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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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Challenges faced during distance learning

What’s new in Webex: May 2021

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

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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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WorldTour Team DSM takes the road with Webex for a new hybrid sports experience

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

Creating Exhilarating and Exciting Experiences with Cisco Webex and McLaren Racing

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Slido blog
Give every Webex attendee a voice: 3 ways Webex makes your virtual meetings and events come alive!

Virtual meetings and engagement are key

“Before you present to an audience, work the room, engage early and get a feel for how people are showing up for your presentation.” This advice came from a presentation class I attended years ago. I remember actually practicing the exercise in front of the class as I was being recorded. The reality is there was tremendous value in the exercise, and watching yourself on video afterward always felt more awkward than the actual exercise.

The 10x Better Experiences with Webex blog series has shown us that with innovations in artificial intelligence and a relentless focus on user experience, virtual meetings can actually be 10x better than in person. As part of this strategy for Webex, audience interaction and engagement play a critical role in fulfilling this promise.

Slido and Cisco joining together to connect like never before in virtual interactions

With the Slido acquisition, Webex has integrated the ability to connect in ways never seen before in virtual interactions. Whether you are in a weekly Webex team meeting, a town hall of a few thousand, or a largescale global physical, hybrid, or completely virtual event, the new Webex audience interaction capabilities will deliver higher levels of user engagement―before, during, and after your meeting or event.

virtual interactions

My team and I have been using Slido for a while now, and it’s a game-changer. Here are 3 ideas to improve your next presentation and deliver compelling interactions with your audience.

How are you feeling today?

Connecting with your audience early is a great way to understand how they show up and the mindset they are showing up with. Consider using a Webex word cloud to poll your audience and share how they feel. You instantly have your finger on the pulse of the audience and tailor your comments to their mindset!

Slido and Webex word cloud

Interactive Q & A

Cisco Webex ensures that everyone is equally included in a meeting experience at home, at the office, or on the go. Sometimes, audience interaction is better typed than spoken based upon location (or try out Webex noise removal ). With interactive Q&A during your meeting, now everyone can participate equally. In addition, you can enable attendees to participate anonymously for those sensitive questions or topics.

interactive Q and A and Slido

Transparency – Post Meeting analytics & results

With Webex, you have the capability to share the results of your audience interaction during and after the meeting. Providing the results to your audience ensures you value their input and they have been heard. In addition, as the presenter, you can collect post-meeting feedback on the effectiveness of your delivery and the value of the content.

transparency post meeting

Combining the all-new Cisco Webex and Slido’s audience interaction capabilities will make seamless collaboration and inclusivity a reality for meetings and events — whether in-person or virtual.

As a presenter, the audience will feel more connected to you, and your content will come alive. All that presentation training you did over the years on how to be a great physical presenter still holds true, but now you don’t have to be a mind reader and easily connect with your audience when using Cisco Webex and Slido.

If you are currently a Webex customer, get ready for the Slido integration coming this Summer as part of your existing Webex subscription, or try it today for free at Slido.

About the author

Brad is the Systems Engineering leader for Cisco’s Global Collaboration Sales organization. His team focuses on bringing Cisco collaboration technology to life for customers and partners. With 20 years of experience in Cisco’s systems engineering organization, Brad has worked across Enterprise, Service Provider, Web, Gaming and Cloud verticals. A CCIE at heart, he spends most of his time now on Cisco SaaS and application business workflows. As a people leader, Brad is passionate about building high performing, culture driven engineering teams that create and enable technology innovation, deliver on Cisco’s overall growth strategy and exemplify Cisco’s amazing culture. #WeAreCisco Follow Brad on his social channels: LinkedIn Twitter

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What’s new in Webex: May 2021

Get the best video meeting experience with Webex Auto Configuration

The AV1 video codec comes to Webex!

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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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What’s new in Webex: May 2021

It’s all new in the new Webex

What’s so NEW about the All New Webex?

