Videoconferencing Lectures: A Guide to the Room Equipment - About the Interfaces



General Information

Each lecture will be monitored from a control room in Discovery Commons, and also from a control room in Mississauga and these technicians will be on top of any issue that arises.


The videoconference will likely already be live when you come into the room, meaning you’ll see and hear students in the room at the far site (on the screens), and they’ll be able to see and hear you on the screens in their room.

For the first while, there will be a technician in the lecture room at the beginning of the lecture to assist you.

About The Podium

0_indexThe interface (the Crestron touch screen) on the lectern is now different from all the others on campus.

Your presentation for any Faculty of Medicine lecture will already be loaded, displayed and ready to go.

You won’t be signing in; technicians will have done that already.

About the Lecturer Mics

You’ll have the choice of using a wireless lapel mic, which allows you walk around as you lecture, and the fixed podium mic (this will already be on).

If you’re using the wireless mic, position it on your clothing about 4” below your chin and turn it on, or a tech will help if necessary.

About Getting Help

If you need assisstance, speak into one of the microphones and address the technician, or use the podium Help intercom.

  • When in a Faculty of Medicine videoconferenced lecture, the Help intercom connects to the videoconference control room at your site.
  • When not in a Faculty of Medicine videoconferenced lecture, the Help intercom connects to general AV classroom support, which manages the AV in all of the campus classrooms.
  • If you are not receiving a response using either of these methods, call the UME videoconference hotline at 416 978-0007.




About the SMART Podium

The SMART Podium is the main interface for you. It allows interaction with the PC, including your Powerpoint (advance, etc).alt

  • Very intuitive to use.
  • You can use a mouse or use the pen.
  • You can access the internet from here and display anything that’s on the PC.
  • Allows annotation.

Using the actual blackboard is discouraged during a videoconference because the cameras won’t successfully display the blackboard to the other site, so this is the substitute. You can annotate your Powerpoints, websites, images, or draw or write on blank screens. The pen is held in a clip at the back of the unit, near the top. To use the pen, reach over the unit and unclip it; use it to tap one of the colours on the on-screen menu and write on the screen.

About the Crestron Screen

This is the main interface to control the equipment in the room, such as DVD and document camera inputs, and is situated in the podium.

  • The interface is similar to the standard interface of the other rooms on campus, but now controls several other pieces of equipment, including the videoconference connection.
  • It’s a touch panel.
  • Everything on the Crestron screen is replicated at both control rooms and will be controlled from there during a videoconferenced lecture.
  • You may see that there is some activity on this interface that you are not controlling; do not respond to pop-up boxes that appear—technicians will do this from the control room.

You likely will never need to use this interface if you don’t want to.




About the Lecturer Cameras

There are two cameras facing you at the podium.


Videoconference Camera 

  • There are pressure sensitive mats that you’ll be standing on when you lecture from behind the podium.
  • When you are on the mats, the camera on you will be framed in a medium shot—the shot includes you and some of the podium, and allows you some space to move around.
  • When you step off of the mats, the camera switches to a wide shot.

Avoid straddling the mat and the floor, or standing on the edge of the mat; the switcher displays black for a few seconds between shots and there may be no image or a disconcerting flicker if you are not standing solidly on the mat.

Similarly, becasue the switch takes a few seconds to occur, avoid stepping on and off the mat repeatedly. Make a commitment to be on the mat for a while, then to be off of it to walk around if you want, but don't walk across the mat.

About the Student Cameras

There are three cameras facing the students in each room.

  • One will be showing a wide shot, and this is the default that will be seen most of the time.
  • When a student’s mic goes live, the camera will go to a preset shot that includes that student and one or two of his/her immediate neighbours.
  • When student mics are queued, while one camera is on the student who is speaking, the second camera is busy moving to the preset of the next student in the queue.



About the Displays (Projector Screens)

The screens behind you will display the following:

Lecture Room
  • Content (such as Powerpoint or document camera) will always be in the centre.
  • At both sites, the far site will always be displayed on the right.
  • The lecturer will always be displayed on the left.
  • When a student is asking a question (i.e., when their mic is live), that student will be shown in a close shot on the right monitor at the far site.
  • At their own site they will see the wide shot of the far site room with a small PIP (picture-in picture) of themselves. (This is because it’s somewhat intimidating to see a large close shot of one’s self.)

