Technology & Facilities for Distance Learning

Information on the equipment and technologies available for videoconferencing.

Equipment

UCLA has been using Polycom® Viewstation units for the videoconferencing aspect of the DL LCTL courses. As of April 2003, virtually all UC campuses report having compatible equipment (UCSD, UCI, UCR, UCLA, UCSB, UCSC, UCD, UCB). Anyone interested to verify just what equipment his or her campus uses, or with questions about capabilities and compatibility, should consult the local campus's videoconference office. You can get a listing of UC videoconference coordinators and their telephone numbers from the UC Office of the President, here (pdf).

For more equipment details and published specifications, begin looking at: www.polycom.com and navigate to 'Products & Services -> Video Conferencing Products -> Conference Room.'

The assumption is that a school-wide audiovisual or specialized videoconferencing office would own and handle all equipment matters, but that is not obligatory: it is possible that a department or cluster might own and handle its own equipment.

Site

One of the distinguishing features of the initiative's use of videoconferencing at UCLA has been running the classes out of ordinary classrooms - possible because of the portability of the equipment. All that a general classroom minimally needs is (a) a network connection to the Internet (it need only be 10Mbps shared for the current Polycom units); and (b) a video monitor - one permanently installed is a great help, otherwise one has to be brought in for each class, along with the Polycom unit.

Of course, if a fixed videoconference site / room / studio can be booked for all class meetings for the quarter or semester, that remains possible, and may offer certain advantages in seating, acoustics, or the like. At UCLA, the Instructional Media Lab in Powell Library has reserved one of its viewing rooms for receiving incoming courses from another UC campus. Outgoing UCLA courses transmit from their regular classroom.

Websites

The course Website housed under the online course management system should be students' and instructors' focal point for a vast array of course material – audio, video, and print – outside of the live classroom. UCLA's Center for Digital Humanities automatically creates Websites for every undergraduate humanities course every quarter, and every enrolled student – including those from another campus – has access to their course sites. The home for the course management system known as E-Campus, which you can look at here. A DL LCTL course taught at another campus and received at UCLA can also easily have its Website hosted at UCLA; contact the DL Coordinator for LCTLs.