Online lectures

Last updated on 2 April 2020

The organisation of classes by video conferencing is available to all IST professors through the Colibri platform, maintained by FCCN.

Colibri, based on the Zoom video conferencing system, supports up to 300 participants in each session and can be used from any personal computer by both teachers and students. The system works on Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems.

In addition to bidirectional video and audio channels for all participants, Colibri/Zoom includes a chat system for exchanging messages and the possibility of desktop sharing, thus allowing the simultaneous transmission of slides or PDF files.

Lecturers may organize sessions/classes with up to 300 participants and without time limit. Students can also organise video conferencing sessions, but each session is limited to 40 minutes.

Attending a Class/Session

To attend a lecture/session, you MUST NOT login to the Colibri System. Login is only required by the session Professor/Organiser. Each login consumes licenses that may be crucial for other purposes.

  1. At this point, an authorization request should appear so as to access the zoom.us.app page. This step may take some time at first and you may be asked to install the zoom application;
  2. After this, the option to test the audio system appears. It is strongly suggested that this test be carried out in all sessions. This will take no more than 10 seconds and it allows you to confirm that the microphone and audio are working correctly;
  3. After these steps, the main Zoom screen will be displayed, with the active lecture/session. For this screen, most options are perceptive. You should ensure that the microphone is turned off at the bottom bar. The audio should only be connected if the Professor/Organiser specifically indicates it for a particular reason.
  4. For more information on the configuration and operation of the zoom system, please consult the following link: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/206618765-Zoom-Video-Tutorials.

Class/Session Preparation

The organization and scheduling of each class must be done by the responsible teacher. For this purpose, the following steps should be followed:

  1. Access https://videoconf-colibri.zoom.us/ and select the “Agendar” option at the right of the page;
  2. You will now be redirected to a Federated Authentication screen, where you must select the University of Lisbon;
  3. You will then be redirected to a screen of the University of Lisbon, where you must select IST;
  4. At this point, you will be redirected to the usual IST/Fenix authentication screen, where you must authenticate with your credentials;
  5. The system will ask you for authorization to transmit the displayed identity data to FCCN;
  6. You should now have access to your personal profile, where you can (optionally) complete/edit part of your data;
  7. Then select “Meeting” from the menu on the left and then “Schedule a New Meeting”. Specify the name of the subject in the topic.
  8. You must then specify the day, time and duration of the lesson (note that the date is in the following format mm/dd/yyyy). For weekly classes, you can select Recurring meeting and specify the regularity and duration.
  9. Afterwards, the technical characteristics of the session must be filled out. In this process, the lecturer or Professor who organised the session, is the host. While it is possible to select an alternative configuration upon familiarization with the system, we suggest the following settings:
    1. Require meeting password: It is suggested to leave the option inactive to facilitate access to the class;
    2. Video: Select “Video off” by default for both the host and the participants. This will prevent each student to start image transmission upon joining the class. Simultaneously, it enables the lecturer/Professor to manually control the start of image transmission.
    3. Áudio: select both;
    4. Meeting options:
      1. Select Enable join before host;
      2. Select Mute participants upon entry (this is important, to ensure that the students’ microphones are turned off by default);
      3. Deselect Enable waiting room;
      4. Deselect Only authenticated users can join
      5. Deselect Record the meeting automatically
    5. Save;
  10. At this point, you will be presented with a screen with a session summary and a line with a URL that should be distributed to the students. You can copy only this URL or use the Copy invitation option, which will place on the clipboard a more complete invitation message about access mechanisms to the session/class.
  11. It is suggested that the URL or invitation be distributed to the students by email (using the option management -» students -» send email to students on the Fenix subject page). In order to minimize the possibility of unwanted intrusion attempts, the URL should not be published as an advertisement or on a public page. If you intend to post the link on Fenix, it is suggested that a section be created on Fenix dedicated to video conferencing classes, with restricted visibility to students and Professors/Lecturers of the corresponding subject, where these links can be published.
  12. Still on the class/session schedule page, in the “Settings” tab, scroll to “Screen Sharing”, and select in “Who can share” the “Host only” option, to avoid unwanted screen sharing (if necessary, this option can always be changed during the class/session, by using the menu (^) accessible on the right side of “Share Screen”). Below, in “Annotation”, turn off the option “Allow participants to use annotation tools to add information to shared screens”.
  13. At the time of the class, you must access the Colibri system, login and select “My meetings”. In front of each scheduled session there is the Start option, which you should activate;
  14. At this moment, a request for authorization to open the application zoom.us.app should appear. This step may take a while the first time and you may be asked to install the zoom application;
  15. Then an option to test the audio system appears. It is strongly suggested that this test be carried out in all sessions. It takes no more than 10 seconds and allows you to confirm that the microphone and audio are working correctly;
  16. After these steps, with the session already active, you will be presented with the main Zoom screen. For this screen, most options are easily perceptive. In the lower bar you can turn on or off the video or audio, or share the desktop screen for the slide show.
  17. For more information on the configuration and operation of the zoom system, please consult the following link: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/206618765-Zoom-Video-Tutorials

Recording and publication of class sessions

When scheduling the session on the Colibri/Zoom platform, it is possible to activate an option for recording the class sessions on the local computer or, remotely, on the Colibri/Zoom cloud platform itself (this option is available at the bottom of the scheduling page). During the session, the record button is also available on the bottom Zoom toolbar, with an option on the right (^) that allows you to choose local or remote recording.

