Monday, June 22, 2020

Teaching Through the Pandemic - Part IV

Thanks to all of our readers who were able to come to the National Business Law Scholars Conference (NBLSC) last Thursday and Friday.  It was lovely to see so many of you there, even though it was somewhat sad that we could not be with each other in person.  The conference enjoyed record participation, and we have received a lot of useful informal feedback about our virtual format from folks who attended.

I was the beneficiary of many "teaching moments" in hosting and participating in the NBLSC this year.  I later will post on some of the outtakes from the NBLSC teaching panel (to which co-blogger Marcia Narine Weldon--who blogged about teaching on Friday--contributed meaningfully).  Today, however, I am focusing my post today on a few new things my fellow UT Law conference hosts and I learned about Zoom in the process of hosting the conference.  A list follows.  

  • Although meeting participants should mute themselves on entering a meeting, it is best for a meeting host to set up the meeting so that all participants will be muted on entry, especially for large meetings.  It can be challenging to track down and mute participants who join a meeting and bring background noise or conversations into a meeting that is already in progress.
  • If you have set up a Zoom meeting with yourself as the host and you hand off the hosting to another meeting participant during the meeting, you may leave the meeting without ending the meeting for all.  However, you cannot then initiate a second meeting as host until the first meeting has concluded.  You cannot, in other words, host two concurrent meetings, even if you handed off hosting in the first meeting to someone else.  See here.  (Fix?  Set up someone else as an alternative host of the first meeting.  Also have that alternative host start the first meeting as host.  Join the first meeting as a participant.  Sign off any time and initiate the second meeting.)
  • If you are hosting a meeting, consider assigning someone as a co-host so that, if your Internet connection fails, the meeting continues to proceed with the co-host as host until you can re-join.  This was particularly welcome to me, since my power went out three separate times on Friday afternoon during conference sessions I was hosting.
  • Have a telephone or data-enabled smart pad handy as a back-up connection device if you are hosting or participating in a Zoom meeting on a computer using the Zoom client.  Although data rates may apply, you can easily reconnect using the Zoom app on your phone or smart pad if you lose your Internet connection.  (This is how I reconnected those three times on Friday.)
  • If the meeting host allows all participants to share screens at the outset of the meeting, if a presenter who is sharing slides drops out of the meeting because of, e.g., Internet hiccups, the presenter can immediately re-share the slides after re-joining the meeting (without having to be named as a host or co-host). A meeting host would not want to allow all participants to share screens, however, unless the participants are trusted.
  • A host can kick a participant out of a meeting, but that participant can re-enter the meeting room unless the "Allow removed participants to rejoin" feature is disabled.
  • A meeting host can report an aberrant user to Zoom if that feature ("Report participants to Zoom") is enabled in the host's settings.
  • Some meeting participants like to communicate with other meeting participants privately through the chat feature of Zoom.  See here.  It approximates sitting next to (or close to) others in a physical room.  If you want to allow this kind of background chatter, enable "Allow meeting participants to send a private 1:1 message to another participant" in your profile settings on Zoom.
  • Although I did not use them for the NBLSC, meeting hosts should consider the desirability of using waiting rooms, password requirements, meeting locks and other security features, and breakout rooms to manage participants. 

I am sure there is more I could say, but these were the main things I learned that were not necessarily things I had picked up in establishing and engaging Zoom meetings for classroom activities.  While some of the above-listed items may be of limited utility in using Zoom to teach online (as opposed to using Zoom to host a two-day, 31-meeting conference), if you substitute "class" for "meeting" in the listed items, you can get a sense of how some of them may apply to class activities in general or in specific circumstances, too.  In any event, i have come to the understanding that we all can benefit from knowing as much as possible about the technologies were are using as we continue to navigate the virtual conference and online teaching waters as business law professors.

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/business_law/2020/06/teaching-through-the-pandemic-part-iv.html

Conferences, Joan Heminway, Marcia Narine Weldon, Teaching, Technology | Permalink

Comments

Thanks again for hosting, Joan - it was a great experience despite the occasional tech hiccups (and it seems like you figured out the problem we were having with hosts!) Some of these things I think could be improved by Zoom, and if it's going to be used more in these settings (though of course there are competing services) I hope it responds to user needs. I.e., right now, there's no feature to allow anyone designated a host to raise a hand - bad if you have multiple speakers and discussion time, as we did - and there should be a way for the moderator to communicate elapsed time to the speaker (using chat for that is awkward, esp if there are other chat messages).

I hope Zoom improves things but either way, thank you again!

Posted by: Ann Lipton | Jun 23, 2020 9:00:19 AM

I so appreciate this comment, Ann--and your participation in the conference! I forgot to add the "hand raise" issue to the post. I appreciate you noting that.

As for the time lapse problem, people seem to handle that in many different ways. It would be interesting to hear from some of our colleagues on how they handle timing concerns with student presentations or moot court or the like. It is difficult to use the chat for that, especially if the chat is being used for other communication purposes, too (which folks seem to like). I just give presenters a flat palm for five minutes left and a raised finger for one minute left. One of my colleagues is big on using white card stock paper with big black numbers on it, just like he does in the classroom.

I may pass all of this along to Zoom. Zoom has generally been responsive recently to comments raised by end-users. I suspect some of the observations here may be of interest.

Again, thanks for these additional thoughts and for all of your work and feedback.

Posted by: joanheminway | Jun 23, 2020 11:41:27 AM

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