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Videoconferencing Cookbook
Version 4.1
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Uses of Videoconferencing


ViDe Videoconferencing Cookbook

TeleEducation

There are many opportunities for enhancing education with videoconferencing. These include remote-teacher/remote-specialist applications, as well as classroom-to-classroom interaction. It can also be scaled to more than 2 sites, allowing virtual education "teams" to be created. It can used in the K-12 education system, as well as in-house corporate training, government services coordination e.g. for emergency services, and many other education areas. In most cases the equipment can be scaled to suit the situation, allowing for a regularly scheduled education program in fixed locations, or conversely supporting high-impact once-off events such as a visiting dignitary or specialist. It can be used to link sites within a region, or scaled up to international sizes. In the K-12 sector for example this allows students to interact with students their own age in other languages and cultures.

In the remote-teacher approach, a simple H.323 system, attached to a TV or a projector allows a class to interact with a remote instructor. Depending on the situation, the remote instructor may use a fixed or a mobile system (e.g. a zookeeper, or museum staffer), or include a mixture of live and recorded video (e.g. for medical training). Most H.323 (and other video-conference) systems allow for flexible encoding arrangements, where a camera can be managed separately to the encoding device. Typically the receiving site is fixed, such as a classroom, but the interaction still works in both directions. By using a "multipoint-conference-unit"(MCU)/"bridge", or some form of network multicast, more than 2 sites can be supported at the same time, and all participants can interact with each other, if that suits the occasion. It should be noted though that most education events tend to be "lecture-mode", which is predominantly (but not entirely) one way. Managing audio and video in both directions can be a major technical challenge in some situations, e.g. in large lecture theatres with hundreds of participants. The human eye and ear can focus much better than their electronic counterparts.

There are many projects active around the world today. One excellent mailing list focused on the K12 sector is the Ed1VidConf list, at ED1VIDCONF@A05VM.RVR.IL.AMERITECH.COM. To subscribe (join the listserv), send mail to listserver@pacbell.com with ONLY the message in the body of the email subscribe ed1vidconf yourfirstname yourlastname.

Many virtual field trips sites are still H.320 based though we expect that there will be a significant shift to the H.323 standard in the immediate future.  Two sites with many K-12 offerings are SBC's Videoconferencing Adventures [32] and the Michigan based TWICE (Two Way Interactive Collaborations in Education) [33].

Another large-scale project, which combines H.323 (Internet-based) and H.320 (ISDN-based) videoconferencing with satellite transmission, is the World Bank's Global Development Learning Network [20]. The GDLN aims to support developing countries with education and policy support from other countries in their own region and the rest of the world. Typically it is aimed at Universities, government departments and Non-Governmental-Organization (NGO's). Around 100 sites will be connected to the GDLN by around 2005.

 
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Updated March, 2005.