How to deal with disruption in your online sessions

Disruption from participant microphones

If a participant is being disruptive from their microphone. The best way to deal with the situation is to try and identify who it is and use the participant options to mute them. If you are not able to tell who it is, the next best thing is to mute everyone until you can work it out. Look for the microphone icons next to participant names to see which ones are active.

If the participant does not respond to your requests to stop, then you may want to remove them from the session. If it is difficult to get back control, that is when you might want to consider removing the permissions for participants to use their microphones, at least until you can regain control of the situation.

Microsoft Teams

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Microsoft Teams has a number of options to help you manage participants and their microphones. 

  • Look for the open microphone icon and mute or remove the participant
  • You can mute all participants at once if you need to
  • You can change the participant permissions to stop them from unmuting their microphones entirely

Blackboard Collaborate Ultra

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Blackboard Collaborate has a number of features that let you control the audio of your participants within a session.

  • Look for open microphones in the attendee panel and use the options to mute or remove the attendee from the session
  • Use the attendee options to mute all participants if you need to
  • In the session settings, you can untick the box in participant permissions for them to share audio

Disruption from a webcam

Most webinar platforms do not have the option to disable individual webcams and it is typically an on-or-off setting for your participants.

The first actions you should take if disruption occurs, would be to ask a participant to turn off their webcam, or remove them from the session if appropriate. 

Make use of any settings that let you disable attendee webcams if you need to.

Microsoft Teams

Teams image of the settings where at the bottom you can find a setting to disable all incoming video

When you are in a Teams meeting, you can use the dotted line sessions settings to open up a menu, at the bottom of which is a setting called “Turn off incoming video” this will disable participant webcams until you enable it again.

Blackboard Collaborate

Collaborate session settings option to disable participants from Sharing Video

Blackboard Collaborate has an option in the Settings tab that lets you disable participants from sharing video, this can be applied in advance of a session when setting up or at any time during a session.

Disruption from shared content

This form of disruption is perhaps the most difficult for attendees to do as most platforms have a number of settings that let you restrict permissions, letting you control who can share content – usually to a designated presenter role that you must promote attendees to.

It will take the form of attendees taking control of your slides and moving them around, or they may start sharing their own files or screens if you’ve not applied settings to stop them. 

If an attendee shares their screen, you have no control over what they might display in your session, so knowing how to prevent this from happening or shutting it down if it does is important.

Teams Meetings

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If an attendee starts sharing content take similar actions as you would with other disruption:

  • Ask them to stop or remove them from the session if appropriate
  • If they take control of your slides you can use a button to take back control
  • If they are sharing something offensive, you may have to remove them from the session or start sharing something else yourself to stop it displaying
  • Restrict the permissions of attendees in the Meeting Options so that they cannot share content or demote them to an attendee role if they had a presenter role

Blackboard Collaborate

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For Blackboard Collaborate, attendees cannot share content unless they are made a presenter first, this makes it less likely that you’d encounter this kind of disruption.

If it does occur:

  • Press the Stop Sharing button immediately (top right corner of content screen or in the Share Content tab, file sharing only)
  • Demote (stop their sharing) or remove the responsible attendee

Disruption in the session chat

When this occurs, it can be one of the more difficult types of disruption to counteract. Similar steps should be taken as with other types of disruption. Ask the attendee to stop or remove them from the session if you need to. 

Make use of profanity filters if your tool has them (Collaborate only), and disable the chat temporarily (Collaborate only) if you are able to in order to stop the disruption. 

Clearing offensive text in the chat is not always easy, as most tools do not let you remove chat messages, instead you may just need to type in short lines of text repeatedly so that it is moved off-screen as quickly as possible.

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