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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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hybrid work made real
Announcing a Webex special event | The blueprint for Hybrid Work. Made Real.

The blueprint for hybrid work

Companies are mapping out the next stage of hybrid work plans and return to the office. But hybrid work isn’t just about choosing where to work. It’s about unlocking human potential.

It’s about giving everyone an equal experience wherever they work — and designing workplaces that are supportive and empathetic for a more resilient workforce. At Webex, we believe hybrid work is more than just technology. It’s about reimagining employee and customer experiences.

Hybrid Work Made Real event

On June 8, at our Hybrid Work Made Real event, we will be introducing industry-first innovations across our collaboration suite and supporting specialized experiences for contact centers and other events that you won’t want to miss.

By joining this digital event, you will learn about industry-first hybrid solutions that help organizations understand:

  • How do you facilitate a safe return to the office?
  • How should your offices change to meet the new hybrid work model?
  • How can you ensure your remote employees feel included and have an equal seat at the table?
  • How do you remove fatigue and enable employee well-being no matter where they work?
  • How do you build a company culture that sustains human connections in virtual world?
  • How can you create delightful customer experiences in this digital world?
  • How can you scale and secure all of it?

This is an exclusive event and we are offering registration on a first-come, first-serve basis, so if you are looking for a blueprint to create inclusive hybrid work, Register now!

Event Information

Americas & EMEA | June 8, 2021

The Asia Pacific | June 9, 2021

Visit www.HybridWorkEvent.com and click Register Now to sign up for the event.

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In-app meeting scheduling
Mark messages as unread, In-app scheduling calendar, Webex on Linux and more in the Webex app May update

Webex app May update 

In the blink of an eye, we find ourselves in May. Time moves fast and so can our workdays. This month’s release is focused on several features that allow you to work smarter and make better use of your time. By introducing features such as mark messages as unread, select your landing tab, and navigation history, Webex now enables you to stay focused and keep important workflows top of mind. 

MESSAGING IN WEBEX

MEETINGS IN WEBEX

CALLING IN WEBEX

WEBEX PLATFORM NEWS

MESSAGING IN WEBEX

  • Let’s face it, work conversations can get overwhelming and sometimes we forget to follow up with someone. One way to solve this problem is by flagging messages, which Webex currently allows you to do. Now Webex has added the ability to mark messages as unread. This feature is a great complement to flagging at keeping conversations top of mind and acting as a reminder to go back and follow up on important items. When you mark a message as unread, you still leave a read receipt in the space, but your view of the space will display the message as unread. 

Mark as unread in Meetings

  • We all have our different styles of working – some use Webex mostly for calling and others prefer using messaging for team collaboration. Now Webex allows users or admins to select your default landing tab. This means each time you launch Webex you will land on your landing tab of choice – saving you time switching between tabs and keeping you focused on what matters most to you. 

Select Your Default in Meeting

  • Team collaboration is great. Workflows can move faster, and we can communicate directly with the people most important to our projects. However, when working across many spaces and 1:1 chats it can be timeconsuming tracking down the space you need. Not anymore! Webex has added a new navigation history feature that shows all the spaces you have been working across – just like a browser experience. 

MEETINGS IN WEBEX

  • Constantly switching apps to schedule a meeting wastes time and energy. With Webex, you can now schedule a meeting directly within the Webex app. Before, you had to leave the Webex app and use a thirdparty calendar to schedule a meeting. Now, the new in-app scheduler brings it to you so you can set up, update, or delete your meetings in no time. Simply go to the Meetings tab and tap Schedule, then select a date, time, and participants. To be mindful of others, you can view your invitees’ availability so you can select the most convenient time. See your own work week at a glance in the app calendar to ensure you customize your schedule the way you want. Once everyone receives their invite, they can RSVP directly from within the app. 

In-app Meeting

  • Webex has become the new virtual office. Generating meeting recordings and transcripts on the fly was just the beginning. Now keeping track of meeting attendees has never been easier. If a meeting or event requires registration, you can export the registration report in CSV format as the host. In this report, you can collect names, email addresses, dates and times of registration, and the approval status of each participant.

Export registration report

CALLING IN WEBEX

  • To enhance your experience when working from home or in the office with an external web camera, the Webex app is now fully integrated with the Webex Desk Camera. When used together, the Webex Desk Camera privacy shutter serves as the master switch for video in the desktop app. When the shutter is open, you can control your video being shared from within the app. When the shutter is closed, your app video will turn off locally and the remote calling or meeting participants will see your image icon providing a clear indication your video has been turned off. This integration provides you with an extra layer of privacy and control how and when you want your video shared.   

woman on computer sitting at her desk

  • Today, working together can be from anywhere that works for you and sometimes that means working on the go. With Webex, you have the same experience no matter where you’re working or what device you’re using.  Controlling your shared content during calls from your mobile is now easier than ever. You can now stop sharing in mobile on Android and iOS mobile devices. You’ll also see an icon that an active share is ongoing and easily stop the share without going back into the app. This feature is also available for meetings. 

stop sharing in mobile on Android and iOS mobile devices

Webex app with Unified CM: 

  • Mobile Remote Access (MRA) registration failover: Experience better quality and performance if your network components go down. Failure detection and recovery occur faster ensuring a more reliable connection.
  • You can now access detailed diagnostics information right inside the Webex app. Enabling you to facilitate and have access to performance information, such as memory utilization, CPU usage, configuration information, media statistics for calls and devices when paired, and call statistics. You can export this information and share with your IT admin to streamline any troubleshooting and diagnosis as needed. 

diagnostics information inside the Webex app

WEBEX PLATFORM NEWS

  • Due to popular demand from our Webex user community and to provide an inclusive experience for all our customers Webex will now be supported on Linux. In this first phase, we will be supporting core Webex capabilities including, 1:1 app-to-app calling on Webex, joining meetings, and messaging. Unified CM calling support is coming soon. This is just the beginning of our journey with the end goal to have feature parity with Mac and Windows. 

