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Break free with breakout sessions
Break free from the crowd by enabling smaller breakout sessions for engaged and focused conversations

About the guest blogger

Getting a handle on engaging students remotely comes with its share of trials and discoveries. Kirsten Mortimer (she/her), Technology Adoption Coordinator at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, shares useful tips all educators can start applying in their classroom now.

Kirsten works with faculty and staff to increase their knowledge of, and proficiency with, technology tools as a member of the Learning Technology Center at the university. She has assisted numerous faculty and instructional staff with learning how to use Cisco Webex as well as how to leverage the suite of products to engage graduate and undergraduate students and enhance their learning experiences during the transition to remote delivery.

Engaging students remotely

Remote instruction using Webex Meetings provides opportunities and challenges for our precious instructional time.

I serve as the lead trainer for Webex Meetings at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, which provides the opportunity to work with many instructors on integrating breakout sessions to accomplish their learning objectives. Since the beginning of the pandemic, I have also served as a technology coordinator for a fantastic, seasoned professor emeritus who teaches a few classes.

After first learning the functional aspects of using breakout sessions in Webex, I was ready to click ‘Start Breakouts’ with my class of instructors who would take what they’d learned from me to the wilds of their classrooms. Nervous doesn’t quite cover it!

Tips on smaller breakout sessions

Since that first training and after working with breakouts since the fall in tandem with my adventurous faculty partner, I’ve learned a lot. I highly recommend Beth McMurtie’s excellent article, How to Make Breakout Rooms Work Better, for details on what many of us have learned by trial and error. Here are some Webex-specific tips:

Partner with your students: One music instructor starts her class as a large group and then provides one-on-one instruction to students in a breakout room during the class. While most of the students work together in the main session on a piece, she and an individual dig deeper into that student’s needs. Music mode and the stability of Webex prove invaluable during these sessions.

Breakout session assignments

Use technology to save yourself time: When pre-assignment landed in Webex Meetings, our campus sighed a collective breath of relief. Creating lasting, community-building breakout groups became quick and easy. Pre-assignment makes project work, peer reviews, and complex assignments over multiple sessions more productive and less time-consuming. One instructor developed breakout session groups in his class that met once a week for a few hours. Students dug into complex topics much as they would have in person—virtually ‘moving around’ and being exposed to multiple perspectives during what could have been a long virtual class.

 

Thank you, Webex, for flexibility: While pre-assignment offers consistency, I’ve found that the ‘Reset’ button should be considered a friend. Depending on your class flow, you can start with pre-assigned groups and then shift to new, random groups for quicker exercises. This allows for students to engage with others and keep it fresh. 

 

Don’t be afraid to take chances: For the class where I serve as technology coordinator, Doc teaches in-person with half the class, while myself and the other half of the class join remotely. We send our “onliners” to breakout rooms often while in-person students participate in breakouts together. We get back together for discussion debriefs, often employing chat and a whiteboard to get us on the same page. After using breakout rooms during class, we see more student videos and experience more voluntary sharing by voice and chat. 

 

Stay tuned in: While instructors can join breakout sessions, this can be awkward and may stifle conversation. I’ve found that shared collaborative apps, notably Google Docs and Slides, allow me to keep tabs on student activity without joining the breakout rooms every time. These shared apps also provide documentation for when groups report back to the main session. In one icebreaker, students in the classroom lined up based on height and also birth months. To simulate this activity for our “onliners,” we lined ourselves up using Google Slides in a breakout. After joining the in-person group, we shared the screen to show them how we measured up!

 

Break out of the classroom: Campus leaders continue to amaze me with their creative uses of breakout rooms: student advising walk-in sessions, alumni awards celebrations, active writing groups, student organizations, conference sessions, campus working group problem solving, student government meetings…you name it! Engaging in meaningful experiences often extends outside the classroom.

 

While we want to be experts before trying new methods, I’ve found that the students I work with are willing to take chances, ready to engage with content in new ways and help develop creative ways to use breakout rooms. After all, our goal remains to help them find their voice in a flexible learning environment. 

 

Here’s a guide on how to use breakout sessions.

 

Share your story on the Webex community and read more on how other educators are using breakout sessions in their classrooms.

Kirsten Mortimer
Guest blogger: Kirsten Mortimer (she/her), Technology Adoption Coordinator at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater

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Announcing a Webex special event | The blueprint for Hybrid Work. Made Real.

The blueprint for hybrid work

Companies are mapping out the next stage of hybrid work plans and return to the office. But hybrid work isn’t just about choosing where to work. It’s about unlocking human potential.

It’s about giving everyone an equal experience wherever they work — and designing workplaces that are supportive and empathetic for a more resilient workforce. At Webex, we believe hybrid work is more than just technology. It’s about reimagining employee and customer experiences.

Hybrid Work Made Real event

On June 8, at our Hybrid Work Made Real event, we will be introducing industry-first innovations across our collaboration suite and supporting specialized experiences for contact centers and other events that you won’t want to miss.

