Conference Calling at TWU

Whether you’re looking to have a meeting with someone in Ontario or hoping to invite an outside guest to teach your class from across the world, video and audio calls are an essential part of modern communication.  We here at TWIT would like to take this opportunity to inform you of what’s available, go over some helpful tips, and point out some common mistakes.

When hosting your meeting, it’s important to choose the right tool for the job.  We’ll first take a look through which video and audio applications we have available for you here at TWU, and how and when they’re each useful or not.

Audio Only

One important benefit gained by using a phone (instead of something digital on a computer), is that you will generally have a more reliable and clear connection with the person(s) on the other end of the line.  Phones are also more intuitive and user-friendly.  Let’s take a closer look at several audio-only services provided by TWIT.

Conference Phones

From TWIT, you can borrow conference phones to use in meeting rooms or classrooms on the Langley campus.  These are great for small or medium-sized groups (up to about 20 people) gathered in the same room.  Usually these phones are best suited to calling an individual or other small group on the other end of the call.  Not all classrooms on campus support conference phones, however, so if you haven’t used a room for a conference call before, it’s best to check ahead of time that it will work where you want it to.

Mercuri Teleconferencing

When many users need to call in from many different locations, Mercuri is a great solution.  This service allows everyone to call in to a number and have a conference call from their individual phones.  You can pair this service with conference phones if needed, but it’s also something you can host from your personal cell phone.  This service is cheap, but not free.  Please contact TWIT at least a few days ahead of time so that we can set you up with an account if you’re interested in using this service.

Desk Phones

Did you know you can have conference calls from most desk phones?  Our current standard IP phone model – the Mitel 5312 – supports this feature.  If you would like to learn about how to use this feature to have more than one person on the phone at a time, feel free to inquire by clicking here.

Video + Audio

Sometimes, audio by itself just doesn’t cut it.  Maybe there’s an important presentation, or maybe it is an important enough conversation that a face-to-face connection seems necessary.  Whatever the circumstances, we have several tools ready for you so that you can make video calls to those who can’t be there in person.

Bluejeans

Bluejeans is a video conference calling program that TWIT has a campus license for.  If you submit a request, we can create an account for you for free.  The benefit of Bluejeans is that no one else who joins your meeting has to install any software or create an account, making it ideal for students connecting remotely to your class or members joining your meeting on the fly.  You can also share your screen through Bluejeans, making it easy to show your PowerPoint or Excel files over the internet.

The drawback to any internet-based call is that the quality of the call relies on both ends of the internet connection, as well as on your microphone and speaker quality.  We recommend asking for a free account and testing it out to see if this is the right solution for you.

For those of you who have used the Board of Governor’s boardroom for hosting meetings, you may have encountered some issues hosting video meetings.  Unfortunately, we are somewhat at the mercy of the vendor in regards to maintaining the hardware in that room, which is why we have trouble adjusting the microphone and speakers to deal with feedback.   We try to track specific incidents to look for ways to improve, so make sure to let us know if you think this is an area that needs improvement so we know where to allocate time and resources!

Skype/Facetime

While we don’t have any corporate plans for some of these popular services, it is still very easy to use these for your individual meetings.  They are less ideal for hosting meetings with more participants, as each person you call must have signed up for an account ahead of time and added you as a friend – otherwise you may find yourself scrambling to find out their contact info right before the meeting starts.  We also have very little support for these programs, and you will have to rely mostly on your own intuition alongside the regular support from the companies who make these programs for any troubleshooting.

 

We’re always looking to find ways to improve our ability to communicate with each other and with others outside of our organization.  Hopefully this article has shed some light on the various tools we have at our disposal around campus.  If you have any questions or comments at all, don’t hesitate to write us back and let us know!

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