- The Conferencing in Universities and Colleges Workshop gathered together senior managers and travel coordinators with an interest in improving performance and minimising business travel. The workshop had a local audience at the University of Warwick and was streamed to a wider audience following remotely via the Janet Video Conferencing Service.The event was presented by the JISC-funded SusteIT project, in collaboration with the EAUC Travel Coordinator’s Group, the Welsh Video Network and University of Warwick.
Conferencing in the Sector – Research FindingsPeter James, Professor of Environmental Management, and Lisa Hopkinson, SusteIT Project Manager, University of Bradford
- Peter James and Lisa Hopkinson presented the findings of a series of surveys into the state of video conferencing or "virtual meetings" in the sector. This included many positive messages about the successful use of conferencing to save time and money:
- Respondents to these surveys highlighted reduced stress, better time management and a better work-life balance as being the key benefits to video conferencing. The results also showed that there were additional benefits to the structure and effectiveness of the meeting itself, not just benefits for the individual participants.
- There was a clear consensus that whilst virtual meetings can never fully replace face-to-face meetings, they can have considerable carbon benefits for research universities taking part in international collaborations. However, Hopkinson emphasised that their research showed that virtual meetings are more successful when relationships are already established.
- James emphasised that not all travel can or should be reduced. There will always be travel which is necessary for the business of the university.
- The headline message from the research was that whilst there are pockets of good practice and success, we currently have a disconnected support system. James stressed that there is a need for seamless support for the tools people want to use. This aptly set the scene for the discussions of the day.
JANET Conferencing Services Today and TomorrowPaul Bonnett, Videoconferencing Technical Co-ordinator, JANET
- Paul Bonnett delivered an overview of the Janet Video Conferencing Service (JVCS), which provided remote access to the workshop for both delegates and some of the speakers.He outlined some of the main feature of the service, including telephone support before, during and after video conferences; the ability to book, launch and manage meetings online, so everything can be pre-planned and work when you need it; and support for other standards-based collaboration systems, including Access Grid, EVO and Visimeet, all of which use the H.323 standard.
- Bonnett also engaged in an extended discussion about why JVCS does not support non-standards based tools like Skype, and gave an insight into their work to overcome the difficulties and meet user demands in this area. So far, the third party costs involved in bridging between JVCS and such proprietary services have been prohibitive, and where solutions have been negotiated and developed, market changes have cause problems. This has highlighted the uncertainties involved in working with non-standards based services, but they have not yet given up...
- Bonnett also revealed some of their other planned developments to JVCS, including a Janet Portal, a new scheduling system with a more advanced interface and a new streaming system.
Conferencing at the University of WarwickJonathan Owen, Audio Visual Service Owner, University of Warwick