Best Practices for Teaching with Webex

Best Practices for Teaching with Webex

Table of Contents

Webex makes it easy to collaborate with others. Webex is Iowa State University’s cloud-based collaboration system provided by Cisco Systems that provides a way for people to work together in different buildings, in another city, or across the world.

You can even record your Webex sessions so students can view them at a later date. This virtual meeting solution is available to all faculty, staff, and students at Iowa State University.

Following this step-by-step guide will walk you through the numerous steps along the path of hosting, recording, and sharing lectures using Webex.

Preparing and Troubleshooting

Download the Cisco Webex Desktop App

Before you can begin hosting, recording, and sharing Webex sessions, we recommend that you download the Cisco Webex Desktop App for the best video conference experience, unlocking valuable meeting features including screen share and whiteboard, otherwise unavailable using the web browser option.

Open the Cisco Webex Desktop App and log in using your Iowa State credentials: Net ID and Password.

Thwart technical issues

Check your audio and video settings to ensure that they are working properly. If possible, join the class a few minutes early to triage any technical issues. To test use the Join a Test Meeting in Webex guide.

Run a speed test!

Not sure if your Wi-Fi can handle the call? Use the health checker feature at the top right hand corner of your Webex Meetings app (Supported from Webex Meeting version 39.5 for Windows and 39.8 for Mac OS and later). You can also use any internet based speed test to better understand your connection speeds. Learn more at, Health Checker for your Cisco Webex Meetings page.

Choose audio over video

When your connection quality is low, your collaboration experience gets worse. Webex will suggest or automatically lower your resolution and may eventually turn off your video. You can also do this at any time. Learn more at

Switch to call in audio

If your internet audio and video experience or call me/call back does not work, you can keep collaborating. Call in using the dial-in numbers in your meeting invitation to join via your cell phone or landline. If the primary phone number that is provided is temporarily unavailable, the invite includes a long list of other global log-in numbers you can try. Learn more on the How Do I Find the Global Dial-In Number for My Meeting? page.

Make it Accessible

Record classes or meetings

  • a full transcript is available in the replay. 
  • students can re-watch in their own focused environment 
  • students can zoom in on material being shared in class, on their own device. They can pinch and zoom in on items that are too small. 

NOTE: If you saved your Webex recordings to the cloud, you will first need to navigate to “Recordings” saved in your Webex account (as seen in the previous video), and download recorded files you wish to share to your computer.

Closed Captioning and Transcripts 

Webex transcription services are turned on for all cloud recorded meetings.  There is no cost for transcription services in Webex.  It is normal for it to take about twice the duration of the meeting for the transcription to appear. 

In rare circumstances, it may take up to 24 hours for the transcription to appear due to the size of the meeting or due to temporary load on the transcription engine.

Download a Webex meeting transcript following a meeting guide.

Tips for Educators

  • Test Class If this is your first virtual class, then do a test class with a colleague. This will help you get acquainted with the meeting tool. Test out scenarios that includes sharing screen, muting the microphone, turning off and on the video and muting students.
  • Share content before a meeting. Sending files before a meeting or sharing a link to the file rather than sharing your screen saves valuable bandwidth – so you can save your connection for great audio and video experience
  • For the actual class itself, join the meeting 10 minutes early and ask your students to join early as well to iron out any audio or video issues before the beginning of class.
  • Effective role-taking 
    • If taking attendance is required for your class – call out names and have students feel comfortable talking through their microphone. This is more effective in a small class scenario.
    • Webex Meetings Attendance Grading: You can award participation points to students automatically when they attend a meeting or class using the Webex Education Connector, Read through the things to know and follow these steps Webex Meeting Attendance Grading.
  • Class engagement To ensure class engagement, structure your class into 15-20 min intervals spaced by activities that involve discussion with everyone. Additionally, ensure you content is a mix of one-way lecture as well as content sharing (using screen-share) which can bring variety to the class.
  • Improve engagement and have students type their questions into chat. Have the chat panel open and try and keep an eye if questions are coming in.
  • Having your video on during the lecture will help students feel comfortable about sharing theirs and help them be more engaged. See how video improves communication during any conference call.
  • Be flexible with requiring students to have their webcams active. Review the flexible policies on the Be Flexible page of the Equity and Inclusion in the Online Learning Environment resources.
  • Record classes so students can go back to it when in need.
  • Use mute. In case of ambient or background noise coming from one of the participants in the call – as a host you can mute that participant during class or even mute all if needed. Read through the Tips and Tricks for Using Audio guide.
  • Schedule student (office) hours online with students to ensure they are doing okay with the transition to online classes. This also presents an opportunity for students to provide their feedback.
  • If possible, end class 5 minutes early so students have the time to switch to their next class in time.

