Distance Meetings and Projects/Activities during COVID-19

Started by JC004, April 03, 2020, 05:23:02 am

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Now that units nationwide are using options like Zoom, I think it'd worth discussing some ideas that lend themselves well to remote options like this.

My Visual Aids (tactile aids, I guess....like my compasses set) collection doesn't exactly lend itself well to being distributed to everyone through the computer.

Thoughts?  Genius ideas?  Successes or failures?


Sure, I have a few.

1. Use the right tool for the right job.
Not every collaborative meeting requires full video, which is a bandwidth hog. Some meeting activities do just fine with a conference call. Some collaborative tools have time limits or head count limits. Some have security problems that are serious (see below on Zoom, which I won't use). Tonight one unit had sixty eight cadets and officers on WEBEX with very few issues. I've used Skype daily with few issues, along side the DoD system that we also use (not for CAP though).

2. Sanitize your presented desktop.
When you must present your desktop, take time to prep ahead and sanitize it of any work info or inappropriate material. You don't need to have sensitive work info, financial information etc. presented to sixty people. I had my presented slides ready, rehearsed, and clipped through my briefing as planned, answering the questions posed in the WebEx chat window (cadets were told to all go mute, and submit short questions in writing via the chat window which worked very well).

3. Keep the optics professional.
Same holds true for your person and your setting if you're using a camera. I was on a call tonight in which one of the adults had some very legal but very non cadet-appropriate things clearly visible behind him. Don't set your camera up in front of things not proper for a Squadron meeting. Kudos to the members who somehow get a sharp home haircut and Skype/WebEx in a proper uniform!

4. Timing, pacing, planning.
Rehearse your briefing, class, or event, and keep it to a plan, and keep the plan moving. No one wants to be forced to sit for an additional 30 minutes listening to ers, ums, and a meeting which has devolved into a FLAILEX. If you are done with your content, close the meeting. Don't let it turn into a mandatory chat session. Don't feel as if you need to keep everyone for a full 2 hour meeting.

5. Remember who is watching - EVERYONE.
We saw some young cadets tonight completely forget that they were conversing in front of adults - and were discussing the adult officers in "front" of them. The same [potential to be inappropriate in front of minors] can be true for adults. Our members also did not realize that the Wing/CC popped in to listen for a while, apparently. I got a terse comment from a mom who had been observing over her cadets shoulders and went unnoticed, for another example. So, keep the conversations business like and short and save the sidebars about social or non CAP topics for later while you game with friends.

6. Security: 
Don't use Zoom until they fix the (several) security issues. If you pick Zoom, I for one won't be at your meeting (not allowed by my work org due to the many security issues for good reason).
See: https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2020/04/security-tips-every-work-from-homer-needs-to-know-about-zoom-right-now/

7. Wingmen, care for your teammates.
The stress of isolated operations can get to anyone. Leaders need to keep records and take notes on members whose behavior changes over time and seems atypical, remote, withdrawn or despondent. I perform wellness checks on all my professional direct reports at work at least every other day, just to check in. I've provided the only human contact for two of them who have sunk into depressive behavior; you don't need to be a professional therapist to simply maintain supportive contact with your teammates, and regular CAP online meetings may not suffice for this purpose, so units should consider having subordinate staff perform person to person call down checks (as most good units should be doing anyways).

So, there's a few observations for better or worse.


Everything Spam said. Excellent list. NHQ should edit/pilfer it and send to everyone doing online meetings. I would add: make sure attendees are muted unless they are speaking. Do practice your lesson, because it will flow differently as an online presentation than it would in person.

Haircut is becoming an issue for me, but thankfully I have CAP polo to save the day.

I've done a fair amount of work at home, so I already know what my home office looks like on camera, and also how to present to remote attendees. Bonus: I have my Lego Saturn V visible in the background, so every lesson is an aerospace lesson. :)

Specific to OP's concern about compasses, do some close-up pictures of what you want to show and then put those into slide decks. Frame the pictures like you're selling on eBay: neutral background, appropriate zoom and level of detail, etc. You can do this with most small visual aids.


Regarding backgrounds, if you do use Zoom, you can do a virtual background with a picture of your choice. It's a simple "green screen" technique. I have not explored Teams for this yet.
Dave Bowles
Maj, CAP
AT1, USN Retired
50 Year Member
Mitchell Award (unnumbered)
C/WO, CAP, Ret

Phil Hirons, Jr.

At least my company copy of teams allows background blur but no custom images yet.


These are great so far.  Hopefully we can come up with some more goodies.

Dave, you saw the background I used for telemedicine appts, didn't you? (the live image quality leaves a lot to be desired, and makes me look like I need to go to the hospital for liver failure or something):

Paul Creed III

Just a note about Zoom: I would advise against using this platform to discuss anything of a sensitive nature due to links to China:


Much like TikTok was banned due to security issues, Zoom may eventually face the same issue.
Lt Col Paul Creed III, CAP
National Headquarters Cyber Curriculum Specialist
National Headquarters Photography Working Group
Instructor, Volunteer University
Akron-Canton Senior Flying Squadron Commander


Considering a significant number of units, wings, and NHQ have either GSuite or 0365 domains and services,
I dont' understand how this is still a conversaiton.

Hangouts Meet is Free, robust, and stupid simple, including not requiring any local installation.

Teams / Skype is free and robust.

FreeConferenceCall.com is free and robust.

Why is anyone even considering other, especailly inm light of the security, bombing, and stability issues.
Put down Gartner and social media advice and listen to the IT people.


Bob - I'm not so much wrapped up in what commanders are choosing; that's up to IT.

I would like to see best practices, ideas, content samples (or sharing content), etc.  Have an AE event presentation?  Share it for other units to use.  Civics, leadership, all that good stuff.

