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Designing Hybrid Workshops

This guide is meant to provide resources and best tips for those planning and designing hybrid workshops and sessions. It covers best practice for pre-workshop planning and design, day of presentation tips, and post-workshop considerations.

This page covers how you should begin planning a hybrid workshop session, what to look for when choosing a physical space for your workshop, and how to design appropriate presentation materials. 

Choosing a Location

The first step to designing a hybrid workshop is choosing the right space. Trying to find a space that can accommodate both online and in-person participants can be difficult, but is important for ensuring both groups feel fully included in the workshop. The ideal room for a hybrid workshop will have the following equipment: 

  • Camera(s). The workshop presenter should be on-camera throughout the workshop. 
     
  • Dom Fou. “people sitting on chair in front of computer”. Unsplash. Microphone(s). While you should have at least one microphone for the presenter to use, you may also want to consider getting more microphones if you plan on having lots of participant participation or a Q&A session. Make sure to schedule time to test microphones before the event and make sure the audio is clear for virtual attendees. 
     
  • Speaker(s). If you would like virtual attendees to speak during the workshop, make sure the room has a good audio setup. In-person participants should be able to hear virtual attendees clearly. 
     
  • Physically accessible. This is an important need for all workshops with in-person attendees. Accessibility.com has a useful article on best practices for creating an accessible meeting space that you can reference while selecting and setting up the space for your workshop. At this stage, make sure the room you select is wheelchair accessible, near an elevator if it is not on the first floor of the building, and on a floor with an accessible bathroom. 
     
  • Large TV display(s). In-person attendees should be able to easily see virtual attendees on a display in the room. This can also help make workshop slides and digital activities more accessible to in-person attendees. 

While a room might not have all of this equipment available, you may also be able to supplement some of these room needs by borrowing loanable equipment. UIUC's Scholarly Commons provides loanable equipment to the UIUC community, and additionally offers consultations for media best-practices and technology. If you are unable to find a space that meets your workshop's needs, consider reaching out to them for additional support. 

Organizing the Zoom Meeting

After finding a space for the workshop, you can begin setting up the virtual meeting for the event. When setting up the meeting, there are several settings you should consider ahead of time to make sure the day-of event runs smoothly. These include: 

  1. Turning on any captioning settings. Automatic captioning has grown in popularity for virtual workshops and meetings, and having them set up before your workshop can make it easier for virtual attendees to contribute to the event. Additionally, if you plan to record the workshop and share the recording, having pre-generated captions for the recording can make caption editing a smoother, easier process. 
     
  2. Assigning alternate hosts and co-hosts. If you plan to have other presenters in the event or a person moderating the chat, make sure to grant them host privileges ahead of time. 
     
  3. Turn off participant microphones and cameras in the settings. Virtual participants may join the meeting at any time, including several minutes after the event starts. Muting their microphones and cameras before the event even starts helps make sure this transition is smooth and not disruptive for both online and in-person participants. 
     
  4. If you plan to record the event, learn how to upload the recording to Mediaspace. UIUC uses the program Mediaspace to host and share video-based content, and it is accessible to all individuals with a UIUC netID and password. Mediaspace also has a variety of basic editing features to help you edit, caption, and share links to the recording after the event. You should familiarize yourself with Mediaspace and the process of uploading recordings before your workshop. This can take different forms depending on what video sharing software you use. 
  • Uploading a Zoom recording to Mediaspace. Mediaspace is designed to support Zoom meetings and recordings by automatically uploading Zoom cloud recordings to Mediaspace. To use this feature, you need to select "Record to cloud" when you begin the Zoom recording. This recording will automatically upload to Mediaspace once you end the recording and leave the Zoom meeting. Please note that the recording will upload to the account of the meeting's host, even if they were not the person who started the recording. 
     
  • Uploading other video formats to Mediaspace. You can also upload other media formats to Mediaspace using its manual upload feature. While this is helpful for uploading non-Zoom recordings, it's also useful if you need to edit a recording in any way before adding it to Mediaspace. 

Setting Up Registration

Depending on the size of your event and your target audience, you may need to set up registration for your event. While registration can take some time to set up, it allows you to easily contact potential attendees about sudden changes to your event, plan for specific numbers of attendees, and more. This is especially helpful for monitoring online attendance and preventing "Zoombombing", or an unwanted disruption to an online event. By requiring registration, you can control who receives an invitation to the online space, as well as more easily identify and remove disruptive attendees. 

Event registration does not have to be complicated. Some software like LibCal and Zoom include options to set up registration forms before they send event information to attendees. You can also create a registration form using tools like Google Forms, then send links to those who fill it out. If you design your own registration form, make sure it requires participants to fill out: 

  • First and last name 
  • How they intend to join the event (in-person or virtually) 
  • Email address
  • University affiliation 

Designing Accessible Content

With your participants being in two separate locations, it's especially important to make sure your presentation materials are accessible so both groups can get the most out of your workshop. When you begin designing your workshop materials, make sure to follow the standards listed below: 

  • Use UIUC's Webtools to create easily readable URLs and QR codes. One of Webtool's features allows you to create short URLs that can redirect to other resources using long, difficult to copy links. The Short URL feature will also generate a QR Code for the link in question. This feature is especially useful to quickly and easily share presentation materials with participants. 
     
  • Design text to be easily readable. This is essential. You want to make sure that all attendees can read event materials and follow along. There are several different considerations you should keep in mind while making choices about your text, including: 
     
    • Make sure your font is easily readable. Not all fonts are created equal - different fonts can be easier or harder to read, especially for those with dyslexia and other reading disabilities. Learn more about what fonts are most accessible.
       
    • Use a large text size when designing materials. If you are designing slides, do not include a lot of text on each slide. This helps slides be more legible and easy to understand for all participants. Keep in mind that materials you show on-screen during your workshop will appear much smaller to those attending virtually, and that participants in-person can also struggle to read small, crowded text on the displays you use. 
       
    • When choosing a color for your text, choose a color that heavily contrasts with the background. This is discussed in more detail in our next bullet about using color-blindness checkers. 
       
  • If you are creating materials in color, use a color-blindness checker to make sure your materials are easily legible and not confusing or overwhelming. While this is especially helpful for participants with colorblindness, it helps all participants easily read materials and follow along with your presentation. Several different colorblindness checkers are included below. 
     
    • WebAIM Contrast Checker allows you to choose two different colors and rates how well the two colors contrast with one another. This site is especially useful for testing if a specific color of text is easily legible against different background colors. 
       
    • Coblis Color Blindness Simulator uses filters to show how images appear to those with different kinds of color blindness. It also allows you to upload an image of your choice into the simulator. This is a useful source if you would like to check if your presentation's slides are easily legible. 
       
  • If you are including images in your presentation materials, write alt-text for each image. Alt-text is a text description of an image, and helps users with visual impairments understand the image and its relationship to other content. If an image is unable to load, it will also display attached alt-text so users can still access the image's key content. Some guides for writing alt-text are linked below.