meg-hackathon

How to run nice and efficient hybrid meetings

TL;DR. For concrete recommendations you can jump to

The structure in the following text is that it is organized per type of room (meeting rooms, colloquim room, instruction rooms, huddle rooms), for each room an inventory is presented and the typical use of the room is described. Subsequently a recommendation is given for organizing the typical use of that room in a hybrid fashion, combining in real-life (IRL) and online participants.

Meeting rooms

We have a number of meeting rooms at the DCCN for meetings ranging from about 5 to 20 people. We commonly use these for group meetings where someone might present, but the interaction between all attendees is relatively symmetric and there is a lot of discussion. This is a many-to-many setup.

Since the meeting rooms are rectangular and have a rectangular table, the meetings often have a U-shaped seating arrangement. The two long sides of the table have the most chairs, the side furthest away from the projection screen wall has a few chairs. The majority of the people present in real-life need to turn sideways to look at the projection screen.

Mid-sized room (Oval Office)

The DCCN Oval Office is a medium sized room that can comfortably hold approximately 10 to 20 people. The setup consists of an oval table (hence the name) with chairs directly around it, and a second row of tables along the walls. There is a beamer that projects onto one of the short walls, and there are two speakers along that wall.

The room also has a desktop presentation computer hooked up to the projection system and the room audio, and to the Meeting Owl that is placed in the middle of the table.

You can also connect your own laptop to the LCD screen and audio using a HDMI cable or using a VGA cable and select that as the source on the AMX switch panel.

Smaller meeting rooms (Levelt, Adelbertus, Friston, Kutas, Cajal)

We have a number of meeting rooms at the DCCN that accomodate about 10 people. The setup usually consists of a large rectangular table, with a large LCD television screen and speakers mounted on one of the short walls.

These rooms also have a desktop presentation computer hooked up to the LCD screen and the room audio, and to the Meeting Owl that is placed on the middle of the table.

You can also connect your own laptop to the LCD screen and audio using a HDMI cable and select that as the source on the AMX switch panel.

How to run a hybrid meeting

For hybrid meetings in the smaller rooms we assume that people attending in real life and people attending online are equally important. The host is assumed to be present in real life, as somebody needs to open the room and set it up. The main presenter and/or discussion partners could be either working from home, or be present in real life.

The recommended procedure is:

  1. Everybody that attends in real-life brings a laptop
  2. The host starts the online meeting on his/her laptop
  3. The host joins the online meeting on the desktop presentation computer
  4. The real-life attendees join the meeting on their laptops
  5. The online attendees join the meeting on their laptops at home
  6. Presentations and/or screen sharing are done from the individuals’ laptops

In the Oval Office we recommend that you use the “Behringer UMC204HD” audio interface. It is connected to the two microphones in the middle of the table and they record the sound of the IRL participants better than the Meeting Owl microphone. For the other (smaller) meeting rooms the microphone of the Meeting Owl is fine.

The general observation is that everyone attending needs to distribute their attention between three things: the people that are present IRL, the people that are present online, and the presentation or shared screen. Important is that all attendees (either IRL or online) can see each other mutually well.

The Meeting Owl on the middle of the table is used as 360-degree camera and as speaker. The sound coming from the middle of the table (instead of from the wall) gives the online attendees a better presence in the room. The host and all IRL attendees that join the meeting on their laptop must mute the microphone and speakers from their laptop to prevent feedback. All audio should go over the meeting room desktop presentation computer and the Meeting Owl.

The IRL attendees with a laptop in front of them switch attention between the shared presentation (on their laptop), the online attendees (on their laptop) and the other attendees at the table. Shifting attention between online participants and people present IRL only requires glancing at or over the laptop screen, but does not require a 90-degree turn. Since the Meeting Owl is in the middle of the table, either looking at the laptop screen or to people on the other side of the table will result in a gaze towards the 360-degree camera AND to their own laptop webcam. Consequently, for online participants at home the IRL person is still looking in their general direction.

The meeting room presentation computer attached to the wall-mounted projection or LCD screen does not really have to be used in hybrid meetings, except by those IRL attendees that did not bring their own device. They can follow the presentation and online attendees on the wall-mounted projection or LCD screen. For IRL participants without their own device, it is harder to observe detailled facial expressions of online participants, and in reverse the online participants will also not be able to see these IRL participants well. In case an IRL participant talks to one of the online participant, the person present in real-life will probably be looking at the wall-mounted projection screen and hence the online participant will see the speaking person (via the 360-degree camera) looking sideways, which is awkward for the social interaction. Furthermore, people that did not bring their own device cannot follow the online chat where often background material is shared, cannot influence the layout and/or size of the presentation on the wall-mounted screen, nor the layout and/or size of the video of the online attendees.

