Best Practices for Conducting Training Using Video Conferencing

Here at Collaboration Insight we are constantly extolling the benefits of video conferencing and showcasing some really interesting and exciting use cases; anything from advanced telemedicine sessions to connecting manufacturing sites all over the world. Training, however, is one of those uses of video conferencing that has been around since the first VC units began to be available. When it comes to utilizing video for training there are a number of key areas an instructor should focus on in order to achieve a successful session. In addition, the right technology and features can help take a subpar training experience and raise it to new heights.


With video, the focus is generally on the participants in the meeting themselves, how good their video looks and how well they can interact with others. Now this is certainly important in a training session, as video makes it easy for the trainer to evaluate the learner’s comprehension. Content, however, is perhaps more important in training. If so, it is important to choose a technology solution that puts a strong emphasis on content sharing and interaction. You might find a web conferencing platform with video is a better choice than a standard video conferencing setup. A solution like Cisco’s WebEx or Citrix’s GoToMeeting provide incredibly high fidelity content sharing while still enabling the face to face interaction of video.

Additionally, it is important to ensure that when content is being presented the video stream of the instructor is not interrupted. Often times this is referred to as dual stream content sharing. If this is not available, a learner can only see the content and the instructor cannot see their students when content is shared. This drastically reduces the advantage of seeing those teaching and those learning.

Question & Answer

A key aspect of any training session is the ability for students to ask questions and interact with the instructor. With this in mind, it is important to look at video technology that includes the ability to ask questions via text. The questions can be easily referenced and attributed to the learner who posed it. This transcript can also be incredibly useful for shaping future sessions and making improvements to the content presented.

Recording and Streaming

Training can be time consuming and costly to develop and deliver. There will never be a time that is perfect for every learner to attend so it becomes important to be able to record a training session (both audio and video). In addition to the recording, the ability to easily share that recording and make it fast and easy to replay should be addressed. Many solutions provide the recording capability but do not catalogue and archive. That catalog can become a valuable tool for on-boarding new hires and providing refresher training for current employees as well. Training is certainly more than technology but the time and money spent on delivering the perfect message can easily be wasted if the technology impedes its delivery. These best practices can be a first step to ensure the most effective training possible.

Infocomm 2014

Another year, and another Infocomm has come to a close. For those not familiar, Infocomm is the largest conference for audio visual technologies. The show includes a substantial trade show floor as well as educational sessions that accompany the many audio visual certifications that Infocomm offers through Infocomm University.

This year’s show was the largest ever with over 37,000 attendees.

For many, Infocomm has always been thought of as an AV only show. Things like displays, digital signage, microphones, etc. This year it was clear, more so than ever before, that AV, IT and Collaboration have all come together. It’s all about communications and connecting people. Further, developing a communications strategy is no longer siloed. Organizations are looking to build a strategy that spans from AV rooms to mobile devices and desktops. Gone are the days of seeking out an AV expert, then a video expert, etc.

There were some notable trends and solutions prevalent throughout the show including:

4K Video
Interest in this technology continues to grow and not just for the “gee whiz” factor of a cool new technology. Rather, 4k allows for high fidelity content (medical imaging, product schematics, etc). With the added resolution this content can be recreated in the most realistic manner possible and shared remotely.

Countless booths featured technology to connect teams and people and allow them to work together on shared content, etc. A particularly interesting announcement was the SMART kapp. Essentially this device looks like an average white board that you use standard dry erase markets with. In reality, the contents of the board can be shared in real time and snap shots saved for later review. Gone are the days of using a camera to capture a collaborative session from a white board. On top of some really cool technology, the board can be purchased or under $1000. To learn more, check out:

Turn-key Solutions
Many manufacturers were showcasing solutions that provide complete functionality out of the box. Crestron’s Smart Space is essentially a collaboration room in a box. The message shared was that many customers are looking for easy to install and maintain solutions that remove the complexity out of implementation and support.

As IT and AV converge, more and more solutions are offering the ability to easily connect different types of disparate technology together in a simple and easy to use workflow. For many organizations, Microsoft Lync has become the standard desktop communications solution and connecting those desktops to rooms, mobile devices and consumer solutions are high priority. Acano was front and center at Infocomm this year and demoed their enhanced Lync integration along with their recently announced Skype connectivity. Lync is hot and Acano is at the forefront of this trend.

Access for All
The era of “exclusive” collaboration is over. Technology is no longer reserved for executives only and has become a big part of the culture in many companies. Whatever device an employee is using, they should be able to participate in collaborative sessions. Pexip, another start-up player in the collaboration space revealed a set of their own software clients as well as 100% support across all browsers (including those not yet taking advantage of WebRTC). This ability breaks down the barriers of access that have once existed.

