Video Conferencing


Video Conferencing/ Live Streaming Tools

Introduction

This is how to bring the outside world into your classroom or how to interact with other educational professionals around the world. You can interview an expert in the field you are studying or organise a meeting between members of your own class and a partner class on the other side of the world. The possibilities are endless. All you need is a decent internet connection and a free account using one of these.

UStream

external image ustream-shout.jpgThis is the tool that is being used by many educators and others. You can use UStream to make a regular TV style broadcast from your classroom that others can watch live or watch later as the session is recorded. You can also make a professional broadcast for other educators. The most recent use for it I have seen was to broadcast live a wedding on an educator that lives in Korea so that he could share his special day with other educators and his family around the world. Be aware that this is NOT just an educational tool and there are a lot of broadcasts that you wouldn't want kids to see so you would need to have set up your show beforehand. You can set things up so that noone can leave comments if you are worried about inappropriate content. You can also require viewers to enter a password before being able to view your show.

Skype

external image skype_logo.pngThis is not strictly an online tool as you need to have the software installed on your machine but you can use it to video or audio conference with another person or group of people through the internet. There are instructions on how to start a conference call with up to nine people here. You can video conference if you have a webcam attached. You can also get buttons to add to your blog/wiki/website that will allow people to call you and know if you are online or not. The one below is mine. Feel free to drop me a line!
My status

iChat

external image hero_ichat.jpg If you have a Mac, you can do the same with iChat as you can with Skype with a few additional features such as adding fun backgrounds to your videos. I have heard of one school using this for improving reading comprehension. They have two parallel classrooms where children in each class are working on the same reading book. They then make up questions about the text and hop onto iChat (would work for Skype as well) to ask their partners in the other class the questions about the book.

PalBee

external image pallbeelogo.jpg Palbee is a Knowledge Sharing service platform on Video Conferencing format (Videos + Whiteboard).

  1. FREE Video Conference (One hour/Five People) for unlimited sessions. Its Flash based interface means that any kind of computer with an internet access can use it.
  2. Palbee supports FREE Recording of sessions
  3. And, you can share the recordings on any other Web 2.0 services such as blogs and wikis. You can embed or use widgets for sharing your recordings on Palbee Player. Below is one of their recorded sessions I found on their website. You will notice that there is only one person in the conference! It was hard to find an example with actual people in it. Everyone seems to be testing it at the moment. If anyone wants to have a go at it with me, contact me on Skype or email.


TokBox

external image tokbox.jpgAnother video conferencing tool that is currently free. You can make a video call (like Skype but all web based - no software on your machine and you call people by sending them the link to the call by IM or email). You can also send a video mail to someone else that has an account with TokBox and they will see it in their online inbox. There is also a video conference area where you can open a room for up to six people and then invite anyone using a link via email or IM. Finally, you can put your TokBox on your social network profile, blog, or personal webpage. Anyone can come to your page and see a "Push to Talk" button. They click it and connect to you in real time using live video and audio.

Twiddla

external image GetFile.aspx?File=logo_nametag_100.pngThis is a tool that allows you to load up a website or a picture and annotate over it. It can be a web conferencing tool as you can enable audio to discuss while you are doing this and there is also a text chat box.





Elluminate

external image imageThis has been used by a number of educators to host meetings. It has high-quality video, synchronized notes, two-way audio, shared and interactive whiteboard options, record/playback for later viewing, features such as clickable links and powerful tools for moderators so you can decide who should be speaking or turn off options such as being able to draw on the whiteboard. However, it costs quite a bit of money so most people would probably not be able to afford it.

Oovoo

external image new_logo.gifFree video conference chats for up to six people and the ability to send video emails as well as add effects to the videos. There is a blog post by Robin Good where he talks in detail about this tool and gives it a very positive review.


Flash Meeting

external image screen01.jpgWe have been using this quite a bit recently in the land of Twitter during weekly get together sessions with New Zealand and Aussie teachers on Sunday evenings. It is really user friendly. It has a lot of functions built in such as being able to share websites, have video and text chat, the ability to vote on a topic, and a Flash Board which you can draw and type onto or show preloaded slides. It copes well when a larger number of teachers jump on so it is worth giving it a go. If you want to come to one of the weekly Twitter meetings, jump on to Twitter to get the invite url. My username on Twitter is suzievesper. You can make yourself a 'Sign In' account here. To set up a meeting, you need a 'Booker' account which you have to email the Server Administrator to ask for. There are instructions (including downloadable PDF files) on this site.





MeBeam

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A simple video conferencing tool. Simply type in a name for your chat room, enter it and send other people the link. Seemed very laggy though and the chat window sometimes went below the edge of the browser - I had to hide some of my toolbars in order to be able to see it.

Stickam

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Another simple live streaming tool. There are quite a few options for how your streams are set up such as making them invite only or viewable by others in the general network.

Qik

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Live streaming from a mobile phone.