The Shake Up in the VC Market

Are you following all the interesting developments in the videoconferencing market? Here’s an interesting review and analysis of the changes coming down the pike. I highly recommend that you take some time to read it. Here are a few snippets to convince you to read further:

The future of videoconferencing is the software-based codec running on general purpose (albeit high end… for now) general purpose processors connected to a low-cost, high quality HD camera via a USB 3.0 connection. The $20,000+ plastic-camera-on-the-TV-set-on-the-desert-cart dedicated videoconferencing appliance is a business model with the lifespan of an alcoholic fruit fly chain smoking unfiltered camels. The singularity approaches.

[imagine that]…all of the sudden you can purchase a fully functional standards-based HD videoconferencing end-point at every Best Buy, Target, and Wal-Mart in the world…..

This is great news for schools, as I’ve been looking for the H323 (standards based) desktop-ish classroom VC setup (for less than $1000) for over a year now. It really bothers me that all these 21st century classrooms are getting installed without videoconferencing! Tricked-out classrooms with no VC! It’s a travesty! But maybe with a Logitech camera and good echo cancellation mic plus great desktop h323 software it’s actually possible! We won’t have VC in every classroom or school until it is much cheaper and readily available. Purchasable by teachers with little instructional grants from various organizations, or easily acquired with existing tech funds.

So, in my opinion, bring those changes on! We need lower cost easier standards based VC to bring all the great existing VC content to more schools!

About Janine Lim

Janine Lim, PhD, currently serves as associate dean for online higher education in the School of Distance Education at Andrews University, in Berrien Springs, MI. She and her team support over 200 online courses, provide training for faculty teaching online, and work with the campus infrastructure support of online learning. Her department also provides educational technology and Moodle support for faculty and students. In addition, Janine is responsible for the faculty and courses of the Consortium of Adventist Colleges and Universities. Janine has taught over 15 unique graduate educational technology classes online numerous times over the past 15 years, with some classes attracting participants from all over the world. Her undergraduate teaching includes social media courses for communication and digital media majors. Janine has served on the board of the United States Distance Learning Association since April 2015. Prior to her work at Andrews University, Janine coordinated distance education for 22 K12 school districts in southwest Michigan for 14 years. In that position, as one of the co-founders of TWICE, Michigan’s K12 Videoconferencing Organization, Janine has spearheaded popular international K12 videoconference projects such as Read Around the Planet and MysteryQuest. While still serving on the board of TWICE, she was instrumental in designing and implementing the CAPspace website for collaborative videoconference projects. Janine also served on a team of Michigan educational technology trainers providing a workshop called ATA Technology Academy. Her current online learning research interests include successful teacher behaviors, quality online discussions, and student activity patterns in self-paced courses.
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9 Responses to The Shake Up in the VC Market

  1. Yes! I want to have MORE classes to be able to connect with us. I want to be able to share WHAT we are doing and then be able to tell teachers that all you need is a good webcam and we can get you equipped for about $500. That is completely fundable with local foundation grants or PTA funds.

    I know there are people who will say “nay nay” to this, but you can’t keep holding on to legacy equipment and “the way we have always done it”. Go and re-read Shirley Jackson’s short story, The Lottery. Just because we have always done something a certain way does not mean it is the right way or that we have to continue doing it that way.

  2. Rachel says:

    This is great news. I also have been exploring the different options around affordable VC connectivity.
    http://bardwired.blogspot.com/2009/09/desktop-vc.html
    Our schools have been using the $20K on a cart and are now in the 7th year of using that equipment. Equating technology years to human years our VC gear must be over 100! It is very scary to think of replacing this equipment with similar high priced options – makes no sense at all. The one thing that has concerned me about the desktop VC is the limitations of the webcam. A webcam that could do all the things our polycom camera could do – zoom, pan, even presets would be the just what we need. In NZ the company who currently has the contract for managing our NZNet bridge and provides all the end user help desk support has not been very supportive of my efforts – given that they are the people who sell our schools this expensive equipment.

    • Janine Lim says:

      Hi Rachel – thanks for the link and the view from NZ! The point about the quality of the webcam is important for sure… are you mostly teaching via the system? I’ve thought that some of the smaller collaborations and even connecting to content providers, one could easily get by without presets and zoom… What educational applications do you think are essential to have the zoom and presets?

  3. CraigM says:

    You can have good quality VTC with a desktop/laptop computer, high quality web cam and an echo cancelling “speakerphone” today.

    I don’t suggest one type of VTC equipment (computer with cam and mic) over the other (VTC appliance). I do believe there is a place for high quality PTZ cameras coupled with appliance codecs and good quality echo cancelling speakers and microphones. Groups attending a video conference merit this type of quality.

    Well trained individuals can use a high quality web cam ($100,) an echo cancelling speaker/mic ($200) and their laptop ($???) with “video shim” software (ie. CamTwist or WebcamMax) to make quite a sophisticated presenter station. Couple that with a video service provider (for the bridging) and voilla, “inexpensive” high quality desktop units.

    For anyone who is interested, I’ll host a video conference to demonstrate. This will be a hybrid web and H.323 video conference.

    In the same conference we can/will have H.323 and desktop/laptop devices (bring your choice). I will provide the connection, bridge and URL. You bring your H.323 endpoint, or your webcam and headset. Meeting will be held the week of November 23, 2009. Lets “Negotiate a Time and Date” here: http://www.doodle.com/3pxntg7smk8rs435 😉

    Rachel, we’d love to have you in too. Are these times too early?

    There are people who will like the desktop/laptop solution for an individual. Some folks will want the same hardware as an inexpensive group solution. And then there are those who will value the higher cost appliance/group system with the PTZ camera(s).

    Let’s get together and discuss this. 🙂

    • CraigM says:

      Times have been chosen for our H.323 and webcam conference. They are:

      Wednesday, November 25th, 2pm Eastern and
      Wednesday, December 2nd, 4 pm Eastern time.

      Send your RSVP, questions and H.323 IP address to cmollerstuen at gci.com. I will send you the URL for the web conference.

  4. Rachel says:

    Yep that sounds good. I have put some times on your Doodle hopefully i have got my times right i have been puzzling over my world clock. Your afternoon dates make it the morning on the next day for me… i think.
    I will come into your webconference room (what are you using) I could come in on VC but would need to book an international bridge & that will cost us at this end. Look forward to having a chat about this, will invite my colleagues hopefully you will be able to teach us a few things.
    Rachel 🙂

    • Janine Lim says:

      Rachel – are you not able to call IP out to the rest of the world without using your bridge? That seems like a restrictive set up. I hope this works out and we can meet with you! We have connected to Australia and it was the next day, so I’m pretty sure you figured it out! 🙂 Hopefully we’ll see you next week!

  5. CraigM says:

    Rachel, Janine and Janet, Would you go back to the Doodle again and check the times. I had included Thursday and Friday of the US Thanksgiving week, and that just isn’t going to work. I added more days the following week. Thanks, -Craig-

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