Video conferencing happens on a variety of scales. An individual might use their laptop webcam with a software program like Skype or Jabber, but if you have a room full of people then you will need to use dedicated hardware to get acceptable results. This article explains what facilities the University and The Clinical School provide.
It might be useful to make a distinction here between video conferencing and web conferencing. The former (and the focus of this article) is primarily used for communication, often between multiple parties - it is intended to replace face to face meetings (or interviews) where distance is a barrier. Web conferencing is often done via a website with a combination of your computer and your phone, and is usually used for training or product demonstrations where one person is the focus.
Video Conferencing Platforms - the Competitors
Before we start, it is worth noting that there are many different platforms - there are several large players competing in the videoconferencing market, and each has several products aimed at different scenarios. Of course they are usually not compatible with each other. Several are in use across the University, so it is up to you (with the help of this article) to pick the right one.
The University Phone system runs on Cisco equipment - the chances are you have a Cisco phone on your desk. Cisco also makes dedicated video conferencing units, which are used at many University sites (including ours). Cisco provides an application called Jabber for computers and mobile devices to enable them to make calls and video calls too. One of the advantages of Jabber (over, say, Skype), is that as well as providing video conferencing and chat, it integrates with the University phone system, so you can use it to make or receive calls as if it was using your University phone. Instructions on how to install Jabber are on the University Telecoms Site.
In this guide, the term "Cisco endpoint" refers to either Cisco hardware units or Jabber for video conferencing.
Cisco also produce a web conferencing product called WebEx.
Microsoft make Skype and Skype for business software, both of which are widely used by millions of people worldwide. You need to create a free Microsoft account to use the service. At this time Microsoft do not make any hardware. CSCS supported computers come with Skype pre-installed.
Adobe provide a web-conferencing platform called Adobe Connect. This can be useful for providing webinars, but is not in frequent use in the Clinical School. The UIS ran it as a service, until 31st July 2019 - more information here.
Choosing a Videoconferencing Solution
Individual to Individual
Typically you will need to ensure that you use a solution to which both parties have access. If communicating with people outside the University, this is often Skype. However, if you are communicating internally then it might be easier to use Jabber.
Individual joining a Room-Based Video Conference Meeting
You will need to use the client compatible with the host of the videoconference - the organiser should have given you details. Most videoconferencing units around the University are Cisco, so you would need to use a Cisco videoconferencing endpoint to call in. If you do not have access to a Cisco endpoint, you can make an audio only call into the conference from any phone.
Hosting a Video Conference Meeting
If you are holding a meeting and you would like to invite remote participants, then you can use one of the Clinical School Seminar rooms equipped with VC facilities - SR5, SR8 or SR21. See VideoConferencing Facilities for more information on these.
Inviting University Participants
As above, University guests can use any Cisco endpoint to join a meeting. As the host you will need to send them the phone number to call.
Inviting External Participants
External participants can use the Jabber Guest function - see Videoconferencing with External Participants for more instructions on how this works. You will need to send them instructions and give them enough time to set their computer up to connect.