The Interactive Communications (ICM) orientation was fast approaching and we needed to find an efficient and effective way to stream the orientation online for those students who were unable to attend in person. Our original solution was to stream the orientation from a Sony Handycam through a USB video capture device into an Adobe Connect video pod. This would work, but this solution requires a lot of camera work (zooming in and out/shifting to different speakers, etc.). This approach also doesn’t look all that smooth if you’re only using one camera, so we wanted to find something more professional.
After consulting with a co-worker, we went with a Roundtable Polycom video conferencing system, and let me say, this is one fantastic piece of equipment! (even though it looks a bit like something out of a Star Trek movie). In short, this smart device provides 360 degrees of video, focusing on the active speaker. The video shifts immediately and automatically to the person who is speaking, so no additional camera work is required. You can pretty much plug the device in, get it set up and you’re good to go.
The Roundtable Polycom system contains six internal microphones, as well as two optional external microphones to pick up audio from further away. It has five cameras, which allows for the 360-degree panoramic view. Additionally, it has a built-in analog audio conference phone, and a touch-screen display.
The Polycom system is advertised to work with Microsoft Live Meeting and Microsoft Lync, but we discovered that it works very well with Adobe Connect. The only drawback is that we are unable to get the Polycom device to work properly with a Mac, so we believe that it is only compatible with PCs.
The Polycom system worked out perfectly for the Interactive Communications orientation, as there were several participants and the camera focused accordingly. In the future, we plan to use the Polycom system for staff meetings that some workers are unable to attend in person. A person unable to attend a meeting can simply log in on a laptop, an iPad, etc., be part of the meeting, and see/hear everyone that is speaking. Instructors might also consider offering synchronous sessions to their students. Overall, the Roundtable Polycom system is wonderful and I highly recommend it to anyone looking to stream meetings online.