Digital Signage
This year’s show featured the first Digital Signage Summit at Infocomm. Interest in this technology continues to grow and is something that is implemented in business of all shapes and sizes. Communicating content visually (whether in a restaurant, office, etc) can help drive new business and keep teams informed. The session in the summit focused on new technologies, the outlook for the industry, as well as a focus on ROI.

With a show of the magnitude of Infocomm it is impossible to see everything. Despite that, it is safe to say that the convergence of IT and AV will continue to drive some exciting developments this year. IVCi is excited to be a part of a vibrant and growing industry!

Webinar Recording: Lighting up Lync Video – Network Preparation

On June 3rd, 2014 IVCi and Polycom hosted a webinar with Microsoft MVP Jeff Schertz that focused on the impact of Microsoft Lync’s video conferencing function on networks. The webinar featured great content around the technical aspects of utilizing Lync video including:

  • Best practices for bandwidth utilization and planning
  • What customers really see on their network after video has been deployed
  • How Microsoft’s own internal video usage data can reveal the impact a large scale video deployment has on an organization



Webinar: Developing the Best Workforce with Visual Collaboration

Register Now

Did you know that video conferencing provides a 32% greater reduction in cost per hire?*

Join us for an end-to-end discussion and learn how HR professionals can unleash the power of human collaboration in their organization.

With the expansion of flexible working, remote teams, multiple cultures and tighter deadlines, HR is challenged more than ever to provide solutions that establish the best culture, teams and productivity in the industry.

In this session you will learn how video conferencing and visual collaboration can aid in:

  • Attracting talent and team building
  • Conducting remote multi-party interviewing, including global participants
  • Group on-boarding
  • Group training, employee development, and much more!

Develop the Best Workforce with Visual Collaboration
[Click Here to Register]
Date: Thursday, June 26, 2014
Time: 2:00 PM Eastern / 11:00 AM Pacific (US)

Register Now

*Source: Aberdeen Group Research Report 2014, ‘Bridging Distance in the Talent Life cycle’

Virtual Drug Store – Welcome to Telepharmacy

“Telepharmacy is working well in North Dakota. It is a great way to restore and retain pharmacy services for many remote rural communities throughout the state. Telepharmacy services produce the same quality as the traditional mode of delivery and provide some value-added features that are not found in traditional pharmacy practice.”

Dr. Charles D. Peterson
Dean, Professor, and Principal Investigator/Director
ND Telepharmacy Project
NDSU College of Pharmacy, Nursing, and Allied Science

The delivery of remote healthcare continues to grow at an astonishing rate. Different applications for telemedicine have appeared including providing access to remote specialists, telestroke, telepsychology and many more. One of the areas of medicine to most recently be enhanced by telemedicine is the pharmacy.

In many areas, finding qualified pharmacists can be just as, if not more difficult, than finding doctors. This is particularly prevalent in smaller rural communities. In addition, many of these rural sites have seen their funding cut and their pharmacy closed, leaving a huge lack of services for a community’s population.

A pharmacist’s role in patient care is critical and includes:

  • Drug counseling
  • Dispensing of medications
  • Providing health advice
  • Patient education
  • Immunization administration
  • and more…

Pharmacists can now provide these services remotely. Telepharmacy takes several forms depending on the type of healthcare organization involved. But at a high level, a licensed pharmacist sits at a centralized location and supervises registered technicians at each of the remote locations. The technician does the actual dispensing work and the remote pharmacist is then able to visually inspect the technician’s work to ensure that the proper dosage and medication has been collected for the patient.

When the patient arrives, the technician will connect them to the remote site (usually via video in a private room or kiosk) and then the pharmacist can then provide any needed counselling or information.

This is the traditional model of telepharmacy, but usage continues to involve to including hospitals and rural clinics and even remote dispensing machines similar to ATMs.

Legislation and Implementation

Not unlike other areas of telehealth, telepharmacy is governed by state to state legislation. North Dakota was the first state to pass legislation allowing retail pharmacies to operate without the pharmacist being “physically” present. Other states have passed similar laws including Alaska, Washington and California. More states continue to add telepharmacy to their regulations.

The largest deployment of telepharmacy current resides with the U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine.

Clearly, there is much to be gained with telepharmacy and with legislation rapidly growing, implementation will increase rapidly.

Webinar: Lighting Up Lync Video – Network Preparation

Are you thinking about adding video to your Microsoft Lync deployment?

