22 February 2005

Videoconferencing facilities

What’s happening with Videoconferencing in the Division?

Several years ago the University installed two industry-standard professional video conferencing suites based on the H.323 standard for videoconferencing. The Division's Executive held one of its meeting in the facility as an orientation on 30 May 2003.

One of the facilities was incorporated by the Court of the Future project in BLIS. The other does not appear to be in use, and there seems to be no-one who is prepared to claim management of the use of the facility (it appears ICT Services is responsible for technical support).

In late October 2004 I received a request from China asking for support for some testing of the videoconferencing link between Hungzhou Normal University and UC. Hungzhaou had installed a system based on UC's installation, and were keen to test out the link between the institutions. Despite a number of discussions about the service the link has apparently not yet been tested successfully.

One of the investments the Division made with the National Institute of Language Learning (NILL) infrastructure grant money was to purchase a one-year licence to Marratech eMeeting software: allowing participants from all over the world to join a video, audio, whiteboard, text and documents chat session, if they have the camera, microphone and broadband capacity to join in (the user software is free), using just a desktop computer.

With all the other work on at the moment though the server for this is yet to be commissioned.

[update 9 May 2005] BLIS has stepped in and supported the Division's videoconferencing with Hungzhaou, successfully connecting to the Chinese facility using the H.323 standard over ISDN. With BLIS' continued support, the use of the technology for teaching internationally can be more thoroughly explored.