Two weeks ago, I attended my first multi-user video webinar, and it was quite an experience! The meeting was for the hybrid course design seminar I am participating in this quarter, led by CETL’s Rosemary Capps.
In the screenshot below, you’ll see that our whole class had video feeds streaming, and we could also chat in the textbox on the right side of the screen. At any time, I could pause my own feed—which was helpful since I was eating a sandwich!—but still contribute by speaking or typing.
The group video chat was ideal for discussion, and I think it led us to be more talkative than we were in the last webinar when we only used audio. If was certainly easier to raise my hand to indicate I was interesting in speaking.
When the course shifted from discussion to lecture, we turned off our videos and the main screen became Rosemary’s PowerPoint. You can see in the below screenshot that she and Dan Comins (who functions like a teaching assistant for our course) have their videos still streaming. The chat box was also still available for us to use while we listened to the lecture.
After the lecture, Rosemary divided us into small groups and sent us into break out rooms. I was paired with Cara, who you see in the below screenshot that shows our presentation to the class. The middle column shows the notes we took during the breakout session, and the column on the right is the chatbox that other participants used to ask us questions.
I found the video to be an interesting additive to the webinar, though it was also rather overwhelming—there were so many things to look at in the room! Rosemary brought up the excellent point that when anyone encounters a new tool that is mediating communication, all they can see is the tool. But once they get used to it, the tool becomes transparent and the communication starts to feel more natural. At the end of our two-hour class, I was certainly more comfortable with the environment, but I need a few more sessions before it becomes transparent!