Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Reducing the bandwidth requirements of web conferences with Adobe Connect

The use of web conferencing (that is video conferences using web based software) is becoming more common. Last year I tried out"Blackboard Collaborate" (previously called Elluminate Live!") and changed the settings so it would work on my slow wireless modem. At the moment I am trying out Adobe Connect at the ANU. I noticed it had similar options for reducing the bandwidth:
  1. Set the maximum bandwidth to dial-up speed: Select Meetings > Preferences > Optimize Room Bandwidth and click on "Modem".
  2. Set the video to low resolution: Meetings > Preferences > Video and select Video quality low. This is sufficient to give the sense of someone being there. Particularly if you are not the main speaker, this should do.
  3. Set the audio to phone quality: By default the audio for conferences will be set higher than standard telephone quality audio (8,000 Hz). Unless you are conducting music lessons, setting this to telephone quality should be fine. This setting might improve the quality of the audio in some settings, as it will reject noise not in the range of the human voice. Select Meetings > Preferences > Audio and select the Speex Codec.
  4. Set push to talk, with half duplex sound: Select Meetings > Preferences > Audio and set the Echo cancellation mode to "Half Duplex". By default the audio should be set so that you have to push a button to be heard. This prevents stray room sounds disturbing the participants and saves on bandwidth. Also setting half duplex helps with clarity: that is when your microphone is turned on, your speakers are turned off: you cannot talk and hear at the same time. People have to take turns to speak, which works well for large groups.

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