Video Skyping with China

China VideoteleconferencingAbout a year ago I started blogging. My third child was two weeks old and I’m not sure what I was thinking, but I started… One of my early posts was about video teleconferencing. I created the video teleconference so the president of a web site development company could observe and ask questions to my web design class during their final presentations. Last year we used a combination of Skype for audio and WebEx for video. We were successful but it was not an elegant solution.

Yesterday, our junior Chinese class video-conferenced with one of their classmates who is on School Year Abroad in Beijing, China. All with Skype. We projected my computer full screen on a projector and ran the audio out through the amp in the classroom. We used the Blue Snowball to capture audio and a Logitech QuickCam for the video on both ends of the call. All of this was run by my IBM X60 on battery power over our Cisco wireless network. PowerGramo recorded the Skype call and I used a Canon SD400 to video tape the class (1 gig card on 320 by 240 and 15fps gives you 45 minutes of video). I ran the 600 meg video through windows media encoder and it’s now 30 megs.

Pretty amazing experience, even though I didn’t understand much of the conversation. The students were amazed at how fluent their friend was. I think that a follow up assignment will be to translate the conversation – especially since some of the students didn’t understand much of it. How quickly you become fluent when immersed.

Exciting day.

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7 thoughts on “Video Skyping with China

  1. Bill — I only recorded the audio on my machine, but recorded the video using the SD400 and have published that on a password protected blog…

    Vinnie — the video quality of the conference was very reasonable. I was really impressed how Skype acted. Hopefully, it was not beginner’s luck.

    Dan — yep — the students actually joked about that, but in the end, we were not cut off, so the communication happened. It’s hard to imagine how the Chinese government is going to continue to block communications…

    Thanks for the comments!

  2. Very nice!

    We just purchased a Blue Snowball and a Logitech webcam to use with Skype. Have tested it locally but not used it in a real situation yet. I was wondering about feedback issues with the Blue Snowball and broadcasting the incoming audio in the classroom. Did you have any issues, or did you arrange the speakers and the Blue Snowball in any particular way that helped? I know the Blue Snowball has settings that make it fairly directional, so I was thinking of placing it out in front, with the speakers behind, and maybe that would minimize any feedback. Any suggestions?

  3. We used the Blue on #3 setting (omni directional) with normal stereo speakers in the room. I did not do anything special. We didn’t hear any echo, but in the recording that I did using PowerGramo (a skype add-on), we did have some echo. It did not interrupt the recording though.

    It’s always good to test, as I’m not sure about the room situation that you have.

    Our student in China has since asked to do it again. We’ll hopefully do it again soon.

  4. Pingback: Skype in Global Ed Program? at Learning Blog

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