Hello Students, Families, Staff, and Stakeholders,
As we continue to prepare our Distance Learning for the upcoming school year I wanted to provide some information on a key component this year will be running on: Cisco Webex for video conferencing.
In March of 2020, when the district announced it’s alignment with the governor’s Stay at Home order, ITS knew that it would have to find a solution for remote staff and students. In the following months, ITS evaluated 5 different platforms for video conferencing (Google Meet, GotoMeeting, Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex, and Zoom) and used at least another 4. Understandably, many companies are trying to get their “piece of the pie” with the sudden surge in video conferencing due to the Covid-19 epidemic. In fact, even the big players have immense pressure to develop and keep their lead over their competition. Fortunately, this benefits users in that new features and capabilities are being rolled out at a very rapid pace.
So why Webex?
Webex has been around since 1996 (when it was still Active Touch) and was acquired by Cisco in 2007. Webex’s long presence in the video conferencing space has allowed it to develop strong security and reliability. It’s HIPAA compliant which allows for us to use the platform beyond simply staff meetings, but can also safely be used for online classes, IEPs, and other evaluations. It’s security controls to ensure that only those intended can access the meeting, no “bombing” here.
Another consideration is student access and equity, by now we’ve all been on a video conference where someone has a spotty connection. It can be challenging to see, hear, and understand those whose connection isn’t the best. Webex provides a low bandwidth requirement for connections and when it detects low bandwidth, prioritizes audio so communication can continue even in challenging scenarios.
Cost is always a consideration we have to take into account. Webex EDU pricing came out very competitive in our analysis. Another addition is the support component for Webex. This will allow our techs to provide remote assistance in a better environment than simply via video conferencing and the analytics component can assist with troubleshooting connectivity issues. The Webex Events component allows virtual events like Board Meetings to host up to 1000 participants with the ability to participate via call-in.
In the coming weeks and months all video conferencing platforms will be rushing to put out features that we all know, love, and wanted 4 months ago. ITS will keep you updated with relevant ones for Webex including the much sought after breakout rooms and lobby(currently only available in personal rooms) for Webex Meetings. As of July 24th Webex added virtual backgrounds which include a blur for privacy. If you’d like to learn more you can checkout:
Welcome to our new ITS Blog! We plan to provide updates on tech and services that will be used throughout the next school year. You may even pickup a few tips and tricks. We are looking forward to joining with you to bring options and excellence for all our students!