Videoconferencing from a Laptop

Question: Very few of our teachers are utilizing videoconferencing as part of their curriculum, and a big reason is the hassle it can be to transport students to the iTV room in our high school. This is particularly true for elementary and middle school teachers, whose classrooms are in another building. Are there reliable software programs that will permit teachers to videoconference using a Webcam and a microphone from their classroom computers over our district network?

The IT Guy says:
Yes, desktop and laptop computer software programs supporting H.323 videoconferencing are available and can be fairly high quality, although you will typically not get quality equivalent to that possible with a hardware CODEC. On the Windows side, Polycom PVX sells for around $200, and it works well with a Webcam and microphone. On the Macintosh side, Xmeeting is free, open-source H.323 software that also works well, especially using an iSight camera. Since the iSight uses a firewire connection, the outgoing video quality is generally better than quality from a standard USB Webcam. If you have IT staff members or possibly teachers using Linux, Ekiga, formerly known as GnomeMeeting, is a good, open source option.

Next Tip: Configuring H.323 desktop videoconferencing software

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