This article will explain scheduling hybrid interpreterQ sessions and using them in interpreterQ.
The interpreterQ Hybrid web application
The interpreterQ Hybrid web application is available at https://interpreterq.azurewebsites.net
The interpreterQ hybrid functionality can be used in 2 different ways:
- Firstly, remote students (or guest speakers) can access a hybrid session through the use of a 6-character session code, which you can generate on the spot.
- Secondly, the administrator of your organization can create accounts for all participants.
In that case the remote participants can access a dashboard in the web application by logging into their account. There they will see all sessions which you have scheduled for them, and they will be able to join a session as soon as you have started it in the local interpreterQ application.
The first part of this document covers the scenario where participant accounts have been created by the administrator of your organization, so that you can schedule hybrid interpreting sessions for your remote students up front.
While an administrator can schedule sessions for all members of his organization, you as a trainer will only be allowed to create and manage sessions for those groups to which you are assigned by the administrator.
After logging in to the web application the following options are available to you as trainer :
- Dashboard : an overview of all upcoming sessions for your groups
- Sessions : a screen to schedule future hybrid interpreting sessions
The profile menu, which is opened by clicking your name in the upper right corner, allows you to change your account settings, modify your password, or switch organization or role, in case you have been assigned multiple roles, possibly in multiple organizations.
In the Scheduled Sessions tab you can schedule hybrid interpreting sessions. Specify a name, date, start- and end-time, and the group for whom you schedule the session. You can only schedule sessions for a group you belong to, so if the group selection box is empty, please contact your administrator. It is the task of the administrator to create the necessary groups and assign participants to those groups. An interpreterQ session will always be scheduled for one particular group.
After creating a session, it is shown as “scheduled” in the sessions list, but it will not yet be visible in the dashboard of the remote participants. Click the “Publish” option to change the session status from “scheduled” to “published”. At that moment, the session will appear on the dashboards of all participants who are members of the specified group.
When you start a published session in the (local) interpreterQ application (as described later in this document), the session status will change to “in progress” in the web tool, and the session will move to the “ongoing sessions” section of the remote participant's dashboard, and the participants will be able to join the live session by clicking the “Join” button.
Once the session end time has passed, the session will be shown as “ended”, and it will no longer be displayed in the remote participant dashboards. It is possible at all times to reschedule an ended session if necessary. No problem if an ongoing session reaches its scheduled end time: it will not be interrupted, you can continue using the remote session without rescheduling.
The dashboard is the screen which all remote participants will be able to access after login. They will see a list of all sessions being scheduled for a group they belong to. As a trainer, you can also access this dashboard. However, in a hybrid solution, you have to be present in the classroom to start a session from within the interpreterQ application, you will not access this dashboard during class.
The dashboard gives you the possibility to reschedule, unpublish or remove scheduled sessions*. The dashboard may be the fastest way for you to access a session which is about to start and that you want to reschedule.
*functionality which is also available in the scheduled sessions tab by the way.
Once the start time of a session has passed, this will be indicated to the remote participants with a remark that the session is about to start – however, participants will not yet be able to join the session until you have started it in interpreterQ :
Only when you have started the session in interpreterQ (see next section), the session will move to the “ongoing sessions” section in the dashboard of the remote participants, and a “Join” button will allow them to join the session:
Starting a session in interpreterQ
A remote session can be started in interpreterQ through the context menu in the upper right corner of the main screen :
There are 3 possible workflows to start a remote interpreting session.
- Create an « ad hoc » session for anyone to join (based on access code)
- Start an « ad hoc » session for which the access code has been created and distributed earlier
- Start a session which was scheduled upfront for a group of participants
Be aware that even with sessions which were scheduled upfront for a certain group it is possible to invite additional participants (e.g., a remote speaker) who are not known to the system and therefore don’t belong to any group. More details about this are in the section about scheduled sessions.
1. Create an « ad hoc » session
If you don’t want to go through the administration of managing participant accounts and groups, and scheduling sessions for those groups up front, you can start an “ad hoc” remote session which doesn’t require any administration. To do so, follow these steps:
- Choose the first option in the screenshot above, give the session a name and click OK.