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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Top rated collaboration Cisco Webex
Webex earns Trustradius top rated 2021 award in collaboration

After winning 1st place in “Best of” TrustRadius Award categories in February, Webex has earned more recognition in April with the Top Rated 2021 Award in Collaboration. It is great to see that our commitment to innovation and 10x better experiences is paying off.

Since 2016, the TrustRadius Top Rated Awards have become the industry standard for unbiased recognition of B2B technology products. Based entirely on customer feedback, they have never been influenced by analyst opinion or status as a TrustRadius customer. Here is a detailed criteria breakdown on the methodology and scoring that TrustRadius uses to determine Top Rated winners.

Take a look at some of the feature scores that came from the reviews customers left us:

We also saw some fantastic quotes from Webex users on their experiences using Webex.

“Our whole company uses Webex as our preferred messaging application. It is fantastic for keeping us connected when we are all working from different locations, as we can easily chat, call, and meet from desktops or mobiles.” –IT Consultant

“The end-to-end security within the whole Webex stack is a massive plus as well and you know your data is secured from the moment you start typing a message.” –IT Professional

“It’s an easy-to-use application, has the best cost-benefit ratio, is easy to understand and install, and it is also compatible with other Cisco applications.” –Applications Engineer

Webex is the Best Business Collaboration Platform Around.” –Network Services Manager

What’s next for Webex?

Webex continues to innovate with well over 400 features introduced in the last 6 months. Just this month, we announced custom layouts and post meeting summaries in Meetings, Box and Appspace integrations, and real-time calling and messaging analytics in Control Hub. Expect more exciting announcements in the coming months in Webex blogs.

Check out more TrustRadius reviews here. Have your own use case to share? Review us on TrustRadius.

About TrustRadius: TrustRadius helps technology buyers make better decisions and helps vendors tell their unique story, improve conversion, engage high-intent buyers, and gain customer insights.  Each month over 1 million B2B technology buyers, over 50% from large enterprises, use verified reviews and ratings on TrustRadius.com to make informed purchasing decisions.

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What’s new in Webex: April 2021

Post Meeting Summary

How People Insights will help empower a more inclusive and engaging work experience

What would you like to do?

Join a Webex online meeting.

Learn more about web meetings and video conferencing.

Explore daily product demonstrations

Sign up for Webex.

Visit our home page or contact us directly for assistance.

 

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Cisco Hawking Rooms and Devices
Meeting fatigue? Aren’t we all experiencing it?

Meeting fatigue, co-designing, and technology

The best way to fight virtual fatigue is doing what we do in the real world, don’t “die by PowerPoint,” do better – Co-Create!

This is a story about co-designing, running virtual workshops, and co-creating with teams across companies across locations.

Last Winter, I was invited to an event hosted by Vitra that took place in Vienna, with the schedule: “workshop – decoding the office.”

The organizers told me to expect a “design thinking” session with about 150 people. Having facilitated co-creation workshops myself, I was wondering how this was going to work out.  And I must admit, it was a great experience to witness how Tim Reusch (Head of Vitra Design Studio) pulled it off by using an “event” version based on his methodology.

vitra event 1.PNG

 

Design thinking-  joining space and technology

After the session, Tim and I discussed the importance of the interlock of space and technology. During that time, Vitra and Cisco were already collaborating on the Cisco Webex Room Panorama, providing the ultimate immersive video conferencing experience for the modern C-suite.

We agreed on the need to take our partnership one step further, by joining company forces to discuss the marriage of space and technology, using Tim’s design thinking methodology.

Therefore, our Head of Design for Webex Devices, Sondre Ager-Wick, came on board to support. Time got Hendrik Woywod from Vitra Global Sales involved to assemble a diverse group for the workshop.

Webex and Vitra join together for a virtual design thinking workshop

After a few follow-up meetings in early 2020, we agreed to invite 10 participants from each company and aimed for two slots – a kickoff at the Vitra Campus in Weil am Rhein, Germany, and a second slot in the Cisco Executive Briefing Center in Oslo, Norway. We were ready to start, but then all of a sudden the entire world went remote overnight.

The challenge was obvious: We still wanted to run the workshops and asked ourselves whether it was possible to do this virtually – using Webex? And it sure was.

