The Use of Video Conferencing

A video conference is a kind interaction through devices, which allow two or more people in different places to remotely communicate simultaneously. It is also called video meeting or audio-video remote meeting. It’s different from a videophone because the technology is focused on the conference not the individual.

The most primitive type of video conferencing equipment is the television. Though the transmission of information was one way there is feedback after transmission. The cycle of information and the process of feedback is fulfilled by the television that qualifies it as a video conferencing equipment.

Since the development of digital telephony and internet based services like software, such as NetMeeting, MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger and other instant messaging web plug ins that allow transmission of messages real time through the internet. The Internet has become the most important tool for video conferencing and other instant messaging services.

Because of the sheer speed that the Internet has within it self and the ability to transfer information real time most of the web based video conference centers puts most of its resources online.

Because of the advancement of Internet technology it has been possible over the years to have simultaneous videoconferencing among three or more remote points. These remote points can be anywhere in the world and the remote locations need not have a special set of equipment or software.

There is a bridge though that connects all of these remote peripherals on to the network and that is called the MCU or the Multi Channel Unit, it allows different computers to run the same format code to et communicate in one network.

There are MCU bridges for IP and ISDN-based videoconferencing. The MCUs used as bridges on IP and ISDN connections are most of the time pure software, and others that can be found in other forms of connections are a combination of hardware and software.

An MCU’s type is determined according to the number of simultaneous calls and conference participants it can handle, its ability to carry out information exchanges, shared programs, shared documents, shared application and other different kinds of sharing peripherals available on the conference. One god thing about MCU’s is that it can be a complete stand alone software for conferencing since it does not need hardware acceleration because it is purely software accelerated.

Because of the needs and the technology available to meet those needs, video conferencing has been more than a necessity for education, medicine, law making, and business.

For education the impact of video conferencing to it and the system can be seen easily. Because high speed Internet connection is becoming a much-needed part of modern curriculum, video conferencing has also been part of the next step towards modernization of the school system. Because of video conferencing special lecturers can now remotely conduct lectures, teachers can be on location and still deliver the lesson and correspondence between schools can be easily done through video conferencing.

Videoconferencing classes also adds to the possibility of a conversation in the scenarios such as a live conversation is needed between people in different countries. A visual information is an important component of the telephone conversation, the parties of the conversation can’t physically come to the same location.

The expense or time of travel is a consideration because these situations calls for something drastically fast and efficient.

Video Conferencing Technology and Education

This is the first in a series of articles focusing on video conferencing and education. Part 1: The Teaching Predicament primarily focuses on the dilemma that educational institutes around the world have been facing in terms of teaching.

Over the recent years, visual communication as an effective tool to enhance delivery of education has gained a lot of traction. Educational institutes are constantly faced with the challenge of maintaining consistency and quality of teaching over geographically dispersed branches. For instance, will a student enrolled in an undergraduate business studies program at a top tier American university experience the same teaching quality in the Middle East or Europe? The answer to this question will most likely be ‘not quite’. Although there are a number of variables at play here but the most fundamental challenge is access to the same quality of instructors across geographical regions. Geographical regions can typify different branches in the same city, across cities, countries and continents. Maintaining teaching standards across continents is even a bigger challenge given the social, cultural and ethnic divides.

A traditional approach to somewhat alleviate the problem is to fly in faculty periodically to conduct workshops. However, this can prove to be very costly and cumbersome. Technology has an answer for this common and age-old problem. Although video conferencing solutions have been around since the 1980s, they’ve never been so affordable and accessible as they are today. Visual communication technology has advanced leaps and bounds making it highly immersive and interactive. More importantly, the bandwidth and the infrastructure that is required to support a truly interactive video conference is ever more affordable and ubiquitous now. This makes videoconferencing a viable and practical learning tool for the classroom. Truly interactive visual communication can add a level of teaching consistency across multiple institutes.

Full HD 1080p video, 360-degree audio combined with interactive whiteboards and multiple cameras provide the next best thing to being physically present in a classroom. Video conferencing technology has truly reinvented how teachers and students interaction. From sharing lecture notes and feedback to carrying out assignments and group work, a video conference setup in a classroom knows no geographical boundaries. The selection of video conferencing equipment however may appear to be daunting initially with the sheer amount of options available. I personally prefer Panasonic Video Conferencing.

Panasonic is a manufacturer of state-of-the-art Video Conferencing equipment. Their Visual Communication technology combines full 1080i video coupled with advanced compression algorithms connecting you with colleagues and experts around the world on standard broadband connections. 360° HD Full Duplex Audio with echo cancellation technology combined with stunning video provides a truly immersive and collaborative video conference.

Web Based Video Conferencing – Pros and Cons

If you know how video phones work, then you should also be familiar with web based video conferencing. You call someone from anywhere in the world and you can see each other on the TV screen. In fact, video conferencing is built to work best when used for big conferences, not for normal clients.

A lot of companies decided to use video conferencing as a tool for everyday use. There are always disadvantages and advantages when it comes to video conferences, and you should take them all into consideration.

Advantages

1. Get a hold of anyone you need at any point during the day or night. You don’t need to travel long distances, so the time differences aren’t as important now as they used to be.

2. If all you need is a short talk, then a phone call is sufficient, but if you want a full fledged conference with people from different locations, then you need a web based video conference. For example, you can make a conference where businessman from Tokyo, New York and Amsterdam all participate at the same time, hearing and seeing each other perfectly.

3. You can use any type of visual program like PowerPoint to share information with the other people in the room, and everyone will have the feeling that they’re together, sharing information and ideas freely.

4. Using the whiteboards that come with the software, they can all collaborate on new ideas in the same space. This way, they can create plans or do new slogans and designs.

5. In some cases, you can even grant access to a computer to everyone, and they can see what happens on it. The more advanced the service, the more actions can be done, such as changing documents and typing from other PC’s connected to the web conference. If your company needs people to collaborate on projects, then this can help greatly.

Disadvantages

1. The largest problem that people might have with is the price of web conferencing. Still, there are some cheaper options out there, if you can give up some of the advanced features.

If you do need the advanced features, you will save money in time, by paying more now, instead of paying for travelling costs and hotels for people flying in. As fuel becomes more expensive, the price of web conferencing becomes more affordable when you take into consideration the money you save.

2. Some things that people use to communicate, such as eye contact aren’t as well translated when it’s not done face to face. This happens for example when you attend a conference in the same room with someone else. You can judge him more easily than you would if you would see him on TV.

You need to know what you need and what disadvantages and advantages web conferencing has, before you make a decision about it.