- A 6-character access code (or “session ID”) will be generated and displayed above the trainer webcam preview in the lower right corner of the main screen :
- Distribute this code to the remote students who are allowed to join the interpreting session. They will be able to log in to the interpreterQ web application and join the session using this code.
A “speaker ID” is being generated when starting a session. It is shown next to the session ID. Give this specific access code to a remote speaker, who will give a live speech for the interpreter students to work on. When the remote speaker logs in to the interpreterQ web application using this code, the user interface will be adapted to show the required functionality for a speaker. For that reason, give this speaker ID only to the remote speaker, and the regular session ID to the remote students.
2. Start an « ad hoc » session
As described in the previous topic, an access code is generated when starting a new “ad hoc” session, and remote students can use this code to join the remote session. In order to speed up the start of a session, you might prefer to hand over the necessary access code to the remote students in advance. To do so, simply follow the steps of topic 4.1 prior to the actual interpreting session (for instance a few days in advance), write down the two access codes, and stop the session again. You can now distribute the access code through email for instance.
When the actual session takes place, you can select the second option and provide the access code generated earlier. This way the remote students can immediately join the session with the code they already have received well in advance.
3. Start a session which was scheduled up front
This is the option you can use to launch a session which was scheduled up front. This workflow requires some user administration to create the necessary accounts for all remote participants. Please follow the steps detailed below:
- First click on the Login button in the session dialog to gain access to your account on the interpreterQ web server. All scheduled sessions for today will be retrieved and shown in the “Today’s sessions” dropdown box.
- You will only see “your” sessions of today, this means the sessions which are scheduled for a group you belong to.
NOTE: You might want to reschedule earlier or future sessions in order for them to appear in the list of today’s sessions. To do so, you can access the online interpreterQ application by clicking the link “Open online dashboard”. If the login is successful, this link replaces the Login button
- This will open the web application described in an earlier section, which allows you to reschedule existing sessions or possibly create new ones.
- After making the necessary changes, return to interpreterQ and click the refresh button beneath the session dropdownbox to refresh its content.
- As soon as the OK button is clicked, the selected session is started and will appear in the “ongoing sessions” section of the remote participant dashboards. They can click the Join button to join the session, without the need to provide any access code. The web user interface will be adapted for an interpreter student, a speaker, or an evaluator, depending on the role assigned to each participant by your system adminitrator.
Even though no access code is required in this scenario, you will notice that such code is still generated and shown in the main screen, above the trainer webcam preview (screenshot in subsection 1). You can use this code (both the “session ID” for remote students and the “speaker ID” for a remote speaker) to invite additional participants to the session, who are not part of the group for which the session was scheduled.
Working with remote students in interpreterQ
After starting a remote session, the conference table camera or your webcam (depending on configuration) will appear in the lower right corner of the main interpreterQ screen. This is the live image which the remote students will see after joining the session. On the classroom canvas, and extra “remote” tab appears, next to the classroom tab(s) which contain the layout of the local interpreter training room(s). In this remote tab the webcams are shown of all remote students who have joined the session. The remote students are also listed at the right side, similar to the layout of the “local” tab(s).
You can click a webcam image in order to monitor the student. Click anywhere in the surrounding white space to stop monitoring. A context menu allows to start an intercom with a remote student and if needed to share this intercom conversation with the other students (same functionality as available for local students in the booths)
The remote student can request an intercom with you. When he does so, a “raised hand” icon appears on the student webcam view. You can decline the request by clicking the icon, or accept the request by starting the intercom conversation.
The right side sidebar also contains a “chat” tab. Open that to have a text chat with all remote participants, or with one individual participant. When a new text message comes in with the chat tab closed, a red label indicates that you have unread messages. Also, when an individual text message comes in while the chatbox for this person is not currently active, the selection dropdown menu will show which person has sent the message.
Activity workflow with remote students
Actually the workflow for doing an activity with interpreterQ remains exactly the same, whether there are remote students present or not: the remote students will see the activity video on their screen just like the students in the booth, during the activity you can monitor both local and remote students, and if you have chosen to record the activity, all remote student recordings will be collected to the teacher PC just like the local recordings. As a result, the recording list in the review screen will contain both the local and remote students.