Linux

To see how you can work smarter and make better use of your time, try Webex for free!

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Still need help?

Join a Webex online meeting

Learn more about Webex, join one of our upcoming training sessions

Explore daily product demonstrations

Sign up for Webex

Visit our home page or contact us directly for assistance.

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colleagues meeting using Ava Robotics
Webex and walk: Mobile, intelligent collaboration for hybrid work

Youssef Saleh

Guest Blogger

Youssef Saleh is Co-Founder and CEO of Ava Robotics. Youssef is an entrepreneurial leader with a passion for turning ideas into profitable and growing businesses. Prior to Ava, Youssef was SVP and GM of the Remote Presence Business Unit at iRobot, where he was responsible for iRobot’s leading-edge autonomous robots for commercial applications. He also served as VP/GM of Telepresence & Vertical Solutions at Polycom.

Ava Mobile Telepresence is a SolutionsPlus Partner — now available on GPL

The time to bridge the gap between workplace expectations and conditions is now–and every day moving forward. The global workforce has never been more aware, and yet so uncertain. What we DO know is that every single business, to some degree, must account for hybrid collaboration. Regardless of whether it’s for our own employees, customers, partners, or clients, we must do more to enable and empower people to work how they work best. This priority has been past-due for many years.

Cisco’s 2020 Global Workforce Survey reports:

98% of the workforce expects future meetings will involve remote participants.

96% expressed a desire for intelligent collaboration technology.

How companies satisfy the desire, need and flexibility for access isn’t just a Covid-response success metric, its more; adopting and integrating more hybrid work processes and technologies will largely dictate overall viability and market leadership.

Ava Robotics and doctors sitting at a table

Ava and Cisco Webex evolve collaboration technology, together

Since the inception of Ava’s intelligent workplace robotics technology at iRobot, Cisco was identified as the best possible partner to advance workplace productivity. Not only because Ava was built with a full Webex integration for best-in-class video conferencing, but also because Cisco sets the industry standard for secure, trusted technology.

It’s not about wanting to meet. It’s about wanting to be. What happens spontaneously and organically before the meeting, or after the meeting, for example, has always mattered as much as the meeting itself. Cisco and Ava have shared a mission that empowers people to own where and how they collaborate, long before pandemic times. The need to improve the workplace with intelligence, inclusivity, and mobility is not new–but the receptiveness to this technology, is.

See how Ava + Webex expands sales capabilities at real estate leader SIGNA Group

As a member of the Cisco SolutionsPlus Partner network, Ava Mobile Telepresence allows Cisco customers to extend their collaboration capabilities, expanding operations and improving employee/customer experience.  

Ava Mobile Telepresence as a feature of Webex introduces limitless opportunities to expand collaboration for the hybrid workforce.

Global re-evaluation of budget, responsibility, and sustainability

Returning to the workforce survey, 77% of large organizations report that they will be increasing work flexibility. For each organization, “work flexibility” will have its own unique expressions and integrations within their existing technology and workflows.

No matter where a company may be along their return-to-work timeline, the new prioritization for agility, safety, and sustainability will endure. Corporate responsibility and sustainability initiatives are no longer in the back seat. However, it’s important to also recognize heightened budget consciousness in these still-very-uncertain times.

Man on screen of a robot

What is so powerful about Ava + Webex, for both customers and Cisco representatives, is its accessibility and ease of use. Ava Mobile Telepresence fits seamlessly into what a business is doing right now. There is no extra framework or new IT resources (human or systematic) to introduce in order to get started.

Also related to new workplace priorities, emphasis on overall experience for both internal and external human resources, is literally changing the design of every workplace. The movement toward more human-centered design is visible across industry workspaces: factory floors, healthcare patient facilities, corporate offices, event venues, real estate properties, and more. And this design must address presence disparity, accounting for those on-site, as well as those who are virtually present.

Ava enables collaboration in Cisco global offices

For successful hybrid work, Cisco outlines three steps:

  1. Support remote employees
  2. Plan a safe return to work
  3. Deliver intelligent workplace experiences

As a feature of Webex, Ava Telepresence Robots deliver on all three of these steps by offering: meaningful collaboration experiences for remote workers, a socially distant, hands-free solution, and intelligent, fully-autonomous robot. In addition to promoting mobile, independent physical presence through our partnership, Cisco embraces and uses Ava technology in their own global offices.

Cisco has deployed Ava robots in San Jose (US), Toronto, Dubai, and Manchester (UK). These robots enabled hybrid work and operations for Cisco prior to the pandemic and continue to connect teams and welcome customers on-site for tours and events. Additionally, Cisco will use Ava Mobile Telepresence to apply their 3-step hybrid work approach in its own offices.

Walk through Cisco IXC Dubai with Ava:

Emerging stronger and smarter

Many businesses are confident that they will, in some ways, come out of these disruptive, uncertain times better than they were–whether it be faster, more open, more dedicated to their people, or, ideally, all of the above. As part of the Cisco SolutionsPlus Partner network, we intend on offering Cisco customers a useful, meaningful way to achieve their hybrid business goals.

