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Break free with breakout sessions
Break free from the crowd by enabling smaller breakout sessions for engaged and focused conversations

About the guest blogger

Getting a handle on engaging students remotely comes with its share of trials and discoveries. Kirsten Mortimer (she/her), Technology Adoption Coordinator at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, shares useful tips all educators can start applying in their classroom now.

Kirsten works with faculty and staff to increase their knowledge of, and proficiency with, technology tools as a member of the Learning Technology Center at the university. She has assisted numerous faculty and instructional staff with learning how to use Cisco Webex as well as how to leverage the suite of products to engage graduate and undergraduate students and enhance their learning experiences during the transition to remote delivery.

Engaging students remotely

Remote instruction using Webex Meetings provides opportunities and challenges for our precious instructional time.

I serve as the lead trainer for Webex Meetings at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, which provides the opportunity to work with many instructors on integrating breakout sessions to accomplish their learning objectives. Since the beginning of the pandemic, I have also served as a technology coordinator for a fantastic, seasoned professor emeritus who teaches a few classes.

After first learning the functional aspects of using breakout sessions in Webex, I was ready to click ‘Start Breakouts’ with my class of instructors who would take what they’d learned from me to the wilds of their classrooms. Nervous doesn’t quite cover it!

Tips on smaller breakout sessions

Since that first training and after working with breakouts since the fall in tandem with my adventurous faculty partner, I’ve learned a lot. I highly recommend Beth McMurtie’s excellent article, How to Make Breakout Rooms Work Better, for details on what many of us have learned by trial and error. Here are some Webex-specific tips:

Partner with your students: One music instructor starts her class as a large group and then provides one-on-one instruction to students in a breakout room during the class. While most of the students work together in the main session on a piece, she and an individual dig deeper into that student’s needs. Music mode and the stability of Webex prove invaluable during these sessions.

Breakout session assignments

Use technology to save yourself time: When pre-assignment landed in Webex Meetings, our campus sighed a collective breath of relief. Creating lasting, community-building breakout groups became quick and easy. Pre-assignment makes project work, peer reviews, and complex assignments over multiple sessions more productive and less time-consuming. One instructor developed breakout session groups in his class that met once a week for a few hours. Students dug into complex topics much as they would have in person—virtually ‘moving around’ and being exposed to multiple perspectives during what could have been a long virtual class.

 

Thank you, Webex, for flexibility: While pre-assignment offers consistency, I’ve found that the ‘Reset’ button should be considered a friend. Depending on your class flow, you can start with pre-assigned groups and then shift to new, random groups for quicker exercises. This allows for students to engage with others and keep it fresh. 

 

Don’t be afraid to take chances: For the class where I serve as technology coordinator, Doc teaches in-person with half the class, while myself and the other half of the class join remotely. We send our “onliners” to breakout rooms often while in-person students participate in breakouts together. We get back together for discussion debriefs, often employing chat and a whiteboard to get us on the same page. After using breakout rooms during class, we see more student videos and experience more voluntary sharing by voice and chat. 

 

Stay tuned in: While instructors can join breakout sessions, this can be awkward and may stifle conversation. I’ve found that shared collaborative apps, notably Google Docs and Slides, allow me to keep tabs on student activity without joining the breakout rooms every time. These shared apps also provide documentation for when groups report back to the main session. In one icebreaker, students in the classroom lined up based on height and also birth months. To simulate this activity for our “onliners,” we lined ourselves up using Google Slides in a breakout. After joining the in-person group, we shared the screen to show them how we measured up!

 

Break out of the classroom: Campus leaders continue to amaze me with their creative uses of breakout rooms: student advising walk-in sessions, alumni awards celebrations, active writing groups, student organizations, conference sessions, campus working group problem solving, student government meetings…you name it! Engaging in meaningful experiences often extends outside the classroom.

 

While we want to be experts before trying new methods, I’ve found that the students I work with are willing to take chances, ready to engage with content in new ways and help develop creative ways to use breakout rooms. After all, our goal remains to help them find their voice in a flexible learning environment. 

 

Here’s a guide on how to use breakout sessions.

 

Share your story on the Webex community and read more on how other educators are using breakout sessions in their classrooms.

Kirsten Mortimer
Guest blogger: Kirsten Mortimer (she/her), Technology Adoption Coordinator at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater

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Simplify your workday – learn about sharing Box files in a Webex Meeting or space

Cisco and Box integration makes it easy to collaborate

How many different apps do you use in a day?

The number of software apps that employees use to manage their work has increased exponentially in the last few years. 80% of workers report using 10 or more apps daily.

In the real world, there’s multiple projects, tasks and apps that we juggle between on a day-to-day basis. Add up the time that it takes to re-calibrate and refocus each time you switch between apps, leading to tremendous productivity losses. Integrations between apps can help recover some of those productivity losses.

Cisco Webex continues to deliver integrated solutions – with a focus on truly seamless experiences that allow you to get your work done quickly and easily.

