Videoconferencing Services Pilot Meeting
10 March 2005 10.00 a.m. – 4.00 p.m.
The Library, Royal United Services Institute, Whitehall, London SW1A 2ET
Delivering Educational Content to Schools by Videoconferencing
This meeting was the third UK-wide face-to-face VCSP project meeting. A number of
national museums/resources were represented. Presentations will be available at:
http://www.ja.net/schools/vcsp. Information about the project is available at
http://www.ja.net/schools/vc/ and http://www.jvcs.ja.net/schools/.
Clarissa Aston National Maritime Museum firstname.lastname@example.org
Ailsa Barry Natural History Museum email@example.com
Tim Boundy National Space Centre firstname.lastname@example.org
Sean Brady YHGfL (Yorkshire & email@example.com
Humberside Grid for Learning)
John Bull National Museum for Science & firstname.lastname@example.org
Laurence Carradus NWLG (North West Learning email@example.com
John Chapman Becta firstname.lastname@example.org
Pete Clements Brighton & Hove LEA email@example.com
David Dawson Museums, Libraries & Archives firstname.lastname@example.org
Stewart Duncan LGfL (London Grid for email@example.com
John Ellison Eden Project firstname.lastname@example.org
Steve Goodman Haydock CLC (St Helens LEA) email@example.com
Mike Griffith Global Leap firstname.lastname@example.org
Steve James Kent LEA email@example.com
Lesley- Kerr CyMAL (Museums & Libraries firstname.lastname@example.org
Andrew Likley YHGfL email@example.com
Anne Mains Garswood County Primary/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Haydock CLC (St Helens LEA)
Roni Malik Science Learning Centres email@example.com
John Martin JVCS (JANET firstname.lastname@example.org
Lynne Minett National Coal Mining Museum email@example.com
Steve Moate West Sussex CC firstname.lastname@example.org
Deborah Murrell CLEO (Cumbria Lancashire email@example.com
Philip Pearce E2BN (East of England firstname.lastname@example.org
Karen Perrins UKERNA email@example.com
Heather Pettitt SEGfL (South East Grid for firstname.lastname@example.org
David Raymond Northern Grid email@example.com
Paul Shoesmith Becta firstname.lastname@example.org
Rob Symberlist UKERNA email@example.com
Mark Vinnicombe Northern Grid firstname.lastname@example.org
Simon White WMnet (West Midlands RBC) email@example.com
Veronica Woolvett National Archives firstname.lastname@example.org
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Apologies had been received from Catherine Hammond (National Archives); Richard
Selwyn (Becta); Patrick Kirk and Jon Browne (Leeds Learning); Christine Jack
(Northern Grid); Nigel Weatherby and Safraz Chaudry (Tameside); Amir Mohammed
(Oxfordshire); Euan D’Netto (Birmingham Grid for Learning); Claire Usher, John
McGowan and Peter Thewlis (EMBC); Sue Weston and Bob Day (UKERNA); Jim
Buchan (Learning & Teaching Scotland), Peter Jones (Broadband Wales Unit) and
Steve Hogger (DfES).
Objectives for the day
Rob Symberlist welcomed the participants and outlined the objectives for the day:
UKERNA to provide an update on project progress;
Receive updates on RBC/LEA infrastructure development and projects,
including the projects recently funded by Becta;
Becta to provide an update on funding and policy.
Receive presentations from representatives of national museums and archives;
Discuss and identify issues surrounding the delivery of educational content to
schools by videoconferencing.
Karen Perrins and Robert Symberlist provided an update on pilot progress. The main
issues highlighted were:
The central JVCS infrastructure and VTAS support are in place.
7 RBCs have a fully operational infrastructure; the other 3 are still in development.
18 LEAs (including opt-out LEAs) have registered their gatekeepers with the Global
Four opt-out LEAs are participating: Leeds, Oxfordshire, Tameside and Sunderland.
9 RBCs have regional support in place. The LEAs within WMnet currently provide all
support for their schools.
6 RBCs have regional MCUs, including YHGfL.
An online Schools Collaboration Service is being developed by three RBCs.
Regional endpoint directories are being synchronised with the JVCS Booking Service
database. A schema was distributed by UKERNA on 16 Nov.
Over 100 school endpoints have now been registered with JVCS. This is increasing at
around 2 or 3 per day.