To learn more about what Cisco and Ava are doing together, visit our Ava + Webex page, or send us an email at molly@avarobotics.com

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Explore daily product demonstrations

Sign up for Webex

Visit our home page or contact us directly for assistance

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talkshow 3
Remote working in the new normal era: how do you do that?

Remote working will continue. The crisis has shown that far more is possible than we’ve ever imagined. It has significantly reduced the resistance to remote working. Many organizations are finding more ways to reinvent themselves because those who adapt to the new normal have the best chance of entering the post-COVID era with a head start. But how do you avoid returning to the old patterns?

Hybrid working already existed pre-COVID. An example of this is blended learning, an innovative mix of online and offline learning. In the financial world, video banking was on the rise. And in healthcare, people were already experimenting with video consultations. However, there was resistance to change, mainly because of the need for personal contact.

It has become evident by now that we cannot put the genie back in the bottle. Many employees believe that they work much more effectively at home. The idea of being stuck in traffic again is a nightmare for many people. Going to the office remains necessary to ‘connect’ with colleagues, but this does not have to be every day. Many companies are anticipating this and are already disposing of office space.

A crisis: the right time to seize opportunities

Organizations that embrace hybrid working do so because they see opportunities to reorganize work and private life. Sometimes literally: by adapting their offices to meet the social distancing rules. Some have not wasted any time-transforming their business.

Others need a bit more time. Retailers are many of their physical stores but are now making more profit online. The reason is that companies came up with new opportunities. In the sports industry, brands succeeded because they developed and promoted a home workout app.

In care for the elderly, smart glasses are making a comeback. Wound care nurses use those so that experts in the hospital can watch and provide remote support. It saves patients a trip to the hospital, reducing the pressure on healthcare, where parties already struggle with staff shortages.

The event sector sees possibilities in the long term to reach a larger target group with, for instance, hybrid conferences. Both visitors at the location and people at home participate. Event organizers also can invite more (international) speakers if they are unable to travel.

Embrace the positive aspects and leave the past behind

Organizations discover through trial and error what does and does not work. The challenge is to learn from positive experiences and disregard the negative ones. Cisco is deeply committed to ensuring the well-being of its employees. It is important to provide good conditions and resources to ensure a safe environment for remote working, both digitally and physically. The use of video screens prevents employees from spending their days bent over their laptops.

Furthermore, Cisco pays attention to creating a good balance between work and private life. Attention to exercise and taking breaks. The aim is to ensure that the conditions are suitable for every employee to perform their job. At the office, at home, or on the road.

Digital transformation: it’s all about the content

The lesson learned by front runners in remote working is that digital transformation is not an end in itself but a chance. They benefit from new opportunities by putting content first and using technology to support this. An increasing number of people are becoming convinced of this.

Would you like to know more about the impact that the changing working environment has on business operations, work activities, and people? How to stay in touch with customers, students, or patients if you are increasingly dependent on online contact? Cisco has made a talk show about ‘The communicative connection,’ in which we talk to the experts Noreena Hertz, Jet de Ranitz, Francoise Wiedenhoff, Wilbert Mulders, and Kim Dijksman.

Click here and get inspired!

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What’s new in Webex: April 2021

Join a Webex online meeting

Learn more about Webex, join one of our upcoming training sessions

Explore daily product demonstrations

Sign up for Webex

Visit our home page or contact us directly for assistance

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Talkshow2 and future of work
Working remotely: 6 tips to maintain high involvement

In the new normal, working remotely is the norm. This triggered many positive effects. For example, people are often far more productive at home than at the office and experience a positive work-life balance. However, there is also a downside: the lack of personal contact with colleagues can lead to people feeling lonely. In this blog, we list six tips to help ensure that the positive effects take precedence.

When the pandemic led to a wholesale switch to working remotely, many people suddenly discovered its benefits. No longer stuck in traffic jams and to be better focused. Many remote workers have found a better work-life balance because they now have more freedom to divide their time, now and then go for a walk or do some household chores.

Fatigue is increasing

However, in the meantime, many people who are working remotely are also experiencing remote working fatigue. Primarily through the lack of personal contact. Many people who work remotely feel lonely. Several other drawbacks are also becoming apparent. Some people have difficulty dealing with the boundary between their work and private life. They work longer at home and open their laptop again during the evening.

Man taking glasses off at computer with his head down and taking glasses off

Include welfare as part of a strategy

In the future, people will want to retain the benefits and not be affected by the drawbacks. It, therefore, looks like we are going to continue with hybrid working. This means working at home, on the road, and in the office.

However, ensuring that hybrid working can function in practice without compromising the welfare of people who are working remotely requires a strategy. Of course, no two organizations are the same, but a couple of tips are always helpful to increase involvement and avoid fatigue.

  1. Include moments to enquire how someone is doing. Ask if people have sufficient screen breaks and take enough exercise.
  2. Introduce a buddy system and form couples who keep an eye on each other.
  3. Create moments for small talk before a meeting or at the end of the week with a virtual Friday afternoon drink.
  4. Avoid that people working from home feel less included. Go out of the way to make them feel valued.
  5. Arrange for people to occasionally meet each other in the office without it becoming too busy. This ensures the much-needed variety.
  6. Organize workplaces in the office to meet each other at a distance to brainstorm, eat together or just chat. This results in renewed energy and dynamics.
  7. Find time for remote team building exercises. Connecting and getting to know teammates outside of meetings is important, too.

Gain experience and find the right balance

The new hybrid working is all about finding the right balance. It forces everyone to think about when a physical meeting is necessary and when a virtual meeting is better. Only one thing helps to identify what works: gaining experience.

