We made history today in our college with desktop videoconferencing. One of our faculty members recently had surgery and is still not able to leave her home during recovery. She was able to virtually attend a program meeting using Skype for audio and Yahoo Messenger for video. If we were both using Windows computers we could have used Yahoo Messenger for both audio and video, if we were both using Macintosh computers we could have both used iChat. I wanted to do a H.323 videoconference, using oPhoneX on the Mac side and Gnomemeeting on the Windows side, but we couldn’t figure out yesterday how to get Gnomemeeting installed and setup on the PC. We steered clear of Netmeeting for the Windows-side because of reports I heard from others on poor video quality.

Our contrived cross-platform videoconferencing solution worked very well, however, and was chalked up as a “successful first” by participants. The video certainly wasn’t smooth and impressive looking, but it did allow the faculty member to have a visual presence in the meeting in addition to the auditory participation. The latency (delay in the signal) was negligible with Skype, and the audio quality was excellent, which really was the most important thing. I have used Skype successfuly many other times, so it was a technology I was both comfortable and confident in using. We used the Yahoo webcam feature on both sides, so we saw the faculty member in her home on her computer, and she was able to see the faculty members at the meeting at our college.

Our main limiting factor was the video and audio cables which “tethered” the laptop we were using to the wall. It would have been nice to have a longer microphone cord so the laptop could have been closer to the middle of the table where the faculty were sitting. It might have been better to schedule this meeting in a smaller conference room, also.

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