66 booked videoconferences were undertaken in Feb 2005. All were successful. This
represents a 50% increase on Jan 2005, which was a 50% increase on Dec 2004.
There is still insufficient feedback on videoconferencing.
It was suggested that participating schools should be approached directly for
feedback. Action: UKERNA to contact participating schools for feedback.
Authorised Educational Content Providers (initially the national museums and
archives) are to have booking rights in the JVCS Booking Service, so that they
can schedule their own videoconferences with schools. N.B. Strict
authentication will be required by UKERNA at registration.
Contact with national content providers is ongoing.
Project information has been disseminated to museums via the MLA Council.
Article for national press (awaiting an announcement to accompany its publication)
UKERNA proposed an additional leaflet for schools, highlighting museum content,
which could be funded by DfES/DCMS. The information would also be Web-based.
There would be caveats, as not all schools would be able to access the content.
This received considerable support from the meeting. Action: UKERNA to develop a
leaflet and discuss its publication with DfES. RBCs/LEAs to assist with distribution
to all schools.
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E2BN (Philip Pearce):
Videoconferencing continues within the region. Not yet linked to the national
service. Network design issues to be resolved before the end of the pilot
project, within 4 weeks.
Running videoconferencing events within region.
Centres are being set up to provide support.
The Collaboration Service should be completed and launched in 4-6 weeks.
WMnet (Simon White):
No regional videoconferencing support necessary yet; LEAs provide schools
with all support.
Intend to implement a regional directory gatekeeper.
29 school endpoints have been registered with JVCS.
Warwickshire schools have recently started videoconferencing.
A Teacher Training project is underway.
A link to a school in South Africa is planned.
WMnet is interested in the plans to Shibbolise the JVCS Booking Service -
booking should be seamless regionally and nationally.
WMnet is working with E2BN and LGfL on the Collaboration Service.
Tender for the Becta-funded project is to be awarded on 11 March. To address
non-technical, non-teaching issues; to be completed during summer term.
Northern Grid (David Raymond and Mark Vinnicombe):
Regional gatekeeper is registered, but inoperative and is being tested again this
week; there have been significant issues with firewalls.
A curriculum plan incorporating videoconferencing has been drawn up; this
involves 12 pilot schools.
Videoconferencing was highlighted at the NG Show in February and there was
significant interest from schools.
SEGfL (Heather Pettitt):
The gatekeeper in East Sussex is operational. The Kent gatekeeper will be
registered within a couple of weeks.
MCU interoperability testing still to be done.
25 SEGfL school endpoints are registered with JVCS; another 13 will be
registered shortly. There are still some local technical issues to overcome.
Projects include SEMLAC – Victorian Learning Journey – actors in museums
participating in videoconferences.
Brighton & Hove and East Sussex LEAs are developing a KS3 Pathfinder
Schools are planning for Commonwealth Day.
Becta funding has been requested for improving the connectivity of the
Kent is delivering MFL courses.
SEGfL is continuing to work with Moorhouse Black.
CLEO (Deborah Murrell):
CLEO has a self-contained regional videoconferencing infrastructure and is
working with the national pilot.
Significant commitment to videoconferencing over the coming year.
A “Basic Skills for Videoconferencing” course is in preparation.
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Regional projects include “ArtisanCam North” (www.artisancamnorth.org.uk
Virtual artist residency) and Lancashire LEA working with the Textile
Museum. A number of sessions have been run successfully; these focus on late-
Victorian Working Life. Also distributing WWII objects in loan boxes to
schools. These would make good case studies.
Becta funding has been obtained to bring Cumbrian schools into these projects.
Events focusing on videoconferencing at each of the LEAs this week.
YHGfL (Andrew Likley and Sean Brady):
YHGfL MCU is operational, as are the regional and LEA gatekeepers.
Still some ISDN endpoints in schools.
Loan equipment is being provided for some schools.
Three inter-LEA projects covering PE, “Meet the Experts” and MLF.
Imperial College is delivering Science content to schools in Doncaster.
YHGfL has been organising Videoconferencing Roadshows around the LEAs
to demonstrate videoconferencing and raise awareness.
Testing recently developed training materials. Teacher Training mentoring.
Working closely with the National Coal Mining Museum and the Fisheries
Museum in Grimsby.
NE Lincolnshire is particularly experienced in videoconferencing.
Starting to use NetMeeting for collaboration.
Becta-funded project: currently visiting schools interested in collaboration.
