Video conferencing and online teaching
In the summer semester 2020 many courses will be held online and interactively via Big Blue Button. This is an unusual format, both for lecturers and for participants. In order to ensure a similar learning success as with face-to-face events, we would like to give you a number of tips on behaviour during such online events, as well as technical preparations for them. In addition, the KIZ has also produced extensive instructions on BBB.
Technical preparations for successful interactive online sessions
- Make sure you use a headset so that you can be understood cleanly and without noise. Microphones and loudspeakers built into laptops are usually not sufficient, as feedback can occur, typing noises on the keyboard can be transmitted and much more. Oftentimes a headset such as those that are usually supplied with smartphones can be connected to laptops and are sufficient.
- Whenever possible, do not use WiFi, but connect your laptop to your router/switch via Ethernet cable. In most cases this leads to less interference and packet loss and the audio/video quality is better and – most importantly – more stable. If connecting via vable is not possible, place your computer as close as possible to the WiFi access point to ensure good reception.
- You can carry out a bandwidth test to the university or to the BelWü research network at http://speedtest.belwue.net/ to determine possible bottlenecks on the way from your Internet service provider to the university internet infrastructure.
- During an online event, avoid all other applications that heavily use your Internet connection, e.g. large downloads, video streaming, automatic software updates or similar. This applies both to applications on your computer and to the computers of roommates and family members. Coordinate your video conference times with the other people using your internet connection beforehand.
- The BBB rooms in the courses can also be entered at latest 15 minutes before the scheduled event times. Test and improve your setup before the first event by arranging a technical test with fellow students, for example, to optimize the local audio setup, microphone position, audio levels, etc.
- For network experts: You may be able to prioritize upload traffic for the BBB audio/video conference: BBB uses random UDP ports >16k and connects to the bwcloud server in the domain *.bwcloud.uni-ulm.de.
Behaviour during an online event
- While you are not talking, you should always(!) mute your microphone (and don't forget to activate it again briefly if you want to contribute something or are directly addressed). This prevents you from disturbing others with background noise and also relieves the network.
- Likewise, your own video stream should always be deactivated at first. You should only activate your video if you are explicitly requested to do so. Rules for the use of video should be discussed at the beginning of the event. Even if video is running smoothly when testing the setup on your own, too many simultaneous video streams can overload other clients.
- Sometimes it is not easy to get the attention of presenters in an online event to ask a question or make a speech. However, using your own status icon, you can, for example, raise your hand virtually or distribute information to the other participants. In the chat you can also ask questions asynchronously without directly interrupting the lecturer / moderator. He/she can then answer the question at a suitable point.
No master has fallen from heaven yet (except the "Schneider von Ulm"). Good videoconferences also depend a lot on the experience of the participants with this format. By the middle of the semester, we will all certainly be true video conferencing professionals.