located in the "More ways to join" section underneath your personal room link. Users will call the toll free number listed, and enter in your unique access code to join in via phone.

    Click Start a Meeting to initiate a video conference.

    Use either Chrome or Firefox. Allow Webex Meetings to use your webcam and mic when prompted. You may be asked to install a small Webex Meeting application to start/join video conferences.

    From there, you will be able to see and speak with those who have their own cameras and microphones. Laptops will have these installed already. Users signing in through a computer will need their own webcam with a microphone to actively participate in the class.

    Share your Screen. The teacher will be able to share their screen by selecting the "Share Content" button at the bottom of the Webex Meeting conference window. It looks like a box with an arrow pointing upwards. If you have a student who needs to share content, they can do the same without needing special permission to do so. 

    When you share your content, a green box will be seen around the screen or program that you selected to share.

    If you move your mouse to the top of your screen, a task bar will appear with multiple options, such as:

    • Stop Sharing (stops sharing the screen)
    • Pause (will pause the screen share in case the presenter needs to make changes or address an issue on their screen, pressing pause again will resume the screen share.)
    • Share (Ex: Share an internet browser window)
    • Assign (Give a user the "Presenter"  tag. This has no impact on people who are sharing content, it is a title by name only)
    • Mute Microphone (Mutes self)
    • Mute Video (Temporarily turns of webcam)
    • Participants (Views participants in the video conference)
    • Chat (Views the Chat)

    Annotate (Drawing on the screen using the mouse).

    There is a "More" options button as well where you can take notes, manage panels of the conference (removing or moving chat window for example), copy meeting link or see meeting info (link name, room name, current presenter, etc).

    You can end screen share by selecting the "Stop Sharing" option on the tool bar.

    Ending the Session. When the class is finished, participants can leave the meeting by selecting the red x button on the bottom of their Webex Meetings conference window, then click "Leave Meeting", the person who is running the chat will see "End Meeting" instead, and will end the meeting for everyone in attendance. 

    BEST PRACTICES:

    • Login to Webex Meetings and familiarize yourself with the interface prior to your session.
    • Make sure you have a working webcam with a microphone (if you want to be seen and speak within the meeting.)
    • Ask your participants to use their real names so you can identify them during the session.
    • Ask participants to mute their mics and only unmute when they need to speak up. Ask them to also mute their videos to improve latency and conference quality. You can mute all participants by clicking Participants at the top of your Webex Meetings session, and clicking "Mute All"
    • Ask the participants to use the chat box in the lower right. Monitor the chat for particpant's questions or comments.
    • Make sure you have a good internet connection via wifi or ethernet. Perform an internet speedtest (https://www.speedtest.net/)
    • If using a laptop, you may want to use a USB Mouse to navigate the Webex menu while teaching the class.
    • Always close out your web browsers after a session. If you are unable to use your web cam or microphone after a successful connection, close all of your web browser windows, and try initiating the connection again.
    • If you are using a VPN, disconnect it before starting a WebEx Meetings connection. This is due to how F5 VPN secures and encrypts the internet connection, which can cause some issues with call quality.
    • Begin your PowerPoint presentation with a slide that has the following information:
      “All students, please mute your video and microphones as you connect to the video conference. You may unmute it if you have a question during the lecture.
    • If you are having issues connecting to audio, please call in using your phone. To find the meeting phone numbers and access codes, Click Meeting at the top left menu and click on Information. 

    To test any of these tools, please contact gsbs.support@uth.tmc.edu to exchange contact information. If you wish to use any of these tools for your meetings, we recommend that you have had a successful test connection with each of your participants beforehand.

  • Zoom Classroom

    MD Anderson has created a comprehensive guide on Zoom for Education. You can access Zoom on multiple platforms including mobile and desktop. Zoom for Education through MD Anderson has FERPA compliant security features built into their sessions. If you own a personal license that you use to create your own rooms, your features may differ.

    Please visit the MD Anderson Zoom for Education guide here.

  • Site to Site Video Conference

    H.323 Video Conferencing

    The GSBS classrooms are equipped with video conference equipment using the H.323 standard and Internet Protocol (IP) through the MD Anderson Telehealth Operations Center. Connections can be made to any location with equipment also using the H.323 standard.

    Considerations for planning your video conference meeting.

