Dragging Participants from “Entry Queue” to Conference

I just figured out something on my Tandberg bridge, and have been urged by VC friends to share. So here goes.

Background

I have had a Tandberg MPS 200 and Tandberg Management Suite since 2005. When we purchased our infrastructure, Tandberg didn’t have the Border Controller. So we do not have one.

I have written before about my struggles dialing other schools who are “off  my network” and “not on my dial plan.” For example:

Since most of my calls are off network, I cannot run my videoconference program without the ability to have people dial into just an IP address of the bridge and drop into a conference or get dragged into the conference where they belong. Because of that, I have not been using my Tandberg Management Suite, because it will randomly assign conferences into conference 1, and I need to keep conference 1 open for the people who can’t dial into conferences and who I can’t call from my bridge (for technical reasons).

But, last week I just figured out a way around this conundrum. Here’s how I have it set up.

Disclaimer: I totally understand that I’m not using this the way Tandberg designed it or prefers that we use VC. However, I need to be able to have schools outside my network connect to my bridge, so this is what I figured out.

Default Conference 1 & Scheduled Conference 1

  • On the bridge, a long time ago we telnetted into the MCU and set the default conference to conference 1. (Ask your tech support for the exact info as I don’t have it anymore.)
  • The MCU is set up with single dial in OFF. This means that there is no entry queue. If someone dials the IP of the MCU, they drop into conference 1.

Now, what I figured out two weeks ago, is that I can set up a conference from TMS to start at 8 am and close at 4:30 every school day from now until the end of the school year. Since nothing else was scheduled when I started, that reserved conference 1 for the rest of the school year. I made the conference with 4 dial-ins, so when I have a MysteryQuest like yesterday where 4 out of 5 classes had to just dial the bridge IP, there is lots of room for them.

This set up then allows me to schedule all my other conferences as normal with TMS.

Dragging Over

So, whenever someone can’t get into the right conference or I can’t dial out to them, they drop into conference 1.

Then, I use the MCU web interface (instead of TMS) to drag that participant over to the conference where they belong. See the screenshot below. It’s under the Change tab (shown), and then I select other open conferences from the menu (not shown).

Other Dialing Notes / Disadvantages

Now there are some ramifications to setting it up this way; but dialing just the IP to get into the bridge is worth it for me.

  • Codian MCUs can call in with my MCU IP as a gateway and using the conference alias.
  • I have to call other Tandberg MCUs; haven’t figured out how to get them in.
  • Tandberg endpoints can’t call into my conferences. They drop into conference 1 and I drag them over; or I dial out to them.
  • Polycom endpoints can call in with the IP## format. Since it seems Polycom has about 70% of the K12 market that I connect with, this format works well. (Numbers from 2010 Read Around the Planet statistics.)
  • The Polycom RMX & MGC can call in with the IP and the extension in the party alias field.
  • I haven’t yet run into a LifeSize unit that I need to connect, so I’m not sure on those.
  • I have my gatekeeper set up with GDS, so I can easily place and receive calls with anyone else who is on GDS.

Other MCUs

The ability to “rescue” participants who can’t get into the right conference is one of the most important features I check when I consider purchasing an MCU. I need a bridge that can help me make calls that don’t work point to point.

Codian: Right now, as far as I understand it, only the Codian actually has a built in feature to drag participants from the entry queue to the conference where they below. To me, that’s a big score for the Codian MCU; hopefully Tandberg won’t consider that a “hack” and take it away in future software revisions.

Tandberg: Now I’ve figured out this major work-around for the Tandberg MPS. Yay!

Polycom: As far as I understand, you can’t do this with the Polycom RMX. And of course the MGC (if set up the old way instead of with meeting rooms) uses the IP address of the incoming participant to drop the participant into the right conference.

Please Comment & Read the Comments

I don’t claim to be a certified videoconferencing technician, and am still learning how to make my calls work. Please comment and share additional information and opinions. I realize there are majorly differing views on this situation. So be sure to check the comments to get any additional information or views on this issue.

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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