Join us for an end-to-end discussion about how Lync utilizes video and what this means for your network. We will discuss bandwidth utilization, planning, and what customers really see on their network after video has been deployed.

This webcast will walk through the technical aspects of video and then take a look at how these provide the improved user experience introduced in Lync 2013.  This will lead into deeper discussion of bit rates and what the bandwidth behavior may be across different video calls and conferencing layouts, and then wraps up with a look at real-world data and feedback.

Specifically, you will learn:

  • Best practices for bandwidth utilization and planning
  • What customers really see on their network after video has been deployed
  • How Microsoft’s own internal video usage data can reveal the impact a large scale video deployment has on an organization

Lighting Up Lync Video – Network Preparation
[Click Here to Register]
Date: Tuesday, June 3, 2014
Time: 2:00 PM Eastern / 11:00 AM Pacific (US)

Register Now

Heartbleed and Video Conferencing Update

On April 7th the Heartbleed (CVE: 2014-0160) security vulnerability was made public along with a fix. Heartbleed represents a vunerability in the OpenSSL software that provides security for millions of web servers and services across the internet. Many governing bodies and media outlets called the vulnerability one of, if not, the worst security vulnerabilities discovered since the beginning of the internet. As a provider of visual collaboration services, many of which are driven by web services, we wanted to provide a round-up of some of the key announcements and fixes provided by our partners:

Cisco’s security team posted the following article to their blog (OpenSSL Heartbeat Extension Vulnerability in Multiple Cisco Products) which lists all of the affected Cisco products and current plans for fixes. Of particular interest to our collaboration customers, WebEx Meetings Service, TelePresence Video Communication Service (VCS) and Expressway are already fixed. Details about the specific updates are also in the post. Also, additional investments are currently under way and the Cisco post will continue to be updated.

Polycom posted its security bulletin (Security Advisory Relating to OpenSSL Vulnerability “Heartbleed” on Various Polycom Products) this week and it contains a list of affected Polycom products and their versions. Additionally dates of fixes or estimated fixes are also listed. Check back on Polycom’s site for additional updates.

Blue Jeans
Blue Jeans issued a statement on April 9th that their services are not affected by the vulnerability and that there is no evidence of any data compromise.

On April 10th an interview was posted with Acano Chief Security Officer Steven Johnstone covering Heartbleed and other security related concerns. In that post Acano announced it had issued a fix the day before and their solution was secure. Of particular interest are the comments about the open source nature of OpenSSL and its importance to the industry.

Pexip provided a statement on Heartbleed as well as a fix that is included in their new Pexip Infinity V4 software that was released earlier this week.

Crestron revealed that with the exception of 2 mobile apps, no Crestron services, products or websites have been affected. The notice discloses the details of the mobile apps here.

IVCi’s Cloud Services
IVCi’s Cloud Video Experience has been tested and none of its services are affected by the Heartbleed Vulnerability.

If you have any question about your solutions and their potential vulnerabilities continue to check the advisories posted by the respective manufacturers.

WebRTC – Hype or the Real Deal?

For those who have been watching the collaboration industry closely it is hard to not see a multitude of articles and announcements that discuss WebRTC and the latest product to feature the technology. We have blogged extensively about WebRTC in the past but, in short, WebRTC is a web browser standard that enables real-time audio and video directly in the browser without the need for plugins. The standard is still being developed and has not been completely “ratified” by the governing bodies that ensure web based standards are, well, standard. Browser support is not universal (Chrome, Firefox & Opera support it; Safari, Internet Explorer and others do not). With these limitations in mind, let’s explore what WebRTC can actually enable.

Immediate Access
In the past, joining a rich media experience within your browser would require that a plugin was downloaded. In many cases this is still required; think of web conferencing solutions like WebEx or GoToMeeting. With WebRTC, a developer can utilize the native browser to achieve much of the functionality that their plugin provides. In the case of Cisco, they recently announced WebEx compatibility with Google Chromebooks and that compatibility is being achieved by rebuilding WebEx as a WebRTC native application. Now a user simply clicks a link and they are in the meeting instantly.

Video Enabled Business Processes
Much of our work on a daily basis happens inside specific business applications such as CRMs, EHRs, or other custom designed solutions. Since WebRTC is web based, it is much easier to embed web assets into an application and allow video communication to happen right in the system workers use every day. From a healthcare perspective, many doctors and physicians live in their hospital’s Electronic Health Records system. With WebRTC enabled assets, a doctor, nurse, or other employee could be reviewing a patient’s records and immediately initiative a video call on that screen. They would continue to review the data and be able to collaborate with each other in real time, without leaving the application. The productivity gains can be enormous!

