On Friday I spent 2 1/2 hours working with a network administrator for an Oklahoma historical organization interested in exploring the possibilities of distance learning. They use a Cisco Pix firewall on their network, and (as I’ve experienced in the past) it was extremely arduous to work through the configuration details of getting a portable videoconferencing unit configured with an IP address on their network that would work to both send and receive local and remote audio and video.
On the phone with Polycom technical support (who were wonderful, btw) I learned the following ports have to be open on the firewall to permit videoconferencing with Polycom equipment:
- Port 1720 TCP
- Port range 3230-3270 TCP
- Port range 3230-3253 UDP
The network admin configured the network so it would recognize the MAC address of the videoconferencing unit and automatically assign it a local static IP address, and those ports would be open for the device through the firewall. We did NOT use “fixed ports” on the Polycom unit, and left the firewall configuration set to AUTO. With this configuration the videoconferencing unit can be used to call OUT, but cannot be directly called by outside videoconferencing endpoints.
I’ve done these sorts of configurations many times in schools and universities, but I wanted to document these ports more for my own future reference. This type of information is very important to provide to network administrators when videoconferencing, if they have not previously worked with videoconference technologies and permitted them on their network.
The ports utilized by videoconferencing units can change slightly depending on the protocols used in the calls/connections and the type of equipment that is used. The NASA Digital Learning Network has a helpful page providing more details about networking configurations for videoconferencing and options. I am VERY enthused to have arranged for videoconferencing to work on the network of this Oklahoma historical organization, because I think their potential to share a wide range of educational programs and content to students both in Oklahoma and around the world is tremendous. As this relationship progresses I’ll share more, but I’m hopeful we’ll see tangible “virtual learning fruit” in the not-too-distant future!
Lots of schools with whom I work in here in Oklahoma have videoconferencing equipment, but many don’t use it much or at all. Most of the equipment which is used regularly is used for shared high school courses. I am very interested in promoting the uses of educational technology to empower students and teachers to CREATE and COLLABORATE, as Lance Ford said so well in his ODLA 2007 presentation on podcasting and videoconferencing. This means not just using videoconference equipment to “pick up a course” via distance, but regularly engaging in virtual field trips and classroom-to-classroom collaborations. To facilitate that process, I think it is VERY important that educators have ready-access to high quality educational content that ties directly to their curriculum and lesson objectives.
For more connections and links related to videoconferencing, check out my workshop curriculum (free) on virtual field trips.
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