"I Miss It"

This fall I have three districts who are part of our RUS grant who are having technical difficulties with their videoconferencing. This week I talked to one of the coordinators, who said, “I miss my videoconferencing! When will it be fixed??” She echos the feelings at each of these buildings that are currently not working. They were enjoying having videoconferencing and are now wishing it was working. A couple of them said they are watching the collaborations announcements coming out of CAPspace and so anxious to do some of them!

Here’s the situation in these districts:

In two of the districts, the bandwidth they have is completely full. One has QoS, but it doesn’t seem to be helping. Both of them are using United Streaming. One district is not willing to turn off streaming during the day, to allow only downloading at night. I tried to convince them to change this policy unsuccessfully. In the other district, we’re still investigating how United Streaming is set up. I’m hoping that we’ll be able to fix the policy there so that streaming/downloading only happens at night.

In one of these districts, two buildings connect through the Polycom V2IU firewall traversal unit. It seems to be more sensitive to bandwidth limitations, and usually won’t connect at all. However, the elementary building is somehow wired differently and they can connect with some freezing here and there. It’s tolerable enough to hear and understand what’s going on. Each building is sharing the two T1s that come to us.

Router? Firewall?
In the other district, they just upgraded from two T1s to Comcast where they have 10+M so the bandwidth isn’t an issue any more. This district was also using a Polycom V2IU for firewall traversal. The two districts with the V2IU were the only ones that we couldn’t get the NAT/port settings to work for videoconferencing on the WatchGuard firewall. Something in the switch to Comcast made the V2IU not work – and we still can’t get VC to work through the WatchGuard. We have a ticket open with our support techs and I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to solve it. This district did 100 VCs last year, so they are pretty anxious that it’s up & running soon.

I think that these situations illustrate how fragile VC can be on a K12 school district network. Wonderful when it works; but challenging to have the technical expertise and funds to appropriately support VC on the network. I’ve been testing with OSU for Megaconference coming up next week, and it always amazes me the high level of technical support and expectations at the university level. I’m hoping that soon we’ll get these issues resolved so my schools can keep using this great resource!

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