Would you like to know more about how you can ensure that employees continue to work effectively? Or about which strategic choices are appropriate? Watch our talk show ‘The digital transformation’ in which we discuss these issues with the experts Noreena Hertz, Edwin Prinsen, Patrick van der Duin, Jan van Ginkel, Tim Toornvliet and Kathelijne Drenth.

Click here and get inspired!

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Still need help?

What’s new in Webex: April 2021

Join a Webex online meeting

Learn more about Webex, join one of our upcoming training sessions

Explore daily product demonstrations

Sign up for Webex

Visit our home page or contact us directly for assistance

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Woman pointing to her desktop sitting at her chair
14 ways to refresh your collaboration experience

Introducing Collaboration Systems Release (CSR) 14 for the Cisco Unified Communications Manager (UCM) applications system

The feeling in the air this Spring brings a welcome sense of hope and promise, as our businesses and our lives gain a greater sense of “normal” after a year full of extreme chaos. I hope you feel it too. Which makes now a wonderful time for Cisco to introduce our Collaboration Systems Release (CSR) 14, for the Cisco Unified Communications Manager (UCM) applications system.

For enterprises and organizations, the importance of a digital strategy, one that elevates the quality of your “work from home / work from anywhere” initiatives has never been greater. This applies to all sectors, from government, education, healthcare, retail and everything in between.

Cisco recognizes the daunting challenge our customers’ technical leadership teams face. You have to reimagine your collaboration and applications strategy for the future, while continuing to deliver innovation, with security, across your network applications landscape. Part of this conversation invariably leads to the topic of cloud adoption, in terms of how broadly to adopt cloud applications, which applications specifically, when, and how will the cloud apps integrate with each other, as well as with the apps that remain on-premises.

UCM is an exceptionally versatile unified communications platform, in that it provides the most complete set of enterprise-class unified communications and collaboration features on the market. UCM supports these features across on-premises, cloud and mixed, hybrid deployments, on a global scale. This makes for a richly rewarding and desirable application for enterprise adoption.

CSR 14 builds value for our customers and partners by combining the Cisco development efforts across all the applications that make up a complete Unified Communications Manager system.

Which means there’s a lot to cover, so I’m going to share at least fourteen improvements we’ve made, to ensure users and administrators get a top-quality experience that serves their everyday work realities now.

Better resiliency for workforce mobility

(1) For mobile workers, CSR 14 supports the latest changes in the Push Notification Services used by the latest iOS and Android mobile OS. Users of the Webex or Jabber mobile apps need their clients to be at CSR 12.8, or CSR 14 to continue to make/receive calls and messages on their mobile clients.

To improve reliability for your mobile users, we’ve added high availability (2) to our Mobile Remote Access feature, using Expressway. In the event of a failure in the data center, users will be able to quickly recover to their back up calling servers. (3) We’ve also added fast failover support for Jabber IM&P clients.

CSR 14 is ready to support handover (4) between LTE and WiFi networks. As mobile users move out of range of their WiFi network, they will be able to automatically switch to their cellular network to maintain their call, without interruption or a need to call back.

UCM 14 provides higher server resiliency and scalability (5), with Tomcat containerization, to ensure web application and client stability. We’re adding the container model to our UCM architecture to bring a higher level of reliability to all your collaboration workloads.

Superior experience for end users

We’ve enriched the calling experience of using the Webex app with UCM, adding features end users will enjoy every day. For example, background noise cancellation on calls, so your callers are not impacted when you’re in a noisy environment. We’ve also brought in features to the calling experience, previously only available in meetings, such as using virtual backgrounds during calls.

All distributed workers will be glad we’ve done the groundwork in CSR 14 for (6) synchronization of UCM phone presence with Webex on the back end, so the presence state and DND settings in your Webex contact list accurately reflect the current status of your contacts.

nurse looking at results on a Webex DX

Beyond the addition of all the new Cisco endpoints and high-quality Cisco Headsets, with patented Clear Voice audio technology, we have added support (7) for the AV1 codec. The AV1 codec delivers high quality video in low bandwidth situations, which happens often in remote work situations.

CSR 14 offers unified messaging support for Google Workspace (8) and increases the scale for Office 365 users, so you can keep pace with your office suite choices.

Safety, security and reliability

We seem to be crossing the curve for getting the workforce back into offices. Administrators are keen to ensure their office environments are safe. Employees can now use their wireless Cisco headsets for touchless login to their shared workspace IP phones (extension mobility).

The new paradigm of mobile and remote users creates new demands from the security and compliance perspective.

We extended SIP OAuth for IP phones (9), to make it super simple to encrypt phones for signaling and media traffic and meet GDPR, PCI and other infosec requirements.

For E-911 compliance, Cisco Emergency Responder (CER) has been available, communicating with your switch infrastructure, to determine the location of your end user phones, to ensure 911 responders get dispatched to the correct location.  Now, (10) with CSR 14, the next time you update your switch infrastructure, CER will automatically migrate your configuration, eliminating the need for manual data entry. We’ve added “write” APIs to CER to simplify E911 management in your deployments.

CSR 14 is the best release to meet the new regulatory requirements around E911 call handling for phones.

For our federal customer base, UCM 14 is already FIPS certified and on path for full UCM DoD APL certification.

Cloud-connected control

One important area of our focus has been on building an effective bridge between cloud and on-premises systems and applications. As a result, last year, we introduced Webex Cloud-Connected UC.

