Posted on April 21, 2011 by Janine Lim
Here are links and resources for my second TxDLA presentation today (Skype vs. Standards-Based VC: The Showdown):
H.323 Desktop VC Options (a few… please comment to add more)
Hybrid / Cross-Over Solutions
- Vidyo (send a link to anyone to join your VC; also connects to H.323)
- Blue Jeans Network (connect Skype, phone, H.323 etc. all in the same conference)
Previous Blog Comparisons
Please feel free to comment, add additional resources, or share different views!
Filed under: Skype, Techie Stuff | Tagged: BlueJeansNetwork, LifeSize, Mirial, Polycom, Radvision, Skype, Tandberg, Vidyo | 1 Comment »
Posted on March 17, 2011 by Janine Lim
Welcome to my MACUL BYOL participants! The session is called Around the World in 80 Clicks (with thanks to Silvia Tolisano).
Here is the link to many Skype resources.
Collaborative VCs Wiki with lesson ideas
Assignment: Please use the comment feature below to document your plans for using Skype in your classroom.
- What ideas do you have?
- Where do you want to connect?
- What do you want to learn from/with another class?
Filed under: Collaborations, Skype | Tagged: MACUL11 | Comments Off
Posted on November 29, 2010 by Janine Lim
Recently, I read this post on the Radvision blog about multi-funtion devices vs. single-function devices. While Sagee was focusing on the Flip camera vs. the iPhone and other Smartphone, I couldn’t help but think about classroom videoconferencing.
Would you rather have a single device that only does one thing: videoconferencing?
Or would you rather have a device that does multiple things: an interactive whiteboard plus a camera for videoconferencing:
Silvia Tolisano's class interviews an Olympian
A device that can:
- Do Skype videoconferencing
- Do standards-based videoconferencing
- Display web pages and movies
- Can use for drawing and concept maps
- And much much more…
This is my vision for my schools: to provide a login to standards-based videoconferencing so that they can use whatever tool necessary to videoconference with whoever they want. All from the comfort of the classroom and using the “technology central tool” in their classroom.
What do you think?
Filed under: Desktop VC, Skype, Techie Stuff | 2 Comments »
Posted on November 12, 2010 by Janine Lim
Skype Classroom Interview Photo
Did you see that Skype is developing their own Skype in the Classroom Directory?
It’s supposed to come out in December, and you can pre-register now.
I am very excited about this development. Right now there are a several scattered sites and places to find people, but one central location would be super helpful.
While we’re waiting, these are the places I know of where you can find Skype partners. Do you know any others?
Filed under: Skype | 4 Comments »
Posted on August 30, 2010 by Janine Lim
Last week I taught 3 sessions of Skype for the first time. I found it fascinating and want to share some of the comments and reactions from my teachers.
What I Covered
- An intro to how Skype is used in the classroom: heavily dependent on pictures and videos from Silvia Tolisano. She seems to be the “queen” of Skype in the classroom as far as I can tell!
- We installed Skype, added contacts, practiced chatting, calling, and sending video (by muting our speakers to avoid awful audio in the room). We set the privacy settings to school recommended settings: only receiving calls or chats from my contacts.
- We connected to one or two people, depending on the length of the workshop.
- We had a lot of discussion on best practices, classroom management, comparing to H323, etc.
Here are some of the areas we discussed and how the teachers reacted.
H.323 Standards Based Videoconferencing
Since almost everyone in my workshops were already familiar with and using their Polycom cart, they really wanted to compare! I thought I should try to teach Skype for Skype, but they asked too many questions!
- I ended up adding slides to my workshop PPT to compare H323 based on these two comparisons: from March 2010 and July 2010.
- We couldn’t talk about Skype without bringing in a conversation about H323 desktop videoconferencing. That is the “in between” solution that has the best of Skype and the best of H323.
- My teachers don’t want to go to just Skype. They want H323 as well, preferably in their classroom.
Ideas for Using Skype
I found it very interesting to hear what teachers wanted to do with Skype:
- First and foremost: they want to connect to family. One participant last week added her college age son to her Skype contact list and before the workshop was over she was talking to him at college!
- A journalism teacher wants to use Skype for students to interview sources for their articles. The students would do individual Skype calls. We discussed using use science fair poster boards to reduce sound challenges having more than one skype call in the classroom at the same time. She also wants to be able to record the interview for evaluation/grading. There are a lot of tools for recording – but I don’t yet know which is the best. Do you have an opinion? Please comment!
- Using the conference call feature (voice only) to do grade level meetings across the district.
- Middle school scientific data collection to increase test validity (better quality data).
Teachers Want Support
While I’ve heard edtech types say “Skype is easy; teachers can do it on their own”; that is not the feedback I received last week.
- Teachers want a “21st century learning facilitator” like Silvia Tolisano is for her school.
- Teachers don’t feel comfortable with the challenge of finding a partner class on their own or building their personal learning network (like Silvia has 200 people on her Skype contact list). They want help with this!
- One teacher, with a fairly high level of ed tech skill, confided that he found it very difficult and discouraging trying to find a partner class for a Skype project. He had tried for a full school year with no success.
- When they thought about registering for CAPspace or Silvia’s Around the World site, they didn’t want to get a lot of email. This again shows the need for a “coordinator” to build the network and assist.
It seems that just like support is needed for H323 videoconferencing, it is essential for Skype as well.
Access and Capabilities
- Teachers are super super excited about VC in their classroom. There are issues with vc in the library and noise if another class is there too; issues with scheduling the space (not the equipment – the space!) for VC; etc. Access in the classroom!!
- Tech directors are worried about the loss of capability with desktop VC compared to VC systems/carts: loss of zoom, pan, tilt, presets, ability to plug in multiple peripherals. Teachers don’t care about that. The access in their classroom is worth that loss.
Logistics, Webcams and Microphones
- Before last week’s trainings, I thought I wanted to mount the webcam on the interactive whiteboard or somewhere at the front of the room. But I found all week that it was nice to be able to pick up the webcam and move it around: angle it one way or another depending on the need, etc.
- One participant had noticed that using the built in camera/mic on a laptop there was no echo (in his own use of VC); but more likely to get echo when using a webcam. This is an interesting observation that I would like to verify and test further.
So, what do you think? Are you hearing these same kinds of reactions from your teachers? Did anything in this list surprise you?
Filed under: Desktop VC, Skype | 6 Comments »
Posted on August 23, 2010 by Janine Lim
To my Tech Camp Around the World in 80 Clicks Session 1 participants:
Here is the link to many Skype resources.
Assignment: Please use the comment feature below to document your plans for using Skype in your classroom this year.
- What ideas do you have?
- Where do you want to connect?
- What do you want to learn from/with another class?
Filed under: Collaborations, Skype | 3 Comments »
Posted on July 29, 2010 by Janine Lim
This week in the Jazz Workshop, my participants and I keep coming back to comparing Skype and videoconferencing carts (or standards based videoconferencing – i.e. H323). We’ve been discussing it all week. (For reference, here’s a previous comparison.)
Today, we did a 5 minute call with a group of teachers in OH who learning about Skype in an afternoon workshop.
- Is pretty easy on Skype, but you can’t show the desktop and the video at the same time.
- On H323 VC carts, you can share the computer and in some cases, the computer and the video/presenter at the same time.
Other Video Sources
- On the H323 videoconferencing system, we could easily share the document camera by pressing a number to jump to a preset.
- On Skype, we are not sure. In theory a USB document camera could be shared with the other site. But do you have to disconnect or end the video part of the call to change video settings? It seems likely.
- The mic on our Polycom VSX 7000 is obviously designed for a whole classroom and works great.
- I was very surprised that the audio we were sending to the group in OH seemed to work fine from across the room. That was using the built in mic on my Mac. I also had my Mac hooked up to the SmartCart with speakers so they could hear. And that did not cause an echo for the remote site as I thought it would. I was pleasantly surprised!
- The group in Ohio had a hand held mic that sounded GREAT. But when they switched to their logitech mic it was kind of tinny and not as clear. I don’t know which logitech webcam they were using or how they connected the hand held mic. I would like to learn that!
- On both sides we had the camera set to show the whole room.
- Of course with Skype/webcams, we don’t have a way to do presets or easily switch to a document camera.
- With the H323 system, it’s easy to set presets to just hit a number to jump/zoom to a specific area of the room. (Zoom, pan, tilt, preset cameras!)