With the latest Webex in Box integration, we make it easier to collaborate around file content.

Fileshare in Box

Sharing Box files in Webex

Box is a leading provider of cloud content management and file sharing services. The “Share in Webex” option in Box makes it easier to collaborate on your Box file content. You can shorten your content review timelines and get your work completed faster.

To share a file in Webex, ensure you have added the “Share in Webex” app.

Within the app, you can collaborate on Box content with your teams effortlessly and work together in a live face-to-face meeting. Simply select to “share file” in a Webex meeting – start an impromptu meeting or schedule one for later.

Calendar integrations make it easy to schedule Webex meetings right within Box by showing you the availability status of all the invitees. You are also notified of upcoming meetings so you can plan your day better. You can invite all Box file collaborators to a meeting with a single click.

Calendar integrations in BoxBefore or after the meeting, keep the conversation and work momentum going in a dedicated Webex space, simplifying communication between geographically dispersed teams.

It’s an easy click to create a Webex space – you decide who is invited to the space: all file collaborators or select few. To streamline your conversations, you can also create different spaces with different teams but all focused around the same content. Structure your conversations based on what’s most effective for your business.

Webex space in Box

By unifying content and conversations together in a single Webex space, you reduce the time from creating the first draft of a file in Box to the final review and sign off.

Your content remains secure and centralized within Box, but also easily accessible for seamless collaboration in Webex.

Consider an organization trying to roll out new technology to their workers. As part of their roll out planning, different functions such as IT, enablement, business communications, and PMO will own specific tasks. For a successful business outcome, it is crucial for the teams to be able to stay connected and work together on the project plans, business readiness assets and project progress reports. Webex capabilities embedded within Box allows teams to do just that – connect seamlessly and quickly regardless of the Box content they are working on.

But there’s more!

This integration expands on previous capabilities that simplify Box and Webex workflows:

  • Use the Box notifications in Webex Bot to setup notifications for common Box functions such as file previews, file or folder creation, Box notes updated etc
  • Share files from Box within a Webex space from desktop or mobile
  • Share files from Box in a Webex meeting on mobile

Our integrations are here to make your life easier. Regardless of which tools you use, we want the work you do to reach its full potential. We live and breathe our mission – stay tuned as we continue to bring new integrations to life!

Click this link to begin using this integration, and for more information take a look at this At-A-Glance

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840 and 860(1).jpg
Deep dive into the new Wi-Fi phones

At Webex One in December 2020, Cisco launched the Webex Wireless Phone portfolio. As smartphones that connect to the network over Wi-Fi, the 840 and 860 deliver a voice, video, meeting and application platform in a mobile formfactor, which has long been desired by our customer base. Looking back at other product offers like the 8821 or 7925 models, it feels like a dream-come-true that Cisco has finally delivered this type of device.

As the son of a medical doctor and the brother of a registered nurse, I’ve seen and heard about many challenges faced by medical professionals. When I was kid, I used to visit my dad’s medical practice and spend time in the front office. Like most medical practices in the United States, my dad’s office was managed as a business. I remember hearing the mechanical clanking of the office manager’s typewriter as she kept the business running on paper and ink. When my dad upgraded to electronic records with the help of personal computers in the mid 1980s, I didn’t realize how that technology shift was a first step that would revolutionize the medical industry (hey, I was just a kid). Since then, medicine has seen a phenomenal shift to electronic data, with devices and applications at the heart of patient care.

Smartphone built for tough workstyles

With the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, today’s medical professionals are facing more challenges than ever. Webex Wireless Phones help eliminate some of the challenges. These phones are built on Android and provide a platform to run applications from major healthcare vendors. PerfectServe and PatientSafe, for example, have both certified the phones for hardware and software compatibility. Other popular medical applications have been certified as well, and more application vendors will certify the devices in the months to come. And because the phones are Google Certified, administrators can push any third-party application to a phone to enable a patient care use case.

Pregnant Mother

Secure and reliable communications

While the phones provide a great experience in a medical environment, they can also be leveraged in other vertical deployments. One of the best features of the Webex Wireless Phones is versatility. Retail environments can benefit from faster customer responses, like employees using a phone’s barcode scanner to check inventory in the store or just answering incoming phone calls to address customer questions. The phones can also help in manufacturing, too, by providing users the ability to share photos or videos with coworkers to decrease production issues.

In addition to software capabilities, the phones deliver an amazing hardware experience.  They support swappable batteries, which means a user doesn’t have to change devices during a shift.  Plus, the phones can be cleaned with disinfectants to reduce the transmission of viruses, which is very important in relation to the global pandemic.  But maybe the best hardware feature is the IP rating of the phones – the phones can withstand drops and the 860 can survive submersion in water up to a meter deep for up to 30 minutes.

The days of mechanical typewriters may be gone, but products like Cisco’s Webex Wireless Phones are here to help people do their jobs, no matter the industry.

Learn more about the Webex Wireless Phone now

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Visit our home page or contact us directly for assistance.

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