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Videoconferencing Tools
Video Conferencing Tools

Videoconferencing technologies offer an excellent way to save time, money, and resources at the university.  Consider the times when a group meeting, job interview, faculty presentation, or research collaboration could have been conducted more quickly, efficiently and cost effectively by joining all parties via videoconference.  Travel will always be necessary, but substituting just a few trips each year – whether to the North Shore or to North Carolina – can result in considerable savings to institutional budgets and individual schedules.

Reducing travel also reduces resource expenditures.  Every travel mile eliminated is a savings in carbon expenditures and conserves energy for other applications.  Overnight travel adds even greater energy and resource costs when hotel stays, meeting facilities, meal preparation, and local travel are figured in.

Videoconferencing is a general term used to represent a variety of technologies and applications, but all rely on the synchronous delivery of live audio and video between two or more remote locations.  Although videoconferencing no longer requires dedicated, room-based systems – desktop videoconferencing is now both inexpensive and very effective – those large systems are still most useful for group videoconferencing meetings, while the desktop systems now make personal videoconferencing possible.

Videoconferencing with Technology Services

Videoconferencing Resources at Tulane University

Group
Videoconferencing

Personal
Videoconferencing

Audio
Conferencing

Group videoconferencing facilities provide the benefit of support personnel to operate the videoconferencing hardware, troubleshoot connectivity issues, and conduct thorough testing and preparation.  The Tulane facilities are an ideal venue for:

  • distance education classes
  • dissertation defenses
  • research collaborations
  • remote meetings

Some Tulane group videoconferencing facilities require a fee, particularly if special connectivity services are required to establish a call.

Most group videoconferencing systems offer features beyond voice and video such as document cameras, desktop sharing, collaborative editing, and virtual white boards.  Sessions can also be recorded for later review or archive.  Video call quality is often better than with personal videoconferencing systems due to more robust communications hardware.

Most group videoconferencing systems at Tulane rely on the H.323 or Access Grid protocols.  Seating capacity, operating hours, features, and accessibility vary by facility, so see the list of group videoconferencing systems at Tulane for details.

Personal videoconferencing requires access to several key pieces of hardware, including: a computer with a high-speed Internet connection, a webcam,a  headset microphone, and a video chat application.  Many video conferencing software applications are available at no cost:

Conduct an Internet search for “video, chat, free, services” to identify additional applications.

The quality and reliability of your call will vary depending on several factors, for example, the computer hardware you use, the speed of your Internet connection, and network traffic at the time of the call.

Companies such as Polycom sell personal videoconferencing software, that is also compatible with H.323 group videoconferencing systems.  These usually provide higher call quality and reliability than the free video chat applications.  Web conferencing is another form of personal videoconferencing.

Products like Elluminate and Cisco’s Webex allow any size group – from small meetings to large classes – to interact individually, with each user using their own computer at separate, remote locations.  Tulane Technology Services supports Adobe Connect for course related Web conferencing.

Videoconferencing may be feature rich, but sometimes the simplest solution is still the best.

When there are hardware or connectivity issues affecting video, it’s often still possible to connect successfully with audio only, either via a computer or the telephone.  A simple telephone call is still surprisingly effective, even with several people at each location.  If you don’t have a telephone with a built in microphone and speaker, a conference telephone can be rented from the Tulane Telecommunications Department.  They can also set up a conference call for you so that multiple locations can dial into the same line.

Most of the personal videoconferencing applications such as

are also excellent audio conferencing tools.  Some VOIP or “Voice Over IP” services - Skype for instance - will  allow your computer to place calls to telephones, though there is a charge for that feature.  Most VOIP applications will also support multiple users in the same call.

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