Category: Communications

Why VSee Free Video Conference for Education – A School Technology Integrator’s Review

* VSee group video chat is FREE for education.  Just sign up for your VSee account using your .edu or country-equivalent address. Please contact us for your free education account if your institution does not have a .edu email.

Guest blog by Claudia Novak, former Technology Integration Specialist at Nashua NH School District and technology expert for the New Hampshire Geographical Alliance.

school technology integration

For the past 20 years, I have been a Technology Integrator for the 17-school Nashua NH School District. One of the most powerful tools I have used has been video conferencing– both with my students and my teachers. For my teachers, it has been a great way to do training and problem solving when I couldn’t be at their school. For my students, it was a great way for them to connect to students at other schools within the school district or around the globe or participate in my Virtual Fieldtrips from anywhere .

Over the years, I have used several software solutions and even expensive dedicated IP to IP hardware solutions. No matter what software product or hardware solution I used, there was one huge issue – our school district’s lack of bandwidth during peak times of Internet usage. The other issue was ease of use for my teachers.

VSee – It’s Really That Simple for Teachers To Use

About 2 years ago I was introduced to VSee on an education blog. I downloaded the product on my laptop and my iPad. It didn’t require administrative rights for my teachers to download it to their laptops. It didn’t require special setups by my teachers to connect to the laptop/iPad camera and audio. I just sent them an invitation and they were up and working with me in a matter of seconds. It was that easy to use.

My first true test of VSee was when I did a series of video conferences from Gdansk, Poland. I was a tad worried since the hotel I was staying at had horrible Internet connection. I had about 15 classes that were ‘connecting’ to me 1-on-1 over a 3 hour period with teachers that had used VSee only when I was there to help them out. The teachers were using both laptops and iPads.

I was HUGELY impressed. No problems and every class got to spend time with me asking all their questions without any video or audio breakup. Better yet, not one teacher had an issue connecting to me and I didn’t have to spend any side time emailing or chatting with them about technical issues.

Since then, I have used VSee exclusively not only for my Virtual Fieldtrips but also connecting to my teachers within the school district. VSee is the only video conferencing product that I have used with such low bandwidth that I could have excellent video and audio even during peak times in my school district.

Video Conferencing Beyond K-12 Education

I recently retired from education and am now working with the New Hampshire Geographical Alliance (NHGA) to help promote geographical education not only in K-12 environment but with universities, too. It is a very active group and one of the issues we have is travelling to meetings. At our last meeting, attendance was low because of the 2+ hours drive under difficult winter conditions, so I introduced VSee to our group.

In April, I used VSee to host our first sub committee (4 members) meeting and we got SO much done without leaving our homes.  Everyone was highly impressed with the quality of video and audio and ESPECIALLY the ease of use with multiple platforms.

I am greatly looking forward to how this video conferencing solution will aid all educators concerned with geography in New Hampshire!

Thank you, VSee. Kudos to VSee and its staff!

 

The Year Ahead for VSee Telemedicine

happy new year from VSee!

Dear Friends,

2014 was a pivotal year for us as the telemedicine and telehealth markets finally exploded. We have been working with visionaries such as MDLIVE-Walgreens, Focus Cura, Intermountain Healthcare, and Mayo Clinic for a number of years. And now everyone else is knocking down our doors wanting telemedicine! Doctors and hospitals are finding VSee’s simple design and strong security to be the perfect solution for video telemedicine.

Our 2014 highlights:

  • Grew and pivoted our design and engineering team to focus on healthcare
  • Made numerous improvements to VSee’s mobile (iOS, Android) and desktop video performance
  • Launched VSee OneClick Waiting Room
  • Launched VSee Cloud Medical Office (calendar and payment)
  • Completed the ninth generation of the VSee Telemedicine Kit
  • Launched VSee Telemedicine Cart
  • Signed partnership with Dell where they have embedded VSee waiting room into their patient portals, and our CEO Milton spoke on the same panel as Michael Dell at Dell World
  • Traveled to Iraqi Kurdistan to set up telesurgery and refugee telemedicine clinics
  • Chosen by NASA to be the official solution in space, going live with VSee aboard the International Space Station

Our 2015 focuses:

  • Help our partners with user adoption by polishing the user experience and improving the VSee eVisit platform
  • Increase performance of VSee audio, video, and web chat API / SDK
  • Enhance VSee OneClick Waiting Room and Cloud Medical Office so any doctor can set up a telemedicine practice within 24 hours

Please contact sales@vsee.com to get a demo of VSee Cloud Medical Office. Thanks again for your support and Happy 2015 from the VSee Team!