- The participants shared some of their experiences with Skype and how sometimes it’s great and other times not so much. And sometimes it won’t connect at all.
We discussed how Skype is good for short learning experiences that aren’t critical/frustrating if it can’t connect right then.
Standards based (h323) videoconferencing carts are better when
- you’ve paid for the program
- need it at a specific time
- have a guest speaker only at a specific time,
- or have a more in depth interaction.
What do you think? Do you agree? Do you have more to add to the list? Please comment!
Filed under: Skype, Techie Stuff | Tagged: jazzivc, Jazzivc10 | 2 Comments »
Posted on June 27, 2010 by Janine Lim
Chatting at the SIG IVC Open House
Today in the SIG IVC open house, I had a nice long chat with Joan Roehre from WI who is running Wisconsin HistoryMystery via Skype, connecting students in Guatemala to students in the U.S. and many more cool VCs.
Here are some of the tips I learned from her:
- Teachers don’t get Skype on their computer until she has worked with them.
- She makes sure their settings are locked down to receive calls and chats only from the contact list (CRITICAL for K12 school use).
- When they had a T1, sometimes Skype was using 75% of the bandwidth!! Now that they have fiber it is no longer an issue. From the networking side they allow Skype and make sure it has the bandwidth it needs.
- The teachers aren’t sharing the desktop yet – that’s too complicated.
- Visuals for sharing history mysteries were posters or just students giving the clues orally. (I’ve been wondering how visuals work best with Skype.)
It’s good to talk to someone who actually has it working well!
Filed under: Desktop VC, Skype | 1 Comment »
Posted on April 7, 2010 by Janine Lim
I have to say that I’m still conflicted about this desktop VC thing – trying to get desktop videoconferencing to work on an interactive whiteboard installation.
HD Large Monitor
After the installation of the LifeSize cart last week, I keep thinking about the quality of HD videoconferencing on a 40-50 inch monitor. It looks so good! It caused such a stir of excitement among teachers and students! The quality is just great!
VS. Teachers Using VC on their Own
But then there’s the fact that Skype use in schools is growing fast. I can’t ignore that! Just last week I heard from a local teacher planning to connect to a niece in China via Skype – to share with her classroom.
I hear how easy it is for teachers to use Skype on their own. For example, this comment from the Read Around the Planet evaluation:
At the elementary level (where I work) skype is SO much easier to use than Polycom. The quality is not as good, but teachers can do it on their own. With Polycom we have to bring equipment and set it up. It involves IP addresses and other things that most teachers do not understand.
vs. Teachers Still Needing Help with Desktop VC
Yet, the teacher wanting to connect to China needed assistance with getting Skype to use the right camera. In addition, there are all the wire problems with length of the USB cable, the placement of the camera and microphone for ideal classroom use. All these things complicate the connection. Compare the comment above to this one (also from the RAP evaluation data:
I love my Polycom and am so glad that our principal approved buying one of our own so we didn’t have to share with a regional group. I am so proud that any technical difficulties have been primarily on the other end and our equipment has proven to be steady and reliable.
YET, what makes me keep coming back to it is my schools don’t have any money for carts! Cart installation of VC still tends to be grant driven. There must be a way to help new interested users in videoconferencing get started. Desktop VC is a way to get access when you can’t afford the full $5000-$9000 cart! It’s a great way to get started with videoconferencing and still be able to connect to all the content providers and other schools with H323 videoconferencing systems (desktop or room).
What do you think? Am I crazy to keep thinking about this?
Filed under: Desktop VC, Skype, Techie Stuff | 11 Comments »
Posted on March 19, 2010 by Janine Lim
It’s not too long ago, that I was comparing videoconference carts to “integrated rooms.” Now it’s time to compare Skype to videoconference carts. There are many ways and reasons to use Skype in the classroom; there are also many ways and reasons to use some form of H323 videoconferencing in the classroom.
Danielle Letter, TWICE President Elect, invited me to present with her last week at a MACUL preconference workshop. We started making a wiki, and spent considerable time discussing pros and cons of various tools. Since then, I’ve been thinking more about Skype in the classroom and H323 in the classroom; and the pros and cons of each tool. (I’m using H323 to be very specific about the type of videoconferencing I’m referring to. H323 is the protocol used to communicate.)
