Web Conferencing Summit Event Recap
February 26, 2021
Event date: February 5, 2021
**Note: This recap was adapted from the review provided by Dr. Wayne Butler (Full-Time Faculty Senate President) in the Senate Standard #2.21.
ACC held a two-hour summit to discuss in an open forum the future of web/video conferencing at the institution, specifically as it relates to use in instruction by both faculty and students. This event was born out of initial discussions among the College Administration, stemming from concerns around the required support for both training and security as well as cost constraints. The event was co-sponsored by the Full-Time Faculty Senate, the Adjunct Faculty Association, and the Teaching & Learning Excellence Division. Approximately 115 ACC faculty members, staff, and administrators logged into the event. During the event, presentations were delivered by a panel of 6 representatives from key instructional support areas:
- Dr. Herb Colman, Adjunct Faculty Association
- Matthew Evins, Teaching & Learning Excellence Division
- Dr. Erasmus Addae, Office of Distance Education
- Steven Christopher, Student Affairs
- Sarah Lisenbe, Information Technology
- Dr. Wayne Butler, Full-Time Faculty Senate
Additionally, Dr. Charles Cook (Provost) and Dr. Susan Thomason (TLED) offered welcomes, context, and wrap-ups, and the event was moderated by Full-Time Faculty Senate President-Elect Dr. Samantha Croft.
Pre-Summit Faculty Usage Survey Results
Prior to the event, a survey was sent to all faculty regarding their usage of the 4 primary web conferencing tools.
- 121 faculty members completed the survey (52.9% full time, 47.1% adjunct).
- All Areas of Study and +/- 39 departments were represented by at least one survey participant.
- Liberal Arts, including both Humanities and Communications and Social & Behavioral Sciences, combined accounted for 43%, SEM accounted for 19.8%, and ADMC accounted for 13.2% of respondents.
The survey asked faculty to identify all the video/web conferencing platforms they employ for instructional purposes, and thus the percentages add up to more than 100%:
- Zoom = 74 (61.2%)
- Collaborate = 63 (52.1%)
- Google Meet = 26 (21.5%)
- WebEx = 9 (7.4%)
Open responses revealed a wide range of motivations for use. In an attempt to summarize the responses, a few themes emerged:
- The benefit of Blackboard Collaborate is that it is integrated into Blackboard, but there may be concerns about reliability and features.
- Faculty teaching high school courses noted the high schools often dictate web-conferencing tools.
- Many respondents noted that they use different tools for different purposes, i.e. Blackboard Collaborate for class meetings, Google Meet for office hours, etc.
- Several noted unique disciplinary and student needs.
Both the Full-Time Faculty Senate and the Adjunct Faculty Association advocated for continuing to support all of the current web conferencing platforms, integrating all of them into Blackboard, as well as keeping open the possibility of embracing new and better web conferencing tools. Herb Coleman (Adjunct Faculty Association representative) noted “one size does NOT fit all” and Wayne Butler (Full-Time Faculty Senate representative) noted that “freedom to teach” includes the tools we use.
Matthew Evins (Teaching & Learning Excellence Division representative) shared comparative features and constraints analysis based on the support requests that TLED instructional support teams have received from faculty. Based on the information presented, the position of the Teaching & Learning Excellence Division is to eliminate Google Meet and WebEx while continuing to support Blackboard Collaborate and Zoom.
Erasmus Addae offered a short demo about a new service, Class for Zoom, which wraps instructional tools around Zoom to create a more education-centric experience.
Steven Christopher (Student Affairs representative) shared students’ preferences, with Meet first, Zoom second, Collaborate third, and WebEx fourth. He also noted that students are flexible, and they will adapt to whatever the instructor uses. Lastly, he noted that more data from students is needed in order to get a complete picture.
Sarah Lisenbe (IT Services representative) offered a technical overview of each platform, revealing important security, user experience, and financial issues. IT supports reducing the choices to two platforms.
Questions and Answers
Following presentations from each of the representatives, time was devoted to allow faculty to ask questions of the panel members. Representatives from the Full-Time Faculty Senate and the Adjunct Faculty Association volunteered to serve as question moderators—asking questions on behalf of their constituents that were submitted through a Google Form throughout the summit. 43 questions were received but not all of them were answered due to time constraints. The panel members were given opportunities to provide their perspectives as questions were asked and answered.
Note: The following information was provided by TLED after the event.
Attendees were presented with 1 polling question at the beginning and another question at the end of the Summit. Responses were anonymous and voluntary.
Question #1 – Presented at the beginning of the Summit (82 total respondents)
What is your preferred web/video conferencing platforms to support your teaching & learning needs? (select all that apply)
- Blackboard Collaborate: 84 responses (41%)
- Zoom: 74 responses (36%)
- Google Meet: 37 responses (18%)
- WebEx: 10 responses (5%)
Question #2 – Presented at the end of the Summit (59 total respondents)
Given today’s presentations and discussions, what tool do you feel would best support your teaching & learning needs? (select 1 response)
- Blackboard Collaborate: 15 responses (25%)
- Zoom: 33 responses (56%)
- Google Meet: 9 responses (15%)
- WebEx: 2 responses (3%)
Next Steps & Recommendations
Each of the representatives that voiced opinions provided different reasons for keeping each of the web conferencing platforms. However, the following facts remain:
- Technical support, training, and cost constraints continue to play a role as long as the College chooses to support all of the current web conferencing platforms.
- Among all of the tools, WebEx was the tool that had the least amount of strong feelings with regards to continued support.
- Faculty (both full-time and adjunct) are in favor of continuing to support all of the current web conferencing platforms, as well as adopting others into the future.
- Both IT Services and the Teaching & Learning Excellence Division support reducing the number of supported platforms to 2.
TLED would like to submit the following recommendations to address support for student, faculty, staff and institutional needs:
Phase 1 –
- Phase out the WebEx platform through the Summer 2021.
- Continue using three remaining platforms – Collaborate, Zoom and GoogleMeet.
- Also implement a process of continuous review regarding existing and new tools that become available.
Phase 2 –
- During the Summer and Fall Semesters evaluate and pilot the use of Zoom for Class in comparison to Collaborate for instruction. Make a recommendation at the end of fall semester on selection of one of these tools.
- Two platforms would remain for the Spring Semester 2022.