Behind the Scenes VC Tips and Tricks

As the school year winds down, I’ve been thinking about some of the strategies I use to make VCs as smooth as possible. Here are a couple of tips from a bridge control freak!

Force Video

When facilitating an ASK program with Janie Panagopoulos (a veteran VC-er), I forced the video to the school that came in late so she could see a new site. Then I quickly forced it back to her. Now she’s looking at the new school; and the other schools only saw a quick blip of that school coming in. Without interrupting her flow, I could send her a subtle message that the late school has joined.

During MysteryQuests, I like to force the video to the class that is presenting to avoid any switching. This also keeps their visuals up on screen even when the other classes are asking for clues to be repeated.

Sometimes my old Tandberg MPS acts up and the video flips like crazy. Sometimes I can fix that by forcing it to the presenting site and not allowing any video switching.

Mute Video

Another trick I discovered just this spring.

My old Tandberg MPS doesn’t get along with the Codian and RMX bridges. Both bridges tend to take over the conference so I can’t force video. Or in a scenario that happens with a couple of bridges in a south western state, the site coming in through the Codian takes over the conference and voice activation no longer works.

In both of these scenarios, I found a unique solution! Mute the video on the offending bridge!

In one MysteryQuest this spring, ALL the sites were coming in through bridges. Side rant: who in their right mind installs VC so schools can only connect through a bridge? I strongly believe they should be able to connect directly in addition to through a bridge. In that session, to make it work, I had to mute the video of all the other sites to make it work. The surprising good side effect though was that when teachers and students were seeing a loopback of their presentation, they could adjust posters and other visuals to make them easier to see.

What about you?

I realize that VC is moving towards end user control and away from bridge control. But when I’m running/facilitating/bridging a program, I like to make it as smooth and excellent an experience for the teachers and students as humanly possible. Yes, I’m a control freak!

What do you think of this kind of manipulation? Good/bad?

What other tips and tricks do you do?

Do you think new desktop VC solutions will allow for this kind of support during the program?

About Janine Lim

Janine Lim, PhD, currently serves as associate dean for online higher education in the School of Distance Education at Andrews University, in Berrien Springs, MI. She and her team support over 200 online courses, provide training for faculty teaching online, and work with the campus infrastructure support of online learning. Her department also provides educational technology and Moodle support for faculty and students. In addition, Janine is responsible for the faculty and courses of the Consortium of Adventist Colleges and Universities. Janine has taught over 15 unique graduate educational technology classes online numerous times over the past 15 years, with some classes attracting participants from all over the world. Her undergraduate teaching includes social media courses for communication and digital media majors. Janine has served on the board of the United States Distance Learning Association since April 2015. Prior to her work at Andrews University, Janine coordinated distance education for 22 K12 school districts in southwest Michigan for 14 years. In that position, as one of the co-founders of TWICE, Michigan’s K12 Videoconferencing Organization, Janine has spearheaded popular international K12 videoconference projects such as Read Around the Planet and MysteryQuest. While still serving on the board of TWICE, she was instrumental in designing and implementing the CAPspace website for collaborative videoconference projects. Janine also served on a team of Michigan educational technology trainers providing a workshop called ATA Technology Academy. Her current online learning research interests include successful teacher behaviors, quality online discussions, and student activity patterns in self-paced courses.
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1 Response to Behind the Scenes VC Tips and Tricks

  1. Ashton Graham says:

    I love the control the bridge operators have over the video conference! I remember one huge meeting I had organized with three school districts (on my end we had superintendents, CFO, Board Members etc) during the test call the voice activated switching had worked wonderfully but on the day of the conference as the participants were arriving it didn’t work – so after conferring with the bridge operator he hard switched the entire conference – no one ever knew! I just made sure my facilitator knew how to “toss” – the entire conference would of been a disaster if it weren’t for the control from the bridge!

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