Education may be one of the most promising markets for videoconferencing in 2011. Manufacturers and integrators are focusing their attention on K-12 schools and higher education institutions to get videoconferencing solutions into classrooms.
With videoconferencing, students are able to connect with instructors from outside the classroom. Online classes take on a whole new meaning when students are no longer expected to essentially teach themselves by reading through lecture notes and taking online exams. With video technology, students taking online courses are able to see and hear their instructors, engaging them on a much higher level.
Schools in Idaho have certainly caught the drift. According to a recent story on iAnalyst.com, Richard McKenna Charter High School in Mountain Home, Idaho is piloting a new system from Vidyo for the school’s online seminar program along with the Idaho Digital Learning Academy.
The Vidyo software uses the latest videocoding standard to enable video stream to be layered and to offer rangers of resolutions, quality levels and bit rates. The VidyoRouter eliminates the multipoint control unit and replaces it with a router, streaming layers of video without dismantling and reconstructing it like other videoconferencing products – all while cutting costs and saving energy.
Larry Slade, director of McKenna Charter School said he spent $6,000 for the VidyoRouter, which can handle up to 100 connections and $50,000 for 50 port licenses that don’t expire. The video solution is scalable and ports can be added for just $1,000 each. Compare that to the hundreds of thousands that could be spent on other videoconferencing systems.
Idaho Digital Learning Academy has an existing Tandberg multipoint conferencing unit, but has added a VidyoRouter and 50 port licenses, along with a VidyoGateway, which will allow the Vidyo and Tandberg systems to be used together. VidyoGateway can interoperate with Polycom, Tandberg, LifeSize, and other MCU-based systems. The biggest benefit for students of the Vidyo solution is that students without high-speed Internet will still be able to get quality video. “Even at low bandwidth, the quality is there,” Slade said.
In September, Vidyo won a Wall Street Journal Innovative Technology Award for developing a product that extends video technology beyond what was already out there.
Vidyo has a new video solution, but other companies offer similar high-quality video at a low price point. Also in Idaho, the Fish and Game department has been using a LifeSize videoconferencing system for the past three years to conduct meetings with employees across the state. While the system cost about $84,000 up front, and about $7,600 in annual maintenance, Craig Potcher, Chief Information Officer of the department estimates a savings of about $7,000 for larger meetings and training sessions simply because videoconferencing eliminates the need for travel.
Whatever the need or the budget, there is no doubt a video solution to suit. 2011 will certainly be an exciting year for students and educators as more video technology is available at a price schools can afford.
This article was originally published on BestinUC.com on Dec. 29, 2010.