Archive for category videoconferencing FAQ

Skype Part 1: Consumer tool, Professional use

While my tendency with learning technologies is to explore an approach rather than a specific technology, I have to break with tradition on this one. The approach in question is video communication. The application is Skype. This is part one of a look at an often underrated tool.

Many of you may already be familiar with Skype. Some may use it every day to keep in touch with family and friends. It is a simple (and free) application that allows voice, video and text communication in real time. You can run it on practically any computer with a webcam and a microphone. And now days most laptops and even a few monitors or all-in-one computers (notably the iMac) have built in webcams and microphones. Combine that with a free Skype account for you and your friends and you are good to go.

Great for home use, but where does that fit in at a University? Lately we have been seeing an increase in the need for face-to-face meetings over long distances. When these meetings require multiple different locations to connect to the same meeting, traditional hardware based videoconferencing is needed. But when there is only one party at the other end, that is where Skype steps in. And it does the job well. On many connections the audio and video quality are excellent. Good enough to have one user comment that it was better than the $80,000 videoconference suite he had used previously.

In other situations the remote party may not have access to expensive videoconferencing hardware or the networks required to have a good quality conference. Skype requires only that your computer has an internet connection and is designed to work over varying network conditions.

At the CRDC, we have been using it since the beginning of the year for everything from Faculty meetings, to classes bringing in instructors from across the country, to job interviews around the globe. Once you look at what it can do, Skype quickly becomes elevated to a professional tool, capable of taking on the tasks needed in an ever evolving post-secondary learning environment.

To sum up, Skype is free, accessible and most importantly it works! In my eyes that is a winning combination for a video communication tool.

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How do I book a videoconference?

To book a videoconference please call Jill Payant in the CRDC (403.380.1856). She will inquire into the some of the specifics of your event, book it in our calendars and pass contact information onto our technical specialists. A technical specialist will contact you, or the technical contact you provide, to test the connection and to consult on any other needs you may have to make your videoconference a success.

Questions you will need to consider answering before booking a videoconference.

* Will you be on campus?
* Do you have a room booked, or are you looking to book one of our facilities?
* Do you know how many people will be attending at your physical location? connecting location?
* Do you have a technical contact for the connecting site?
* Do you have a dial string fro the connecting site? (a videoconference phone number)
* Do you require the ability to present from your laptop?
* Is there any other special needs you can anticipate?

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