As I’ve said before, our usage of videoconferencing has grown so much that I am changing policies and procedures so that my districts and buildings can do more videoconferences on their own. This is the only way that we can continue to increase our use of videoconferencing. So there are two new pieces that are almost ready for the new school year.
1. Polycom Import Directory
Yesterday I figured out how to export a directory from my Polycom VSX 7000, edit the CSV file to add many more entries, and upload it to another Polycom VSX 7000. Voila! I’m very pleased with the results. My new directory has all the BCISD numbers they might want to dial; all the numbers for our local buildings; and a set of the most popular content providers we connect to. I may need to make district specific CSVs for a couple of my districts: the two that are behind a V2IU for how they dial each other; and the one that uses internal addresses to dial each other in their district.
2. Scheduling & Troubleshooting Cheatsheets
The other piece is a one page front & back sheet to keep next to the videoconference system or in the cart. It’s pretty specific to our area, so I’m not posting it online. But here are some of the components. The scheduling side has details about our specific scheduling procedures, as well as the unit’s IP address & distance learning coordinator’s name, email & phone. I’m hoping to start having my buildings do their own scheduling for things that are free and that they are connecting on their own.
The title on the back side is: HELP!! Videoconferencing Troubleshooting. It has my phone number and my test unit & office IP addresses. The rest I’ll copy & paste here in case it is useful for you. Many of my buildings don’t have someone who can stay in the room with the teacher while the connection is happening. In some of them the teacher is doing their own dialing as well. So I need ways to provide support quickly and increase the troubleshooting knowledge in the building. You can see that in the handout I’ve made the problem title big & bold so they can easily jump to the section that is causing a problem.
TV is Black / I Can’t See
- Check the TV/monitor. Is it on?
- Check the monitor. Is it on the right channel? S-Video for flat screens. Notes: ______________
- If you were able to see the Polycom screen before you connect, then it’s not your TV. A blue or black screen is often a firewall problem on either end of the call. Try our test number (above) to make sure you can connect outside your district on your own. Have the other site try connecting somewhere else too.
- Once in a while the flat screen TVs won’t cooperate. If so, unplug the power, wait, plug it in.
Audio: I Can’t Hear
- Check your TV volume. Check your Polycom volume too. Both should be about in the middle.
- Have the other side check their microphone. If you see a Far End Mute icon, you know their microphone is muted. (This only shows up in point-to-point calls). Ask them to unmute. Tell them you can’t hear. Have them nod their head or wave if they can hear you.
Audio: They Can’t Hear Me
- Check your microphone. Are you muted? Your microphone is muted when the light on it is red. Press the button to unmute.
- Their TV volume might be turned down. You may have to write them notes on a sign to hold up in front of the camera or write on paper under the document camera.
They Can’t See Me
- Have them check their monitor/projector/TV. Is it on & on the right channel?
- It may be a firewall problem on their end. See “I Can’t See” above. Have them try connecting to the BCISD test unit. DON’T give them Janine’s office number. They should see if they get a picture and then call you back again and report. If they can’t see on yours or the ISD’s, they should talk to their tech person.
Call Rejected or Busy Signal or Call Rings & Rings
- If you call and get a “call rejected” error, usually the other person is already in a call.
- If the call rings & rings, usually something in the network between you & the other site is not allowing the call to negotiate. Both sides should try the BCISD test unit. If that works, try the emergency multipoint unit below to make your connection (if you’re in a call right now). If your test call just rings & rings, then schedule with Janine to put the call on the BCISD bridge.
Alerts: What Do They Mean?
- IP Network: If this is down, then you don’t have a live Internet connection. Try another jack.
- Gatekeeper: This is used for multipoint calls and ISDN. If the IP network is up and this is down, don’t worry about it.
When All Else Fails, Reboot or Redial
- If you have a lot of connection problems, sometimes redialing will help clear it up.
- If nothing is working, reboot the camera. Turn the camera off (reach up!!), wait, turn it back on.
Still Can’t Connect? Try the BCISD Emergency Multipoint
- BCISD Emergency Multipoint Polycom: xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx
- This is set up for emergencies only! i.e. you have kids in front of you waiting. First dial in and make sure no one else is already using it. Then give the IP address of the Multipoint Polycom to your partner. Both of you dial in. Have your conference!
What kinds of resources do you provide to your buildings to support their use of videoconferencing?