New Pelican Cases

All Elementary rental systems will now be sent to the school in a Pelican Hardshell case. This will make transporting them MUCH easier. No more broken boxes!

Ultra Short Throw Projectors

These are starting to trickle into the classroom; while as great as they are, they seem to be quite difficult to setup properly (especially for widescreen 16:10 displays). Please be aware of this when thinking of doing a solution like this.

Generally they are mounted on a wall mount, and not a ceiling mount. Different models are available, with units from NEC and Sanyo currently being used in SD73. Currently my favorite is the Sanyo models, as they seem to offer a bit more adjustability; which makes the installation a bit easier.

NEC NP-U310: http://www.necdisplay.com/p/multimedia-projectors/np-u310w

Sanyo PDG-DWL2500:  http://us.sanyo.com/Projectors-by-Market-Education-Classroom/PDG-DWL2500

Sony Tracking Camera’s

New Sony VC systems come with a tracking camera upgrade at no cost. This could be of concern because it looks like they are discontinuing manufacturing of the standard camera’s…. this may also mean the discontinuing of their SD VC line-up.

The tracking camera’s are not all that useful in a classroom setting where there are students in the room WITH the instructor. As such, at this time; only 1 camera is going to be installed at Barriere Secondary School in their Library VC room. This room is used exclusively as a teaching only location. This camera should work well to track the teacher in the room.

New VC systems for Elementary Schools have arrived!

This give us 2 more VC systems for Elementary School use! This brings our total to 6 systems!

Another note, the Tandberg HD system that Travis has been using in his office for testing is planned for an install/swap at NKSS this summer. The Polycom system from NKSS will be added to the pool for Elementary.

Travis will also be using 1 of the 2 new Sony systems in his office for training/testing. This gives us 1 new Sony system to use in Elementary rental plus 1 more Polycom system.

VC system connected to Projector

While for the most part, our VC (videoconferencing, acronym that I will be using from now on) systems are connected to a big screen TV or CRT TV on a mobile cart. Now, this does not have to be done this way. You can hook up a system to any other type of display device as long as you have the appropriate output/input connections on the 2 devices.

For a Elementary school wanting to connect a Polycom rental unit to a Data Projector, you would need a composite RCA video cable (yellow plug). This only carries the video signal to the projector. If you have speakers connected to the projector, you would also need RCA audio cables (red/white plugs) from the Polycom unit to the projector. The Polycom VSX 7000’s have built in speakers, so you don’t HAVE to connect audio cables.

You would connect RCA Video/Audio to bottom yellow/red/white plugs on VC system: (only yellow if not using audio)

Rear Input/Output of VSX7000

You would connect RCA Video/Audio to yellow/red/white plugs on Projector: (only yellow if not using audio)

Standard Projector Inputs

This all can be displayed on any surface, preferably a drop down screen or even a Smartboard. Keep in mind, that the smartboard is quite glossy, and you will get reflections in the image.

Page design now done…

I believe I’m done editing this blog design. Hopefully it is easy on the eyes and not too cluttered, feel free to leave comments if you have any ideas to make this better.

Dialing Strings

This is a small article showing the different dialing strings that different videoconference systems use. Dialing strings are generally used to dial into a conference through a bridge or gatekeeper and be directed to the appropriate conference, without having to enter information on an auto-attendant. This is similar to the technology used to make a phone call and submit pauses and special characters such as “#” within a string of numbers.

Dialing Strings:

Here are some examples:

Cisco/Tandberg:             12345@12.34.56.78

Polycom:                           12.34.56.78##12345

Sony:                                  12.34.56.78#12345

In all these examples, the conference id of “12345” is entered directly, while the IP address of 12.34.56.78 is the bridge. Think of it as an extension of a phone number. Example: (123) 456-7890 ext. 123.

Networking

In the world of IP based videoconferencing, for the most part, dialling a participant is as simple as dialling a IP address. While this may seem simple, it is becoming difficult as more and more non technical people start using the medium of videoconferencing. Videoconferencing systems are greatly affected by firewalls, and a proper network set-up is crucial to allow all information to flow freely between sites. Generally, use of something called a NAT is used. This allows all network traffic to flow freely between the Internet and the videoconference device. There are also more complicated set-ups being used such as something called “Firewall Traversal”, which we won’t get into here.

A general way to understand this is to compare it to a telephone analogy. In order for someone to phone you in your office, they would most likely have to enter an extension. This means that they have an outside number to call (your phone number), then a extension to call you. A network generally has this same sort of system. There is a public IP address that the outside world can see (phone number), then a private IP address that only the internal network can see (extension).

A simple example is this:

Trying to call a system with IP address of: 192.168.0.100 on someone else’s network, will fail. This address is a private IP address and can only be seen from inside the network. The 192.168.x.x subnet is commonly used in home networking, and if you have a router and multiple computers at home, this should look somewhat familiar.

Trying to call a system with IP address of: 64.58.23.111 on someone else’s network, MAY work. This address is a public IP address and can be seen from outside the network…. but may not be the NAT address of the VC system. But normally, if someone gives you a Public IP address for a videoconference system, it should work.

Another thing to consider is the network latency that can occur if connecting to a system far away, eg. Kamloops to somewhere in USA. What happens is that the network traffic can go through several routers, each one creating possible latency to the signal. Once latency goes above roughly 30ms, this creates a poor videoconferencing experience. While still working, you would most likely notice some minor glitches and lag.

If you want more clarification on this topic, please feel free to leave a comment and I’ll respond.

Good Videoconferencing Practices Pt. 2

Another practice that works well in the classroom, is to instruct the students to leave microphones “un-muted” at all times. This gets them used to the sensitivity of the microphones as well as keeping the classroom under control. It also keeps them engaged through unity with the rest of the videoconference schools involved in the class.

Good Videoconferencing Practices Pt. 1

One of the key problems with videoconferencing in an educational setting, is learning a new way to deliver course material. It is essential that the instructor makes sure that he/she is in camera at all times. This keeps the students engaged and keeps a small sense of unity within the classroom. Moving outside of camera range/view, will always disconnect the students from the lesson.