Cloud-Connected UC offers many of the advantages of a cloud platform, while serving your UC systems, whether they reside on-premises or in the cloud. Cloud-Connected UC lets you connect one or more of your UCM clusters to the cloud, so you can enjoy a consolidated view of your UCM systems operations, through your own private Webex Control Hub portal.

The interactive operations dashboard in Control Hub delivers analytics with insights into the overall health of your UC deployment. This brings a broad set of metrics to your fingertips, including details about call quality and any call failures, along with insights into things like asset usage and endpoint inventory. You will gain useful background knowledge regarding feature usage, including mid-call features, and traffic patterns, so you can quickly identify any route optimization adjustments you may wish to make.

Look closer with Web Real Time Monitoring Tool

One way to extend the value of the analytics insight gained with Cloud-Connected UC (11) is through the Web Real Time Monitoring Tool (Web RTMT), which lets you drill-down deeper into the operations of your UCM network. If you see an issue in the operations dashboard, with a single click, you can investigate the details behind the alarm, discover the root cause and quickly begin your remediation process. The new Web RTMT is a browser-based console, with a fresh look and feel you will appreciate.

Cloud migration readiness

Another way to use knowledge gained from Cloud-Connected UC analytics, is in discovering your organizational readiness for a cloud migration. Whether that means a migration from Jabber to the Webex app, or migration from UCM to Webex Calling, there will be a wealth of information available to help make your migration process smoother. You will want to employ our new (12) Migration Assistant tool, to help you navigate the migration process and avoid complex and costly mistakes.

Now it may surprise you that you can get everything I’ve just described in Webex Cloud-Connected UC for free as part of your UC subscription. That’s right. Cloud-Connected UC is currently offered at no charge. So talk to your account team about how you can start using it.

Administrative simplicity

Beyond what I’ve already covered, system administrators will see these additional improvements with CSR 14. First is a substantial reduction in the number of certificates to manage (13), and a reduction in service restarts needed for certificate updates. Plus, you will get centralized certificate management, with a single point of control – Webex Control Hub.

We’ve increased cluster scale (14) and density by 25%, so you’ll be able to configure more users per cluster, thereby reducing cross-cluster management overheads. Customers who have increased their mobile worker count in the past year will see value, as they can use the additional cluster capacity to support more roaming Webex app or Jabber clients and Extension Mobility Cross-Cluster (EMCC) users in their network.

Plus, it is now easier to refesh your clusters on a new data center, on-premises or in the cloud, with UCM 14 support of native tooling (15) for data export and import, during installation. One last point for administrators, we’ve made it even easier for end users to self-manage their own desk phone refresh process.

Ok, so maybe that was more than fourteen, but as you can see, there’s a lot of value packed into CSR 14, designed to improve the collaboration experience for everyone.

To learn more, please talk to your Cisco account team and visit our CSR 14 webpage.

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Educators in a Webex meeting
7 breakout sessions tips from K-12 and higher ed educators

Foster inclusive and cognitive presence in your classroom with Webex

Virtual and hybrid learning during the pandemic has put many educators to the test. While most in-classroom activities don’t necessarily translate to virtual learning quickly, some schools have discovered different approaches to push the same in-person engagement strategies in their virtual classrooms with Webex breakout sessions.

Participants in Webex

Tips to getting remote learning right

Five educators share how to integrate pre-pandemic methods into distance learning:

  • Host trade symposium – High school students who haven’t be able to attend in-person events can learn from working professionals in various fields, such as construction, electrical, plumbing, project management, automobile maintenance, and other professional trades. With multiple breakout sessions running, students can get detailed information about the job skills and educational requirements and tips on what skills they can gain in high school to prepare for the workforce.
  • Organize team competitions – Our school runs a “Battle of the Books” where students learn how to work together to leverage each other’s best reading and memorization traits while engaging volunteers from local military bases and retirees. Students compete based on facts they remember from 15-20 books they have read in the past school year. They meet in one room at their site and join as a group at the beginning of the day. After reviewing the rules and schedule, they’re assigned breakout rooms with 2-3 teams per room. A judge and scorekeeper lead the breakout sessions by asking questions and keeping score. The top two teams in each grade level compete against each other to determine the winner for that grade level.  Kathy New, Colorado, USA
  • Focused group sessions – Our students discuss interview techniques to simulate and practice different management interview styles with multiple interviewers in a COVID-safe, remote way in breakout sessions. The professor separates in-room participants into smaller physical groups and remote participants break out into smaller virtual groups. All participants can return to the meeting at any time. An educator can use a separate personal device connected to the same session to quickly check on virtual groups and provide encouragement and support as they would for in-room participants.  David Arnold, Wollongong, Australia 

Breakout session

  • Foster connections – Break large-setting conversations into individual 1:1s for students to explore ideas they may be hesitant to discuss with the whole classroom. Alternate your students to teach them leadership skills, gradually build their self-confidence, and help them feel connected and empowered during these times. Of course, teachers can visit or remain outside the room to facilitate healthy conversations.  Elane Kalavrias, Ontario, Canada
  • Student choice – Create as many opportunities as possible to empower your students to own their development. Break out your class into topics of interest or project choice to drive a more interactive group work environment during class time. Subject-based breakout sessions can become part of your classroom cadence while your students are learning at home.
  • Prepare with your support staff – Use paraeducators to answer questions or advance ready learners. They can work with small groups in a virtual setting while still being connected to the entire class. Laura Hamill, Michigan, USA
  • Mentoring and coaching – Create a space in every session for private conferencing with students during class time. This space can give students a chance to take a breath and conference with you about a behavior issue, test results, and more. Individual sessions are good for morale and can help you gauge how students are doing emotionally so you can follow up with those who need your support. Breakout sessions can also be helpful for peer review before and after a formal presentation or when students hear the study from a subset of their class. Mary Schlegelmilc, Nebraska, USA

What’s next?

