A growing number of faculty bring outside speakers to their courses remotely. While applications such as Google Hangouts, Skype, WebEx, and others work very well on an individual’s computer, additional hardware is needed to make it easy to see and hear groups of students or staff.
Students will be better able to communicate with remote guest speakers when they are clearly audible and visible. The atmosphere for guest presentations will more closely approach that of face-to-face presentations. Faculty may be more interested in having guest speakers do a videoconference for their class if the setup is uncomplicated and takes little time.
Administrative staff will be better able to conduct job interviews with off-campus candidates, collaborate with colleagues at other institutions, and conduct online meetings
LTS purchased and configured two high definition videoconference systems from Cisco in October 2015: an ultra-portable SX10 (less than a foot wide and only 2 lbs) and a portable-within-the-building SX80 (which currently lives on a cart in LIB 336). The latter unit features two cameras that can automatically focus on the current speaker, automatically find the next speaker, and quickly switch camera shots. Both units feature strikingly better video and audio than Google Hangouts, Skype, or regular WebEx — and the video is always in sync with the audio. The cameras for both systems can pan, tilt, and (most importantly) zoom.
These systems can be quickly and easily set up in any Wellesley classroom or administrative room with a spare Ethernet drop and an HD display. There are over 25 such rooms on campus, with many of those located in Green Hall or in Clapp Library. The videoconferencing hardware requires minimal LTS staff time after setup.
Many of our peer institutions have similar videoconferencing systems accessible to their community. Colleagues at institutions who do not have similar hardware can still connect with our high-end systems via WebEx software.
For faculty, staff, and students who prefer to continue using Skype and Google Hangouts, we have purchased a small all-in-one Logitech USB camera with mics that can clearly pick up sounds from 12 feet away.
Project Sponsor: Library & Technology Services
LTS Contact: Kenny Freundlich