Interactive VideoconferencingInteractive videoconferencing (IVC) is a live, two-way, interactive electronic means ofcommunication. Two or more people in different geographic locations canengage in face-to-face audio and visual exchanges using cameras,monitors, and document software.
IVC in its truest sense requires high quality videoconferencing units, such as LifeSize, Tandberg, or Polycom. Another essential element to successful connections is bandwidth, which is the size of the connection between two locations. As a result of the Act 183 Grant, Bucks County Schools are now connected to a high speed network and Internet 2, which dramatically helped our ability to utilize high-bandwidth applications like videoconferencing. Advances in technology over the past few years offer other alternatives to traditional videoconferencing. Programs like iChat, Google Chat, and Skype now support videoconferencing between sites that may not have access to high speed networks of expensive videoconferencing equipment.
LifeSize Equipment Resources
Teachers and administrators can use interactive videoconferencing for:
Planning an IVC is very similar to planning a field trip or arranging a guest speaker. It takes long term planning (3-12 weeks, if not longer), coordination of several different schedules, funding approval, equipment and technical testing as well as curricular development and preparation. Visit the Digital Bridges website for a great explanation of roles and responsibilities.
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Finding Content Providers
Finding a quality content provider can be very difficult, simply because there is not a database where everyone is listed. Content providers also vary on two important levels: price and interactivity.
There are many content providers who advertise free programs while there are other who charge upwards of $400 for a program. While the old adage of "you get what you pay for" resonates, there is no way to know the quality unless you read testimonials, recommendations, or other sources of information. Also, be aware that negotiation is not out of the question. Many content providers are willing to negotiate price especially individual experts. It doesn't hurt to ask!
The second situation to be aware of is interactivity. Many content providers will advertise several levels of a videoconferencing: View only, on demand, interactive, group presentations. Make sure that you understand what will be happening during the videoconferencing in regard to the interactivity for your participants. It could be very disappointing if your students are simply watching a screen for an hour without interacting.
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If you need any help in coordinating an IVC, do not hesitate to contact Pam Newman at email@example.com.