The goal

We had one goal in mind, which was to transform the office. To facilitate the workshop, we split up into four different working groups to focus on the different areas.

The key questions for the Space architects and Technology experts were:

SPACE: When people walk through your office, do they really want to work there? If you can answer “yes” to this question, then you have reached a level of psychological comfort and safety.

TECHNOLOGY: Assume 50% of your co-workers are remote. Can you still answer the previous question with a definite “yes”?

Vitra workshop

 

The workshop

Since Webex is designed for collaboration with distributed groups, we onboarded the Vitra participants to Webex and created a team structure for the plenary session using a Webex Space. The joint introduction session was followed by splitting up the group into four small and diversely staffed working teams.

image28.png

You find your chat messages there, your documents and files, and of course, you can ad-hoc start a Webex meeting. The key was the possibility to have the whiteboarding templates integrated into the platform.

We started with the architectural layout of the new office.

image9.png

Any breakout group member can edit the whiteboard in real-time from any location, and editing can be done by teams offline. A single meeting can be joined from multiple devices. For example, a laptop is being used for the meeting, while the iPad is used for whiteboard edits.

Templates and “Flipchart-like” drawing tools, “stickies” – all the tools you are familiar with from design thinking are included. The Webex Architecture allows flexibility to use all of these across companies and locations.

The facilitator is highly flexible in the reviewing progress on each of the whiteboards without joining every single breakout meeting.

image17.png

When we run these kinds of workshops within Cisco, most employees prefer to join with their Webex devices from home. In this workshop, we were a very distributed group of people joining different locations using different technology. Therefore, it was great to see how technology became an enabler to entirely focus on true co-creation from leveraging diverse views and technologies.

Click here if you wanna see how this looks with a “fancy” device

Some workshop impressions:

Devices

image8.pngimage5.png

Each team assigned a team lead and then got to work on their schedule for four weeks. Afterward, each group presented their outcomes to the overall panel.

Afterwards, it was great to see the amazing results of this invigorating collaboration; as an example, take a glimpse on how the teams structured the scenarios:

dancing wall 2_AH

Many thanks again to the folks from Vitra and Cisco who contributed to this experience. I must admit that this was the first time I could do this myself virtually and across companies, countries, and colleagues, and I am pleased about how well it worked out.

We then agreed to run a second round which focused on two specific topics: “Safe Return to Office” and “Work from Home.” My team member Mathilde Salvi facilitated this round together with Tim and Hendrik.

Fast forward to today, where are we now

Here are a couple of examples of joint ideas that we are working on with customers now:

Dancing Wall + Webex

Many companies adapt to the increasingly unpredictable changes in their markets by creating agile organizational structures. To facilitate this, they require office furnishings that can be easily reconfigured – if possible, by the users themselves. Dancing Wall is a solution for these new working environments.

Dancing wall

dancing wall 2_AH

Kado + Webex board:

Modern offices need to be flexible to adapt to changing conditions. Yet, at the same time, an open office landscape needs organizational structures that reflect the company’s identity and define pathways for movement and communication. This is where Kado Office comes into play.

Kado

Huddle Spaces:

Huddle Spaces will have a considerable stake in the new offices setup. Hence, we explored the following scenarios:

Huddle SpacesA big playground, the home office:

home office

All those pictures look great, but of course, this needs to be experienced in the real world. Another great proof point of this collaboration is the Webex Panorama in the Vitra Showroom:

Vitra officeshowroom frankfurt 4

Back to the co-designing piece

In our Design-Thinking Sprint with Vitra, we managed thanks to the integrated whiteboarding capabilities in Webex. If you want to try this yourself, just download the Webex Client and give it a go.

Webex is an open platform to expand the experience even further, so you can easily integrate co-creation apps.

Here is an example of Miro.com embedded into Webex:

I’d recommend choosing Miro when you want to run workshops with a large number of participants, requiring an assortment of templates supporting a wider variety of work-styles:

Image 1

  Miro on Webex Board

miro board.jpeg

Miro on DeskPro

miro deskpro.jpeg

Now, the world is used to virtual meetings, but in my opinion, the era of co-creation – especially hybrid co-creation – has just started, and exciting times are ahead of us!

