Collaboration Software Best Practices

TWU offers many options for collaborating with colleagues including voicepoint phone conferencing, video conferencing, Blackboard Collaborate, and Skype for Business.  To ensure a successful meeting / class session, consider these best practices before, during, and after the meeting. In the following, “Moderator” refers to the instructor, organizer, presenter, and/or moderator. “Participants” refers to students and/or other meeting/event participants.

Moderators before the meeting/class

  1. Decide on the technology needed.The type of presentation and content will determine which technology to use. show kb article of comparison (For example: No small group in skype for business, bb coll or video conference)

    1. Share files. Although web conferencing (such as Blackboard Collaborate or Skype for Business) offers file transfer, some users may not be able to access those files in the meeting, when using the mobile app.

    2. Send handouts via email or share Google docs/sheets/slides ahead of meeting /class session time.

    3. If printouts are needed, be sure to arrange ahead of time.

  2. If new to the room/equipment, submit a ticket to schedule a practice time with OoT staff.

    1. Know how to mute participants and or by site location.

  3. Have a backup plan in case of technical issues.

    1. When meeting or interviewing online, have phone numbers to call in case of technical difficulties.

    2. How will moderators/instructors contact participants/students in case of technical issues?

  4. Communicate changes.

    1. Notify meeting participants or students of cancellations or time/room changes.

    2. If the meeting/class is scheduled to be on campus, notify University Scheduling and video conference scheduling--this guarantees the best use of human and physical resources. Adjustments to date/time may require changes to location.

    3. If a meeting/class will be longer or shorter than originally scheduled, contact the appropriate scheduling office(s) (University Scheduling, Video Conference Services) to determine space availability. Also, communicate time /room changes to participants/students.

  5. Decide how to handle questions.

    1. Questions/options to consider:

      1. Time for questions and  answers (by raised hand) before, during, or at the end of the meeting/class session?

      2. If using Skype for Business, Blackboard Collaborate, or other web conferencing software, will participants type in the chat window or use audio/video options?

      3. If using chat service, (Skype for Business, Blackboard Collaborate, or other web conferencing software) who will be the chat moderator? When using voicepoint or video conferencing, who will be the moderator at each site?

    2. Share these guidelines in writing in advance of and during the meeting/class session.

    3. Professors should post guidelines in online courses.

  6. Carefully design visual aids.

    1. Consider size of visuals if using the document camera or PC.

    2. If an online presentation, consider accessibility standards.

    3. Consider ink costs when designing materials that may be printed by participants (such as powerpoint presentations designed with dark color background for classes).  

    4. Laser pointers used in video conference will not appear to the remote sites.

Moderators during the meeting/class

  1. Arrive early. Arrive/log-on 30 minutes early to prepare the technology, load presentation(s), test audio/video, and open all necessary tabs/windows/websites.

  2. The Service Desk is available. Call 940-898-3971 or press the “Service Desk” button on the AMX touch panel for assistance with technical issues.

  3. Introduce speakers and moderators at the beginning so participants know who is in charge/who is addressing questions.

  4. Check the settings. In Blackboard Collaborate or Skype for Business (or other web conferencing technology), manage settings carefully. Settings can control who can present, who has “backstage” access, if names appear in recordings, who has access to documents, etc. Link to appropriate KB articles

  5. Moderate effectively - audio considerations.

    1. Moderator should mute site(s) until meeting/class session is started and while small group discussions occur. For videoconference and teleconference, remember that when sites are connected, all sound is being transmitted. Even if no one is visible at the other sites, someone could be out of camera range.

    2. Mute all except moderator, when appropriate, and request that everyone remain quiet until question and answer period. In any meeting, all side conversations and noises (tapping of a pen, shuffling papers, coughing/sneezing) can be distracting to participants. This can make it difficult to hear/understand what is being communicated.  

    3. Encourage participants (in physical and virtual locations) to speak one-at-a-time.

    4. Consider having a signal to get everyone’s attention. For example: red slide=all attention, all quiet.

    5. Moderator should be prepared to repeat questions or comments made by participants in physical locations for all to hear.

  6. Moderate effectively - other considerations.

    1. If participants can’t see, they can’t engage. Zoom (or Ctrl-+) as necessary for all to see (especially information in Excel).

  7. Be responsible when using technology resources at TWU.

Participants during the meeting/class

  1. Arrive early. For online sessions, log-on 10-15 minutes early to download plug-ins and test audio settings, etc.

  2. The Service Desk is available. Call 940-898-3971 for assistance with technical issues.

  3. Be a considerate participant.

    1. Those entering early should remain quiet unless the site is muted. (Even if no one is visible at the other sites, someone could be out of camera range).

    2. Speak one-at-a-time so that all participating can hear and understand.

  4. Taking notes? Have electronic device or paper/pen ready.

  5. Be responsible when using technology resources at TWU.

Moderators after the meeting/class

  1. Communicate with participants.

    1. Ensure all handouts were sent/received.

    2. Follow-up with specific or unanswered questions.

    3. If meeting/class session was recorded, notify participants of recording and or document access.

    4. If notes were taken, share with participants. (Send Google link, email documents, post in online class or website)

  2. Reflect on the session.

    1. What worked? What could be improved?

    2. If a technical issue occurred, contact the Service Desk!

Participants after the meeting/class

  1. Follow-up with specific or unanswered questions.

  2. Ensure all handouts were sent/received.

  3. If meeting/class was recorded, locate recording information.

  4. Consider any issues encountered in the meeting/class session and work with OoT staff to resolve.

Link List

For additional support, contact the Technology Service Desk at 940-898-3971, servicedesk@twu.edu,techchat.twu.edu, or submit a request through the Technology Service Catalog.