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iChat AV Video Conferencing

An Invitation: Video Conference with Monarch Watch

iChat AV is Apple Computer's personal video conferencing software for Mac OS X (10.2.5 and higher). We have big plans for the future - we hope to connect with Monarch Watchers and provide an easy way for Monarch Watchers to connect with each other as well.

We held our first "official" video conference with a class on November 12th 2003. We connected with Karen Vitek and her students at Nassau Spackenkill School in Poughkeepsie, New York (over 1100 miles from KU, by the way ;-). The students asked questions and Chip (Dr. Taylor, Monarch Watch Director) in turn asked questions of them. Our session lasted about 35 minutes and overall it was a good experience. We learned a great deal about the promise and limitations of this technology. One limiting factor was the webcam. The iSight camera we used was designed for one to one communication via iChat AV and it's excellent for this purpose; however, it is difficult to communicate with a large number of students and use the camera for show and tell lessons. The solution? Almost any firewire-capable camcorder connected to your Mac may be used with iChat AV. A camcorder allows you to move the camera around and zoom in on a range of objects (or individuals within a group - such as a student asking a question). Another feature that's helpful, particularly on the classroom end of the communication, is an LCD projector. The projected image allows a large number of participants to see the interaction between Monarch Watch and the students. Unlike standard video conferencing, which is often technically challenging and expensive, iChat AV is very easy to implement and virtually free, since many schools already have all of the necessary equipment (see below).

We are really impressed with Apple's iChat AV and plan to explore its educational potential to the fullest. If you are a teacher and would be interested in having a direct video conference with Monarch Watch or with other schools, please read through the information below and then contact us at monarch@ku.edu if you have any questions or would like to arrange a time to test your connection - you'll be iChatting in no time! :-)

What you Need
Minimum System:
- A Macintosh computer (iMac, eMac, tower, iBook or PowerBook) with a G3 processor running at 600MHz.
- Mac OS X version 10.2.5 ("Jaguar")
- iChat AV version 2.0
- an AIM or .Mac account (ID used with iChat)
- a FireWire webcam (iSight or other)
- a broadband connection to the internet
Recommended System:
- A Macintosh computer (iMac, eMac, tower, iBook or PowerBook) with a G4 or G5 processor running at 1GHz or higher.
- Mac OS X version 10.4.x ("Tiger")
- iChat AV version 3.x
- an AIM or .Mac account (ID used with iChat)
- a FireWire miniDV camcorder
- a broadband connection to the internet
- an LCD projector
- a wireless microphone system
- external speakers
- a second miniDV camcorder to record the session

Note: iChat AV is included with Mac OS X Panther (10.3.x) and Mac OS X Tiger (10.4.x). Learn more about iChat AV.

How to Connect
1. Assemble all of the necessary equipment (see above).
2. Create AIM or .Mac ID if you do not already have one.
3. Install software (if necessary) and make equipment connections
4. Configure iChat with your AIM or .Mac ID.
5. Read through all of the information on this page (check back often for updates) and in our guide on Conducting an iChat AV Session.
6. Send us an email at monarch@ku.edu with your iChat ID and a time when you will be available (with iChat running) so that we can test the connection.
7. We'll connect and decide on a date and time for an iChat Session with your class/group.

Troubleshooting
We have not had many problems establishing connections via iChat; however, those that we have come across seem to have to do with the remote user's network settings and/or connection to the internet. If you are experiencing problems with iChat, please check out the iChat Support Pages on Apple's site. Those pages answer a lot of general questions about how iChat functions so they're an excellent resource for familiarizing yourself with the program as well. If you are still having problems after consulting the support pages, please feel free to drop us a line and we'll see what we can do to get you up and running, err...iChatting ;-)

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