Conferencing Options

At SPH we offer three options for conferencing and remote collaboration:.

Phone conferencing

Phone conferencing requires only a phone or a speakerphone. However, with more than 2 participants, a phone "bridge" will have to be established, usually by a third party. Participants are then given a telephone number to call and a passcode. There is usually a per-minute charge for the calls, either borne by the organizers, or the participants themselves.

We have two rooms at SPH already equipped for phone conferencing: 2610 and 2690. In both rooms you will have to establish a bridge to connect with more than one line. We also have a portable Polycom unit (speakerphone) that you may borrow and use in other rooms. There is a bridging service at UM for those who want to pay with a shortcode. Otherwise, many commercial providers are available.

Video conferencing

This technology enables participants to hear and see each other. It may requires specialized hardware, so all participants must be in rooms equipped with that hardware. New systems are IP-based, so they will operate over standard internet connections, making it possible for units from different brands to talk to one another. (Popular brands are: Polycom, Tandberg, Sony). Older systems use ISDN lines leased from phone companies - they may be incompatible with the newer systems. Sharing visual content (e.g. slides) in a video conferencing session is possible on newer systems.

High-definition video conferencing is available in rooms 2610 and 2655 in SPH I. However, two portable units can be moved to other rooms as needed.

Standard-definition video conferencing is available in room 2690 in SPH I.

With the equipment in use at SPH we are able to connect up to 4 sites (total) in a video conferencing session - anything above that number will require a bridging device (Multipoint Conferene Unit, or MCU), available from ITS, or use of Blue Jeans - service available to all faculty and staff, which allows connecting different endpoints in videoconferencing, from room-based systems, to computers (desktops and laptops), to tablets, to phones. Up to 100 endpoints can participate in a Blue Jeans session.

More on video conferencing.

Web conferencing

Frequently confused with video conferencing, web conferencing supports easy sharing of computer content: participants can see slides, video clips, web pages, even the entire computer screen of the presenter. A high degree of interactivity is possible: participants can be allowed to take control of applications on someone else's computer; they can raise hands; engage in chat; answer polls and quizzes; draw diagrams on whiteboards; etc.

We have been using Adobe Connect as our web conferencing system of choice at SPH (see a short recording introducing the basics of Adobe Connect)

Recently, these has been significant conversion between video- and web-conferencing, with the former taking on the capabilities of the latter, thus blurring the lines of demarcation.