the NMB Online Video-conferencing Center
… as of 6-1-10
If you have opened this guide directly from the NMB website, skip this foreword and go to the Table of Contents below. Other users, please note: this document should be used when opened in Microsoft Word and on a desktop or laptop with an active Internet connection in order to use the links provided. Better yet, open this document directly in the Internet browser by right-clicking on the document name, selecting “Open With” and then clicking on “Internet Explorer”.
Table of Contents (TOC)
Note: Each item in this TOC is hyperlinked, so you can easily jump to whatever section you wish. To return to the TOC from elsewhere in this document, use CTRL+HOME on your keyboard.
The NMB Online Video-conferencing Center simulates physical meetings by providing a “virtual” conference room which resides only on the monitors of the participants’ desktops or laptops connected via the Internet. Individuals can participate in online meetings from wherever they happen to be and use whatever computer they wish, as long as they are invited to the meeting and their computers have high-speed Internet connections (land-line preferred).
The NMB Online Video-conferencing Center (i.e., Center) is based on an online service developed by WebEx, a commercial company that provides a broad range of online products and services. The NMB Online Video-conferencing Center is an Internet-based document development and sharing system that incorporates live video for virtual face-to-face meetings. It can be used in numerous venues such as negotiations, arbitration, grievance mediation, and business meetings. The NMB Office of Alternative Dispute Resolution Services (ADRS) administers the Online Center for the National Mediation Board.
One of the objectives of the NMB is to help NMB-paid Arbitrators to use Online Arbitration as a way to turn travel days into decision-making days, providing better carrier and union service.
The quickest way to get started is simply to call 202-692-5048. If you are a practitioner of Labor Relations in the U.S. Airline and Railroad Industries subject to the Railway Labor Act (RLA) or other Targeted User (see Section-4 below), give us a call to schedule an online conference or training session using the NMB Online Video-conferencing Center (see “NMB Contacts” below).
> For Online Arbitration
The parties and Arbitrator should first discuss their desire to use this service with each other. The Arbitrator can then contact either the NMB Arbitration Services Department (primarily Carol Conrad) or the NMB ADR Services Department (primarily Donald West). See “NMB Contacts” below.
Arbitrators please note: only the Arbitration Services Department can authorize NMB-paid work days associated with Online Arbitration.
> For other uses
Any other Targeted User should contact the NMB ADR Services Department; see “NMB Contacts” below.
Donald West, Video-conferencing Administrator (202 692-5048)
Daniel Rainey, Director of ADR Services (202 692-5051)
Roland Watkins, Director of Arbitration Services (202-692-5055)
Carol Conrad, Supervisor – Arbitration Services (202-692-5055)
The NMB makes the Center available to Arbitrators and other practitioners of the Railway Labor Act, internal NMB departments, other government agencies, and NMB-associated entities as a way to spread familiarity with online video-conferencing and promote the parties’ use of this new, cost-effective technology to address disputes and conduct business.
Here are some basic terms you will encounter when using the NMB Online Video-conferencing Center:
> NMB/System Host
An NMB staff member who schedules and starts an online meeting.
> Session Host
A participant in a meeting to who full system control is optionally passed after a meeting begins.
A person who gets permission from the Host to present or control documents, applications, the white board (flip chart), etc.
A person in a meeting who is neither the Host nor a Presenter.
All of the above.
The NMB Center Administrator oversees the NMB contract with WebEx; assigns System Hosts as designated by the ADRS Director; manages System Host access and establishes system parameters; oversees technical aspects of the service; and provides online training to the Targeted Users.
An NMB System Host will coordinate with the Arbitrator and Parties or other Targeted Users for the purpose of providing pre-conference, online Orientation and Training. The System Host will also set up the actual Online Arbitration session or Online Conference and so notify all designated participants of meeting times, passwords and access information.
At the option of the participants, the NMB System Host will make one of the participants a Session Host and log out of any Online Session, so the participants can conduct their business confidentially.
The NMB has seven (7) System Hosts: two in the Arbitration Department and five in the ADRS Department. Therefore, almost any date/time for an online meeting can be accommodated. The maximum number of participants in any one online conference is fourteen (14) plus the System Host. To get started, see the “Quick Start” section above.
> Type of Computer
Almost any desktop or laptop computer will do, be it a PC or MAC. Beware however, that the look and functionality of the NMB Online Video-conferencing Center varies somewhat between PCs and MACs. PCs are preferred, mainly because the NMB has had very little experience with MAC users of the Center.
Computers over five years old, however, may be problematic due to slow processing speed and clutter desktops or laptops tend to accumulate over time. Even newer computers can suffer from the “junk attic” syndrome. The most common “junk organizer” comes with computers running a Microsoft operating system; it’s called Defragmenter and tunes up your computer by reorganizing the hard drive/s, making a PC more efficient and usually faster. You should run the Defragmenter periodically, especially before joining an online session.
Similarly, your Internet Browser (i.e., Microsoft’s Internet Explorer) collects junk. You should dump the temporary files, history and cookies periodically: frequently if you are a heavy user of the Internet. You should check to see that your “junk room” is sufficiently large enough to hold the junk you are likely to collect until you get around to dumping it; you should allow a sufficient amount of hard disk space to accommodate temporary files: a minimum of 250 megabytes.
Note: If you use a company or union computer, you may want to consult with your IT Department and otherwise follow established policy regarding the above suggestions.
