Video Conferencing/Teaching

Software Tools for Recording Lectures

 All Video Conferencing Software

People should run the Video conferencing software from the computers that they are physically touching, not their work computer accessed through RDP. This distinction may be unintuitive to many users, but the experience will be far worse through RDP.

We recommend a minimum of 5Mbps download and 3Mbps upload. The only reason we set the upload lower is because a lot of ISPs set a lower upload speed and we didn't want people to say they couldn't do it because they didn't have 5Mbps upload.

Note that people who have poor upload speeds can usually enter video disabled, and enjoy a pure audio version.

WebEx

WebEx can support the most number of simultaneous clients, even more than 150 concurrent in a single session. However, we have limited numbers of licenses, so IST is issuing licenses (by userid) to people as they need it. Send in an IST rt request to rt-ist-itms-collab@rt.uwaterloo.ca.

Setting up a meeting will not work correctly if the user installing it does not have a WebEx account, and the error messages about the lack of account are not clear. The user may get messages such as incorrect password.

Whoever is hosting/initiating the webex meeting needs to have an activated webex account. All Winter 2020 instructors have already been setup with webex accounts. Anyone invited into an existing webex meeting does not need to activate their webex account. Participants can join without requiring an account. The host's invitation will have a url or id which the participants can use to join the meeting.

The software can be installed from uwaterloo.webex.com. Select the 'Cisco Webex Meetings Desktop App' button.

WebEx was integrated into Learn, but IST is currently recommending not using that feature due to issues people have encountered.

For detailed instructions for using WebEx see:

Bongo

Bongo is available in Learn, and supports up to 150 (but not more) concurrent users in a single session. The Engineering technical staff have no exposure to this product. See other UW resources below.

Skype For Business

Skype is okay for smaller meetings.

AHS found that Skype for Business works really well if all parties are on Skype for Business (whether here at UW or elsewhere such as UofCalgary). We tried to get Skype for Business to work with remote attendees who were not on S4B and it worked if they were on Windows but the web plugin for the Mac broke a while back with a MacOS update so we gave up using it with non-UW people. We have not revisited in a while so that may have changed (I think Microsoft switched to having those on Macs download the full client to join a meeting but we haven't tested).

Interoperability with Consumer Skype is uneven:

  • According to AHS, Consumer Skype accounts can be found and messaged in the Windows version - do a search and the option appears to search the Skype directory for matches. The same option does not appear in the Mac version of S4B. There you need to add contacts using the formatskypeusername@skypeids.net to communicate with people on consumer Skype. There is also a "handshake/request" that each side must confirm before communication happens. For that reason, we don't recommend consumer Skype unless the two parties have already been using it to communicate. Also, even though you can communicate with Skype users in Skype for Business, desktop sharing is not supported between the two platforms.
  • If the other parties have never used consumer skype, there can be a lengthy and frustrating process of installing, then getting a Live account registered, and getting everything working if they use the consumer version. Expect they may take 15 to 45 minutes to prepare, depending on skill level, luck and Email speed and may need some help.

Other UW Resources

CSCF has a good reference for using these tools:

  • Learn's Bongo - Virtual Classroom
  • the WebEx online or live presentation and collaboration tool
  • the Zoom video conferencing and messaging solution
  • Twitch and Youtube

IST's 'Staying connected while working remotely' considers all points to achieving that goal by discussing:

  • what computer hardware is required
  • how to secure your computer
  • the VPN
  • Skype for Business both online and by telephone
  • Microsoft Office 365
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Traditional Telephones
  • Email

Other Alternatives

Zoom.us
Zoom is extremely popular among various groups. See zoom.us to get started. To download the client, select the 'Zoom Client for Meetings' button. It is easier to use than the official ones, and licensing is not complicated, anyone can use it. Zoom defaults to 40 minute limits on the free version, though lately they have been extending meetings as part of a campaign to encourage use.
If you use Zoom, ensure that you use these security 'Settings for Preventing Zoom-Bombing'.
WhereBy.Com
AHS have a subscription to whereby.com that we have been using for defences because it is entirely browser based (as long as you use Chrome or Firefox - we have had issues with Safari and non-Chromium Edge). We started off using it as our fallback solution if things went sideways on the day. It bailed us out so many times that we decided to use it as our "go to" solution instead of the fallback. We are going to continue using it until we have a higher comfort level with Webex.
 

Other Resources