    • You are responsible for technical and scheduling arrangements at each participating site. For GSBS, follow the Classroom Reservation process. For other participating sites, identify their room scheduling process as soon as possible.
    • At least a 2 business day lead time is required prior to your meeting date.
    • GSBS does not charge a fee for video conferencing but other sites may, especially cancellation fees. 
    • A 30 minute prep and connection time is required prior to your start time. Please include this when making your room reservations.
    • GSBS will provide video conference setup. If connecting to a participating site for the first time, we recommend a test connection that will require you to make an additional room reservation request.
    • Video conference operational hours are Mondays through Fridays, 8 am to 5 pm Central Standard Time.
    • Distribute presentation files and documents to all participants beforehand in the event that connection quality might degrade during the meeting. 

    Considerations for taking courses via video conference.

    • Plan ahead. Courses available for video conference each semester depends on classroom equipment, registered students at each site and the course coordinator.
    • Identify the courses typically offered each semester and inform GSBS Academic Affairs of your intent to take a course via video conference.
    • Once cleared by GSBS Academic Affairs, register for the course within the regular registration period NOT during the late registration period.
  • Poll Everywhere

    Poll Everywhere is an online tool for audience response. It allows you to gather live responses from participants in any venue such as conferences, classrooms, or any off-site events with an internet connection. Polls can be embedded in PowerPoint or Google Slides presentation and can be taken with any common devices like mobile phones, tablets, or laptops. 

    To gain access, please follow these steps:

    For UTHealth Faculty that need access to host polls please make the request to the Learning Advisory Team member of your primary appointed schoolhttps://www.uth.edu/canvas/lms-advisory-team.htm

    • Please e-mail GSBS at gsbs.support@uth.tmc.edu, and include your name and UTHealth or MD Anderson e-mail address in the request for access. (Note: If you previously signed up for a Poll Everywhere account, using your UTHealth or MD Anderson e-mail, you will be prompted to sign in with your schools credentials from then on, instead of the password you used before to access your account.)
    • After we receive this information, we will authorize your access to Poll Everywhere. Once authorization is complete you will receive a Welcome e-mail from Poll Everywhere. In the e-mail you will click "Confirm and Get Started".
    • Then, you will have access to Poll Everywhere and the tools it provides to gain feedback from your students or audience. 

    Login to Poll Everywhere here: https://www.polleverywhere.com/auth/saml/uthgsbs 

    If you have any questions, please include it in the e-mail listed above along with your request.

    Guides

    Getting Started Guide for Educators using Poll Everywhere
    Poll Everywhere Instructor Guide
    Using Poll Everywhere in PowerPoint and Google Slides
    Best Practices for Presenting Polls
    How to Introduce Poll Everywhere to the Audience

    Videos

    How to Introduce Poll Everywhere to Students
    How to Create Polls using Poll Everywhere
    Presenting Polls from the Web

    Types of Polls

    Response Map - Using a map of the world to see participant locations
    Smile Sheet - Gauge audience interest using an emoji based scale system
    Teams - Split participants into teams using a poll to show team voting on future polls

    Webinars

    Register for an upcoming Poll Everywhere webinar or view a recorded webinar by going to https://www.polleverywhere.com/webinars.

    You can also contact the Poll Everywhere Support Team Monday- Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. CST at 1-800-388-2039 or support@polleverywhere.com.

Hybrid Best Practices

Below are some best practices you may find helpful during your next hybrid class.

Have your own personal or institution log in for your video conference software. An account will not be provided or available for instructors.

Be sure to upload class documents on a cloud service such as Canvas, UTH-Share (Google Drive) or BOX prior to class. Documents must be made readily available to both on and off-site students, and having them uploaded prior to class will ensure a smooth transition into that day's lecture. Be sure to share that cloud storage link with all students, and that permissions have been set for proper access.

Be sure to share your video conference link to those viewing on and off-site. You can include this in documents for the class, in specific sections in Canvas, or even emailing the link to participants.

Arrive on-site fifteen minutes prior to the start of class. This allows you to log into your WebEx, Zoom or your choice video conference software before class begins. This also gives you time to troubleshoot any issues you, or off-site participants may be experiencing.

When lecturing, please remain in view of the webcam so off-site viewers can see you during the lecture.

If you are using PowerPoint or other presentation software, please note that off-site viewers will not be able to see hand gestures or laser pointers on the screen. Utilize the mouse and laser pointer function of the presentation software to point out the information you may be discussing.

If you have a Teachers Assistant, have them keep eye on the video conference chat so they may moderate and relay questions to the class and the instructor. Also, if a student asks a question in class you may want to repeat the question for those viewing the lecture off-site.