Information Technology
Academic Technology Center

Videoconferencing and Webconferencing

IT provides three remote conferencing options for individuals or groups on campus who need to conduct a conference with remote individuals or groups. Videoconferencing provides live video-based interaction with remote participants. Webconferencing via Adobe Connectprovides live voice and graphic-based interaction. A comparison of the options is provided below. Contact the ATC for more details at atc@wpi.edu or 508-831-5220.

  Videoconferencing Webconferencing
(Adobe Connect)
Office Communicator (OCS)
What is it?

Videoconferencing uses audio and video to bring people at different sites together at the same time for a meeting. A videoconference can be as simple as connecting two people in different locations (point-to-point) or it can involve several people at one or more locations (multi-point). All of the videoconferencing systems (codecs) on campus are IP-based (i.e. use the Internet), but the TV studio system, in addition to using IP technology, also has ISDN capabilities (which uses bundled digital telephone lines.)

Available functionality depends on which videoconferencing system you use. Sharing computer screens is possible on the videoconferencing systems with a fixed location (the TV studio), but is not possible with the portable system that is available to borrow from the ATC. Videoconferencing sessions in the TV studio can be recorded for later reference.

Adobe Connect is a Web conferencing tool that allows groups of individuals to communicate real-time via voice and graphics over the Internet. Adobe Connect meetings typically have a presenter and participants who collaborate to conduct meetings or class events. Adobe Connect features include::
  • Voice conferencing
  • Phone conferencing and/or integrated VOIP
  • A shared electronic whiteboard for annotation and drawing
  • Screen sharing
  • Sharing of documents/slides
  • Polling
  • Public and private text chats
  • Event recording
  • Live video streaming for individual participants

Office Communicator is an Instant Messaging (IM) client that provides the ability to communicate with other members of the WPI community via text, audio and video on campus, at home and from project sites. Communicator is similar in function to consumer IM clients such as AOL Instant Messenger and MSN Messenger, but is internally hosted by WPI. OCS Features include:

  • Voice conferencing
  • Video calling (webcam only!)
  • Application sharing
  • File transfer
  • Integration with AIM and MSN Messenger
  • Outlook and SharePoint integration
When should it be used? Consider using videoconferencing when:
  • The participants are dispersed.
  • A live conversation is needed.
  • Visual communication is important to the conversation.

Some examples of videoconferencing include:

  • Collaborative meetings with colleagues at other institutions.
  • Faculty member participates in a thesis defense at another institution.
  • Interviews of faculty and staff candidates.
  • Meetings with remote project groups or project sponsors.
  • Incorporating a remote guest speaker into your class.
Use Adobe Connect when:
  • The participants are dispersed.
  • Face-to-face interaction and visual communication is not critical.
  • The meeting or class event can be conducted in a short period of time (i.e. 1-2 hours or less).
  • Interactive activities can be included.
  • Participants can be at their own computers.

Some examples of Adobe Connect use includes:

  • Distance learning class discussions and student presentations.
  • Incorporating a remote guest speaker into your class.
  • Meetings with remote project groups or project sponsors.
  • Collaborative meetings with colleagues at other institutions.

Consider using OCS when:

  • The participants are dispersed.
  • The participants are all members of the WPI faculty/staff community.
  • A live conversation via text or VoIP is needed.
  • Situations where you would typically have used an alternative chat client
  • The sharing of lecture materials is not necessary

 

Who can use it? Any members of the WPI community can use the videoconferencing systems on campus. Faculty and staff can use Adobe Connect at any time. There is also a plugin for myWPI course and organization sites. If no myWPI site is activated for the course, project, or workgroup site, contact the ATC for a meeting hostaccount. Students can use Adobe Connect for academic purposes. Contact the ATC for details. Participants do not need host accounts. All members of the community can use OCS capabilities.
Where is it available? A videoconferencing system is installed in the TV studio in Fuller Labs. A portable system is available for videoconferencing in most locations on campus. Adobe Connect can be used from any location in the world with high speed Internet access. The software runs using Adobe Flash and is cross-platform, cross-browser compatible. For mobile devices, including iOS and Android, there are apps available in the app store. Wherever OCS is installed.   
When can it be used?

For the TV studio or portable system, contact the ATC at 508-831-5220 or atc@wpi.edu for scheduling.

Access to the TV studio is limited to normal campus office hours, although arrangements may be able to be made for events outside of office hours with enough advanced notice.

Adobe Connect can be used around the clock. The vendor provides 24x7 end-user support as well. OCS can be used around the clock.
What do users technically need in order to use it? Users at both videoconference sites need access to a videoconferencing system. WPI uses Tandberg videoconferencing systems, but the users on the other end can use any videoconference system as long as they work on the same technology platform. Contact the ATC for details.

A WPI local area network Internet connection is required.

A computer is not required.

For details and requirements please see:

http://www.adobe.com/mena_en/products/
adobeconnect/tech-specs.html

For details and requirements please see:

http://www.wpi.edu/Academics/
CCC/Help/Software/
UComm/OCS/
Who do I contact to get started? atc@wpi.edu or 508-831-5220 connect@wpi.edu or 508-831-5220

Also, visit the Adobe Connect Help & Support site for more details.

helpdesk@wpi.edu or 508-831-5888
Maintained by itweb@wpi.edu
Last modified: Jul 02, 2013, 08:11 EDT
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