Video for Online Events and Conferences

ALES IT Services

ALES IT offers web video conferencing services for academic, research, teaching and administrative support purposes. Appropriateness of any service for a particular purpose may vary depending on academic research restrictions, internal (University of Alberta) and external privacy or security policies and other considerations. As other institutions and organizations may have more restricted access to the choice of tools, it is recommended to inquire about any restrictions external entities may have to the choice of tool (i.e. a quick email with your suggested choice and offer an alternative).

Academic members and staff have ALES IT supported access to three University of Alberta licensed tools: Skype for Business, Zoom and Teams.

Other third-party tools and personal accounts cannot be supported by ALES IT (often overlooked are tools like Skype or Discord — which require all members to have an account). As well, a service’s privacy policy could allow for advertisements or data harvesting, whereas paid enterprise class tools allow guests with no login or account requirements, and offer more robust service privacy policies. This is an important distinction with the choice of tool to use.

Additionally, Google Hangouts/Meet is also available, supported through IST at the University of Alberta.

Privacy and Security

Each software platform has different strengths regarding how they handle data security and privacy. Your needs as a presenter or researcher may influence which platforms are available for you to use. There are common practices to be used with various services for mitigating the risk of unauthorized participants entering into your meeting;

  • do not post the private meeting URL to a public forum or website, or on social media
  • use the lobby function to manage entrance
  • ensure only those invited are allowed in etc

Specific details for various applications are listed below.

ALES IT can help you select the proper platform for your presentation or research project. In cases where a situation may require a specific tool to be used to attend or manage the presentation, ALES IT can provide an array of options for a successful outcome.

Technical Resources and Best Practices
(i.e. security tips) for Your Event

Microsoft Teams (Fname.Lname@ales.ualberta.ca login):
Fully functional web only client for host and guests or download the app

Microsoft Teams Tutorials:

Master playlist of Teams tutorial videos

General

Meeting & Classroom management 

Advanced & Live Streaming


Skype for Business (Fname.Lname@ales.ualberta.ca login):

  • Meet Now (video tutorial)
  • Web Scheduler (video tutorial for creating meetings, using the lobby function to manage access)

Zoom (@ualberta.ca login):

*ALES IT highly recommends the review of these Security Recommendation URLs.*


Google Hangouts/Meets


Etiquette basics for web conferencing

Before the event

  • Connect fifteen minutes early, if possible, to allow time for setup (email the host or another participant if you are going to be late)
  • Check your network connectivity beforehand. If using Wi-Fi, ensure it is from an open/unrestricted stable connection (i.e. home, or campus authenticated UWS and not from the campus Guest network or from free public connection like a coffee shop etc. as those will be restricted in functionality and bandwidth availability)
  • Remove clutter or personal items around you or use an augmented background (check your web conference client preferences for such choices, Zoom and Teams have this capability)
  • Consider using a headset to reduce distractions and minimize background noise and chatter
  • Close all browser tabs not related to the presentation — especially if you’re going to be sharing your desktop. This eases the workload on your device and ensures that when you’re sharing your screen, people are only looking at your content, not what other sites you may have been browsing
  • Close all other programs and applications. This reduces the workload on your device allowing
  • Make sure you quit all other video conferencing programs. This will ensure the program is not fighting for computer resources with other programs
  • Most programs will allow you to log in with the microphone muted. If not, just automatically mute yourself. Same with video. Wait until all participants have joined before you start your video.

During the event

  • Speak clearly
  • Keep your device (phone, computer, etc.) on mute unless you are speaking and be attentive as to when to enable your mic as required
  • Allow time for participants to enable their mic to ask questions and wait until they have finish speaking to respond
  • Limit any side conversations
  • Direct a question to the specific individual during the web conference

Troubleshooting

  • General Technical
    • Make sure you meet the minimum system requirements and are using the latest version of the application software
    • Check your computer and internet connection – A bad connection can cause dropped calls, blocky or frozen video, and poor sound. If you are having a bad connection, you may receive a notification saying Poor network connection.
    • Make sure you have a strong WiFi signal, or if possible, use a wired connection.
    • If using a network at work, make sure your corporation has not blocked video conferencing software in their Firewall. You may have to use a home network for this
    • Close any applications that could be interfering with your call. File sharing applications, streaming audio or video, or even just having a browser open are all things that can eat up bandwidth and computer processing resources
    • If you’re using a laptop and you’re in power-saving mode, try plugging the laptop into AC power or switching it to maximum performance mode
  • Stuttering audio, lagging Audio or Video, or Frozen Video
    • This is usually a network connection or bandwidth issue. Try to ensure you are connected to the fastest WiFi possible or connect to a wired network connection. Also ensure you’re not using other network-intensive applications at the same time.
  • No Audio
    • Ensure the microphone and speaker work
    • Check the microphone and speaker settings in Control Panel (Windows) or System Preferences (Mac/OSX) or Settings (iOS)
      • Ensure the application is connected to the proper microphone and speaker
      • Ensure the application has Permission to access the microphone and speaker
    • If you are connecting through a Browser (Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari, etc) remember to check that your Browser privacy settings allow access to the microphone.
  • Audio Echos
    • A participant could have both computer and telephone audio active at the same time. In this case, you’ll want to ask them to manually leave one in favor of the other. They’ll have to either hang up on the telephone call or mute their microphone during the conference
    • Multiple people with computer or telephone speakers might be too close to each other while in the same room – move the computers or speaker further away from each other or mute the microphones.
  • No Video
    • If your web camera isn’t showing up, the first thing to do is check to make sure all other programs that use the webcam are closed. Your application won’t be able to use the camera if you’ve already given access to it in a different application.
    • Ensure the program is accessing the right webcam (or even has a webcam assigned to it) by checking the program’s settings
    • If you’re on a Windows 10 or MacOS device, the webcam might be blocked. You can correct this by checking your app permissions to make sure the video app or your web browser can use your webcam. On the web specifically, you also can check this setting by restarting your call and making sure you pressed Allow when prompted about the camera and microphone access.
    • If you are connecting through a Browser (Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari, etc) remember to check that your Browser privacy settings allow access to the camera.

Training and Support

We strongly recommend all video sessions have a ‘Dress Rehearsal to ensure familiarity with the technology and equipment to be used (i.e. practice in the same location as the event). As there are so many choices of tools in this era, familiarity with more than one would be considered an asset. This will ensure that your presenters are comfortable with their hardware and technology. Ideally your participants will have a better presentation experience. Please refer to the Dress Rehearsal Checklist for more detail.

Some events involve multiple participants at various geographic locations throughout the world. As technology infrastructure standards vary from region to region and nation to nation, it is recommended that a rehearsal be planned prior to the actual event so any technology issues can be solved and your event can proceed in an efficient and timely manner.

Contact ALES IT if you would like technical support for your dress rehearsals.

Distance Learning Room

The Renewable Resources Distributed Learning Centre is a multi-use, high-tech, smart video classroom designed to facilitate distributed learning, research collaboration, and professional education. It is located in the South Academic Building, Room 1-50. *Training required (see above)*.

Contacts

Laura Ortegon-Rico or any other ALES IT members can facilitate the initial query.