THE BEST RECIPE AGAINST MEETING FATIGUE IS CO-CREATION and this is true for physical, virtual as well as hybrid meetings.

See how Webex Devices can help your team communicate clearly and create together in real time

About the author

Alex Braumann joined Cisco in 2000. As Business Development Manager & Collaboration Evangelist the Austrian is covering Technology Evolution and focuses on Partner Enablement, Verticalization and the Digitization capabilities of Cisco Collaboration in EMEAR & APJC. During his career at Cisco, he worked in different Systems Engineering, Sales & Business Development roles in the fields of IP Telephony, Unified Communication and Collaboration.

Resources

The all new Webex

Ready to make the switch to the new Webex?

Learn more

Making Video Fatigue a Thing of the Past— Webex Devices Deliver 10x Better Experiences

Join a Webex online meeting

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

Explore daily product demonstrations

Sign up for Webex

Read more
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

Still need help?

What would you like to do?

Join a Webex online meeting.

Learn more about web meetings and video conferencing.

Explore daily product demonstrations

Sign up for Webex.

Visit our home page or contact us directly for assistance.

Read more
Woman video conferencing and using noise reduction
Life happens. Background noise doesn’t have to

The Adoption blog series: Sharing our must-have features on Webex to make your life on Webex a little bit more easier and a lot more awesome

Taking the distraction out of background noise

Working at Webex means I’ve always worked from home (even pre-pandemic). But now it feels different, and I’ve been thinking about exactly why that is–it’s not just that we are working from home, but now we’re living our lives at work. My manager recently described it as “we’re all in the same storm, but not in the same boat.” Personally, that couldn’t be more on point.

A lot has changed in the past 12 months, and while our team used to be focused on general Webex adoption, the needs of our users have changed significantly as the entire world moved to working virtually (for the most part). On top of that, I’ve also changed significantly. I took on my most important role to date: momma.

“Will my team think I’m unprofessional if they hear my dogs barking? What if the baby is crying so loud that I need to stay on mute and not engage as much in a meeting? Will it impact my career or brand?”

Working from home with a family

Charlie was born in July, mid-pandemic, to a changed world–a world where returning to work wouldn’t involve commute traffic, but rather focus on how I manage work time (and more importantly, focus time) amidst family time all in the same physical space—home.

Any parents among you know that returning to work is hard enough, but thinking that your baby’s cries, dogs barking, and day-to-day noises of running a home would be a feature in work meetings adds an additional layer of anxiety. I had visions of trying to soundproof my office, make sure doors were closed, and ask the teenagers in my house to keep it down when I have important presentations.

Webex is here to help

I‘m not alone. We hear from thousands of users in our Webex Community that transitioning to remote work 100% of the time has required an additional layer of consideration in so many ways we never thought about–from the basics of being heard to the advanced challenges of a fully remote team inclusion in brainstorming and more. We’re all in this together and Webex is here to help.

Announcing feature of the month series

Each month, we’ll be sharing our top features to make your life on Webex a little bit easier and occasionally a lot more awesome, starting with noise removal. If you haven’t tried it out yet, you’re missing out.

One day, after turning on noise removal, the baby was…let’s just say “approaching lunchtime” quite loudly and I apologized for the noise. My colleague looked confused: “I don’t hear a thing!”

What is noise removal?

It’s easy to confuse noise removal with noise cancellation. These are very different things! Noise cancellation is all about drowning out distractions (normally delivered via hardware like headphones or headsets by using white noise). Noise removal on the other hand is way smarter. It uses innovative technology from BabbleLabs to intelligently listen to the audio on a meeting and digitally remove distracting sounds. I’ve got to be honest and say I was dubious when I heard about it and worried it would be like many consumer apps I use that try to do the same thing, but the actual result is one person’s audio goes too quiet and I miss what they were saying.

