I have to say that I’m still conflicted about this desktop VC thing – trying to get desktop videoconferencing to work on an interactive whiteboard installation.
HD Large Monitor
After the installation of the LifeSize cart last week, I keep thinking about the quality of HD videoconferencing on a 40-50 inch monitor. It looks so good! It caused such a stir of excitement among teachers and students! The quality is just great!
VS. Teachers Using VC on their Own
But then there’s the fact that Skype use in schools is growing fast. I can’t ignore that! Just last week I heard from a local teacher planning to connect to a niece in China via Skype – to share with her classroom.
I hear how easy it is for teachers to use Skype on their own. For example, this comment from the Read Around the Planet evaluation:
At the elementary level (where I work) skype is SO much easier to use than Polycom. The quality is not as good, but teachers can do it on their own. With Polycom we have to bring equipment and set it up. It involves IP addresses and other things that most teachers do not understand.
vs. Teachers Still Needing Help with Desktop VC
Yet, the teacher wanting to connect to China needed assistance with getting Skype to use the right camera. In addition, there are all the wire problems with length of the USB cable, the placement of the camera and microphone for ideal classroom use. All these things complicate the connection. Compare the comment above to this one (also from the RAP evaluation data:
I love my Polycom and am so glad that our principal approved buying one of our own so we didn’t have to share with a regional group. I am so proud that any technical difficulties have been primarily on the other end and our equipment has proven to be steady and reliable.
YET, what makes me keep coming back to it is my schools don’t have any money for carts! Cart installation of VC still tends to be grant driven. There must be a way to help new interested users in videoconferencing get started. Desktop VC is a way to get access when you can’t afford the full $5000-$9000 cart! It’s a great way to get started with videoconferencing and still be able to connect to all the content providers and other schools with H323 videoconferencing systems (desktop or room).
What do you think? Am I crazy to keep thinking about this?