Dialing Insanity

I’ve written before about the problems with dialing that happen with our K12 collaborative projects. Here’s one of my really sticky examples from this week.

  • School A, one of my schools, can only dial out due to the district firewall.
  • Their partner’s school B has an IP plus extension dialing (I think it’s behind a Polycom V2IU). My school couldn’t call it. After some experimentation, I figured out that if our units are registered to our TANDBERG gatekeeper, they can’t call extensions.
  • So we tried to unregister, but the unit had an admin password on it that I didn’t have record of. Thankfully the district tech figured that out.
  • Sometimes I can put it up on my TANDBERG MPS MCU, but I have it set up with conference 1 as the one conference that people outside can dial into with just the MCU’s IP address. That conference was already in use during the time their program was scheduled. I couldn’t use one of the other conferences to dial out to school B because I can’t call out to an IP plus extension from our bridge unless the bridge unregisters from the gatekeeper & then my other conferences won’t work.
  • So I begged School B’s educational service agency to connect with their Polycom MGC. They can connect their school & have my School A’s unit dial in without any gatekeeper problems. So voila, it worked! Whew.

I realize that I could have my MCU set with the Single Dialin Number, but I haven’t had good luck with other schools being able to navigate the menus. So I’m not quite ready to switch to that model.

Here is a second scenario; not quite as complicated.

  • My School C is behind a Polycom V2IU and the connection requires an IP plus extension to dial in.
  • The partner class, School D, is new to VC. They appear to be set up for dial out only.
  • They have a Tandberg 6000 which can’t dial the IP plus extension.
  • In this case, my conference 1 is available on the bridge, so that’s how they are connecting. Whew. Another connection solved.

Remember the days of ISDN? Have I forgotten already? or does it seem to you also that dialing was easier then. The teacher/building coordinator in School A mentioned that this is the reason other teachers don’t want to try videoconferencing.

Are you running into the same issues? Do you have any interesting scenarios of trying to make a connection to work?

0 replies on “Dialing Insanity”

  1. Janine,

    There’s no doubt that many teachers are put off by technology glitches like the ones you described in your blog today but in my experience with K-12 users in Indiana I think most of this would diminish if receive sites took the time to read documentation sent to them about a particular video conference and tested their equipment before the conference started.

    I just had a conference call this morning where there were five sites connected and two of the sites didn’t have the call in numbers even though I sent that information 3 times and all the remote sites didn’t use proper IVC protocol.

    Schools are making this technology harder than it actually is by refusing to take responsiblity for their own equipment and behavior when using it. Sorry for the venting I look forward to seeing you next week in Indianapolis at the CILC Symposium.

    Jerry R. Steuerwald
    Distance Learning Specialist
    Wilson Education Center
    Charlestown, IN

  2. That may be true Jerry, but in these scenarios it’s the complicated dialing that’s coming onto the VC scene that’s causing the problem. Many tests were done to make these connections happen, and in both cases the schools know and are using appropriate communication behavior.

  3. I don’t understand gatekeepers and GDS and E.164 aliases and all the things that are supposed to make connecting easier. From the vendor presentations, it appears that if you have an end-to-end single vendor solution and only connect to those on your network, all will be simple.

    I always ask vendors about connecting with people outside the network because that is when vc really gets fun…when you are meeting and collaborating with sites from many different places…that is when the hemming and hawing begins.

    That said…we missed our roll call in Megaconference because we had registered with the gatekeeper and completed the test call, but today with everyone in, something was different and after four times getting dropped and our endpoint spontaneously rebooting, we gave up.

    I think it is good for me to experience some things that are frustrating so I can remember how it is for a classroom teacher who might be nervous about his or her first connection.

    Jerry, I agree, there are many things that are frustrating, but the end result can really be amazing. I can be having a stressed out day and when I see the students and what they are doing, it makes it all worth while.


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