VSee at mHealth Summit 2014

The Vsee team will make an impact at this year’s mHealth Summit in Washington, DC, December 7-11, booth #1007. If you haven’t heard, mHealth is the world’s largest gathering of mobile health experts and professionals. We’re looking forward to showing off the latest in telehealth technology and how simple it can be to do telemedicine.

mHealth Summit

CEO Milton Chen will be speaking as part of a special forum, where he plans to unveil two new product lines: the world’s simplest telemedicine cart and the Cloud Medical Office. For most healthcare practitioners, setting up telemedicine services can be complicated, because it requires very specific tools and expensive equipment. They need a cloud-based tool to make their schedules accessible from any device anywhere, including their home computer or smartphone. Cloud Medical Office solves this problem. Expanding on our successful OneClick Waiting Room, this new product provides scheduling, online payment, and other cool features.

On Wednesday, December 10, from 2:00 – 3:00pm, VSee will be demonstrating VSee’s Telemedicine Kit and other devices at the App Demo session.

On Thursday, December 11, from 1:15 – 2:15, VSee will be presenting two separate roundtable discussions about the new era of simple and inexpensive telemedicine.

You don’t want to miss out on this event. Please stop by booth #1007 in the exhibition hall and say hello!

VSee Saves the Day for New York State Department of Health

Total Webcasting NYS Health Department

It’s been a long, rough winter here on the East Coast, but luckily snow is no obstacle to business continuity for VSee users. Total Webcasting with the use of VSee was able to keep the New York State Health Department productive and on schedule with their plans despite a January 21 snowstorm that ripped across the Mid-Atlantic Coast, leaving behind so much snow and damage that Governors Chris Christie of New Jersey and Andrew M. Cuomo declared states of emergency for all or parts of their states.

The following morning,  the New York Health Department in Watertown, NY was holding a very important meeting which they needed to Webcast to the public.  The challenge was integrating the group presenting from Albany to the main group in Watertown as well as to the viewing public, even in the extreme weather (a nasty, snowy -35 degrees F that morning). To make matters worse, the hotel where the meeting was taking place “just happened to be” bandwidth-challenged.

But all went smoothly with VSee low bandwidth video conference performing well on the available network. Total Webcasting Robert Feldman reported “as I write this, there is a full duplex conversation going on between the sites as well as full integration into the Webcast.” So hip hip hooray for VSee and Total Webcasting for saving the day for the NYS Department of Health!

About Total Webcasting

Total Webcasting

Total Webcasting Inc., based in New York’s Mid-Hudson Valley, was founded in 2001 as a Webcasting Service Provider. Specializing in live and on-demand Webcasting, Total Webcasting offers complete streaming solutions that allow businesses accomplish more, save money, reach and engage a wider audience, and create a positive user experience. Total Webcasting has helped local, national and global organizations of all sizes enhance their communication strategies.

Challenges of Skype and Google Hangouts for MOOCs

Guest Post by Sankalp Garud – a 16-year-old problem solver, math whiz, online learning evangelist and entrepreneur.  You can watch his educational videos on http://YouTube.com/tapthetech

I’m glad I can write this post at a time when the education system seems to be in a transition phase. With the development of great free online tools like Coursera and the Khann Academy, the Internet is fast penetrating into our learning routine. However these courses are still in need of video chat collaboration tools that can make online group study sessions effective and social.

How Online Education Changed My Learning

There are many reasons why the Internet is proving to be great for education, but access, irrespective of caste, gender, time zone etc., is the number one factor that makes it an ideal platform for learning. A few years ago (slightly more than 2, to be precise), I started watching Khan Academy videos. Beginning with Trigonometry, I watched almost all the videos that taught topics in my school curriculum. After that, I moved on to Pre-Calculus and then Calculus. I was about two years ahead of my peers  in math. The videos not only made me ‘feel good’ about myself, but they also gave me confidence in Math. I became much more comfortable with the easier material in school. It seemed like a piece of cake!

