Day 8: The Secret of Optimizing the Network for Video Conferencing

This post continues our 20 Day Challenge to understand the technical aspects of videoconferencing.

It is important to understand how H.323 traffic impacts the network and then plan for it. Organizations that do not properly go through this process are often disappointed in the quality of their connections and blame the video conference endpoint, when it is really the network. In today’s post, we’ll examine some other tips to make sure that your network is optimized for video conferencing.

Label the ports in the classroom

One easy system that will make life easier for everyone is to label the ports (Internet jacks) in the classroom so that the teacher knows which one to plug the videoconferencing system into. Schools sometimes have jacks that aren’t live, or one of them is specific for the VLAN, or one of them has the special configurations for videoconferencing.

Label the one that teachers or videoconference coordinator should use. This will reduce support calls and keep everyone happier!

Use a wired connection

A wired connection is more stable and secure than wireless. You’ll get a better quality videoconference if you use a hard-wired connection to the Internet vs. wireless. Videoconferencing is more sensitive than regular data traffic. So give the best you have so that the end users will find the quality acceptable!

If you use wireless, then configure it right!

  • If your wireless connection is configured to be used solely for videoconferencing, then lock it down to the MAC addresses of the videoconference units.
  • If your wireless connection is also used for data, secure it as tight as you can. Avoid scenarios where the other traffic can interfere with the videoconference.
  • Make sure your access points on down through to your switches are configured with the correct variables, i.e. duplexing, line speed, bandwidth restrictions or allows, etc.

Find expert assistance

Work with someone who knows about the technical aspects of videoconferencing. Your usual network support personnel may not be familiar with the intricacies of video. Get the advice of a video conference professional as well!

References

Your Turn

  • Do you agree or disagree with our tips?
  • Do you have any additional tips to share?

We invite your comments and input!

Team-written by Janine Lim, Shane Howard, and Roxanne Glaser. The opinions expressed in these posts are based on our collective video conference experience connecting classes across multiple networks to connect them to zoos, museums, experts and other classes during the past 10 years. This series of posts reflects our usage and understanding, not that of any vendor or manufacturer. No one is paying us to write these. We are just sharing what we have learned.

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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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4 Responses to Day 8: The Secret of Optimizing the Network for Video Conferencing

  1. One other thing I have learned is to have my tech department move the jack I use for video conferencing to the top of the rack in each school. That provides a better connection, especially when everyone in the school is using their computer at the same time.

    • Janine Lim says:

      Hi Madell,

      That’s an interesting tip! Does it somehow give priority? Thanks for sharing!!

      Janine

      • Madell Dobrushin says:

        Janine,
        In our environment, it gives it priority but this may not be true with newer equipment. As explained to me, if the vc drop is moved to the top of the rack, it gets first choice of bandwidth before the computer labs which use great amounts of bandwidth. All I know is, it works!

      • Janine Lim says:

        Cool! I love to learn new tips like that!

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