IT people in our division don't like using Skype because it is incredibly bandwidth intensive. Is there an alternative option so that I can do interesting videoconferencing projects with other schools in my division or outside of it? Any suggestions would be great!

Thanks in advance Lee

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Leewin, first let me say that if you are going to be doing video conferencing, your bandwidth use will be higher than normal, and Skype isn't any more bandwidth intensive than any other kind of Video. Video, if you want any quality at all will usually take a minimum of 384K for a decent image of any size. Depending on the size of your "pipe" 384K can be a lot or it can be a little. If your LAN or WAN has decent connectivity, there really shouldn't be much worry about video, even Skype unless you have lots of people doing it at the same time. We allow Skype on our network, but restrict it to a certain amount of bandwidth. If you have a fast Internet connection there shouldn't be any problems with video to the net as well. If your Internet connection is 3MB or less then as an IT person I would have some concern.

Unfortunatley there are not many options in the open source arena for video conferencing clients. If you are on a MAC there is an excellent client called XMeeting found at http://xmeeting.sourceforge.net/pages/index.php. For Windows and Linux you can use Ekiga, formerly known as GnomeMeeting)which is really pretty good. A bit unstable on Windows but pretty solid on Linux. You can find it at http://www.ekiga.org/. I have also used a thing called PacPhone. It is free but not open source. I hope this helps.
http://snipurl.com/wengophone seems to be a viable alternative, although Randy's points are well made.
I remember someone talking about Video chat through Google as an alternative to Skype. I do not know if there would be any bandwidth benefits...
Google Chat now has video capabilities. Very simple to install and use.
We currently have several teachers using Skype and they love it. Our IT follks aren't happy with it, and are looking to stop its use. The reason we are told is because it causes issues (worms, viruses, hackers) with computers and bandwidth. Has anyone else heard of these issues? I have recommended trying Google Chat, but no one seems interested. We are looking into Windows Live Messenger as an alternative. Does anyone know if Live Messenger can work with those using Skype?

Ross
I am one of those annoying network admins (looking to start teacher training soon) but I have heard of some issues with Skype. I have to say that I do not believe that bandwidth should be considered an issue as network use is fairly minimal.... There was a problem with Skype supernodes but the chance of becoming a supernode behind an HTTP firewall (as most schools are) is nil.

Security issues with viruses, worms and buffer overflows are minimal as long as users keep the software up to date (but again the chance of these attacks happening through a well configured firewall is minimal). You could also point out that Windows has exactly the same problems if not kept up to date!

I would recommend that you point your system admin people to http://www.skype.com/security/universities/ which will answer a lot of system admin questions...

Ultimately it is the job of the system admin people to make sure that their networks are capable of running all the software that teachers in a safe, secure environment. I honestly cannot see any reason why Skype cannot be used....
Lee, sorry I haven't been on CLassroom 2.0 for such a long time. Thanks again for this piece of invaluable information and I will be sure to forward it on to the network people in my division. We do have access to a videoconference suite but it is not portable and it has to be shared in the library. Sometimes it takes the spontaneity out of a lesson if I have to take all the students down to the library for a VC when there are alternatives out there. Thanks to everyone's comments and suggestions.
I use Skype for one to one videoconferencing, but have experimented with DimDim, ooVoo, and TokBox. I use Flashmeeting to broadcast once a week to my classes (25 students max). I have converted all my primary communication to Skype. Love it!
Hi all

@Ross

If you don't want to have virus problems with skype, you can use it with ubuntu or edubuntu (linux for education) instead of windows ?

Best regards,

Ghis
Google now has a conferencing tool.
I have used Skype but have had problems especially between the hours of 12 and 2. Found it better in the morning. I was wondering if video conferencing could be done in a v-room like the free one on learncentral.com. You would only need 2 connections and a good camera I think. I am still learning how to use it myself but has anyone ever tried it in the free v-room?
There is a site called Boost Cam.  You log on and send the other party an e-mail with the code at the top of your screen.  Then they log on and enter the same code.  No sign up, no passwords to remember.  Quality was about same as Skype but I haven't used it for a conference.  Just connected to see if it worked.

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