Last updated: 4 May 2020
Guidance for Online Quality Meetings
This guidance is designed to give organisers and members involved in Quality meetings some hints and tips on running and participating in online meetings. It applies to meetings such as School Scrutiny events, School Quality Committees, University approval events and Institution-led Reviews (ILRs).
The Head of Quality & Enhancement has already been in touch with Heads of Schools and Heads of Learning and Teaching to ascertain which approval and Institution-led Review (ILR) events are essential, taking into account School and staff priorities. Please discuss with your School Academic Lead for Quality and Quality & Standards Team point of contact before making plans for events.
Preparation and attendance
- Participation requirements remain the same, although we appreciate it may be challenging to secure external and student panel members at this time. If you are having difficulty with this, please get in touch with your Quality & Standards Team point of contact for advice (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Check with professional bodies if diverging from normal practice - some professional bodies may not be able to offer flexibility in terms of their requirements.
- Check that all participants have access to the chosen technology (WebEx is the University supported application – for guidance visit the IS Learning Technology Hub).
- Check if a presentation is to be shared. If so, try to share this with participants in advance of the meeting. If to be shared during the meeting, test it out before the meeting (file size can be an issue).
- Test the technology in advance and consider asking someone from IS to be on standby in case there are technical issues on the day.
- Virtual meetings should not be designed to mirror face to face meetings.
- Consider the timing, for instance could the meeting be shorter than usual?
- Keep the same meeting running for the event’s duration, allowing participants to come and go, but allow transition time for this.
- Build in regular breaks to maintain concentration.
- Liaise with the Convenor and Quality & Standards Manager to draft the agenda, and seek confirmation from participants that it works for them.
- Consider what work can be completed pre-meeting, for instance ask participants to send comments on modules or programmes before the meeting for consideration by the Convenor. This means the meeting can concentrate on the deal breakers. Think about whether documentation needs to be issued earlier than usual to allow for this.
- The Convenor may wish to prepare a rough agenda for each meeting based on panel comments received in advance. These can then be confirmed by the panel at the intitial panel meeting.
- Ensure questions are agreed in advance and assigned to all panel members on a rotating basis, so that everyone remains an active participant.
- Sharing screens is not usually necessary, but if this is requested and to allow members of the meeting to see the document which is being discussed, share the application with the relevant document rather than your whole desktop.
- Keep to time.
Meeting etiquette - tips for the Convenor
Once everyone is present, the Convenor should welcome everyone in the usual way, check audio and establish meeting etiquette. The following is a list of hints and tips for Convenors to keep things running smoothly:
- Ask participants to mute microphones when not speaking and clarify how group responses will be dealt with (remind participants about the chat and hand-raising functions in WebEx – these are preferable to all turning audio on at once).
- Ask participants to turn off videos - while it is nice to see everyone, it puts pressure on broadband width and can disrupt the meeting.
- Clarify what action will be taken if a participant’s connection or audio is lost. Will the meeting continue without them? If so, will the Convenor recap when they re-join?
- Agree how you will use the chat and hand-raising functions – some participants may prefer the chat function to speaking, and it may be needed if there are technical problems, or if participants wish to raise a point without interrupting. If it is possible to do so, have the meeting organiser attend to keep an eye on these functions during the meeting.
- Advise participants if the meeting is going to be recorded and check everyone is happy with this.
- Colleagues may come and go during the event to participate in scheduled meetings. Allow 5–10 minutes transition time for this, and consider using the WebEx 'move to lobby' feature.
- Welcome colleagues as they join the meeting, and thank them as they leave.
- Pause periodically to ask if participants wish to comment or ask questions.
- Summarise the topics covered in each meeting.
- If meeting with a programme team, consider asking one member of the programme team to field the panel’s questions, i.e. the Programme Leader would respond first, “I think Sarah is best placed to answer that in the first instance, but then perhaps John might want to provide an example based on that assessment you co-created with your students”.
- Student participation may be challenging for a number of reasons, and you may need to ask students to keep microphones open to make it easier for them to contribute.
- Be flexible – meetings may be interrupted and may need to be postponed.
- Ensure regular breaks are taken and stick to timings.
- Agree how follow-up will be managed, e.g. points clarified and approved by correspondence or Convenor’s action.
Sources of information and support