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Webcams and Videoconferencing

Page history last edited by sigrid.olson@... 12 years, 7 months ago

Ready to try a virtual field trip or videoconference, but don't have a Polycom? One district in Vermont does both using just a web cam. Below is some information they provided - both about the type of equipment you would need and how to actually make the connections - that will help you get started: 


Equipment You Will Need:

  • Laptop
  • LCD projector for projecting laptop screen to classroom
  • USB Webcam (with long cable preferably so it can be positioned with view of class)
    • We are using the Microsoft LifeCam Studio™ Webcam.  It has a tripod mount.  It costs $85 or so.  It has a reasonable length usb cord (6') and we are experimenting with USB extension cables.
  • Microphone (with long cable or cable extender is helpful for getting to students during conference for questions)
    • We are using the Gigaware® Omni-Directional Clip-On PC Microphone from RadioShack, for $15.  It can be set in the middle of a large table and will pick up sound well.  It also has an on-off button which is convenient when you want to mute your site to avoid extraneous noise.  It comes with a 6' cable.  You can get a standard AV extension cable for it.
  • Speakers
    • Any good bookshelf speakers will do.  We are using either the Cyber Acoustics CA 2100wb (~$25) or Cyber Acoustics CA 3001 if you want a 3-piece system.  It is important to separate the speakers and the microphone to avoid feedback across the Scopia network.  This sounds like gongs echoing. 

Technical Considerations:

  • Network cord to hard-wire connection - unless you have really good wireless access, a hard-wired ethernet connection is preferable.  This is particularly true for video field trips.  If you are just video-conferencing with a few other people you may not mind a poorer quality video signal.


  • Audio - Audio is the most important signal to do well.  The most common problem is relying on the speaker and microphone in the laptop.  These frequently create echoing feedback.  If you are the only person in the conference a headset will work.  However, the clip-on PC mike can keep the separation between speaker and microphone far enough to avoid this problem.  In addition, if there are multiple groups conferencing, mute your mike unless you need to contribute to the discussion.


  • Proxy Bypass - If you are going through a proxy filter, there may likely be problems with the signal.  We suggest setting the laptop up with a static IP that does not go through the filter when you are video conferencing.  You will need to talk to your network managers and test your connection with a remote site to determine what needs to be set up for use in your school/district.


Creating the Meeting & Placing the Call:


  • Create a meeting in iView. The meeting should take place in your Scopia virtual Room. 
  • Join the meeting in Scopia.
  • In iView, open the meeting interface and assume role as moderator.
  • Use the Number/Alias field to enter the IP address of the content provider. Use the phone button to place the call. The iView interface will indicate a successful or refused connection. (For more information on how to place a call, go to the LNV Nuts and Bolts page of this wiki.)
  • Return to Scopia to interact with provider.


Web Cam Videoconference Checklist:



Before Conference





Get student feedback

Register with CILC

Have contact info for provider

Review program internally- teachers

Find and Submit Program Registration

Forward for PIN

Turn off wireless use ethernet


Complete CILC review

Determine location for conference

-Designate building laptop so that it can be assigned a static IP address (this does not apply to conferences using the Polycom at BHS- it already has a static IP)

  1. submit tech request for static ip to be on designated laptop

Turn off proxies in browser- use IE for Scopia


Test Audio and Video in Scopia before entering meeting.  Make sure the web cam that is enabled is the portable web cam that can be moved around- (once I didn’t realize that my laptop camera was being used not the usb cam)

Post to blog with screen shots

Schedule a test call with provider once program time and date have been established

-test in similar time frame, same space, etc.

-get phone number to have in case there are connections issues

-Schedule test call in Radvision

Once meeting is in session, Enter Radvision and disable Self See so that both parties are visible on the screen

share results with LNV group- get others excited..

Review related curriculum materials provided by Content Provider


Take screen shots and pics during conference


Prepare class

  1. Where will students be sitting
  2. How will they ask questions
  3. Where will camera and microphone be located?
  4. Role Play Scenarios
  5. If vc is a handson lesson- do a test vc with tis or another lesson in vc space to simulate vc familiarize with materials etc.

record- if not with Scopia with digital camera


Prior to test call- contact tech support to allow IP through firewall



Just prior to test call- disable proxy settings - use landline (not wireless) access



During test (if live) acquire feedback from provider related to audio, video, lighting...



After test call- return browser proxies to manual configuration.



Establish actual vc meeting in Radvision



Charge camera for picture taking...










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