Educational Technology,  Remote Teaching

Let Students Choose their Breakout Session and More – Now in WebEx!

USask’s version of WebEx recently updated with a few new features worth highlighting.

  • Students can now choose which Breakout Session to join
  • On certain devices WebEx, can now recognize hand gestures, including hand raising

Students can now choose which Breakout Session to join

This feature opens up new pedagogical opportunities in class sessions. There are a few obvious examples that come to mind:

  • use this to help students form groups for class activities. Create a session for each potential topic and then allow students to self-enrol in the session for the topic of their choosing
  • you could lead an activity where students choose a position in an argument. For example, a four corners or a debate. Students then join the session of their choosing to confer with others with a similar position. After closing breakouts, students re-join the main session and representatives of each group present their collective argument

Enabling this option is easy. You enable breakouts as before, but now have the option to assign participants automatically, manually, or to “let participants choose any session”. You’ll still need to pre-determine how many sessions to create.

Breakout creation window
Breakouts creation window in WebEx

To make the selection process easier for students, you will want to rename each session. You can do this immediately after the sessions are created (e.g., in this screenshot, the session is named “Everything Else”).

Renaming window
Click Rename to name the breakout sessions

When the Breakouts are launched, students are presented with the various sessions to choose from. If a few students can’t decide or have technical difficulties choosing a session, you can help by manually assigning them.

WebEx can now recognize Hand Gestures, including Raising Hand

WebEx can now recognize hand gestures.

  • When a student raises their real hand on video, WebEx notes this as a raised hand in the Participants List
  • When a student gives a thumbs-up, thumbs-down, or claps, the corresponding emoji is displayed

Each participant needs to enable this in their own WebEx window and have their video turned on. Some devices may not currently support this feature.

Example of thumbs-up
Toggle to enable “recognize hand gestures” (left); example thumbs-up recognized (right)

As this feature becomes more common, it will provide a more efficient way for students to note that they have a question or comment to add. On top of that, the emojis are just plain fun and we could always use more fun!

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