Virtual participation in conventional physical circuit meetings

Posted by martinf …

For quick and easy convenience, this post has hijacked a spot on the temporary website setup to discuss issues around reopening BSUC during the pandemic. It is a place for sharing thoughts, opinions, ideas and questions related to the pros and cons of supporting remote participation in physical circuit meetings.

Anyone can contribute by adding a comment or replying to an existing comment. Anyone can see all contributions.

I encourage you to take part in the discussion. Don’t be put off by the format. It’s trying to reflect a ‘normal’ group conversation, without the overhead of arranging a physical/virtual meeting or cluttering up email inboxes. This is a place you can dip in and out of. It will be full of the normal ifs and buts, questions, confusion etc etc present in any group conversation, but it’s easy to contribute. Just get stuck in!

The main driver behind this discussion is the significant travelling necessary to physically attend some circuit meetings.

The circuit website shows a map of its churches. According to Google maps, the size of the region covered is approximately ….

West to east

  • Yeovil to Tisbury: 32 miles, 47 mins

North to south

  • Tisbury to Hazelbury Bryan: 23 miles, 46 mins
  • Wincanton to Hazelbury Bryan: 17 miles, 34 mins
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2 months ago

Does the travelling required for physical circuit meetings discourage some from participating and/or volunteering to becone circuit representatives for their local churches?

What might be the cost of a physical circuit meeting in terms travelling time and carbon footprint? Some can claim mileage allowances, what are the associated financial costs to the circuit?

Zoom is not the only software meeting/collaboration tool available, but it does seem to be one of the most popular during the pandemic.

Could now be a good time to consider using Zoom to provide support for those wishing to participate virtually in conventional physical circuit meetings?

The first consideration has to be internet connectivity at venue hosting the physical meeting.

BSUC established internet connectivity in their building two years ago. As a guide to costs ….

£26 per month for TalkTalk “Simply Business” broadband contract. Included the installation of a phone line between the building and a nearby street telegraph pole.

The TalkTalk router provided WiFi to many rooms in the building, but not all. We extended connectivity throughout using a Devolo dlan 500 WiFi starter kit on the ring main for less than £100. (Add on adapters to further extend the range are about £40 each).

Another cost would be £120 per year for a Zoom Pro account to support hosting meetings longer than 40 mins without the disruption of having to restart Zoom to kick off a new 40 min session. The circuit might pay for one of these accounts. That would allow hosts to share it at different times.

2 months ago

Some thoughts around how a physical meeting with virtual participants might be setup.

There are many variations. None are presented as “better” than others.

The human effort in the setup and take down of equipment is a potential showstopper. As too is the overhead in acting as the Zoom host throughout the meeting. It seems sensible to try to minimise these factors.

A perfect setup, which is probably unachievable in the short term but could be worked towards over time, would probably be one which mimics a “normal” meeting in so far as ….

  • Virtual participants can see and hear all physical participants.


  • Physical participants can see and hear all virtual participants.

The drawings in the image here show various setups reaching towards this ideal to a greater or lesser extent, based around a single laptop running Zoom as the meeting host.

Some experimentation will be needed to see what can be achieved with the hardware available. We could move forward from there.

Reply to  martin
2 months ago

Possible hardware and costs.

Some of this stuff may already be available at the venue or via whoever is acting as the Zoom meeting host.

Tie Studio USB Boundary Conference Microphone £22
Webcams with microphones £20 to £30

Computer speakers £10 upwards

2 months ago

This blog post can be found via the link

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