Your students were born in the technology age. Giving them control and the space to show their learning style in real-time will spark their creativity and curiosity to learn more. With breakout sessions, you can seamlessly foster engagement in your physical and virtual classroom. Download the guide to start engaging your students.

Want to share your story? Visit the Webex Community to share and read about others’ successes

Learn more

Webex for Education: Technology for collaboration in and out of the classroom 

Webex Integration Partners join Cisco in offers for education

Blackboard Learn and Webex join forces to expand the reach of education

About the author

Vanessa PhilogeneStoryteller. Digital experience strategist. Vanessa is obsessed with psychology and human behavior. She leverages empathy to humanize Webex endpoints and features across industries. On the Digital Experience and Enablement team, Vanessa delivers experiences that enhance customer-facing solutions and drive ongoing engagement.

 

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Talkshow with hybrid working using Cisco technology
Hybrid working: three tips to keep it safe, healthy and productive

The future of work is hybrid. We currently no longer need to join the daily traffic jam and can work more remotely. Offices will still exist but will function more as meeting places. This transition demands extensive digitalization, which provides opportunities but also presents many challenges. After all, people have to work safely and without affecting productivity. In this blog, we provide three tips to make a success of the new way of working.

The transition to a hybrid model of partly working remotely and partly at the office was already underway, but this was greatly accelerated by COVID 19. Hybrid working is here to stay. Organizations are now searching for a strategy, a blueprint for the future. Here are three tips to achieve the most significant benefit from the new situation:

1: Facilitate people who are working remotely

Make sure that people can easily connect. Many organizations quickly implemented a digital platform at the beginning of the crisis, to continue to work. They did not bother to check whether it was the best option. For good cooperation, there must be is high-quality image and sound. Additionally, people must also quickly join meetings without having to bother about pin codes and login codes. It must be easy to share a screen or apply a virtual or blurred background. Smart features, such as the automatic transcription of videos and audio files, save users a lot of time.

A good IT infrastructure provides people working remotely with a better user experience and increases security levels. This aspect is essential now as many organizations worry that an increasing amount of digital activity occurs outside the office environment, which was considered secure. With the right connections, a well-equipped network keeps threats at bay and forms a sound basis for data-driven working. This is one way to make better and informed decisions.

2: Ensure a safe return to the office

It is sometimes necessary to meet in person at the office for a brainstorming session or just a project kick-off. It must be possible to make this concerning rules for hygiene and social distancing safely. Much can be achieved by just taking practical measures, such as creating one-way walking routes or reducing the number of desks per square meter. Technical solutions such as the non-touch operation of elevators and smart cameras that check whether there are too many people in a single room can help also.

Man sitting in office with face mask spread apart from the next cubicle

3: Promote personal welfare

Many people thrive on working remotely since they can work undisturbed and with total concentration. But some people take fewer breaks at home or who extend the working day until late in the evening. It also happens that people working from home feel less included. Or that they are too shy to speak up during a busy video meeting. Managers must have the skills to keep people who work remotely involved and give attention to personal welfare. A chat before starting a video meeting slightly softens the lack of contact with colleagues. Technology can also eliminate concerns. For example, smart software that ‘sees’ that someone has raised their hand and informs the moderator that someone has a question or wants to respond.

Would you like to know more about the impact of hybrid working on the future? Please watch our talk show about ‘Hybrid working,’ with experts Noreena Hertz, Kim Grondsma, Ger Baron, and Jacco Saaman.

Click here to watch the video and get inspired!

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Bridging hybrid classrooms with the Cisco Webex Board

What’s possible when the worlds of sports and technology play together…

Your guide to sensors and analytics in Webex Devices

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What’s new in Webex: April 2021

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Screen Share Analytics
21 screen sharing statistics you need to know in 2021

As remote work has taken off and online meetings have replaced many in-person gatherings, effective collaboration now depends more heavily than ever on having the right software in place.

The best audio and video conferencing solutions allow for in-depth, real-time collaboration, with functionality that extends far beyond simply being able to speak with and see the other participants in a meeting.

Most importantly, they include screen sharing capabilities that enable attendees to show their entire screen or just a particular tab or window. Screen sharing is an integral part of video conferencing software and an important component of remote work, which grew 159% between 2005 and 2019.

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Doctor using Webex video conferencing
Webex Telehealth Connector for Epic: Reimagining connection in healthcare

Telehealth using Cisco Webex Telehealth Connector

Remote delivery of care has been a game changer in the last year; reducing barriers of health equity, addressing delivery disruptions caused by the pandemic, enhancing patient experience, empowering care team’s productivity, and improving health outcomes by increasing access to necessary care.

pregnant woman using Webex Health Connector to communicate with her doctor

Cisco has collaborated closely with healthcare customers and partners in early field trials (beta) to streamline clinical workflow integration, deliver better experiences, and share important telehealth insights in Control Hub.

We’re excited to announce the general availability of Webex Telehealth Connector. Epic is the first EHR to be integrated with the Webex Telehealth Connector and is published in the Epic App Orchard.

Webex for healthcare is purpose built to meet healthcare delivery needs in diverse care settings. Webex Telehealth Connector allows for the flexibility to launch virtual visits from within clinician workflows or as a stand-alone application in a browser that has access to camera and microphone.