About the Confidence Monitors

There are three monitors in a cabinet on the floor in front of you.

Confidence Monitors
  • These mimic the screens behind you, and are there so that you can see students at the far site, can view yourself, and can view your powerpoint or other content as students see it.




 Student Microphones

Installed on the student desks, there is one mic for every two students.mic1

  • Students learn how to use these during orientation week.
  • You’ll be able to hear students at both sites through their microphones.
  • It’s important for students at both sites to use the mics at all times when they’re communicating with you, even if you’re able to hear them locally without their mic, in order that students at the far site can hear them.

There are different modes for the microphones:

  • Request to Speak: a student presses their mic button, but it has to be accepted by the presenter before the mic goes live.
  • Automatic: one automatically live student mic with a queue. If a student presses their mic button, the mic goes live immediately; the next person who presses their mic button goes into the queue until the first person finishes.
  • Manual: the mic queue is disabled; the presenter selects mics to go live. This is done through the Crestron interface.
  • Student Directed: a set number of mics can be open at the same time (usually the max is 6); the first 6 people to push their mic buttons have their mics go live; others will be placed in the queue. As students turn off their mics, the next-in-queue mic will go live.

The default mode for first-year lectures is Request to Speak; let us know in advance if you want another setting for your lecture.

Let students know how you’ll handle questions—you shouldn’t start a queue of questions if you have no intention of answering any until the end or at all.

Student Mic Operation

The student microphones have a lighted blue ring around their buttons; the light indicator displays as follows:

light solid on

mic is on

light solid off

mic is off

quick flashing light

mic is next in queue

slow flashing light

mic is in the queue

double flash

mic queue is full (the maximum number of requests in the queue is 12)

Student Mic Indicators

Students will be given instructions on operating the mics during orientation week.

Students operate the mics as follows:

button press

request placement in queue

button hold

remove the mic from queue or turn mic off

Student Mic Operation


Managing the Mic queue:

There are several ways of managing the mic queue, depending on which mode is active.queue copy

If a student at either site presses their mic button, you will have four indicators:

    1. a red light goes on above the confidence monitors, within the cabinet.
    2. the Take Next button on the podium lights up.
    3. you’ll see the queue begin on the Crestron interface; students at both sites will appear in the queue.
    4. on the student mic map on the Crestron interface, you’ll see the mic image flash a different colour.

    To accept a student’s request to speak (that is, to turn on their mic), do any of the following:

    • press the physical Take Next button on the podium.
    • press the Take Next button on the Crestron interface.
    • touch their mic name in the queue on Crestron interface (the top of the list is the beginning of the queue, but you can choose any of the mic names).
    • touch their mic image on the mic map on the Crestron interface.
      • to select a student in the other room using the mic map, and switch room views by selecting either room at the bottom of the Crestron mic map.

        take next button on



    There are three lighting modes that can be used for videoconferenced lectures: Video Conference, Presentation, and Low-lite Theater. These are controlled from the Crestron touch screen interface either at the podium or the control room.

    For the most part, lighting will be controlled by technicians in the control room.Videoconferencing requires a higher light level than would normally be set in a lecture room. The lights can be lowered during the showing of a video (Low-lite Theater) or during the presentation, IF there is no interaction with students.

    A good way of getting students' attention at the beginning of the lecture is to press Low-lite theater; this will bring the lights down in both rooms. Press Video Conference to raise the lights again. Students know that this signals the begining of the lecture.



    About the Failover Plans

    There are two networks for UME videoconferencing; if one fails, it automatically defaults to the second and the videoconference continues as usual. There may be a degradation in quality because the back-up network is shared rather than dedicated, like the first.

    If the second network fails, we go to an audio-only feed, so that students at the far site will still hear you, but they won’t be able to see you, and your presentation will be advanced manually at the far site. In the case of this audio-only failover, you won’t be able to hear students at the far site, and students at the far site won’t be able to hear students at the local site (but everyone will be able to hear you).