re: my "synchronous course" message from last night

Russell Bly (bly@eng.usf.edu)
Sun, 24 Aug 1997 21:12:42 -0400 (EDT)


We have been evaluating Cu-SeeMe for courses offered in our Engineering
Management graduate program with much success. We have adapted courses
offered on our Florida Engineering Education Distribution System (FEEDS)
for Cu-SeeMe broadcasts.

Our best success has been with the White Pine commercial versions of
client and reflector. The codecs offered with the Cornell version do not
offer adequate compression to support audio and video.

We run the reflector on an Intel NT box with a T1 connection. The minimum
requirements we have found to be acceptable for clients are 100 Mhz
pentium with 28.8 modems. We have also found that CERTAIN ISP's throughput
are so limited that the systems is unusable for course distribution. A
student may have to drop their ISP and find another provider in their
market.

Currently, the courses post PowerPoint slides to the web prior to class.
The video portion of the Cu-SeeMe is used only to sync with the slide. The
framerate with a modem is generally too slow for much else. One computer
is located in our studio/classroom for feedback from the students. A
Teaching Assistant watches the computer in class and raises his/her hand
and asks the instructor questions offered from the net. The TA may answer
trivial questions via the keyboard without disturbing the professor.

Video for the internet distribution is picked up from the network studio
feed, processed and fed into a networked Pentium in another building.
We have had up to 21 students across Florida watch the courses with
Cu-SeeMe and have found no significant difference in Internet/classroom/TV
student performance. We have also originated a class remotely to internet
and classroom students when a faculty member was out of town on a
conference.

In all, we have been very pleased with the product. If I were planning to
distribute to more students, we would probably move to MBone for bandwidth
conservation. My concern is that most students do not have client access
to Multicast or MBone through their ISP.

Russell.