Note: Sometimes, the number of simultaneous sessions of the Colibri system exceeds the maximum number of licenses contracted by FCCN, at a national level. When this happens, the system reverts to a free license mode, which during the contingency period COVID19 has no duration limit for Universities, but does not allow remote recording.

To make the videos available to students there are several options. After recording, although it is possible to upload the videos to the Fenix System, the use of this option is strongly discouraged, given that it not only overloads the Fenix system, which was not optimized for this type of use, but requires students to a lengthy process of downloading the file for a later viewing.

Alternatively, one of the following three options is suggested:

  1. Video storage on the FCCN educast platform.
    The Educast platform (https://www.educast.fccn.pt/) provides a management and distribution service for audiovisual content. Besides uploading to the central server, the platform allows video editing and subsequent publication, ensuring that recordings are available through 3 types of formats: streaming, desktop and mobile. Depending on the selected option, the contents produced are accessible to the public or to the entire University. There are also specific utilities for prior offline recordings of class sessions. After logging into the Educast platform, there are several tutorials with detailed explanations of its features (creating a channel, defining content, editing, etc.).
    To use the educast service, select the option of recording the video on the local computer (or remotely in Cloud, and then download it). You can then upload it to the Educast platform, using the instructions available at https://educast.fccn.pt/vod/clips/25b9xw725t/streaming.html?locale=pt.
    After publishing the video on Educast Platform, through the sharing option you may create a link, and publish the link on the Fenix webpage.
  2. Storage and sharing of a video on Microsoft OneDrive platform
    In schedule a new meeting/session, select the video recording option. After this, the video can be uploaded to Microsoft’s OneDrive storage system (http://onedrive.live.com), through your IST account, which has unlimited space. After you upload the video on to OneDrive, you can get an access link by selecting the file with your right mouse button (select the option all link owners may view). This link may then be published on the corresponding subject on the Fenix webpage.
    You must have access to the OneDrive and Office365 subscribed by IST, in order to use the OneDrive institutional account. More information on this process is available at https://si.tecnico.ulisboa.pt/software/microsoft-office-365/.
  3. Storage and sharing of a video on the Google Drive platform.
    In schedule a new meeting/session, select the video recording option. After this, the video can be uploaded to Google Drive storage system (http://onedrive.live.com), through your IST account, which has unlimited space. After you upload the video on to Google Drive, you can get an access link by selecting the file with your right mouse button (select the option all link owners may view). This link may then be published on the corresponding subject on the Fenix webpage.
    Please note, if you have a private gmail account, by selecting drive.google.com it is possible that you access to your personal account, which has very limited storage space. When accessing through your IST’s account, the IST’s logo will appear on the upper right corner. If you have both accounts active, you can switch between accounts by using the icon with your account initials on the upper right corner. To activate the Google Drive institutional account, it is necessary to activate IST’s institutional G-suite account. More information about activating the G-suite at https://si.tecnico.ulisboa.pt/servicos/servicos-externos/google-suite-for-education/.

Technical Advice

  • Make a practical test before the first class. Send an email invitation to yourself. Since the system works on laptops, smartphones or tablets, you can use one of these devices to monitor, for example, how your image and/or screen is being shared and transmitted;
  • It is essential to warn all participants that they must keep their microphones off, only activating one at the time and at the moment of querying the teacher. Otherwise, the sound will be affected by the number of connected microphones or the presence of defective microphones in the audience;
  • For better interactivity during classes it is recommended that the students turn on their webcam, unless the Professor/Lecturer requests otherwise.
  • While the system can be easily managed by the Professor or lecturer alone, if there is the possibility of having a Teaching Assistant or even a student providing technical support to manage the session and to check any interventions and queries through chat, this can facilitate the component of exposure by the Professor or lecturer. For this purpose, after starting the session, select the option Manage Participants, where you can view all participants, select the name of the Student or TA and then more -> Make co-host.

Pedagogical advice

Without disregarding other options, it is suggested to pay attention to the following points:

  • A video conferencing class is normally, and by nature, less interactive than a face-to-face class and for this reason is more difficult to follow. Try to be clear and adjust the presentation time.
  • If you need to use a writing board, prepare the position of the laptop´s camera in order to capture the board as legibly as possible. Please note that, unfortunately, mid-range laptop camera may not have sufficient resolution so that the board can be easily visible to students. Check with other equipment that the writing board is visible and that there are no light reflexes that may impair visibility.
  • Remember that if you are using a whiteboard, you will be further away from the microphone and sometimes with your back to the camera and microphone. The sound volume heard by the participants may become, for this reason, strongly unstable. One possible way to minimize this issue is the use of a Bluetooth microphone/headset connected to your computer device.

FAQs

  1. How do I know who are the participants/attendees during my session?Give the students the indication that they must clearly identify themselves at the start of the session/class, indicating their first name and surname as well as their students’ ID number.
  2. How can I access the number and the identification of the participants present at my Video Conferencing session/class?The participants name and ID number will be available in the “Reports” section of the menu (on the left side of the Zoom account page), at the end of the session.
  3. Once I have entered the platform through Colibri it is requested to confirm my email address and then to indicate whether I accept to transfer the Zoom account. Should I accept?Yes. As a result of an update to the identity database of the Colibri system, applied on 13 March 2020, all accounts that existed previously and have logged in after this date must go through this process, this only occurs once.

Contribute to improve this page

Do you consider that any of the previous indications is incorrect or that it can be improved? Do you have any pedagogical suggestions that may contribute to improving the functioning of classes? Do you have past experience in remote classes that can be shared here and help other teachers or students? Send your contribution to si@tecnico.ulisboa.pt.