Videoconferencing

By Branzburg, Jeffrey | Technology & Learning, September 2001 | Go to article overview

Videoconferencing


Branzburg, Jeffrey, Technology & Learning


What Is Videoconferencing?

You are videoconferencing when you use technology to connect two or more locations so that they may see (video) and hear (audio) each other.

Why Videoconference?

Videoconferencing allows you to bring resources into your classroom that you may not be able to experience in "real life." For example, via videoconferencing, your class can interactively participate in a lesson on tide pools given by a marine biologist from the Ocean Institute in Dana Point, Calif., or visit with a Peace Corps volunteer for a Q&A on the difference between our culture and that of a host country. When it is impossible to physically bring a class to a location, or an expert to the class, videoconferencing can be a great solution.

Equipment

You need basic audiovisual equipment to videoconference--a monitor, a camera, a microphone, and speakers. In addition, you need a way to connect your equipment to the people with whom you will videoconference. This is done by using a compressed video system (which transmits information via the Internet or a telephone network) and either an ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) telephone line or via Internet Protocol (IP) online.

ISDN or Internet Transmission?

ISDN is a telephone system that transmits data faster than a regular telephone line; it can go to speeds that take a lot of the "jerky" motion out of the transmission. Best of all, it is a dedicated line--when you connect via ISDN you get the full speed of the line because you are not sharing it with others (just like a telephone call).

According to Carol Brown, distance learning instructor for the Nassau BOCES (www.nassauboces.org/dln) in New York, ISDN videoconferencing equipment can cost $7,000 with installation, with an additional $500 for the ISDN line and a monthly fee of approximately $50.

Connecting through the Internet, on the other hand, is much less expensive because it uses your existing Internet connection, but means sharing the telecommunications line with other Internet data. …

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