Spam listed a lot of great things.

Lots of commanders are not technically-minded, so I say let's make their jobs easier.


Quote from: Paul Creed III on April 03, 2020, 11:31:20 pmJust a note about Zoom: I would advise against using this platform to discuss anything of a sensitive nature due to links to China:

Why is anyone talking "sensitive nature" at any of these video chat meetings in the first place?  There are other channels for that. Keep the video meetings to safety briefings, aerospace projects, bake sale fundraisers, and other basic things that don't require a secret handshake and password to enter the hangar. Such that Russia or China would get bored watching it. LOL

Talk of ES missions and other things should be done elsewhere.
MS - MO - AP - MP - FRO - ESO

sUAS MP - sUAS Instructor - sUAS Check Pilot


Quote from: etodd on April 04, 2020, 12:55:10 amTalk of ES missions and other things should be done elsewhere.

Like any of those discussions are somehow top secret. There is very, very little CAP does that is considered sensitive.


Fubar i get you but respectfully need to make this point...

Finance discussions can be sensitive. Personnel and commander selection debates are sensitive. Discussions regarding IG investigations and findings are sensitive. Disciplinary and termination and other Personnel actions are very sensitive.

Having taken part in all of these as part of a Command Staff, I know that having a conference vehicle which could be penetrated buy unauthorized people is unsatisfactory. Therefore, I don't counsel the use of Zoom or any other platform which has so many known vulnerabilities... selling user info... archiving it on offshore servers... penetration vulnerabilities...

Many members have security clearances through their occupation and we understand full well our responsibilities thereto; we are discussing the not that rare unclassified but sensitive. Personnel and program sensitive if you will.



Quote from: Spam on April 04, 2020, 09:49:27 amDisciplinary and termination and other Personnel actions are very sensitive.

Who the heck is discussing these types of topics during a Cadet or Senior video chat type of meeting?

Hence my post above. There are other channels for that previously used.

This thread is about normal meeting type stuff that any visitor popping into a meeting could see. Aerospace training and who will help at this Saturday's bake sale fundraiser. LOL
MS - MO - AP - MP - FRO - ESO

sUAS MP - sUAS Instructor - sUAS Check Pilot


Sorry - there is nothing...



That should be or is discussed in a CAP virtual meeting context that is "sensitive" or that anyone in China
cares about.  The only issue is the disruption of getting bombed, otherwise, Putin's Aerospace program
will not be enhanced by Johnny reciting the Four Forces.

"First we achieve LIFT, then we get moose and squirrel!"

And that goes for Finance discussions as well - those are supposed to be open to everyone anyway,
unless you're discussing how to hide the stolen pizza money. 

As to IG and personnel discussions?  Call direct.



I attended a very well done sUAS online briefing today. They gave us an overview of what CAP and our Wing are working towards, and equipped us with all of the information we need to begin training. Interesting stuff.

We (VAWG) have an online TLC at the end of the month. Rather than doing one long day at the computer, they broke it out into two 1/2 day sessions, which I think will work better in the virtual format. Gives everyone a breather.

VAWG is also looking at setting up cohorts for online specialty track studies. We're conducting an interest survey for cadet programs officers now.

Next up for my squadron is breaking the cyber security activity guide into instructional blocks that can be done virtually. Looking at a combination of slides or lectures I can present, along with porting some of the activities to Google Forms instead of pencil and paper. Still riddling through that.

Also hoping we can meet in a social distancing compliant fashion by the time the first CyberPatriot XIII exhibition round begins, but if we can't, I'll have to figure out how to do that one, too. Hopefully AFA is already on that. We could have cadets RDP into cloud-hosted VMs to secure rather than local copies, or something like that.

Improvise, adapt, overcome!


Couldn't Cyber Patriot be done all remotely?  It's just hacking up servers closing vulnerabilities right?

Holding Pattern

Quote from: Eclipse on April 05, 2020, 12:50:51 amCouldn't Cyber Patriot be done all remotely?

While technically yes, the way it is deployed currently, no. Pushing that many images and running all on machines that aren't up to snuff probably won't be very effective, especially from a bandwidth perspective.

QuoteIt's just hacking up servers closing vulnerabilities right?

Cyberpatriot does not teach any offensive capabilities in its curriculum. So no "hacking" per se.

Holding Pattern

Oh, and good luck trying to get cloud time these days, almost all student access to cloud services in the free tiers has been shut down for the duration of the crisis.


Quote from: etodd on April 04, 2020, 11:55:26 pm
Quote from: Spam on April 04, 2020, 09:49:27 amDisciplinary and termination and other Personnel actions are very sensitive.

Who the heck is discussing these types of topics during a Cadet or Senior video chat type of meeting?

Commanders and their staff, that's who. Without cadets around for the most part at the Wing Command level, but at Group and unit level, I personally have had conference calls with my cadet staffs in the past to solve interpersonal conflicts, resolve problems and move forward. Obviously you haven't been involved in termination actions, IG discussions and so forth, or haven't considered how CAP commanders will manage these problems over the next few months of no personal meetings.

And I didn't see you start this topic; MAJ Colgan did. Lets let him weigh in if we're not on topic, but from my point of view, these are all topical in keeping the program alive and on track, from top down to the newest member. Command topics down to AE classes.



So yes. We have two subjects merged here.

One talking about serious discussions among leadership and what methods they should use for sensitive discussions.

And another about what would be good for Cadets to use to discuss drills, aerospace and this Saturday's bake sale fundraiser.

For clarity ... My comments have all been about the latter.
MS - MO - AP - MP - FRO - ESO

sUAS MP - sUAS Instructor - sUAS Check Pilot