Web Conferencing Options
Drexel University has a number of web conferencing services that can be used to:
- meet with large or small groups of students, faculty, or staff online
- facilitate online synchronous courses
- present lectures or talks
- hold online meetings with participants in different locations
- collaborate with colleagues
Feature that are common across all platforms are listed below, as well as a few recommendations for when you might want to use these services.
- Audio, Video, and Text Chat - Allows users to connect with a microphone or telephone to send and receive audio, utilize a webcam for video, and type in messages through text chat.
- Mobile Devices - Web conferencing through a mobile interface so that attendees can join from their device; however, some features and functions may be limited.
- Recording - Sessions can be recorded for later reviewing or downloading.
- Screen Sharing - App windows or full screens can be shared with the remote participants.
Collaborate Ultra: Recommended for courses
Integrated into Drexel Learn, this web conferencing system is ideally situated within courses to allow integration with other course activities. All courses already have a Collaborate Ultra Course Room ready to use once the tool is deployed to students. The whiteboard allows for loading of PowerPoint, PDF, and image files directly into the session for markup. Attendance in sessions can also be tracked.
Collaborate Ultra can also be used for regularly scheduled office hours, allowing instructors to meet with individual students, small groups, or all together, to facilitate the same interactions they would have in their office. Breakout rooms provide the ability to meet with one or more students separate from the rest of the group.
This browser-based solution does not require the installation of any additional software, but operates best within Chrome or Firefox. Ensure you are using a supported browser before you begin. You can find troubleshooting suggestions on the Blackboard Help site.
More information can be found on the Collaborate DU IT website and the Blackboard Help site.
Visit our Collaborate Orientation pages to learn how to access, schedule and record sessions, as well as use basic features.
Collaborate Ultra is accessible through any course in Drexel Blackboard Learn.
Zoom: Recommended for meetings
Zoom is our best service for holding scheduled online meetings. Drexel students, faculty, and professional staff can schedule meetings with text, audio, video, and screen-sharing. Zoom provides silent feedback features like "speak louder" or “raise hand to speak” that help maintain order in large meetings. Zoom at Drexel has support for a HIPAA mode for holding meetings that deal with Protected Health Information (PHI). While sharing video from a webcam, Zoom can replace the video background to obscure your workspace and keep focus on the speaker.
Zoom meetings can be scheduled and run from a web browser or an app for Android, iPhone/iPad, macOS and Windows. A plugin for Outlook makes adding Zoom to a meeting easy. We would recommend installing the Zoom app and the Outlook plugin. Links to scheduled meetings can be added to courses in Drexel Learn, sent via e-mail, or published on a website. Meeting participants can also join with a browser, the Zoom app, or by phone (audio only).
More information can be found on the Zoom DU IT website and the Zoom Help Site.
Visit our Zoom pages to learn how to access, schedule and record sessions, as well as use basic features.
Zoom is accessible at drexel.zoom.us.
Teams: Recommended for collaboration
Microsoft Teams is our best service for collaborations ranging from instant messaging colleagues or holding small meetings to providing threaded discussions and file storage spaces. As part of Office 365, the Teams availability indicators tells you when colleagues are available, scheduled for meetings, or away from their desks. While sharing video from a webcam, Teams can blur the background to keep obscure your workspace and focus on the speaker.
Teams works from a web browser or an app for Android, iPhone/iPad, Linux, macOS and Windows. We would recommend installing the Teams app. Outlook is integrated to Teams to make scheduling meetings easy. Meeting participants can also join with a browser, the Zoom app, or by phone (audio only).
Visit our Teams pages to learn how the basics or the Microsoft Teams site for more detailed information.
Teams is accessible through the Teams app as well as teams.microsoft.com.
Each of these services has its own limits on the number of people who can participate in a meeting or webinar. In addition to these technical limits, there may be additional challenges in managing large interactive meetings.
- Up to 250 interactive meeting participants
- Large meetings for up to 500 interactive participants must be requested through Blackboard in advance
- Up to 300 interactive meeting participants
- Large meetings for up to 500 interactive participants must be requested through Drexel IT in advance
- Webinars for several presenters and up to 1,000 viewers must be request through Drexel IT in advance
- Up to 250 interactive meeting participants
- Webinars for several presenters and up to 10,000 viewers must be request through Drexel IT in advance
Home Network Capacity
As the number of attendees in a meeting grows, greater demands will be placed on your network. Audio and video quality in meetings may suffer if others on your network are making heavy bandwidth demands, such as online gaming, 4K streaming, performing cloud backups.
These things may help improve performance:
- Moving your computer closer to your wireless router
- Asking others to reduce their network use
- Upgrading your Internet connection
Suggestions for Large Meetings
While you should have no technical trouble facilitating any meeting with one or two dozen participants, productivity in meetings that are significantly larger may suffer if multiple participants are talking at once.
These things may help improve meeting productivity:
- Muting participants or turning off video except when needed by a participant
- Making use of meeting voting controls like "raise your hand" and "talk louder" to minimize audible interruptions
- Having someone work as a moderator to facilitate the meeting
If you have any questions about which system to utilize, or need assistance with Collaborate Ultra or Teams, please reach out to the Instructional Technology Group at firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance. If you need help with Zoom, please contact the Video Collaboration and Production team at email@example.com for support.