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Save Travel Dollars With Videoconferencing

By Patrick Pluscht, Associate Director, Center for Distributed Learning and Scott Windham, Communication Analyst, Computing Center  

Many members of the University community may be unaware of a resource that could prove invaluable during this time of budget cutbacks especially where travel budgets have been slashed or eliminated.  The University of North Texas maintains 8 videoconference classrooms on the UNT campus in Denton and 5 on the UNT-Dallas campus.  Many departments are using these classrooms to provide course delivery to remote sites, but there are many other possible uses.  

CDL has assisted UNT community members with connections to many locations in the United States as well as South America, Australia, Asia, and Europe.  Many of these connections used the University’s Internet2 connection to provide a low-cost solution.  Conferences have been used for employee interviews, dissertation defenses, committee meetings, seminars and conferences.  Limited access is also provided to the Denton community for a fee.  Most recently job interviews for the College of Engineering Dean were conducted by videoconference and soon the Provost Search Committee will use this same tool.     

How it  works

The network backbone is supported by the Data Communications Unit of the Computing Center and provides the ability to connect to virtually any standards-based videoconference site and to host conferences with multiple sites simultaneously.  The Center for Distributed Learning (CDL) handles all of the coordination details and staffs all videoconference sessions.  Trained staff members are also available to consult with videoconference presenters and provide practice time for newcomers.

CDL also has the ability to provide a Real Media one-way video stream of your videoconference via the Internet.  This ability is particularly useful for individuals that do not have videoconferencing capabilities but wish to view the presentations.  Best of all, the videoconference room including all presentation equipment and the room staff are provided at no charge to UNT entities.  The only fees incurred are long distance charges and remote site room rental where applicable.  

UNT maintains connections to other statewide video networks that provide connections to many other universities and institutions without additional cost to the requesting party. UNT is also connected to the regional videoconference networks supported by the Region 10 and 11 Education Service Centers and serving the Independent School Districts in approximately 20 North Central Texas counties.  

Interested?

The Videoconference Coordinator will work to find the lowest cost option to connect your videoconference.  Please visit www.unt.edu/untvn or contact Brenda Ritz at ritz@unt.edu or 940.369.7877 for more information.