A webcam is a small camera which, when connected to a PC or MAC, can capture and transmit video or images across the Internet. Although a webcam is not required for an Orientation/training session or even for an actual Online Meeting, each Participant who logs in directly may want to get one to experience the full benefit of Online Conferencing. Participants may buy a webcam at a computer store for $50-$60 or borrow one from the NMB. To borrow a Logitech webcam from the NMB, just email Don West (www.nmb.gov) the address and phone number to which to send a webcam. Webcams loaned out to participants can be retained by recipients as long as needed or until otherwise needed by the NMB.
> Internet Connection
The speed and quality of your Internet connection is very important. As in physical meetings, pace tends to accommodate the slowest factors. Therefore, dial-up connections to the Internet are not recommended, because they are very slow. Also, Wireless reception may be inherently finicky, and if on a public network, susceptible to poor performance as the number of computers using it increase. It can be used in low-risk situations such as practice sessions.
You will not need to buy or install any WebEx or NMB software. You will need to activate ActiveX or Java on your PC if you have not already done so. The login process will prompt you to do so, if necessary.
> Session Audio
The service provider (WebEx) provides Voice-over-the Internet (VOIP); however, given the capacity requirements and complexity of meshing various types of user audio equipment, the NMB does not use VOIP. For audio, depending upon the nature of an Online Conference, a phone conference may be initiated directly between the parties or via the NMB. This is a matter for discussion with the NMB System Host.
When an NMB System Host sets up a requested Online Conference or Arbitration Session, that Host will notify all Participants and provide access instructions. The login page will be similar to the following image; you will be instructed to click on “Join Now”, not on the name of your conference. If you make a mistake, just click on the “Back Button” of your Internet Browser.
When you successfully access your Online Conference, the main page of the NMB Online Video-conferencing Center will be similar to the following image. If more than one participant logs in with a webcam, you will see up to 4 video windows simultaneously.
The NMB Online Video-conferencing Center allows participants to share applications (programs) as well as documents.
> Live Video
WebEx currently allows up to 4 live Videos to be shown simultaneously. Where more than 4 participants are connected to a session with webcams, users can choose which three (3) participants to display in addition to the active Presenter.
> Document Sharing
This feature allows a Presenter to display a document, such as Word or PowerPoint, in the WebEx Content Window for “show and tell” only. If you want to create or modify a document, you must use “Application Sharing” described below. As for Document Sharing, annotation tools are provided so users can point to or highlight certain items in a shared document. Any Participant can print whatever is displayed in the Content Window.
> Application Sharing
Application Sharing is distinctly different from Document Sharing in that documents are displayed or created using an actual application from a Presenter’s computer such as Word, Excel, etc. Using Application Sharing, participants can share in the creation or modification of documents, which the Presenter can Save and Transfer to all session participants. Alternatively, the Presenter can choose to email saved documents to session participants. Participants other than the Presenter can only print Transferred or Emailed documents on their end, since printing from a shared application will only print to the Presenter’s computer.
> Website Sharing
It is possible for a Presenter to open a Web Browser and surf the Internet for all participants to see. This is especially useful in demonstrating new websites or opening web documents for discussion.
> White Board
A White Board is simply a blank document displayed in the Content Window. A White Board can be used like a Flip Chart to make notes and illustrations, since multiple white boards (pages, if you will) can be created on the fly.
Depending upon the Ground Rules established by the participants, the Chat function can be turned on or off by the Host. Arbitrators, for example, generally prefer not to allow side conversations and thus choose to turn off the Chat function.
When online sessions are used for training or a similar venue, the Polling feature allows a Presenter to open a prepared poll or to create one on the fly. The system graphs, charts and displays poll results.
The NMB offers free hands-on, online Training Sessions for the NMB Video-conferencing Center to practitioners under the Railway Labor Act and other Targeted Users (see section 4) as a way to spread familiarity with video-conferencing and encourage RLA practitioners to embrace this new technology, effective especially when compared to the time and cost of travel.
The technology behind the NMB Online Video Conferencing Center is a service provided by WebEx. WebEx University, WebEx’s online training service, provides many online demonstrations, tutorials, live sessions, and self-paced training modules. However, many of the training tools offered by WebEx are not particularly germane to the users of the NMB Online Video Conferencing Center and may therefore be a source of confusion. Therefore, the NMB has selected certain WebEx “How To” Training Modules as being most pertinent to NMB users.
To access each training module listed below, Click or CTRL+Click on the Module Name and then click the Start Button. These are verbal presentations, so be sure the speakers on your computer are enabled. Also be sure to complete and exit from each tutorial before starting another to avoid the confusion of two modules running at the same time.
At the end of each training module, you can choose to access other “WebEx University” training aids. It is suggested you skip them at this time. Below you will find a link to WebEx University for use at a later time, if you wish. To exit a module, press the Back button if using the online version of this guide; otherwise hit the X in top-right corner.
Note: If the following links do not work for you, you may copy this url into your browser and click on “Display Presentations and Applications (Share)”:
Chat and Polling are features more appropriate to Seminars than Online Arbitration or Online Conferencing:
The links above, together with training offered by NMB, should satisfy your training needs. Nevertheless, you can explore WebEx University if you wish; virtually everything is available without a special login. If you feel compelled to log in, you will need to register with WebEx on your own. Click, CTRL+Click or copy the following address to your browser to get started:
Here are some tips for using the NMB Online Video-conferencing Center:
WebEx provides several measures to ensure the confidentiality of Online Conferences:
The more of the optional measures used, the more difficult general access will be; therefore, users should only request a level of security relevant to their needs.
If you have any questions about this Intro Guide or the general use of the NMB Online Video-conferencing Center, email Don West (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call him at 202-692-5048.
To make it easy for Arbitrators to verify they have completed this Introduction and/or the Instructor-led training session, printout, complete and submit the Training Verification Form. Click here.