LGfL (Stewart Duncan):
“JVCS have done a tremendous job in supporting us”
LGfL are deploying another gatekeeper/proxy (Cisco 7200 series) and are
implementing a VLAN specifically for videoconferencing to overcome some
recent firewall issues.
Internally LGfL is managing 60-70 videoconferences per week via their Click
To Meet server.
LGfL is not going to deploy an H.323 MCU. Intends to use JVCS. The JVCS
MCUs will be the only trusted external source of videoconferencing.
Developing an LGfL-badged H.323VC System for schools that want a turn-key
system. These will be configured, rolled out and supported by a service
provider under contract.
Schools are working with Global Leap, Moorhouse Black.
Some videoconferences with schools in Spain.
Four Curriculum Advisors have been appointed by LGfL. They will raise
awareness about videoconferencing and provide some technical training.
The Becta-funded inter-RBC KS2 “Contrasting Localities” videoconferencing
project is underway. 9 LGfL schools are participating. LGfL also needs one
school in each other RBC to participate and has had problems recruiting
schools via the other RBCs.
NWLG (Laurence Carradus and Steve Goodman):
There are still issues with the supplier and the network.
Haydock CLC in St Helens is providing regional support.
Internal videoconferencing infrastructure is well developed.
75 schools endpoints in the region, not yet registered with JVCS.
Appointing VC champions in all schools.
Videoconferencing is delivered to schools via a VLAN, which has worked
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Paul Shoesmith was very pleased to hear about the growth in the use of
videoconferencing in the classroom rather than the technical issues. The project
has come a long way since November.
With respect to the funding being made available via Becta, to assist RBCs in
developing their use of the VCSP, Richard Selwyn needs invoices this week in order
to process before the end of the financial year.
Becta is committed to the continued funding of the videoconferencing services for a
further 12 months, subject to getting written confirmation from the DfES.
European collaboration via JANET-GÉANT is seen as a key area for development.
Becta and UKERNA need to work closely with the DfES and DCMS to discuss the
best ways to fund and deploy improved connections to museums and archives.
Delivering Educational Content to Schools by Videoconferencing
National Space Centre, Tim Boundy, Lead Flight Director, NSC
The e-Mission is a 90 minutes session aimed at KS3/4 (Year 9), involving
videoconferencing coupled with Web-based and real-time data.
The cost is £215 plus VAT, which is considerably cheaper than a school trip
requiring a coach, and has not been found to be an issue for schools. Bulk
buying is available and is popular with schools. Some sessions are
The events are hosted by CLCs that have the necessary ICT facilities.
Considerable preparation time is required by teachers before the events.
Research has revealed that the events increase levels of confidence and interest
in science as a career.
The sessions have got beyond the technology barrier often associated with
videoconferencing, as the pupils are so involved in the activities.
Pre and post-session questionnaires are issued; longer term effects are studied.
A couple of schools in Scotland have participated, none in Wales yet.
The NSC has just received funding from the NESTA FutureLab for new
missions based around Jupiter’s moon, Europa. These will fully utilise
broadband content and be “more spacey and high-tech”. They will also utilise
mobile phone technology.
Further information: www.spacecentre.co.uk
Natural History Museum, Ailsa Barry, Head of Interactive Media, NHM
The NHM hosts around 9 live video and videoconferencing events at the
Darwin Centre each week with links to other museums internationally.
The events are recorded, archived and streamed via the Web. There are around
140 visitors to the Web video archives each day. NHM is looking at
modularising the video clips. 10 minutes appears to be the optimum clip length.
Indexing is time consuming and NHM is going to talk to companies about
undertaking this. Need to standardise indexing of video clips, so as to enable
All content is tied into to the national curriculum. All events and clips are free.
Teachers can rate content and share information.
Want to deliver content from other NHM departments, including the Walter
Rothschild Zoological Museum in Tring, and to multiple schools
Research has shown that pre-visit preparation enhances the visit.
Videoconferencing can be used effectively for pre and post-visit sessions.
Further information: www.nhm.ac.uk
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Eden Project, John Ellison, Head of Formal Learning, Eden Project
The Eden Project has had 6 Million visitors in 3 years.
The project has had a £0.5 Billion impact on the region.
A new Education Centre is nearing completion.
Objectives include connecting schools live to educational research groups, e.g.
a scientist in the rainforest canopy.
