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Overview of Videoconferencing

Brad Paleg CIT Distance Learning January 22, 2002

"Facing the Challenge of a New Age"


This new world of geographical togetherness has been brought about, to a great extent, by man's scientific and technological genius. Man has been able to dwarf distance, place time in chains and carve highways through the stratosphere. Through our scientific genius, we have made the world a neighborhood Martin Luther King, Jr., December, 1956
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Learner Goals
Describe videoconferencing concepts, including

situations where videoconferencing may be used Identify the videoconferencing equipment Locate and utilize AGNR specific videoconferencing information on the web Describe who to contact for scheduling a videoconference Describe how to prepare for a videoconference
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Videoconferencing What Is It?


Video conferencing in its most basic form is the transmission of image (video) and speech (audio) back and forth between two or more physically separate locations.
Video Conferencing Cookbook. http://www.vide.gatech.edu/cookbook2.0/

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Videoconferencing Components
Cameras

(to capture and send video from your local endpoint) Video displays (to display video received from remote endpoints) Microphones (to capture and send audio from your local endpoint) Speakers (to play audio received from remote endpoints)
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In Addition, Two Additional Requirements:


Codec - "compressor/de-compressor

- makes the audio/video data "small enough" to be practical for sending over expensive network connections. A codec takes analog signals, compresses and digitizes them, and transmits the signals over digital phone lines. The Supporting System and the Network Connection

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H.323 Its Not a Disease


Standard

for interoperability in audio, video and data transmissions as well as Internet phone and voice-over-IP (VoIP) Enables videoconferencing without usage fees But does not have QOS (quality of service)

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POP QUIZ (multiple choice)


A

polycom is:

A) one of those geometric atrocities whose

angles add up to heck of a lot more than the sum of its sides B) A tame parrot (Polycalm, get it?) C) A triangular representation of the USS Starship. D) None of the above
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Polycom
Polycom

is the market leader in endpoint voice and video communications. AGNR has been a user of Polycom equipment for roughly two years. This past summer, University System of Maryland upgraded its Interactive Video Network (IVN), standardizing on Polycom videoconferencing equipment.
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Polycom Units
Large

conference room units: conference room units: units:

ViewStation FX and the VS 4000

Medium Personal

ViewStation MP ViaVideo

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Show Me The Money


Medium Small

/ Large Room Systems


$8,000 $10,000

ViewStation FX -

Room Systems Systems


$400

ViewStation H.323 -$4,000 - $6,000

Desktop

ViaVideo -

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Point-to-point Conferences
Point-to-point

A videoconference that connects two locations. Each site sees and hears the other sites at all times

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Multipoint Conferences
Point-to-multipoint

A videoconference that connects to more than two sites through the use of a multi-point control unit, or MCU. Participants at all sites can hear one another at all times and see the site that is currently speaking.
Voice activated switching

Multi-point conferencing can be effective although

the scheduling, technical, and logistical dimensions of MCU conferences can be imposing.

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Multipoint Conferences
AGNR

has two different capabilities of participating in multipoint conferences


Utilize a bridge maintained by the USM Office

of Information Technology Some of the Polycom units (Gudelsky Center, LESREC, UMD - Plant Sciences, and UMES) include four point MCU functionality

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But Its Much More Than Video:


Computer

presentations Other media


CDs, DVDs,

ELMO

visual presenter (hardcopies, photos)

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Various Uses:
Presentations Virtual

meetings Videoconference-based learning JIT (just in time) events Recruitment/search committees General meetings

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Additional Uses:
Project

coordination Informal work sessions Alumni relations Question and answer sessions

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Videoconferencing Is Pass Terminology


Traditional

videoconferencing was about audio-video communications to facilitate meetings without the burden of travel. Visual collaboration is much more; it is the combination of audio and video and data in both real-time and store-and-forward applications. Its not just about meetings
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Visual Collaboration
Meetings Meetings, presentations, training Work alone Teaming, local and remote On-site training Distance learning, online training Save Money Be more productive Reliable connections Managed Visual Collaboration network Andrew W. Davis services Wainhouse Research June 1999 Videoconferencing of Videoconferencing - Slide #19 collaboration Visual Overview

Benefits of Videoconferencing
Can improve work quality Increase productivity Reduce costs Improves communication Groups can meet more frequently Critical

meetings can be convened in less time More faculty and staff can be involved

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Benefits of Videoconference-based Learning


Closely resembles traditional

classroom-based education; permits learners to be active participants in the process Faculty and staff needs can be met more quickly through just-in-time training More faculty and staff can be trained faster without increasing training resources Guest lecturers can be easily integrated into the course
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Benefits of Videoconference-based Learning


Enables any site to be the provider

of the learning

activities. Videoconferencing is cost-effective, when you consider the traveling costs for traditional training. Videoconference-based learning exploits the already acquired videoconferencing technologies and network infrastructure. H.323 standards provide for learners in any H.323 compliant site to be active participants.
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Limitations of Videoconferencing
The initial

cost of the equipment and leasing the lines to transmit conferences may be prohibitive. Unless a strong effort is made by the instructor, students not located with the instructor may remain uninvolved in the course. If visuals, like handwritten or copied materials, are not properly prepared, students may have a difficult time reading them.