Clinician and patient virtual health

About Webex for healthcare

The browser based WebRTC technology does not require browser plugins or force any application installation. The video consultations are scheduled and managed directly from Epic’s Electronic Health Record (EHR) system. Because of the seamless integration with Epic’s system, clinicians can schedule virtual health appointments and get notified when a patient enters the virtual waiting room. Both clinicians and patients can launch virtual visits right from Epic’s provider and patient applications.

In addition to virtual video visits, participants can share screens to review images, charts, or other clinical documents to facilitate better care conversations. Moreover, the Control Hub dashboard shares insights about the quality of telehealth calls with administrators.

remote healthcare workers using Webex video conferencing

The Webex platform is HIPAA compliant and allows patients to launch virtual visits without storing any personal protected information (as patients are not required to login or share personal information). Webex provides privacy and security around encryption of all communication including securely sharing images or clinical documentation.

As healthcare customers innovate care delivery models, organizations will find new ways to deploy care with speed and agility to adapt and build resilience as they flex between physical and virtual points of care. Cisco’s Webex Telehealth Connector will enable these changes by making healthcare systems more efficient, increasing access to care, and enhancing healthcare outcomes.

Visit Webex for Healthcare to learn more about how your organization can enable telehealth using Cisco Webex Telehealth Connector.

Learn more

What’s new in Webex: April 2021

What healthcare providers should do this National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

How can screen sharing be used in healthcare?

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What’s new in Webex: November 2020

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Webex Beta Program
Meet Webex Beta

Introducing Webex Beta

Today, we’re excited to introduce Webex Beta, a new early access program that replaces our Early Field Trial (EFT) and Early Adopter Programs (EAP). Webex Beta provides Webex Admins and Partners a better way to discover and apply for early access to Webex Apps, Devices, and Services, providing you with a unique opportunity to share your feedback directly with our product teams.

The voice of the customer has always been a crucial element of how we design our customer experience, and Webex Beta now ensures it’s an intrinsic part of how we bring our products to market.

If you’re a Webex Admin, you can now discover the available and upcoming Product Beta’s and ensure you and nominated users in your organization can access the latest innovations across the Webex portfolio before they are launched.

Better together

How to quickly create a company culture in a growing business

The Webex Beta program is designed to empower our customers. We value your insights and are excited for you to partner with our product teams to help shape the future of work. Your voice and experience are vital to shaping the Webex of the future and ensuring we deliver your needs.

In return, we’ll ask that you provide continuous feedback and ensure that the full range of users perspectives are represented – it’s a significant commitment you’ll need to make but one that can deliver substantial rewards.

Get to know Webex Beta

As part of your Webex Beta membership, you’ll also have to opportunity to be part of both our Webex Community and Webex Ambassador programs, enabling you to connect with others using Webex in your industry and beyond.

These will provide you with enhanced access to our team and invites to events which are exclusive to these programs.

Our future vision – Hearing every user’s voice 

A key part of the Webex Beta program is ensuring we gather the broadest possible range of insights, matching the diversity of those who use Webex daily. Hearing everyone’s voice ensures our products can be more inclusive and considerate of the full range of demands our customers have.

To ensure we have the opportunity to hear everyone’s voice, we’ll be working this year to expand Beta participation, including the ability for users to enrol directly, with Admins’ consent where appropriate, of course. Learning from users from every industry, line of business, region and ability has been a key part of many of our customer touchpoints, and we’re working to ensure our global customer base is more fully represented in our Webex Beta early access programs too.

How do I join?

As an Admin, getting started today with the Webex Beta Program is simple.

Just go to beta.webex.com and follow our three-step process. We’ll see you there.

Watch the video to learn more:

Learn more

What’s new in Webex: March 2021

Relaunch of the Webex Ambassador Program

Innovations from Webex Experts: How Webex Aha! came to be

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FutureVoices
Future Voices featuring stories from students and teachers from around the world

Future Voices Webex campaign

Education is a basic human right for all, and in the last year, the pandemic has only accelerated how we learn – forcing us to try new ways to both deliver and consume. The move to hybrid learning is also opening up new possibilities for future leaders and decision makers to learn and create.

Today, I’m excited to share that we have launched a new and exciting Webex campaign called Future Voices, launching in the UK today, to celebrate students in universities and educators worldwide, and giving them a platform, with Webex, to help them share their stories.

Inclusive future for all

Our focus is to amplify the voices of the Gen Z future workforce as well as their teachers. Our aim at Webex is to power an inclusive future for all by breaking down barriers across geography, language, socio economic level and personality type, giving everyone an equal voice to achieve greater productivity and build more engaged relationships.

With the future of work being hybrid, we believe we achieve more when diverse ideas and workstyles come together and everyone can contribute equally, fully, and as their authentic selves.

FutureVoices stories

Below are just three amazing stories from our young champions:

Zainab – First Year Apprentice is a university student with dyslexia and is using Webex transcriptions and recordings to make learning easier for her.
She is also a first-year apprentice during this pandemic and is balancing her first professional role with completing a degree, all while working from home.

Swen- Professor & Black Belt gamified his curriculum and used Webex breakout sessions to move his martial arts classes entirely online. Not only did he keep his students engaged throughout – but also won a University Teaching Award for his “out-of-the-box” efforts.

Allan- Network Expert hosted training sessions on Webex to turn teachers in rural Kenya into network administrators, enabling them to troubleshoot and fix network problems quickly. The Webex recording feature allowed him to share his sessions with those who could not join live.

Spread the word

Keep an eye on this space to look for more stories coming soon. It’s exciting to be able to share the stories of these young champions and we are humbled and honored to play a small part in elevating their voices.

