This post continues the journey to figure out how to get videoconferencing in the 21st century classrooms in our county. I’ve been learning about Vidyo over the last several months. Here are some early posts: first learning about Vidyo, and Craig’s comments about the future of VC in schools, and the results of the fall experiment with Vidyo hosted by Craig.
- Quality. Everytime I see Vidyo I am amazed at the quality. I’ve seen it under a variety of conditions, including the pretty low quality of conference bandwidth at our MACUL workshop and it has been excellent.
- Easy Link. More like a webinar, when you want to participate, the host sends you a link to click and after a little download you are up & running. It’s really easy. Imagine sending this link to an author or expert to talk to your students.
- Mac and PC. It works on both the Mac and the PC, which is an essential feature for our use.
- H323 connectivity through a gateway. This is both a pro and a con, but at least it includes H323 connectivity! That is also a must for us!
- CPU intensive. It requires a newer computer and in some cases you may have to close all the other applications in order for Vidyo to run well.
- Echo-cancellation. The echo-cancellation isn’t totally there yet, but I know they are working on it and it keeps getting better.
- Cost structure. The more I learn about other server based videoconference tools, the less I’m excited about Vidyo. If you have your own server, there is an annual license for the software, as well as the cost per download. However, you could also access Vidyo through a reseller and depending on their plans, just pay for the use you have. However, this scenario seems to be designed for much less frequent use of VC than we have.
- H323 connectivity through a gateway. This is also a con because the gateway is limited in the number of connections it can do. It’s really designed for you to use for mostly Vidyo to Vidyo calls, with a few calls to H323 here and there. Whereas 95% of our calls are off our network via H323. So this solution would drastically limit the number of calls we can do at at time. In addition, a “Hollywood squares” layout within Vidyo doesn’t connect well to a “Hollywood squares” layout on an H323 bridge (the same problem you have with connecting this layout between two H323 bridges).
- Pet Peeve: Legacy. I do have one little pet peeve about how Vidyo refers to H323. They call anything that is H323 “legacy”. Legacy is a term used in the videoconferencing industry to mean a videoconference system that is no longer supported. For example, our Polycom Viewstations are legacy because there are no more software updates coming out for them. But to call ALL H323 legacy is offensive to me. As if no one else is making anything new in H323. Which obviously isn’t true at all. Calling all H323 stuff legacy is really annoying to me! Just my little quirk I guess!
Conclusion. For our area at least, Vidyo does not seem to be the ideal solution. We do too many calls off our network. However, for meetings or professional development or scenarios where most calls are within a district or region, it may be a potential solution. I just prefer to invest in VC that we can use for all applications: content providers, student projects and collaborations, meetings, professional development, classes, etc.
A Couple Places to Get a Demo
If you want to try it out, you could contact one of these places. I’m sure there are more, so feel free to comment if you want to add to this list.
- Craig at CGI Alaska who has been very helpful with the demo last fall for blog readers; and for our MACUL workshop as well.
- Marlow King at IDSolutions (he emailed me after a previous post on Vidyo)
So what do YOU think? Please comment if you have any additional insights or comments on using Vidyo in K12 education.