|UM SPH Home > SPH Informatics & Computing Services > Classroom Services > Conferencing options|
denotes that authentication is required.
Conferencing and remote collaboration
At SPH we offer three options for conferencing and remote collaboration:.
Phone conferencing requires only a phone or a speakerphone. However, with more than 2 participants, a phone "bridge" will have to be established, usually by a third party. Participants are then given a telephone number to call and a passcode. There is usually a per-minute charge for the calls, either borne by the organizers, or the participants themselves.
We have two rooms at SPH already equipped for phone conferencing: 2610 and 2690. In both rooms you will have to establish a bridge to connect with more than one line. We also have a portable Polycom unit (speakerphone) that you may borrow and use in other rooms. There is a bridging service at UM for those who want to pay with a shortcode. Otherwise, many commercial providers are available.
This technology enables participants to hear and see each other. It typically requires specialized hardware, so all participants must be in rooms equipped with that hardware*. New systems are IP-based, so they will operate over standard internet connections, making it possible for units from different brands to talk to one another. (Popular brands are: Polycom, Tandberg, Sony). Older systems use ISDN lines leased from phone companies - they may be incompatible with the newer systems. Sharing visual content (e.g. slides) in a video conferencing session is problematic - while it may be possible on some systems, image quality tends to be poor or very poor - in cases when this is essential, consider web conferencing, either instead, or in combination with video conferencing. (Another option is to send the visual content to all participating sites prior to the event, and have them display it locally.)
Standard-definition video conferencing is available in rooms 2610 and 2690 in SPH I (Crossroads). When reserving one of these rooms make sure to let us know that it will be used for video conferencing, as only one session can be run at a time. With the equipment in use at SPH we are able to connect up to 4 sites (total) in a video conferencing session - anything above that number will require a bridging device (Multipoint Conferene Unit, or MCU), available from ITS.
High-definition video conferencing is available in room 2655. However, it can be moved to other rooms as needed.
See a short fragment of a fairly typical video conferencing session.
[*There are audio- and video conferencing options for the desktop, which free participants from the requirement to be in a video conferencing facility, but the quality of connections tend to be poor, and limited to small number of participants. Best known of those is Skype, available for free for 1-on-1 video conferencing.]
Frequently confused with video conferencing, this option is the most sophisticated and, paradoxically, the easiest to obtain. Unlike with videoconferencing, web conferencing does not require participants to be in a special facility - as long as they have computers connected to the Internet, they are ready for web conferencing sessions. Another big advantage of that option is that it allows sharing computer content: participants can see slides, video clips, web pages, even the entire computer screen of the presenter. A high degree of interactivity is possible: participants can be allowed to take control of applications on someone else's computer; they can raise hands; engage in chat; answer polls and quizzes; draw diagrams on whiteboards; etc.
We have been using two web conferencing systems at SPH:
What system should I use when?
When deciding which of the conferencing options to request, consider the following questions:
(See these options represented in a graphical form.)