Tips for Students

  • Chat Use the chat option to interact with your peers as well as your educator. Check out how to get started with Webex Online Classes
  • Office hours Connect with your educators 1:1 during virtual student office hours for follow-up questions and clarifications.
  • Does your instructor have Webex attendance active in your course? To have your attendance in Webex recorded in the Gradebook, you must join the meeting using the Canvas Webex Education Connector (listed as Canvas on your course navigation menu). If you join Webex through a link outside of the Canvas, your attendance is not recorded.
  • Video on If necessary, share your video so your instructor and peers can see you. However, if you experience bandwidth issues, turn off your video so you don’t miss out on the class. Note: If you are uncomfortable sharing video, let your instructor know.

Steps to Teach/Host in Webex

Before the First Session/Meeting

  1. As this could be the first Webex session for both you and your students, you may want to schedule it to start 30mins early. This step will allow you to set up the sharing, webcam, and audio. Staging the course also allows the students to join in earlier. They can only join in once you have started the Webex session.
  2. Test the audio with a few early students and be assured you are all set.
  3. Choose a quiet place to conduct the session. Make sure you advise your participants to do this too! Check your equipment and test in advance Computer or notebook connected to a (preferably) wired internet connection Headsets (microphone and headphones) Webcam (optional).
  4. Silence your electronic devices and place them far away. Your mobile phone or other electronic devices might interrupt your session if they ring, beep or vibrate. If possible, switch them off during the session to prevent interference.
  5. Test audio levels: If you have time before your session, please ensure that your participants can hear you and vice-versa. Get students to click the green check-mark to indicate that they can hear you loud and clear. However, do not spend too much time doing this.

At the Beginning of Each Session

  1. Start the Webex session 10-15 minutes before class starts. Advise everyone to come in early, preferably 10 mins before the start time. Ask them to make use of this time to test their microphones, headsets, and webcams.
  2. Enable chat between participants – set it under Assign Privileges. This setting is useful if they encounter technical problems and cannot get your attention.
  3. Monitor the chat: If you have an assistant, your assistant can do this. Keep the chat window open so you can see any incoming messages. Request that participants mute their microphones when you start.
  4. Set clear expectations: Set how you would like to take student questions.
    1. Can they interrupt, or are there are Q&A segments midway or at the end of the session?
    2. How should they ask via chat?
  5. Check if everyone else can hear and see you. Pass the mic to your Teaching Assistant or a student and get them to say a few words. This test will allow you to check that your headsets work well, and you can hear them.
  6. Create a welcoming atmosphere: When an attendee joins a session, they will get panicky if they hear and see nothing. You will need to set up a warm, welcoming mood. Background music may be useful, or merely a 1st page of the slide with a picture or note that says, “Welcome” or “You have successfully joined” or “The session will start at 9:05 a.m.”

During the Session

  1. Should you or your students experience severe audio lag or quality issues, you may only switch to call-in or text chat. This change depends on your teaching requirements.
  2. Ask “yes/no” questions to help you gauge how the class is doing. Use it at various points to know the students are following you.
  3. Annotate and point: Use the annotation tools like pencil, pointer tool, or laser pointer to direct your students’ attention.
  4. Collaborate: Not every question needs to be answered by the speaker or lecturer only. Like in an in-person class, you might have a student who wants to jump in and contribute. Check if anyone would like to respond to a fellow student question.
  5. Arrange for a co-host/presenter: perhaps ask a student to do this. A co-host or presenter can handle participants’ text chat queries and simple technical issues that they may face. You will be engrossed in conducting the session, so you may not notice requests for assistance. Your co-host/presenter should attend training before the meeting to be familiar with Webex and to assist others. Assign this task on a rotating basis.
  6. If necessary, be prepared to move someone to the lobby or expel them from the meeting.

Follow Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA)

One-on-one communications between students and their instructors and/or advisers can be particularly challenging in a virtual environment.

Engaging meetings while social distancing

Now that you’re working from home and doing your part to practice social distancing, are your virtual meetings as productive and effective as they were in person? Can you conduct your business as usual by taking your meetings to the cloud! If you’ve been using Webex Meetings and want some tips and ideas on how to make the most from your meetings from start to finish, join us as we learn ways to: 

  • tips to introduce everyone and set a collaborative environment
  • make sure everyone in your meeting not only has a seat at the table but a voice as well
  • encourage brainstorming through the use of whiteboard techniques
  • gain a consensus quickly
  • closing and distribution of action items – providing a recording for anyone not present

Watch Webex’s Engaging Meetings while Social Distancing Video (27m 35s)

Set-up Webex in your Canvas course guide

Following this step-by-step guide will walk you through how-to connect Webex and Canvas.

Best Practices for Teaching with Webex, by the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) at Iowa State University is licensed under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0. This work, Best practices for teaching with Webex, is a derivative of Make online learning more effective with these best practices developed by Webex (retrieved on July 3, 2020) from