See it in action:

I was amazed that after enabling noise removal, my colleagues could hear my every word despite the doorbells, and then, of course, my two colleagues barking at every car that drove by. I should also probably let you know that my colleagues consist of two dogs—a 16-pound pug and a 110-pound labrador. Everyone needs to be using this!

remove background noise UI and speaker and microphone

It really is very, very cool. If you find yourself working from home, this is a must-try feature from all of us here at Webex. If you’re already using it, share how for your chance to win a Cisco 730 Headset (also very, very cool..and a blog for another time). If not, we’ve made a handy guide to help you turn it on—check it out below.

Download my noise removal guide to learn more

About the author

Image of Heidi RhodesHeidi Rhodes, Leader, Digital Experiences and Enablement Mom. Wife. Passionate about the adoption of cool technology and helping Webex’ hundreds of millions of users all around the world. Heidi leads Webex Customer Success Digital Transformation, Digital Experiences, Training and Enablement Teams and posts from time to time on how businesses and individuals can fully use the power of Webex to connect, collaborate and achieve more.

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The rise of AI speech enhancement & better team collaboration

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Webex Noise Removal- BabbleLabs| Unboxing [Video]

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What’s new in Webex: March 2021

Webex Training Drop- In Session [Live Class]

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Collaboration for the win
Webex lights up green for St Patrick’s Day!

Míle Fáilte (A thousand welcomes) to all our Cisco colleagues, partners and customers around the globe!

We are thrilled to announce that last week, the Great Place to Work ranked Cisco as the Best Large Workplace in Ireland 2021. Participating companies were ranked on their ability to create a positive and supportive workplace environment; with an incredible 91% of Cisco employees in Ireland agreeing Cisco is a great place to work.

“Winning the Great Place to work in 2021 is not only a testament to our employees and leadership but a testament to how Webex has enabled us to continue to grow a culture albeit virtually. Since March 2020, the pandemic has not stopped the Irish team having a fully engaged culture of trust –  what a great place to work is truly built on. Webex gave us a platform, be it on video or through messaging, to enable our employees to be there for each other either professionally or personally. This last year I would never have been able to do my job without Webex, it’s as simple as that!”

Sheila Greaney – Site Engagement Manager

One of the key factors that makes Cisco a great place to work is that each and every employee is encouraged to embrace their local culture. And today, March 17th, our Irish team celebrate St Patrick’s day. A day of festivities and joy for all as we remember the patron saint of Ireland, St Patrick.

St Patrick’s day calls for us to don our finest green attire – with shamrocks and ginger beards highly encouraged. We dive deep into what it means to be Irish and dust off our dancing shoes to fully embrace our world-famous traditional music and rich culture. And this year was no different – not even Covid could stop the fun.

Being part of the Cisco family means we are all fortunate to have access to industry leading tools that maximise our virtual celebrations, making them 10X better than being in person and inclusive to our global teams. Here are just a few examples of how our teams made this St Patrick’s day one to remember:

Galway team Webex

Each year, our Galway team transform the Cisco office building green, but the way we work has changed dramatically this year. With Webex becoming our new virtual office, it only made sense that we light up Webex green too. For the first time ever, and for one glorious day only, the Webex you know and love, is turning green. This was available only to users in our internal Cisco trials, but who knows, it might be something we productise for this and other holidays in the future!

Webex lights up green for St Patrick’s Day!

Our internal fun didn’t stop there. The local Webex team created a selection of incredible Irish themed virtual backgrounds. Perfect to get everyone on meetings in the spirit of the holiday. Below are a few examples of what we created. We would love to see what you come up with – use #GRMAWebex to share your St Patrick’s day virtual backgrounds.

Co-workers at Cisco using Irish backgrounds in their meeting

On March 16th we also hosted a St Patrick’s Day Trad Fest – our first virtual St Patrick’s Day Festival where we invited all Cisco employees and their family members to join and learn the history behind Irish music with special performances from our very own Irish traditional Cisco band. All hosted on Webex!

