Communities Resolving Our Problems: the basic idea
[SUP: Sharing Problems][THINK: Guidance][LEAP: Solving Problems]


This file contains basic information on: on the topic. More specifically, it covers: slow frame Internet video; tutorial information; software archives; location of equipment for experimentation and exploration; concepts and examples of videoconferencing; online discussion groups; professional organizations; and related resources.

Desktop Videoconferencing

What is Internet Video?
Internet videoconferencing is a form of desktop videoconferencing. When you watch standard TV signals, you are watching 30 frames per second that fill a screen. Internet video is possible by using from a fraction of a frame to nearly 15 frames per second in a small portion of a computer screen. Word or verbal communication can be handled through different technology (phone line) or online through CU-SeeMe along with a text window and slide window.

Because CU-SeeMe is available for free on the Internet, it is often the first one encountered. First designed for point to point connections between two computers, CUseeMe is used in conjunction with a monitor, a computer with a digitizing card, a microphone and a video source (e.g., camcorder, VCR, etc.). Better programs are available commercially but because of its free status it is important to test CUseeMe to see if it meets your needs.

Where's the CUSeeMe software?

You will find the free version of CUSeeMe at Cornell and at many Internet shareware sites. Look for the public domain versions of this program at this Cornell University FTP site. White Pine Software, Inc is the Master licensee for CU-SeeMe(tm) internet-based videoconferencing software.

What hardware can you use to receive and/or transmit?

Look for the computers with RCA and S-VHS input jacks in the back for audio and video. Ask the lab assistant to help you connect camcorder and microphone if they are not present. However, beyond this lab, a wide range of Win, Mac and Unix platforms can be used to send and receive if a digitizing card is present.

Linking More than Two Users

A reflector site is a special workstation with software that rebroadcasts CUSeeMe tranmissions to multiple computers across the Internet. One unix based computer which servers as the reflector site can mix any combination of Mac and Win platforms. Instead of entering the IP# (computer address) of another user, you enter the IP# of the reflector site. All who connect using that same number can see and hear each other. Reflector sites generally default to handling no more than 8 simultaneous users, but that setting can be made higher. A more important limitation is the data bandwidth (the size of the pipe that transmits the data). A second system for transmission to more than two sites is MBONE. Desktop Videoconferencing for MBONE requires special software and hardware requirements for various platforms as well as a network administrator willing to manage your local connection. Read Leigh Anne Rettinger's thesis "Desktop Videoconferencing: Technology and Use for Remote Seminar Delivery" for a detailed example of the use of MBONE for instructional purposes.

Tutorial Information

For a quick visual introduction to CUseeMe features study Cornell's Visual User's Guide. For more background information see the help page, CU-SeeMe Conferencing. This page also includes a listing of experimental reflector sites from which you can receive live video and connect with other live audio/video users. Further sites with tutorial information are listed below:

Videoconferencing Problems

It is not a simple matter to get good audio and video signals between two computers. Put more strongly, Internet video is not for the faint of heart. The best advice is to begin the effort to connect computers well ahead of any special dates for presentation. Numerous conditions and settings on each computer along with settings in the underlying Internet system can act up to prevent communication.

There are several tricks to try to overcome problems.

If you have other examples of positive uses of video over the Internet or the problems of such effort, please email the examples or the Web addresses so that I can add them to this page.

Large Room Videoconference Systems

Beyond CU-SeeMe, a wide variety of professional systems are available for video conferencing. In this region, CommunityLink and NCREN represent two different implementations. CommunityLink covers 3 counties (Jackson, Swain and Macon). NCIH (North Carolina Information Highway) connects videoconference sites across the state of North Carolina. From a teacher's point of view, they are managed and supported in very different ways, but the features seen by the student are very similar.

North Carolina Information Highway

An NCIH site requires an on-duty technician whenever it is under operation. Additional information on North Carolina's networking development is also available.


CommunityLink does not provide an onsite technical operator, instead it trains the instructors. The instructor must master the control of the equipment.

Other Videoconferencing Systems

Concepts for Videoconferencing


The range of application models for videoconferencing is wide and growing. The purpose of videoconferencing is basic. Put people in visual touch with each other. The examples below are specific to education but could easily be generalized to a number of settings whether business or government.

Online Discussion Groups

Online discussion groups are teams of people that share email across the Internet. Problems, questions, solutions, discoveries and more can be found in these electronic conferences. If your site has a news server (WCU does) and your browser is properly configured, you can link directly with groups that discuss videoconferencing and other relevant issues.

Professional Organizations, National Conferences and Committees

  • Personal Conferencing Workgroup, is dedicated to identifying, promoting, and encouraging all technologies that will make personal and desktop videoconferencing easier.
  • TeleCon XV, is the world's largest conference and trade show on teleconferencing (meeting at a distance) and all the various technologies that facilitate people working together over a distance, including videoconferencing.
  • USDLA, The United States Distance Learning Association is a nonprofit association formed to promote the development and application of distance learning for education and training. The constituents include K through 12 education, higher education, continuing education, corporate training, and military and government training.

    Related Resources/Bibliography

  • Search the Internet for a variety of libraries for books and search CARL's Uncover database and the ERIC database for additional articles on video conferencing. Search the Amazon Bookstore for new titles in this area.
  • AV LAN Times Index, 1995, a number of articles, often technical in nature on local area network use of videoconferencing.

    If you videotape your videoconference sesssions, other uses for your sessions become possible. This in turn leads you to a wider array of knowledge about video production. Consider simple edits of your existing videoconference, or include this video in a larger video production.

    Updated August 6, 1998

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