Videoconference Technology

VC Technology

Videoconference technology normally involves a minimum of a 1 to 1 fully interactive video/audio setup.  Within our School District, we have the capability to conference up to 20 locations at one time. This allows us to have large meetings and include outside groups such as TRU. This also allows us to run daily videoconferences with multiple schools, with one of those schools being a teaching location.

The backbone of a videoconference network is called the Multipoint Control Unit (MCU), or otherwise known as a bridge. This is somewhat the 'heart' of all videoconferencing in School District No. 73. Another crucial part of the videoconferencing network, is a management server. This box allows us to schedule meetings, troubleshoot problems, and update systems, among other things.

Multipoint Control Units:

  • call each site that is involved with a scheduled conference;
  • links them all together;
  • formats their images into an appropriate format (for example, with 5 locations, each site will see all 4 other locations on their screen);
  • sets up audio paramaters; and
  • monitor each site for network errors

The systems that we use in each of our locations depends on the requirements of the school, and of the room that the system will be housed. For the most part, our rural high school locations have small rooms; and require a smaller setup than our in town high schools. We use systems that have either 1 or 2 cameras, 1 or 2 microphones, and between 1 and 3 screens (either LCD TV or Projectors).

Vendors that we typically use are:

Other technologies that we use in conjunction with videoconferencing are:

  • Smartboards/Bridgit
  • GNUGK (open source gatekeepers)
  • Moodle
  • OpenSIP (open source SIP server)
  • OpenMCU (open source multipoint control unit)
  • Asterisk (open source Telephony)
  • Ekiga (open source H.323/SIP client)
  • Tandberg ConferenceMe (Windows H.323/SIP client)

SECONDARY/ADMINISTRATIVE INITIATIVES

Currently our list of locations within our school district that have a permanent videoconference system are:

  • School Board Office
  • HGEC (Henry Grube Education Centre)
  • @Kool (Kamloops Open Online Learning)
  • Barriere Secondary (2)
  • Bert Edwards Science and Technology School
  • Chase Secondary (2)
  • Clearwater Secondary (2)
  • Logan Lake Secondary (2)
  • Norkam Secondary
  • Parkcrest Elementary
  • Raft River Elementary
  • Sahali Secondary
  • Westsyde Secondary
  • Valleyview Secondary

The below Photos are of a full Videoconference Studio built at Valleyview Secondary School.

Valleyview Secondary VC Studio

ELEMENTARY INITIATIVES

As well, we have several portable units that are used by different elementary schools throughout the school year.

Normal bandwidth requirements for a basic multipoint videoconference are 384Kb/s (this is constant because of the nature of videoconferencing, both upload/download utilize all the bandwidth available). School District No. 73 normally uses 512Kbp/s for standard definition calls, but will be looking into 1.5Mb/s calls for high definition point to point calls.

Link Below to Elementary VC Stauts: