You’re probably already familiar with some of the more popular videoconferencing (VC) platforms such as Skype, Google Chat, or Facetime, but did you know that OSU has a handful of VC solutions it recommends and provides support for? Media Services is the specific department that handles videoconferencing at OSU. Three main options are available; the one you’ll end up using depends on factors such as what technology the connecting parties have available, how many sites are being connected, and the format of your VC.
- H.323 Systems
Polycom is the VC system installed in many campus rooms, however you may also see names such as Lifesize, Cisco, or Tandberg. These are various brands of systems that are all capable of the H.323 flavor of VC, meaning you can use any one of these systems to make a VC call to any other one of these systems (analogously, I can call your Motorola phone with my Samsung phone because both are simply different brands of devices that communicate via the same standard cellular network). You could not use one of these systems to call someone using Skype for instance, because Skype uses a different method (not H.323) of data transfer. Unlike a desktop client such as Skype, the H.323 systems mentioned above include their own proprietary hardware (including high quality camera and microphone) that hooks up to a LAN line (the same cable you use to connect your computer to internet) and any standard display such as a television or projector. These systems are installed in many rooms throughout campus; contact Media Services to reserve one. In some cases, a portable system may be brought to your desired location instead. Because of superior call quality, on-campus support, and a more secure, controllable connection, this method is ideal for meetings involving multiple people and/or sites, classes, and other types of important calls such as an interview or thesis defense. This, as well as the following two options support content sharing – as in you can show your computer screen to the people in your call.
- Cisco Jabber Video
Jabber is comparable to Skype. It’s free to download and create an account, it works on Mac and PC, and it’s ideal for one person calling one other person who also has Jabber installed on a computer with microphone and webcam. Download it now and try it with a friend or colleague! Jabber supports video, voice, and limited content sharing (limited in that you can’t share your entire computer screen, but you can share an application window, such as your powerpoint presentation, word doc, or a webpage). Text chat is not supported. Media Services can help if you want to use Jabber from your computer to connect with someone using an H.323 system, or if you need to reach people from multiple sites in the same call (aka multipoint videoconferencing). FYI: Jabber can also make calls to the desktop client called Movi, which is simply the full-featured, paid version of Jabber.
- Adobe Connect
A webinar tool at heart, Adobe Connect (AC) is capable of multipoint VC, and is ideal for one person speaking at length, at a time. Participants in an AC VC can connect using a computer or via iPhone/iPad/Android via the AC mobile app. OSU is currently running an Adobe Connect pilot program, meaning OSU staff/faculty/students can email email@example.com to request a free account. You’ll need this account to be able to administer your own AC call or “room.” In AC, you set up a “room” so you can invite people to the call by sending them a URL. When someone clicks on your room URL, they and whoever else is in the room will be connected in the same call. Depending on the preferences you (as the admin) set, anyone in the room can have the capability to communicate with everyone else via webcam, voice, text chat, or various forms of content sharing.
Ultimately, Media Services staff will work with you to decide which option is best for your situation, but now you’re armed with enough information to get the conversation started in the right direction! If you already have a call to schedule, use the service request form to get the ball rolling. Plan ahead, keeping in mind they’ll need some time to handle the large volume of requests, find the resources you need, and run a test call before your actual call.