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Inside Iowa State
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October 12, 2001

Video conferencing: Money-saving alternative to traveling

by Anne Krapfl
Busy schedules, reduced travel budgets and personal reservations about traveling all are compelling reasons to substitute video conferencing for traveling to meetings. Video conferencing, the two-way transmittal of both audio and video over phone lines or via Ethernet, is offered through Iowa State's Instructional Technology Center. Demonstrations can be scheduled.

"It's a smaller-scale version of the ICN (Iowa Communications Network), and it works well for committee work, interviews and small group meetings," said Matt Darbyshire, manager of the classroom technology services unit that coordinates video conferencing. Video conferencing isn't as fast as ICN transmittals. That doesn't result in transmission delays, but rather a picture and audio quality that are slightly less than TV-like. But video conferencing also isn't as expensive as using the ICN or traveling. The starting rate is $125 an hour, with surcharges of $25 an hour added for higher-speed lines necessary for, say, overseas transmittal. Conferencing with more than a single site also costs a little more.

Darbyshire said most universities and many government offices and larger corporations have video conferencing capacity. Many states actually use this format for delivering long-distance education, he said.

"Generally, we've had no problem finding sites to link to," he said.

Darbyshire offered these examples of how the service has been used:
  • A Ph.D. student and his review committee conferenced with one committee member who no longer works at Iowa State.
  • Students interviewed with recruiters from the Lands' End company in Dodgeville, Wis., for summer internships.
  • While in Ames for a Board of Regents, State of Iowa meeting, University of Iowa Provost Jon Whitmore taught his Iowa City class from the ISU campus.
  • Leaders of an ISU Research Park incubator company, snow-bound in Ames, provided scheduled training to a client in Minneapolis.
Darbyshire said he and his staff would appreciate several days' lead time to be able to test the connection and make sure sites are compatible. For more information or to request a demonstration, call 4-8022.

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Published by: University Relations,
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