At the end of an activity you can review the recordings together with the students, both locally and remote. For that you can click the “share with the students” button in the review screen. When doing so, the reviewed activity is shown on the leftside monitor of the teacher PC, which in general is also shown on a large screen in the room, so that students who have left their booths to join the discussion can see the recording in the classroom. At the same time this reviewed activity is streamed to all booths (in case the students remain seated in the booth) and to all remote participant screens.
A second button in the review screen, labeled “discuss with the students”, allows to have a group discussion. When activating this option all participants can hear each other and talk to the whole group (trainer, local students and remote students).
Inviting a remote speaker
The web interface for remote participants can be used not only by remote interpreter students, but it is also possible for a guest speaker to connect remotely and give a speech, to be interpreted by the students, during an interpreterQ hybrid session.
There are 2 ways to join a remote session: using a predefined account, or using an access code. When using predefined accounts, the administrator can assign the role of “interpreter” or “speaker”, and the web interface of the remote participant will be adapted to the assigned role. When using access codes, there are always 2 different codes generated for each session: a “session ID” for the interpreters and a “speaker ID” for the remote guest speaker.
When a remote speaker joins an interpreterQ session, his webcam image will appear in the remote tab of the classroom view along with the remote students, but always as first one in the mosaic view :
While most of the available functionality in the classroom view is identical for remote speaker and remote students (intercom, text chat, …) there is one important difference: the remote speaker microphone is automatically added to the floor. This means that the speaker can address all students if he wants, just like if he would be using a delegate unit on the conference table of the training room. For this reason the remote speaker microphone is muted by default – the speaker needs to click the “unmute” button before talking to the students.
As a teacher you can remove the speaker from the floor through an option in the context menu of the webcam image.
Of course, during a “remote speaker activity” (which is explained in detail below), the software will ensure that the speaker can be heard by all students.
A small zoom icon beneath the speaker webcam image moves that image to the left screen and maximizes it. This can be especially useful when the speaker is sharing his screen. This option too is activated automatically as soon as you start a remote speaker activity.
Once a remote speaker has joined the interpreterQ session, you can start a new type of activity which uses the live speech of the remote speaker as source :
When doing so, the speaker webcam and microphone are streamed to all students (local and remote) to be interpreted. Workflow is identical to using any of the other source types. An additional big advantage of the interpreterQ workflow is that this live speech can be recorded during the activity, and reused in later training sessions.
When the remote guest speaker has ended his speech, he can indicate that by clicking the “stop speech broadcast” button in the web interface. This doesn’t actually stop anything yet, since you as trainer are in full control of the ongoing activity. A notification will appear in the interpreterQ application, so that at that moment you are sure the speech has ended, and you can safely stop the activity when all students have finalized their interpretation.
Appendix: about remote participant headsets
One final remark, which you might want to share with all participants of your hybrid interpreterQ sessions: when remote participants connect to a hybrid interpreterQ session, it is of utmost importance that those participants use a headset with a microphone, instead of the standard built-in mic and speakers of their laptop. Especially for an interpreter, it is important to have decent sound quality when doing an interpretation exercise, but that is not the only reason.
Most online streaming solutions have a built-in echo cancellation system, which makes it possible to have a remote conversation using a regular laptop microphone and speakers.
Indeed, as the voice of your remote conversation partner is being played out on the laptop speakers, the microphone will inevitably pick this sound up and send it back to the remote person. This causes an unwanted echo, possibly resulting in loud feedback as the echoed sound repeatedly gets added to the conversation.
The echo cancellation system avoids this problem by filtering out the returned sound, but unfortunately in many cases echo cancellation drastically lowers the level of any incoming sound as soon as you start talking. This is OK for a regular conversation, but obviously not acceptable in a simultaneous interpreting workflow, in which the speech needs to remain clearly audible while interpreting.
This is the reason why remote interpreting software needs to disable all echo cancellation features, which makes it highly susceptible to echo and feedback when not using a headset which separates incoming from outgoing sound sources.
InterpreterQ has a “group discussion” option, which activates all microphones of all remote participants. Needless to say this feature maximizes the risk for feedback issues when one or more of the participants don’t follow the rule of using a decent headset. In case of feedback issues, stop the group discussion and go into intercom with each of the participants to possibly detect who is causing the feedback issue.