Education today is at a tipping point. The ability to visually collaborate, share knowledge, and connect to the world is empowering educators to transform the learning environment thus motivating, and engaging students of all ages. The innovation occurring globally surrounding video-enabled blended learning or blended learning is worth the examination as we see implementation across all academic levels.

From dedicated studios and innovative classrooms to mobile devices, video conferencing today is dramatically enhancing and redefining teaching and learning. In fact, some say that the proliferation of videoconferencing affords flexibility and accessibility thus revolutionizing how educators teach and students learn. According to Gartner, mobile video users will grow from 429 Million to 2.4 Billion in 2016.

Join IVCi and Polycom for an informative webinar covering the latest trends and best practices in distance learning and visual collaboration technology.

In this session you will learn:

  • What this new video-enabled education environment looks like.
  • The role BYOD plays in blended learning environments.
  • How visual collaboration solutions can redefine teaching & learning.

Space is limited so reserve your spot today!

Global Trends in Distance Learning Technology
[Click here to Register]
Date: Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Time: 2:00 PM Eastern / 11:00 AM Pacific (US)

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Video conferencing is moving from a nice-to-have to an essential business tool. This is, in part, due to the ease of which video solutions have become available along with the removal of many barriers to B2B video calling. Here’s a look at a few of the most prominent obstacles and what has been or is being done to overcome them.

A User Friendly Dialing Plan:
Placing a call over video used to be a complicated process due to the lack of a universal number system. Users had to remember an IP address, often up to 12 digits with no logical sequence. Today, there is more consistency video calling standards. Advancements in technology allow organizations to assign unique video addresses to endpoints or personal video accounts. These can be formatted like an email address and can use the organization’s domain name instead of having to remember a 12 digit IP address.

A High Quality Experience:
Technology itself has improved significantly since the birth of video conferencing, creating a stronger and more consistent experience. The shift from standard definition to high definition displays and codecs has allowed video conferencing to become increasingly more realistic. This is significant since eye contact and other visual cues play a crucial role in communication, collaboration and business meetings in general.

Interoperability Between Systems:
Interoperability was traditionally one of the biggest barriers to B2B video conferencing. Existing video solutions did not connect well with each other and in many cases didn’t connect at all. This severely limited the number of individuals who could use video, thereby inhibiting the effectiveness of video conferencing. The creation of video protocol standards along with interoperability bridges has created a much larger network of users who can utilize video, which increases the value of video to businesses.

Reliable High Speed Network:
Network issues can destroy a video call; from packet loss and frozen images to completely dropping the call. Successful video meetings require a reliable, high-speed network. Unfortunately, the bandwidth necessary for a solid call used to be very pricey. Today, the cost of bandwidth is decreasing rapidly as well as becoming more widely accessible.  

Security:
Massive traffic between a private business network and the public Internet can create both real and imagined concerns. Firewalls have always played an important role in protecting internal applications and data within an organization, however, these firewalls can present many challenges for B2B video conferencing by restricting access to who can and cannot be called over video. Thankfully, firewall traversal devices along with virtual meeting rooms have made it easy to connect with external video users without compromising the security of an organization’s network.

While there are still challenges to B2B video calling, it has gotten significantly easier. Businesses are able to connect with colleagues, partners and even customers easier than ever before and with continued improvements it’s only a matter of time before video calling is as easy as picking up the telephone. 

The proliferation of desktop and mobile video solutions, along with WebRTC, has allowed participants to join a video call virtually anywhere there is an internet connection. However, a poor internet connection can destroy a video conference. Here are a few things you need to know when joining a video call over the internet:

Download Speed:
Download speed is the amount of bandwidth people have coming to their computer from the Internet. Think of a road coming toward an office; the more lanes it has the more traffic the road can handle. Similarly, the more downstream bandwidth people have the more internet traffic they can accept. For a point-to-point business quality video call it is recommended to a minimum download bandwidth of 384Kbps. For each additional call participant an additional 384Kbs is recommended. For example, a 4-way call will need 1.5Mbps + 20% for overhead. For High Resolution (HD) video conferencing, a minimum of 1Mbps (+20%) download speed is recommended.

Upload Speed:
Upload speed is the amount of bandwidth people have going from their computer to the Internet. This is the road going away from an office.  Again, the more upload bandwidth one has, the wider the road is and the more traffic people can send. The upload requirements remain the same as the download requirements regardless of the amount of participants on the call.

Latency (Delay):
Latency is the amount of time it takes for the traffic sent to reach its destination. Using the previous analogy, even if there is a wide road going to and from the office, if a car is moving slowly on the road it will take a lot longer to get where it is going. If you notice it is taking a long time for your co-worker to respond on a video call or that you are talking over each other it is most likely being caused by high latency. Latency problems are often caused by network congestion; if you experience problems try ending the video call and starting it again. It is recommended that latency be below 250ms.

