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WebEx - Virtual Web Meetings

WHAT IT IS: Cisco WebEx is a virtual conferencing software tool, that lets you collaborate - in real-time - with people for whom it would be impossible, or inconvenient, to gather in one place for a traditional, face-to-face meeting. WebEx is web-based, so there is no software to download and install, or configure.

WHO CAN USE WEBEX: At UW-Whitewater faculty and staff can organize (host) WebEx sessions and participate in meetings organized by others. Students can participate in meetings created by instructors or staff (but cannot organize meetings). Because there is no software to install or download, WebEx can be used to invite participants who are not affiliated with the University, for example, invited guests, lecturers, or experts from other institutions.

WHAT YOU NEED: Because WebEx uses the web to create a virtual meeting space, you need to have a computer (Windows or Mac) with a broadband Internet access, and an up-to-date web browser (Internet Explorer, FireFox, or Safari). To be able to hear and talk to other session participants, you need either a touch-tone phone, or a computer equipped with audio capabilities (speakers or headphones, and a microphone). Those participants whose computers have a built-in webcam (or a connected external webcam), may be able to be seen by others during a meeting, if they choose to, and if the session organizer allows it, but having a webcam is not a requirement. That's all the required equipment and software: most likely you already have everything you need to organize, and attend virtual WebEx sessions. Step-by-step Quick-Start Guide is available as a PDF document (requires a Fac/Staff Net-ID log-in).

HOW WEBEX WORKS: WebEx offers four modes of operation, called Centers: the Meeting Center, the Training Center, the Event Center, and the Support Center. You have to select one of these modes before you proceed to schedule your WebEx session, and each of these Centers (modes) offers a different set of features.

WHICH WEBEX CENTER SHOULD YOU CHOOSE: A detailed feature summary diagrams and comparison table intended to help you make a decision which Center best fits your needs are available as a PDF document. This web page offers a condensed overview of the most distinctive features of each WebEx Center.

Choose the MEETING CENTER, if you need to have a meeting in which most participants take on an active role as presenters, talking to other meeting participants, and sharing their computer screen, documents, or software with others during the meeting. Equipped with a shared whiteboard, chat area, polling (aka "ask the audience") ability, and shared note-taking, the Meeting Center is the tool of choice for administrative meetings at the University.

The TRAINING CENTER is best suited to virtual teaching sessions. In addition to standard features available in the Meeting Center (screen, document, and application sharing; chat; and polling), it also allows assigning session participants into break-out groups to facilitate teamwork and work on group assignments and/or discussion. The Training Center offers more scheduling options than the Meeting Center, allowing session organizers to group sessions by category, or to create a series of thematically connected teaching/learning experiences. The Training Center further adds the ability to conduct a Q&A sessions, and to administer and record the results of (optionally) self-grading tests and quizzes before, during, and after a WebEx session. Once the training session has ended, participants can be automatically redirected to a web page (or to any URL address, such as an iTunes U address) designated by the session host. The Training Center is the tool of choice for conducting online training sessions, webinars, or presenting a lecture series.

The EVENT CENTER is intended to provide support to sessions which include a smaller group of presenters (panelists) who present and share information with others, and a large audience, the members of which mostly watch and listen to presentations, and communicate with others via chat or Q&A sessions (but not through voice). The Event Center offers enhanced scheduling and registration options for the event, and a fully customizable, advanced, and largely automated communications system to keep in touch with events' presenters and participants before, during, and after the event. The Event Center is the only WebEx tool that allows the organizers to design and use a post-event survey, to gather feedback from the participants. Event Center is best suited for larger events, such as online conferences or fairs, and works best when sessions are managed by several people with well-defined responsibilities (for example, an assigned person to handle the chat room, or to manage the Q&A session).

The SUPPORT CENTER is a simplified (4-button) interface that allows faculty and staff to quickly create an ad-hoc meeting with another person or a small group of people. The Support Center does not include scheduling, or many other advanced features available in the other three WebEx Centers, but it may be convenient if a need emerges for spontaneous (unplanned) sharing of materials with another person (or people). For most typical uses at the University (virtual lectures or training sessions, webinars, virtual office hours, administrative faculty and staff meetings, etc.) one of the other Centers is usually a better choice, with more features and flexibility. One significant advantage of the Support Center is its simplicity.

For more detailed information on how to use each WebEx Center, consult one of four detailed Cisco User Guides (one for each WebEx Center), available as both PDF files, and as web pages from the left navigation pane after you log-in to WebEx.

WEBEX PRODUCTIVITY TOOLS: For University faculty and staff who use Microsoft Office 2010, and prefer to manage their time and schedule meetings using Outlook 2010, WebEx offers Productivity Tools, a suite of utilities that can be downloaded and installed and enables better integration between Office 2010 (especially Outlook 2010) and WebEx. For more information about Productivity Tools, please consult the available PDF handout [access requires a Net-ID log-in].

VIDEO: For a quick overview on how students, off-campus guests, faculty, and staff can join (attend) Meeting Center meetings, and how UW-Whitewater faculty and staff can schedule (organize) WebEx meetings, see two short videos included below. The same videos can be viewed directly on Vimeo and on UW-Whitewater section of iTunes U (clicking this link will attempt to launch iTunes on your computer), in downloadable format playable on smart phones and mobile devices (for example, iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad).

Join (Attend) a WebEx meeting to which you've been invited:

(Faculty and Staff only) Schedule / Host a WebEx meeting, and invite participants:

Credits: WebEx podcast cover photo (hand circle), copyright by istockphoto . com / AlexMax; icons on this page's banner by artua.com.

This page last updated on January 18, 2012 (GJ).