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Limitations of Videoconferencing
If the pipe

that carries the transmission among sites is not large enough, the students may observe ghost images when rapid movement occurs in real time If the system is not properly configured, class members may observe an audio echo effect. The result is audio interference that detracts from the learning environment.

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Limitations of Videoconferencing
The absence of QOS (Quality of Service) provides

virtually no guarantee of a satisfying and successful experience Though the technology is improving, a successful videoconference is dependent upon the connections and technologies at all of the participating sites, AND the network infrastructure Security issues

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Tricks Of The Trade


At the beginning of a videoconference make sure

that participants introduce themselves. It is often helpful to have a sign in the background that gives your location. Look directly at the camera as often as possible when speaking. Wear neutral, solid colors. Avoid checks and stripes. Avoid white and shades of red. Red is not codec-friendly. Bright fluorescent objects also cause halo effects and other distracting artifacts.
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Tricks Of The Trade


Be

natural, but try to minimize motion. Try to arrange a simple, uncluttered, static background in neutral or darker solid colors. Do not sit in front of windows. Tilt pictures, framed degrees, awards or any other glass-covered wall hanging downward to eliminate reflection and glare.

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Tricks Of The Trade


Try to have direct light on the face of the person

speaking. Too much light from behind causes silhouetting, too much from above causes shadows under the eyes. Avoid placing videoconferencing equipment in rooms prone to echo effects or exposed to outside noise. Eliminate in-room sources of extraneous noise. On multipoint video conferences mute your location when not speaking.
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Tricks Of The Trade


Be

aware of the transmission delay ... pause for others to comment. When asking questions in a group conference, direct the question to a specific individual if possible. Use a real or even a fake plant to humanize the setting.
Visual Collaboration Andrew W. Davis Wainhouse Research
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AGNR Videoconferencing Facilities

Washington County CES

Wye

Gudelsky Center UMD Plant Sciences Building UMD, Symons Hall Salisbury Facility (LESREC) UMES, Henson Center
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AGNR Videoconferencing Facilities


Gudelsky Center, Al

Ingling UMD, Plant Sciences, Chris Sargent Salisbury Facility (LESREC), Expected to be operational - Feb '02, Vanessa Fitzmaurice Symons Hall, Brad Paleg UMES, Henson Building, Kat Harting Washington County Cooperative Extension Office, Steve Rogowsky Wye, Nan Stenzel
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AGNR Videoconferencing Info http://www.agnr.umd.edu/CIT/DL/ Click on Videoconferencing

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Videoconference-based Learning Strategies


Establish

Class Expectations

It aint MTV At the begging of the session, prepare the preparing

learners for an active experience


Reduce

Distractions Engage Students with Variety and Interaction Encourage Dialogue


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Video Conferencing Etiquette


This

is new and we are learning. Those who come from a television (production, not watching) as opposed to a computer background tend to be more effective.

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Prepare for the Worst Case Scenario


Find out who handles difficult technical

problems

and how to contact him/her. Designate a remote facilitator. Develop a contingency plan for the remote site and share it with the remote facilitator. You might, for example, have a discussion topic or activity that supports the videoconference outcomes.

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Prepare for the Worst Case Scenario


Share telephone numbers with your

facilitator and troubleshooters. Make sure you (and your troubleshooters) are familiar with the equipment. Establish your connection 15-30 minutes prior to the meeting time. Most technical problems are observable when establishing a connection. If you have never connected with your remote site plan a "dry run" a week or so ahead of time.
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remote

Video Conferencing Etiquette


Testing,

testing, 1, 2, 3,

Connect and test PRIOR to the scheduled time Utilize the picture-in-picture to get a sense of

what the remote sites are seeing

Leaving

well enough alone

If the videoconference is satisfactory make as

few adjustments as possible Unnecessary "twiddling" of audio or video can have very distracting results.
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Video Conferencing Etiquette


Are

you still with me?

Videoconferencing is much more like an in

person exchange than a telephone call body language and facial expression count! Avoid "multi-tasking" with other work, looking at other applications on the computer screen, talking to other local participants.

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Video Conferencing Etiquette


Talking

out of turn

Stray noises and side conversations within a

video conference distract from the primary conversation. Side conversations at remote sites seem to spring up more readily than they would if everyone were in the same actual room, which causes problems to voice-activated switching.

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Videoconferencing Resources:
AGNR

information:

http://www.agnr.umd.edu/cit/dl/, click on

Videoconferencing

Video Conferencing Cookbook.


http://www.vide.gatech.edu/cookbook2.0/

Distance Education at a Glance Guide #10


http://www.uidaho.edu/evo/dist10.html

Videoconferencing

for Learning

http://www.kn.pacbell.com/wired/vidconf/

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