St. Patricks Day Trad Fest

The band covered classics such as ‘The Kesh Jig’ and ‘The Lilting Fisherman’ – and our very own Rory Walsh gave a stunning vocal performance of ‘You Couldn’t Have Come at a Better Time’. The band not only showcased their beautiful talents but were able to share a slice of our great Irish history with their fellow employees world-wide.

Cisco members of a meeting all playing instruments

And last but by no means least, it wouldn’t be a Cisco event if we didn’t have some star presence. Our lucky audience at St Patrick’s Day Trad Fest were blessed with an unforgettable performance from our special guest Noel Hill. Noel is an Irish concertina player from County Clare, who has enjoyed world-wide success and now teaches concertina locally and globally with the help of Cisco Webex. Noel’s stunning performance truly was the perfect highlight to end a fantastic Cisco St Patrick’s day.

We may not have been able to celebrate this St Patrick’s day like we traditionally would but, with the help of Webex we were all able to come together and celebrate our Irish culture as a team, in style! Truly enforcing how Cisco is the greatest place to work.

Don’t forget to share your virtual St Patrick’s day fun using #GRMAWebex

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Get the best video meeting experience with Webex Auto Configuration

Announcing the winners of Collaboration hackathon

Relaunch of the Webex Ambassador Program

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Man sitting at computer looking at screen
What Stanford researchers don’t know: You can meet smarter to reduce video fatigue

Factors contributing to video fatigue

Meeting fatigue is real. And, in the era of COVID, “meeting” almost certainly means video conferencing. Stanford University researchers thought the problem was pervasive enough that they conducted a study to examine why too much video conferencing can exhaust the mind and body in what they say is commonly known as “Zoom fatigue” – although the researchers indicated this applies to all videoconferencing platforms. They arrived at four key factors that contribute to fatigue and even devised a way to measure it with the “Zoom Exhaustion & Fatigue” (ZEF) scale:

1) Excessive amounts of close-up eye contact is highly intense

2) Seeing yourself during video chats constantly in real-time is fatiguing

3) Video chats dramatically reduce our usual mobility

4) Higher cognitive load is much higher in video chats

While researchers gave some useful tips to counteract these problems, they are only short-term fixes to a problem that is endemic to the current era.

The answer is to meet smarter so you can meet less

Some companies, including at Cisco where I work, are implementing meeting-free days to minimize burn-out. But giving people a break from meetings and then going right back to Zoom fatigue the next day is also not the long-term answer.

The answer is using video conferencing technology to let people meet smarter so they can have fewer meetings on a REGULAR basis.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but over the past year, Webex has been working on ways to help people spend less time in meetings yet be more productive. Some of these innovations include:

  • Using an in-meeting digital assistant to capture transcripts, notes and action items, so you can fully focus in the meeting and get more done
  • Automated post-meeting follow-up enables easy distribution of notes and tracking action items, which may negate the need to have additional meetings to move work forward
  • Advanced messaging and team collaboration features let you continue work projects before, during and after the meeting, so much of it can be done asynchronously
  • Round table & Quick Sync meeting templates give everyone a dedicated speaking slot and time allocation, so no one can hog the discussion which reduces time sink
  • Real-time translation helps to break down language barriers and aids understanding, so fewer meetings are required for additional clarification

 

See Webex infographic to learn more about smart video conferencing

 

My Zoom Exhaustion & Fatigue score is very low

Out of curiosity, I took the ZEF survey just to see how I would score. And not surprisingly, it was very low:  I scored in the 8th percentile in Zoom fatigue, which means about 92% of people have more fatigue after videoconferencing than I do. I attribute that to three things:

  • My comfort with video having worked in the industry for more than 10 years
  • The intelligence in Webex which allows me to meet smarter on video and, thus, have fewer meetings
  • Working on a Webex Desk device, an all-in-one personal collaboration system that is comfortable to work on and contributes to less visual and physical fatigue

See how you score on the ZEF scale. And try Webex for free.

My score on the ZEF scale:

Stanford ZEF Scale Report
My score on the ZEF Scale Report

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Making Video Fatigue a Thing of the Past— Webex Devices Deliver 10x Better Experiences

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