Working with partners (including Cisco and BT) globally.
Three schools in South America; a mobile van in Ethiopia helping the Eden
Project deliver to schools.
A collaborating school in Kenya is growing enough to feed its entire local
Further information: www.edenproject.com
National Coal Mining Museum, Lynne Minett, NCM
The NCM dates from the 1780s.
In May a new, smaller, pit is opening with a Nineteenth Century focus.
In 2003-4: 7,900 workshop participants and 14,500 pupils visited the site.
Over the past three years the NCM has delivered to 6,500 outreach pupils.
There is a team of 5 or 6 guides/costumed actors.
All content is cross-curricular and is closely tied to the national curriculum.
Handling boxes are loaned to schools to stimulate interaction and discussion.
Videoconferencing is to be incorporated as part of content delivery as it enables
the museum to deliver its full remit.
So far just one session, delivered by miners, using videoconferencing
equipment on loan from YHGfL.
The museum needs funding for new equipment.
Further information: www.ncm.org.uk
National Museum of Science & Industry, John Bull, Visitor Prog. Coord., NMSI
The Science Museum runs a number of real-time projects
The museum has around 3,000 pupils visiting per day
All content must be curriculum based. Much is cross-curricular.
Videoconferencing can reach audiences that are unable to get to the museum.
Some ISDN videoconferencing in the past but needs to be relaunched over IP.
NMSI has some outreach ideas for videoconferencing, but these need funding:
o Science shows, object handling
o skill building and developing sustained relationships
Currently involved in a number of London projects, including:
o Support of Portuguese students in Lambeth
o Building links between feeder schools and Secondaries in Brent
o In Poplar, children deliver Science Shows to other schools.
These could translate easily to delivery by videoconferencing.
Further information: www.nmsi.ac.uk
JVCS Update, John Martin, JVCS Manager
Overview of JVCS and the role of the Management Centre
o Administration of JANET MCUs and global/national gatekeepers.
o Booking Service available to universities, colleges, schools and now
o All Bookings should be made at least 2 hours in advance.
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o The JVCS database gathers videoconferencing statistics, covered by the
Data Protection Act.
o Each endpoint (IP and ISDN) is Quality Assurance assessed by JVCS.
Instant Videoconferencing (IVC) provides scheduling facilities for immediate
ad hoc videoconferencing (up to 48 hours ahead)
o No guarantees of quality and no support is provided
Instant Assessment Tool (IAT) provides a 6 minute self-test video for H.323
endpoints. Users must be registered with the JVCS-IVC service.
o To include network statistics
Further information: www.jvcs.ja.net/schools, www.jvcs.ja.net/cod
Delivering Educational Content to Schools by Videoconferencing
National Maritime Museum, Clarissa Aston, NMM
All content is tied to the national curriculum, Key Stages 1-4,
e.g. Trim the Cat for KS1 www.nmm.ac.uk/trim
Activity packs are sent out in advance.
Providing period actors via videoconferencing works better at suspending the
disbelief of pupils, as compared with face-to-face encounters.
NMM has received very positive feedback about its videoconferencing
The modules that have worked best have involved significant advance
preparation and research by the schools.
So far this academic year, the NMM has engaged 60 schools via
videoconferencing. Timetabling has been an issue.
Looking into future collaboration with the Museum of London.
Main concern is that delivery is limited by the connections to schools. Some
schools want to videoconference, but they have no equipment.
Further information: www.nmm.ac.uk
Natural Archives, Veronica Woolvett, NA
The National Archives contain 1000 years of government and other public
documents, all of which must stay on site. So there is an immediate issue
surrounding access, which videoconferencing can help address.
Started videoconferencing around four years ago.
Packs are sent out in advance.
There are three onsite and videoconference costumed actors.
The Learning Curve is the National Archives online focus for the delivery of
curriculum-based content, www.learningcurve.gov.uk
Further information: www.nationalarchives.gov.uk
Schools as Content Providers
Young people can be the experts and there have been successful unsupervised
videoconferences between groups of students.
Schools that have acquired expertise and developed specialised content should
be encouraged to deliver it to their peers.
Many organisations want to have the flexibility to deliver from unusual
locations, e.g. The Eden Project needs to deliver content from within the
Biomes or to connect schools to scientists in the field.
This presents new challenges and requires environmentally resilient equipment.
