Video Conferencing / Desktop, Web

Desktop or web conferencing uses an internet connection between two or more computers to create a live, interactive meeting.  The programs offer desktop screen sharing for PowerPoint slides and other course materials, as well as live video and audio connections for multiple participants.

These programs are available for instructors to teach classes at a distance, hold “virtual” office hours, bring guest speakers into a course, or give students a way to interact with each other for project collaboration.  Other uses include research meetings, thesis defenses, and job interviews.

ATS currently supports Canvas Conferencing, Google Hangouts, Skype, and Zoom.  Each program can be used by individual instructors, and can also be incorporated into the videoconferencing studios located in Pearson Hall.

Zoom conferencing allows up to 50 participants in a single desktop meeting.  The program offers audio/video connections for all participants, screen sharing, screen annotation, white boards, breakout rooms, text chat, host machine recording, telephone audio connections, and a number of other features.  Zoom works with both MAC and Windows platforms, and has free mobile device apps for Apple and Android devices.

To set up a Zoom meeting, the host simply sends out a URL link for the meeting to all participants.  First time users will be asked to download (and install) a plug-in to their computers, which will automatically run each time they join a meeting in the future.

The University offers free Pro accounts to faculty using the program in a numbered/credit course.  Other accounts can be purchased at a discounted educational price. Please contact Academic Technology Services for a demonstration or to request an account.  Anyone can set up a free Basic account from the Zoom website at www.zoom.us and clicking on PLANS at the top of the page.

The Canvas learning management system (LMS) integrates with a desktop conferencing program called BigBlueButton.  This feature of Canvas works with the class roster for each course allowing instructors to conduct lectures, office hours, and other collaborative meetings at a distance with the registered students.  It also allows the students to start their own meetings with each other for project work, presentations, or study groups.

Conferences can be programmed to begin automatically, or can be started at any time on the fly. Conferences can also be recorded and viewed at a later date, however, the files are automatically deleted 14 days after the conference ends.

For more detailed information, please see the Canvas Help Center pages.

Google Hangouts is available for free through Google Apps at UD.  It allows for full audio/video conferencing with screen sharing and text chat for up to 10 people simultaneously. Hangouts is ideal for meetings with colleagues, student project collaborations, and virtual office hours.  Participants outside the University can participate using a regular Gmail account.

It might be necessary to turn on Hangouts in your UDel mail account or to enable Hangouts through your Google Apps.

Turn on Hangouts in Gmail from Google Chat:

  1. Open your UD Mail account.
  2. At the top of your Google Chat list, click your profile photo.
  3. Click Try the new Hangouts.
  4. Email will refresh, and you can start using Hangouts.

Verify that voice and video services are enabled:

  1. Sign in to your UDel mail.
  2. On the dashboard, click Apps, then click Google Apps > Talk/Hangouts > Advanced settings.
  3. Scroll to the Additional Services section and select Allow users to place voice and video calls from Hangouts.

Skype free video calling uses an internet connection between two or more computers to create a live face-to-face meeting. Each computer must either have a built-in camera or be connected to a USB camera with microphone. The Skype software works on both Windows and Macintosh computers and can be downloaded from the following website: http://www.skype.com

To enable a Skype call, simply open the software and request a video chat using the Skype name of the other person. The computers can be attached to projectors to allow multiple people in the room to view or participate in the call. Skype also contains a screen sharing feature to send PowerPoint slides and other visuals.

Please keep in mind that Skype for Business is not compatible with a regular Skype account.