Large conference room (Red Room)

The large colloquium room in the DCCN has about 100 seats, plus an additional 20 seats on the balcony. The Red Room is commonly used for lectures and presentations where one central person addresses the audience, where the audience ask questions, and where the audience does not interact directly among themselves. This is a one-to-many setup.

The video/audio presentation setup is rather sophisticated and hence complex. There is a general purpose presentation desktop computer that is hooked up to the beamer and the two LCD screens in the lectern. The presentation computer also connects to the room audio. You can connect your own laptop using HDMI or VGA and select that as the source on the AMX iPad that is mounted on the lectern.

Besides the computer as an audio source, there is a gooseneck microphone mounted on the lectern, a wireless headset microphone, and a wireless hand-held microphone.

There is a webcam mounted on the lectern, pointing to the lecturer.

There is an Epiphan video capture and streaming device with an analog camera mounted on the balcony that gives an overview of the stage, including the presenter and the large projection screen.

How to run a hybrid lecture/presentation

The recommended procedure is

  1. The host or presenter brings a laptop, but does not connect it to HDMI or VGA
  2. The online meeting is started on the host’s or presenter’s laptop
  3. The presentation computer joins the online meeting with the name “Red Room”
  4. The presentation can be run either from the laptop or from the presentation computer

The general observation is that the attendees mostly pay attention to the presenter and his/her presentation, not to each other. The presenter should be able to see and hear all IRL and online attendees. The IRL and online attendees have to hear each other (in case of questions) but don’t have to see each other.

The host or presenter and all other IRL attendees that join the meeting on their laptop must mute the microphone and speakers from their laptop to prevent feedback. All audio goes over the Red Room presentation computer and over the PA system.

The online attendees will see the shared screen from the laptop or from the Red Room presentation computer. The online attendees hear the combined sound from all microphones and from the laptop or from the Red Room presentation computer through the online meeting software. The IRL attendees also hear the combined sound from all microphones and from the laptop or from the Red Room presentation computer, but through the PA system speakers.

TO BE FURTHER DISCUSSED:

Instruction rooms

We have two instruction rooms at the DCCN where attendees are seated behind a table. These rooms are commonly used for teaching, combining lecturing with hands-on computer excercises. When not in use for group-wise instructions, the rooms are used by interns and temporary visitors. The common use case for these rooms is a one-to-many setup.

Both instruction rooms have a desk for the lecturer with a desktop presentation computer and the possibility to connect a laptop over HDMI or VGA.

Both instruction rooms have a gooseneck microphone mounted on the lecturers desk, a wireless headset microphone and a wireless hand-held microphone.

The instruction rooms also have an Epiphan video capture and streaming device with an analog camera mounted at the ceiling in the back of the room, giving an overview of the lecturer and the screen. Note that there is one Epiphan device shared between the two rooms, so check with the technical group if you need it in one of the rooms.

Large instruction room (1.160)

This room has 38 desks with a desktop computer (6 rows with 5 desks and 2 rows with 4 desks). Furthermore, there is a central section where the 38 participants can sit, facing the lecturer.

Small instruction room (2.258)

This room has 20 desk with a desktop computer (5 rows with 4 desks). The room is organized as a traditional class room with the participants facing the lecturer.

How to organize hybrid teaching

Hybrid lecturing to attendees that are present IRL and online attendees requires that the attendees can hear the lecturer, but also the other attendees (e.g. if someone asks a question). Questions from online attendees should also be audible to everyone in the room.

The lecturer and all other IRL attendees that join the meeting on their laptop must mute the microphone and speakers from their laptop to prevent feedback. All audio should go over the instruction room desktop presentation computer and over the PA system.

TO BE FURTHER DISCUSSED:

Small huddle rooms

We also have a number of small huddle rooms that accomodate 2-4 people. These don’t have names like the others, and they cannot be reserved. These rooms are typically used to meet with a few people.

There is a general purpose presentation computer and a wall-mounted LCD screen with a webcam on top of it. You can also connect your own laptop to the LCD screen and audio using a HDMI cable and select that as the source on the AMX switch panel.

Using these huddle rooms for hybrid meetings is similar to having multiple people together behind a single desk. If there are two or more people present in real-life, you should use the webcam microphone and speakers of either the installed computer or of your laptop. If there is only one person, using a headset will improve the audio quality, not only for you, but also for the people attending online as the meeting software does not have to do feedback correction.

When and how to use the Epiphan

The Epiphan in the Red Room and in the instruction rooms can be used for unidirectional streaming (e.g. to YouTube) or for recordings (e.g. to record a lecture that can be shared on Brightspace). It allows people online to look along (with ~30 seconds delay), but is not really of use for questions and interaction with the online attendees. Its use is independent from the tools and software that might be used for an online or hybrid meeting. Due to the delay it is not suited for hybrid interaction.