Flat Classroom Skype by SuperKimbo
|H323 Videoconference Cart
From the Read Around the Planet Gallery
||Unless connected to a projector; difficult for the whole class to see
||Monitor/projector usually designed for the whole class to see
||The computer mic is designed for one person at the computer; so audio can be seriously problematic. You might have trouble with the other site not able to hear you. You may also have echo cancellation problems – where the school at the other site hears themselves talking.
This may be able to be solved if you purchase an echo cancellation mic designed for a conference room table or similar situation.
Another limitation may be the length of the microphone cable.
|The microphones with cart videoconference systems are designed for whole group use. They are usually on a 30 foot cord, easy to move around the room. They have echo cancellation built in, so no echo problems.
These microphones also usually do well with adults speaking from anywhere in the room; and often the students. But if students are presenting, it works better to have them come up to the mic as shown above.
|Access right in your classroom all the time. Easy to just jump in and use it.
||The cart may be in the library or down the hall. Have to schedule it and share among all the teachers in the school. In some districts, VC is mobile throughout the whole district; or only available at the high school.
Depending on cart design, it may be hard to move around the school.
|You can share your desktop with another site, but you cannot hook up other inputs such as the document camera.
||Usually several inputs for DVD, document camera, computer, etc. Multiple types of visuals can be shared with the other site.
| Sharing your computer
|Very easy to share your computer screen (PowerPoint, movies, etc.) with the other site.
||If you’re using H.239 (People Plus Content; DuoVideo; etc.), there are several scenarios where you may not be able to share your computer with the other site.
If you’re using S-Video to connect the computer to the videoconference system, it should work great all the time.
||Usually with Skype you have a little web cam which cannot zoom or have presets.
||The camera has great ability to pan, tilt, and zoom. You can set a preset on any spot in the room (at least 10 or more presets). You can set presets on additional inputs so you can easily switch between the document camera and students, for example.
||Usually you can only control the videoconference from the teacher’s computer.
||An infrared remote control allows controlling the videoconference from anywhere in the room.
|There is a potential that you could overwhelm the school’s bandwidth if every teacher did a videoconference at the same time.
||With a cart, there is a physical limitation to only do one videoconference at a time. Easier to control the bandwidth used.
| Picture Quality
|The picture quality varies widely depending on the cameras used at both ends and the bandwidth of the two sites participating in the conference.
||Cameras tend to be higher quality, even HD, and so the picture quality tends to be higher than with Skype. It still can vary based on the bandwidth of the sites involved in the conference.
|Skype only connects point to point with video. Yes you can have 10 audio participants in a call; but not video.
||With the use of a bridge/MCU, you can connect many sites together. Some essential applications include the ability to share the cost of amazing experiences from Global Nomads Group and COSI Columbus across several participating schools, as well as getting multiple perspectives from around the country/world at the same time. MysteryQuest and all its spinoffs are multipoint events; ASK programs work best sharing the cost of the author with 3 schools.
In addition, since I have a bridge, I can monitor even my schools’ point to point calls (by putting them up on the bridge and adding my site). This way I can provide support and encouragement to teachers as they participate. They aren’t “alone” with the technology. I also like to watch the VCs so that I can recommend the good ones to my schools.
None of this is possible with Skype.
|$100-200 depending on the quality of the web cam and microphone you invest in. Skype itself is free.
||$2000-$9000 depending on the size of the monitor/projector, type of cart, and additional peripherals used.
| Available Content
||Many other classrooms to connect to; as well as authors. You can also arrange to connect with any guest speaker you can find. More resources here.
It is easier to connect to international sites with Skype as it’s more likely they can afford a webcam and Skype than the H323 videoconferencing software or equipment.
|In addition to other classrooms, authors, and guest speakers, there is a large community of zoos, museums, and other organizations who offer programs to schools. We call them content providers. Most of them cannot offer their content via Skype because they have so many awesome visuals to share with your students that they cannot connect to show via Skype.
It can be harder to connect to international sites as they may not have access.
What do you think?
To me, the content available via H323, and the quality of the conference are the two main reasons to keep using H323 carts; even though Skype is free and easy.
What do you think? Did I miss a comparison? What would you add? Please comment!
8/29/10 Update: Added a section about international connections to the available content.
Filed under: Skype, Techie Stuff | Tagged: comparison | 6 Comments »