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A few organisations including universities have mobile outside broadcasting
units that can be hired.
There is a perception that was raised by some museum representatives that
Broadband connectivity, and therefore IP videoconferencing, might be an issue
for many schools. Becta explained that the levels of broadband connectivity are
now almost 100% of secondary schools and 60-70% of primary schools.
A number of museums still have poor connections and videoconference via
ISDN. There will therefore be a requirement for bridging between IP and ISDN
for some time to come. This will continue to be provided via the JVCS.
The cost of all ISDN calls will continue to be covered until the VCSP ISDN
budget is used. UKERNA will provide prior warning as to when the cost of
ISDN calls will cease to be met. All international ISDN calls must be approved
by UKERNA in advance.
Becta and UKERNA to discuss the connectivity of museums with DfES and
Integration of videoconferencing into the curriculum requires planning and
advance booking of videoconferencing facilities. The JVCS Booking Service
will scale to accommodate all schools and museums endpoints and all
bookings, even years in advance.
Videoconferencing across Time Zones can be problematic. JVCS can manage
global videoconferences and can arrange for operations staff to be available
outside normal working hour, although there is a charge for this (see
Testing of both schools and museums endpoints prior to scheduled sessions is
advantageous. JVCS will undertake all QA Assessments for registered schools
and museums. This will relieve museums of the necessity for lengthy testing
with schools and save them time and resources. It will help to ensure that all
videoconferences deliver an optimum experience.
Support & Training
Support is required at all levels.
National support is available to RBCs/LEAs via the JVCS and VTAS services.
Regional and LEA support is being provided or planned for schools. This may
take the form of a school or CLC acting as a focus for best practice.
One aim is to get to the stage where videoconferencing is used in the classroom
on a daily basis, in the same way as whiteboards have become indispensable.
Sharing of best practice and case studies is an important part of achieving this.
Qualified teachers are employed by schools and museums alike, to engage and
educate pupils. However, a new range of university or college accredited
training may be needed for effective videoconferencing delivery.
Role of TTA activities in training of tomorrows teachers.
Need to raise the issue of videoconferencing training with TTA.
The RBCs/LEAs made it clear that schools need educational content to be
curriculum-based. Learning outcomes are important.
Most museums are very careful to tailor the content to the national curriculum.
However, there also needs to be content that can add value.
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Some content providers charge for their services, e.g. National Space Centre
and the Cambridge Motivate Project. Without charging it might be difficult for
some organisations to employ more staff and scale their services.
This was not seen to be a major issue for schools, as it compared favourably
with the cost of a visit.
The UK national museums do not charge for their services.
Use of Videoconferencing
Can be used for pre and post-visit sessions, to enable teachers to “meet” the
museum staff and aid preparation and subsequent follow up work.
Many lessons don’t need to be delivered completely by videoconference.
Streaming can be used to deliver core information by video and to complement
the use of videoconferencing which can be reserved for interaction.
Post-production and archiving
Archiving and indexing of video recordings is important and time consuming.
Metadata associated with video clips needs to be standardised so that a single
interface can be used for schools to search all video archives.
The need to consider regional museums was raised. Inclusion of these in the
JVCS Booking Service would be considered and discussed with the RBCs.
The synchronisation of regional endpoint directories with the national database
held by JVCS is seen as beneficial to all schools and content providers.
The main themes distilled from the discussion were:
Connectivity of National Educational Resources
– National Space Centre, National Archives etc.
– Becta and UKERNA to discuss with DfES and DCMS.
– All national museums to be registered with JVCS Booking Service.
– Museums spend considerable time testing VC links with schools.
– JVCS to undertake QA Assessments for all schools and museums.
Support & Training
– Most RBCs/LEAs are addressing the support and training issues.
– A new range of accredited teacher training may be needed.
– Role of TTA activities in training of tomorrows teachers.
– Need to raise the issue of videoconferencing training with TTA.
– Schools need educational content to be curriculum-based.
– Learning outcomes are important.
– Museums are already tailoring content to the national curriculum.
– Use to promulgate good practice
– RBC projects recently funded via Becta need to report promptly.
Date of next project meeting
13:45-16:00 on Monday 11 April 2005 by Videoconference.
A final Project Meeting to discuss the project outcomes and the way forward will be held at:
10:00-15:30 on Thursday 11 May at Church House Westminster.
This meeting will be UK-wide and will be open to all participating organisations.
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