Jitter:
Jitter is the time difference it takes data packets to reach their destination and is usually caused by congestion in the network. This is akin to getting off of work and hitting the evening rush hour. Due to the congestion and high volume of drivers hitting the road at the same time it may take longer to reach your final destination.  Jitter causes packets to arrive at their destination with different timing and possibly in a different order than they were sent (spoken). Some arrive faster than they should while some arrive slower than they should. Low jitter, or a few packets off causing a slight flicker or flash, can be frustrating but tolerable.  High jitter on the other hand can make video nearly impossible to use as the image can be completely distorted. It is recommended that jitter be below 30ms.

Packet Loss:
Packet loss is when one or more of the data packets fail to reach their destination and is also caused by congestion on the network. Essentially, some of the packets are dropped by network routers or switches that become congested (lost packets), or they are discarded by the jitter buffer (discarded packets). This is similar to an audio call breaking up where you miss every few words and cannot understand much of the conversation.

Test Your Network:
There are a number of ways to test your network connection both for quality as well as any firewall/security restrictions. Check out IVCi’s new Cloud Video Experience Video Network Assessment test to see how well video is expected to perform on your network. Click here to star the test.

Weekly-Re-cap-Banner-NEW-BLUE

Welcome to our bi-weekly recap of the week’s best articles surrounding collaboration.

Deliver what every CEO wants through Cloud Collaboration
CEOs want IT leaders to figure out how technology can help their business transform and expand, as much as make it operate. Thanks to the consumerization of IT and the explosion of mobile and social technologies, there is a unique opportunity to embed IT into an organization’s overall business strategy. When IT leaders define what business problem they are trying to solve and test the right technology solution, they can become an integral part of running, changing and growing a business.

How states can encourage web-based health care in hospitals
A University of Michigan researcher has found that 42 percent of U.S. hospitals use some type of “telehealth” approach. Telehealth seems to be something hospitals use to differentiate themselves. People often think about rural areas when they think about telehealth, however adoption was just as likely in competitive markets. It’s about using technology to lower operating costs and deliver care more efficiently.

Should HR recruit through video conferencing?
While the use of video conferencing to help speed up the recruitment process is well known, a study from the Montage Talent Candidate Report found that 97% of job candidates felt organizations who utilized video interviewing were more innovative and forward thinking. Video conferencing can aid HR in the areas of recruitment, training, and meetings, a report from video conferencing firm Blue Jeans asserts.

Digital Technology and the Olympics: When Is it Cheating?
We take advantage of advanced digital technologies for efficiency, effectiveness, and loftier performance in business, so why wouldn’t an athlete use these technologies to their advantage while in training or on the field of athletic competition? Is this a fair practice? If everyone has equal access to the technology, then is it fair? At what point does technology tip beyond being a clever innovation along the continuum of progress to cross the line into cheating for unfair advantage?

User Behavior and Training Critical to Secure Mobility
Worker mobility has become an essential practice for government agencies. From teleworking on the road to accessing critical data on your smart phone, mobility increases productivity and employee satisfaction. With the increased proliferation of mobile devices comes the need to ensure that appropriate policies and procedures are in place so agencies can take advantage of increased capabilities while still maintaining high levels of security.

Cisco MX 300 G2

When it comes to video conferencing everyone seems to be talking cloud based services and mobility. These are certainly the big trends of the moment but it is important to remember that room based collaboration is not going away. Colleagues still want the ability to grab a conference room and initiate both local collaboration sessions as well as connect to remote participants via video.

Back in October at the Cisco Collaboration Summit, several announcements were made regarding Cisco’s video portfolio. The overarching theme was to make collaboration simple. One of the hardware solutions announced was the MX300 G2. This solution is scheduled to ship to customers this month.

The G2 really represents the evolution of room based visual collaboration. The device is an all in one solution that features a 55” display with several mounting options (wall mount, floor stand, wheel base), a high definition camera with 4x optical zoom and a wide angle lens, significantly enhanced audio and integrated cable management for simplicity.

The unit is controlled by a large 10” touch display that features an  easy to use interface. This new software will be making its way to Cisco’s other hardware solutions providing a consistent experience across their entire portfolio.

Other features include the ability to host up to four party calls (connect with up to three other video systems) as well as a second display option.  The second display can be dedicated for content only as well. Finally, the system can be upgraded to support full 1080p.

As part of Cisco’s promise to make collaboration easier, the MX200 G2 can be installed in under 10 minutes.

Perhaps the most exciting feature of the MX300 G2 (and will be added to other Cisco systems as well) is Intelligent Proximity. This feature allows meeting participants to pair their tablet (iPad for example) directly to the endpoint and receive and interact with content being shared on their device. This creates a personal experience in a group setting and allows each user the ability to manipulate the content in such a way to help them fully understand what is being presented.

Click HERE to learn more!