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Videoconferencing facilities

Masters Room VC camera and screen

About videoconferencing

Videoconferencing allows people at two or more sites to be in interactive audio and visual communication. While our recommended system is called V-Scene,  there are several other systems now that facilitate videoconferencing.

Besides the obvious use as an alternative to face-to-face conferencing, it can be used for such purposes as:

  • Lectures and tutorials
  • Debates
  • Presentations
  • Remote assessment
  • Remote interviews

A video-conference is normally structured like a face-to-face meeting: an agreed Chair conducts the proceedings.  Often,  persons wishing to do a video-conference can simply use existing applications such as Skype, Skype for Business, What's App, Facebook, Facetime, Zoom or Google Hangouts to conduct their conference. These applications can be displayed for a conference in any teaching facility room which has a projector and screen, by using the laptop connection cable provided. (Note: most of these computer applications mentioned above are not installed on the teaching room PCs - a laptop must be used). Skype for Business is included on teaching PCs. If not already loaded on the computer, Skype can also be downloaded from the Software Centre to the PC.  Please note that Skype for Business, and Skype are not compatible and do not talk with each other - it is best for all participants to be on one platform or the other - Skype or Skype for Business, not a mixture of both systems.

Audio can be hooked into the room's amplifier and speakers if these are installed.  Note that these applications rely on the bandwidth available (usually at the receiving end which could be in an area of poor signals) which may be unreliable.  Video-conferencing using proper video-conference equipment tends to have a far higher resilience and be less succeptable to failure. This can be set up using IP addresses of the Conference systems in use,  via the V-Scene application.  (for more details on the V-Scene application, see below).

 

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 is installed on most teaching PCs in lecture and seminar rooms.  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)

Conference cameras are available for short term loan from Media Services.  These are Logitech BCC950 cameras, which are wide angle, and have a speaker phone incorporated into the system. These provide much better quality sound and vision for video conferences compared to some on-board laptop webcams and mics, and make it much easier to use the laptop. If you would like to sign one out, contact us at media@st-andrews.ac.uk and let us know when you would like to sign one out, and when you will return it.  We can get it set aside for you to collect from our office. 

 

V-Scene Conferences (using a room with Video conferencing equipment):

Video conferencing can be done using the V-Scene conferencing system.   Using V-Scene,  a more reliable connection  can be established with external parties, using just a desktop computer or laptop.  The V-Scene admin office can be called to debug connections to all parties as part of the service,  which is provided to the University under the V-Scene license.  Further details of the V-Scene system can be found at:

https://community.jisc.ac.uk/library/janet-services-documentation/vscene

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:

- name and IP address of the conference system (if there is a viceo-conference 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 in a message from V-Scene once the conference has been booked into the system. Each participant is sent a link to the conference which they click to join the conference at the appointed time. A variety of different systems can be joined up using this web-based system, as well a full video-conference system rooms.   V-Scene do the bridging actions necessary to hook all the parties up for the conference, at the designated times.  You do not have to have a full video-conference room in order to use this system.

 

Where are the University rooms which have full Video Conference facilities?

January 2017 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 V-Scene booking system) in the following departments:

  • CREEM
  • Masters Room (booking of this room is done via College Gate)
  • Mathematics
  • Chemistry (Purdie C)
  • Medical and Biological Sciences Building  (Main Booth Lecture Theatre and Seminar Room 1)
  • Physics

The spaces need to be booked in advance through Registry Timetabling and through the applicable school office.  They can no longer be booked through Media Services. V-Scene Bookings should be made via the respective administrator for those rooms or the School's Computing Officer.

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.

For all other systems, Media Services has control of 3 Logitech BCC950 Conference Cameras,  which can be signed out for University staff or student use in carrying out video conferences. 

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Contact the IT Service Desk

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