Reduce Security Concerns
Many organizations choose to lock down user computer systems from the installation of applications and other components to reduce the risk of malware and viruses. Only when IT is involved can an application be involved. This lock down, while good for security, can be bad for productivity. If a user wants to join a media rich session they would needed to request IT to install a needed plugin. With WebRTC, that employee can utilize the native browser they use every day to join these sessions without having to wait for IT to set-up the application.

Extended Reach
A critical component of collaboration technology is the ability to bring anyone, from anywhere into a meeting without a heavy burden. Previously connecting to a partner or a customer over video required the installation of proprietary software and some finagling of firewall settings, etc. With WebRTC enabled solutions, users simply receive a link to the meeting and they can join instantly. With the case of many solutions out there these links can connect users into sessions that also feature users connected with unified communications solutions (Lync, Jabber) and standard video conferencing systems (Cisco, Polycom, Lifesize).

The use cases for WebRTC are significant and the technology is already opening new doors. While the standard still has a way to go with both ratification and browser support, I feel strongly that WebRTC is here to stay and certainly worth of the hype it has created!

Webinar: Driving Usage & Adoption of Visual Collaboration

“When organizations embrace collaboration across their workforce, something truly remarkable occurs. Individuals come together with common goals and their collective power can accomplish far greater things than each individual on their own.”

In a world where instant messaging, email, and on-line audio meetings reign supreme, shifting an organization’s culture to adopt visual collaboration or unified communications (UC) solutions can be extremely challenging.

Implementing a new technology is a significant change in the organization that, if underestimated, can produce disappointing results.

Join us for an informative webinar that will cover several key steps an organization must take in order optimize usage and adoption of visual collaboration among their workforce. This includes:

  • Executive Support & Planning.
  • Identifying & Integrating the Technology
  • Designing Processes & Procedures
  • Disseminating to the People

Driving Usage and Adoption of Visual Collaboration
[Click Here to Register]
Date: Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Time: 2:00 PM Eastern / 11:00 AM Pacific (US)



4 Cool Uses for Video Recording and Streaming

Content continues to be king and as we discuss collaboration and communications, visual content plays a huge role. Real-time interaction on video is the norm and major meetings and announcements are made through the technology. Additionally, users continue to expect to find video content when researching topics, new products, etc.

As real-time video has made major advancements, so has the area of recording & streaming. Any video interaction that occurs now can be recorded and made available for immediate playback. This content can be as a simple as a meeting between a few colleagues that a team member was unable to attend or a massive training session that is available for thousands to view on-demand. With that in mind, here are some great uses for recording and streaming platforms:

Executive Road Show

The days of C level executives travelling around the world to all of their office locations to make announcements and presentations to teams are numbered. Video streaming makes it possible for an executive team to sit at their desk and broadcast a live video stream out to the entire organization. This can occur in real-time and Q&A sessions can be available during the event. Streaming technology makes it possible for thousands of viewers to participate simultaneously. After the live event ends, the session can be archived and made available for immediate review for those who could not attend live. These types of events make it easy for executives to get their message out to the masses and maintain consistency in that message.

Investor Relationships/Earnings Calls

More and more organizations are forgoing the traditional earnings conference call and are opting to stream live video to investors and analysts. This added visual component can add some personality to the call and can take the interaction between those reporting the financial results and those receiving it to a new level.

Human Resources

Human Resources are responsible for a myriad of items including recruiting, new employee orientation, benefits and more. Many times HR must disseminate new information regarding a change in employee health benefits or conduct training to fulfill compliance requirements. With recording and streaming, HR teams can produce high quality content once and be confident that it can be shared with the entire organization with the same consistent message. For organizations with tens of thousands of employees it is impossible to lock everyone down for one or two sessions. Additionally, these recordings can be tracked and serve as proof of compliance with regulatory and employee regulations.


There is no better way to market a product or service than by SHOWING potential customers rather than just telling them about it. Marketing teams can create interactive sessions that feature streaming video content along with slides and other content. These events can happen in real-time and an opportunity for customers to really engage with an organization’s offering. And this content can be made available as an on-demand recording, providing another avenue for lead generation for the marketing team. An example of this type of content is a recent IVCi session covering Telehealth and some of the available solutions. We utilized a video stream along with slides and interactive Q&A. You can review the session HERE.

Clearly video streaming and recording provides a great way to share key messages and make it available for review, on-demand. As the technology as improved, more and more departments within an organization can utilize this technology without the new for IT resources and dedicated staff.