By joining this digital event, you will learn about industry-first hybrid solutions that help organizations understand:

  • How do you facilitate a safe return to the office?
  • How should your offices change to meet the new hybrid work model?
  • How can you ensure your remote employees feel included and have an equal seat at the table?
  • How do you remove fatigue and enable employee well-being no matter where they work?
  • How do you build a company culture that sustains human connections in virtual world?
  • How can you create delightful customer experiences in this digital world?
  • How can you scale and secure all of it?

This is an exclusive event and we are offering registration on a first-come, first-serve basis, so if you are looking for a blueprint to create inclusive hybrid work, Register now!

Event Information

Americas & EMEA | June 8, 2021

The Asia Pacific | June 9, 2021

Visit www.HybridWorkEvent.com and click Register Now to sign up for the event.

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In-app meeting scheduling
Mark messages as unread, In-app scheduling calendar, Webex on Linux and more in the Webex app May update

Webex app May update 

In the blink of an eye, we find ourselves in May. Time moves fast and so can our workdays. This month’s release is focused on several features that allow you to work smarter and make better use of your time. By introducing features such as mark messages as unread, select your landing tab, and navigation history, Webex now enables you to stay focused and keep important workflows top of mind. 

MESSAGING IN WEBEX

MEETINGS IN WEBEX

CALLING IN WEBEX

WEBEX PLATFORM NEWS

MESSAGING IN WEBEX

  • Let’s face it, work conversations can get overwhelming and sometimes we forget to follow up with someone. One way to solve this problem is by flagging messages, which Webex currently allows you to do. Now Webex has added the ability to mark messages as unread. This feature is a great complement to flagging at keeping conversations top of mind and acting as a reminder to go back and follow up on important items. When you mark a message as unread, you still leave a read receipt in the space, but your view of the space will display the message as unread. 

Mark as unread in Meetings

  • We all have our different styles of working – some use Webex mostly for calling and others prefer using messaging for team collaboration. Now Webex allows users or admins to select your default landing tab. This means each time you launch Webex you will land on your landing tab of choice – saving you time switching between tabs and keeping you focused on what matters most to you. 

Select Your Default in Meeting

  • Team collaboration is great. Workflows can move faster, and we can communicate directly with the people most important to our projects. However, when working across many spaces and 1:1 chats it can be timeconsuming tracking down the space you need. Not anymore! Webex has added a new navigation history feature that shows all the spaces you have been working across – just like a browser experience. 

MEETINGS IN WEBEX

  • Constantly switching apps to schedule a meeting wastes time and energy. With Webex, you can now schedule a meeting directly within the Webex app. Before, you had to leave the Webex app and use a thirdparty calendar to schedule a meeting. Now, the new in-app scheduler brings it to you so you can set up, update, or delete your meetings in no time. Simply go to the Meetings tab and tap Schedule, then select a date, time, and participants. To be mindful of others, you can view your invitees’ availability so you can select the most convenient time. See your own work week at a glance in the app calendar to ensure you customize your schedule the way you want. Once everyone receives their invite, they can RSVP directly from within the app. 

In-app Meeting

  • Webex has become the new virtual office. Generating meeting recordings and transcripts on the fly was just the beginning. Now keeping track of meeting attendees has never been easier. If a meeting or event requires registration, you can export the registration report in CSV format as the host. In this report, you can collect names, email addresses, dates and times of registration, and the approval status of each participant.

Export registration report

CALLING IN WEBEX

  • To enhance your experience when working from home or in the office with an external web camera, the Webex app is now fully integrated with the Webex Desk Camera. When used together, the Webex Desk Camera privacy shutter serves as the master switch for video in the desktop app. When the shutter is open, you can control your video being shared from within the app. When the shutter is closed, your app video will turn off locally and the remote calling or meeting participants will see your image icon providing a clear indication your video has been turned off. This integration provides you with an extra layer of privacy and control how and when you want your video shared.   

woman on computer sitting at her desk

  • Today, working together can be from anywhere that works for you and sometimes that means working on the go. With Webex, you have the same experience no matter where you’re working or what device you’re using.  Controlling your shared content during calls from your mobile is now easier than ever. You can now stop sharing in mobile on Android and iOS mobile devices. You’ll also see an icon that an active share is ongoing and easily stop the share without going back into the app. This feature is also available for meetings. 

stop sharing in mobile on Android and iOS mobile devices

Webex app with Unified CM: 

  • Mobile Remote Access (MRA) registration failover: Experience better quality and performance if your network components go down. Failure detection and recovery occur faster ensuring a more reliable connection.
  • You can now access detailed diagnostics information right inside the Webex app. Enabling you to facilitate and have access to performance information, such as memory utilization, CPU usage, configuration information, media statistics for calls and devices when paired, and call statistics. You can export this information and share with your IT admin to streamline any troubleshooting and diagnosis as needed. 

diagnostics information inside the Webex app

WEBEX PLATFORM NEWS

  • Due to popular demand from our Webex user community and to provide an inclusive experience for all our customers Webex will now be supported on Linux. In this first phase, we will be supporting core Webex capabilities including, 1:1 app-to-app calling on Webex, joining meetings, and messaging. Unified CM calling support is coming soon. This is just the beginning of our journey with the end goal to have feature parity with Mac and Windows. 

Linux

To see how you can work smarter and make better use of your time, try Webex for free!

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