Videoconferencing allows people at two or more sites to be in interactive audio and visual communication. Besides the obvious use as an alternative to face-to-face conferencing, it has been used for such purposes as:
- Lectures and tutorials
- Remote assessment
- Remote interviews
A videoconference is normally structured as in a face-to-face meeting: an agreed Chair conducts the proceedings. Often, persons wishing to do a videoconference can simply use existing applications such as Skype, Skype for Business, What's App, Facebook, Facetime, or Google Hangouts to conduct their conference. These applications can be displayed for a conference by using the laptop connection provided in any teaching facility which has a projector and screen. (Note: these computer applications are not installed on the teaching room PCs - a laptop must be used). Audio can be hooked into the room's amplifier and speakers if these are installed. Note also that these applications rely on the bandwidth available (usually at the receiving end which could be in an area of poor signals) which might be quite unreliable. Video-conferencing using proper video-conference equipment tends to have a far higher resilience and be less succeptable to failure.
Setting up and using Skype for Business:
Skype for Business is a communications platform that allows you to interact with your contacts using instant messaging, audio and video communications, and Skype for Business Meetings. It runs on Windows and MAC operating systems, and on mobile devices. Instructions on how to set up and use Skype for Business can be found on this PDF document:
Skype for Business User Guide (PDF, 1,447 KB)
Video conferencing can be done using the V-Scene conferencing system operated by JISC. Using V-Scene, a more reliable connection can be established with external parties, using just a desktop computer or laptop. The V-Scene office can be called to debug connections to all parties as part of the service, which is provided to the University under the JISC license. Further details of the V-Scene system can be found at:
V-Scene conferences are booked for specific dates and times by an administrator via the V-Scene booking system and requires full details of all parties involved in the conference, covering:
- IP address of the conference system (if there is a VC room in use)
- e-mail address, phone number, name of contact for each additional party involved in the call.
- Individuals or groups can join the VC using a link provided by V-Scene once the conference has been booked into the system.
Where are the University's full Video Conference facilities?
August 2015 update: University of St Andrews no longer has a dedicated videoconferencing studio in the St Mary's building. There are however a number of teaching rooms equipped for full videoconferencing (and which are registered on the Janet Videoconferencing Service (JVCS) booking system) in the following departments:
- Chemistry (Purdie C)
- English (Lawson Room)
- Physics & Astronomy (Physics C)
- Medical and Biological Sciences Building (Main Theatre and Seminar Room 1)
These spaces need to be booked in advance through Registry Timetabling or through the applicable school office. They can no longer be booked through Media Services.
What are the facilities?
Videoconferencing studios/theatres all have the basic audiovisual equipment: video cameras, display monitor, speakers, microphones and equipment controller. There may also be ancillary equipment, eg video recorder, document reader (visualiser). Facilities vary - there may be connections for laptops to share desktops, dual screens etc, all controlled via a central control panel.