Join (and spark) the conversation on the hashtag #FutureVoices on social media

Learn more

Future Voices campaign page

Future Voices video stories

We are all learning how to learn

Education Resources

What is distance learning?

Welcome to virtual learning

Cisco Webex Education Connector

Cisco Education Home Page

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Hackathon deco art
Announcing the winners of Collaboration hackathon

Transforming ideas into reality

The workplace is constantly evolving. The way we work is forever changing and advancements in technology are moving more rapidly than ever before. Innovation is key, but where does it come from and more importantly, how do we develop it into a reality?

At some point we have all had that great idea, that one lightbulb thought that could change how we work, make a process faster or save ourselves some time. The problem is that we don’t always have the resources, background or skillset to make it happen, often leading to missed opportunities. But not at Cisco. This is where innovation is born.

Building on the success of our 2-day Hackathon event hosted in San Jose in July 2019, Cisco SVP Javed Khan held our first-ever virtual Collaboration Hackathon series in late 2020 to early 2021. The series featured one hackathon for our internal colleagues and one for external innovators – organised by Product Manager Ivy Pham. Individuals and teams were welcome to participate regardless of technical knowledge or experience. The only criteria to take part: a passion to innovate and a desire to make a change.

“During these challenging pandemic times, seamless and secure virtual experiences are more important than ever. This virtual hackathon is a fun way our community can come together to develop solutions that will make virtual communication and collaboration ‘better than being there’.”

Javed Khan

SVP/GM, Collaboration 

Reimagining what is possible with our internal hackathon

The internal hackathon was open to all Cisco employees, harnessing the strength of our global workforce to provide diverse perspectives on the future of our industry. As a result, we had over 820 participants with nearly 500 submissions!

Innovation comes in all shapes and sizes. All ideas were welcome at the hackathon, but to help guide our hackers we created 3 key themes – Experience, Next Generation and Cross Architecture.

Experience – Focusing on our end users’ and customers’ experiences. Keeping this open to interpretation, participants could focus on day-to-day activities, operations and even analytics. Basically, keeping our customers top of mind and developing solutions to ensure they have the best experience possible.

Next Generation – The possibilities are endless when it comes to advancements in technology. Artificial intelligence and machine learning have changed how we all work, but we have only begun to scratch the surface. Here participants had the opportunity to create solutions that enable our users to work smarter, not harder.

Cross Architecture – The power of Cisco is the strength of our vast portfolio. Collaboration is just one aspect of this. Imagining innovative and creative concepts to integrate with our portfolio is game changing. This could include security, data, mobility and more.

Here are some of the solutions from the hackathon that blew us away:

Checklister

Webex is a great tool for collaboration via messages. To-do list applications are great tools for tracking ongoing tasks. Checklister would automatically suggest to-do list items to the user and allow editing before storing the message as an action item. The to-do list store could be native to Webex or third-party integrations.

Checklister

Webex Haiku

While business’s adoption of video calling tools for customer service is on the rise, not all people are avid computer users. This translates into frustration when joining Webex meetings. Cisco Webex Haiku is an online drag-and-drop editor for creating your own Webex client portal, as simple and powerful as your business needs it.

See the full list of winners below:

Hackathon Prizes

Global innovation at our external hackathon

We know that great ideas come in all shapes and sizes and sometimes a totally fresh perspective can reimagine how we work and the tools we use. With this in mind, we opened the external hackathon globally to people over the age of 18. Similar to our internal hackathon, we encouraged people to participate regardless of technical knowledge or experience. Everyone with an interest in innovation was welcome. As a result, we were delighted to see an enormous interest in university students signing up to take part (over 1100) – after all, they are the future of our industry.

To help guide our external participants we also provided two optional themes. The first was Cisco Webex and Collaboration with a key focus on the end user experience. The second was social good – creating new solutions that have a positive impact on people, society or the planet. In total we had nearly 250 teams participate and a whopping 60 winners. Below are a few highlights and the full winners list:

Sanitary Pad Dispensing Machine

The idea is an affordable and easy to operate sanitary pad dispensing machine. The project has been designed with the motive of providing 24/7 availability of sanitary pads to women, especially in rural regions where there is a lot of social stigma attached to this particular issue. One of the main objectives of this project was to make the topic of menstruation more mainstream so that parents could talk to their daughters more freely, friends could support each other, and women would not feel ashamed of something that is natural to them and a part of their life.

Webex Knowledge Extractor

This is a tool that integrates with Webex and allows questions and answers to be displayed and indexed for search based on threaded messaging. The dashboard interface will allow the end user to login via OAuth and select a room to be analyzed for Questions which have been answered by experts, then export to Excel or import into external systems for knowledge base articles.

Joey Notifications

Never miss a beat with Joey Notifications in Webex! Joey is the perfect solution to make working from home more people centric. Set reminders to stretch and take care of your health throughout the day. Joey is designed to engage you with little tips such as yoga videos or recipes and uses AI image detection to evaluate your health. Joey Notifications is the perfectly tailored plugin for you and your team!

1st prize

2nd prize3rd prize

These are just a few examples of the hundreds of innovative and creative ideas submitted during the hackathon series. Some of these amazing ideas will be put forward to our collaboration group and considered for further development.

Hackathons are just one of the many events we hold each year to spark innovation within our organization.

Keep your eyes peeled for upcoming events and one day your idea could become part of our collaboration offering!

Resources

The all new Webex

Ready to make the switch to the new Webex?

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Join a Webex online meeting

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Explore daily product demonstrations

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