The need for Video Chat + Collaboration in MOOCs

Last year we saw significant development of MOOCs or Massive Open Online Courses. These were world class universities giving their lectures for free. The best thing about MOOCs is you can pause videos whenever you are struggling, rewind and relearn — without any embarrassment. (I think that the pause button is the single most revolutionary command when it comes to MOOCs). Unfortunately the videos alone won’t do the trick. The “social collaboration/ interaction” part was missing. How could we make online courses more interactive? How could we humanize the cloud classroom? How can students collaborate with the instructor and his peers? These are questions we still are trying to solve.

Among popular MOOCs such as edX , Udacity and others, Coursera is by far the most successful mainly due to two reasons: 1. It’s free 2. It has more courses. I have successfully completed one MOOC on Coursera with distinction, Introduction to Mathematical Thinking (IMT), by Dr. Keith Devlin of Stanford.  An interesting fact came to light after I took the course. I realized that the most effective learning that took place in the course happened in the discussion forums. I entered other MOOCs, and it was the same thing. So, collaboration matters!

But discussion forums can be a pain, especially when you want to type something like x^2+1 = phi.  This is annoying to read as well as to interpret. Most of the web forums are still developing support for math.  Coursera has already developed them, yet it still feels inorganic. Human beings are used to seeing people and talking to them, and eye contact is key. Video Chat could be a potential solution!

The failure of Skype and Google Hangouts for online collaboration

While I was taking IMT, I joined a Skype study group. That was my very first attempt to collaborate through video chat. Needless to say, it failed. We couldn’t do anything, just a few small video chats here and there and that was it. So even though IMT was successful due to the discussion forums, the video collaboration just didn’t work out. Perhaps you could blame the math for that – how do you ‘discuss’ Number Theory without having any screen sharing or something similar?  There was also a tool called StudyRoom, basically a whiteboard sharing software. It showed some positive signs, just like the discussion forums.

After IMT was over, there was a long time before my next course would start. I decided to take random MOOC’s at that time, just for fun, not totally committing all my resources to them. I started taking Duke’s “Think Again: How to Reason and Argue.”  This course was the first one to incorporate Google+ Hangouts as an official study collaboration tool. The day Hangouts was introduced, the video chat rooms were totally full of students. I struggled to even get into one due to the 10 person Hangout restriction. The first time I got chance, I was welcomed by some of my coursemates there, in subsequent days we also talked about studies. Sadly, in about a week, you could hear a pin drop in the chat rooms. Did Hangouts also fail as a study tool? Yes, but not as badly as the previous time I tried video collaboration with Skype. At least we attempted to study. In fact, there were positive signs for video chat collaboration.

What were these tools lacking? First of all, both Skype and Google Hangouts are not meant for studying full time. If there is an ideal tool, then that tool has to be dedicated to studying. StudyRoom looks good, but it restricts you to whiteboard only.

What the perfect study tool needs to have

1.  For the purpose at hand, it needs to be geared towards full time studying

2.  Intuitive. In the sense of not very geeky or hard to use, because a history major, for instance, won’t care about the ping rate.

3.  Should know to handle time zones! (boy, isn’t this a major problem, especially when there are due dates and stuff)

4.  Quantitatively speaking, screen sharing, annotations, group discussion facilities (With and without a host) are the things to be included. I don’t think it should take long for such an ultimate tool to exist! But wait, the list isn’t over,

5.  Should provide motivation for people to use them in some way. Now this last point, perhaps is an idiot’s point. But for some strange reason, people don’t want to go to Skype, especially when the intention is to study. Compare this to studying in a park with green trees around to studying in a dark closet with some mice and cockroaches around (I needed to get that contrast, sorry). This motivation can be anything: an elegant UI, ability to buzz each other, ability to explore with new people on the same concept and get help from them or something entirely different. The tool which achieves this last point, I’m sure, will be the future of online video collaboration.

Thank you!

Sankalp online education and video collaboration evangelistSankalp Garud is a 16 year old boy living in Mumbai, India. He likes math and computers in particular. Fascinated by the potential of MOOCs and online education, he also wishes to be a part of this revolution. He has been actively using educational resources, from Khanacademy to Coursera, right from their early days.
His personal youtube channel is http://YouTube.com/sankalp35  while he has currently assembled a small group that will be making educational videos posted on http://YouTube.com/tapthetech