DePaul University Teaching Commons > Teaching Guides > Technology > Other Teaching Tools > Video Conferencing

Video Conferencing

What is it?

Real-time communication that is facilitated between two or more people using audio and video equipment. The level of sophistication can vary, from popular apps that are compatible with a range of devices (e.g., Microsoft’s Skype or Google’s Hangouts) to platforms that require specific hardware and software (like DePaul’s Polycom system).

Use Cases

Virtual Office Hours

Holding virtual office hours can give your students more opportunities to receive one-on-one guidance from you, since meetings do not need to be held on campus. You can designate a certain time you’ll be available online, or you can offer to connect by appointment. In any case, be sure to list your schedule and instructions for connecting in your syllabus.

Guest Speakers

Bring the world to your students by connecting with experts in the field, whether they are across town or across the globe. Just like you would invite a guest speaker into your physical classroom, make sure you communicate with your guest what your objectives are and how long you expect him or her to speak. Consider recording the discussion so students can access it later.

Virtual Field Trips

Academic field trips can spark students’ interest in course content and enhance their understanding, but visiting a remote location together is not always feasible. With the increasing availability of wireless high speed internet, even remote areas can now be explored virtually in real time. There are a number of ways this could be done. You might ask a colleague who lives or works near the site of interest to give a tour using her smartphone, or contact the staff at a location of interest and see if a virtual tour might be arranged. You could also ask your students to give a tour after doing some research on a related topic or share their own knowledge in an area of their expertise.

Professional Development

Do you know a colleague in your field who is doing interesting work but just so happens to teach at another university? Or is there an expert in a particular teaching method that your department is keen on learning more about? Invite them to speak during your next departmental meeting using one of the popular tools that are outlined below.

Connecting Students with Students

Videoconferencing can help students work on projects together outside the classroom, especially when used in concert with a collaborative tool like Office 365 or Google Docs. Students can discuss their progress, share their work and decide on next steps, all without having to be in the same place together. Students can even collaborate with their peers at other institutions--including international ones. DePaul’s Global Learning Experience​ is a good example of how faculty can structure these types of cultural exchanges.

Note: Of the below tools, only Skype for Business is supported by DePaul's Help Desk​. This information was last updated on September 1, 2017.

Skype for Business

Pros Cons
  • Supported by DePaul Information Services
  • Free audio and video calling with other Skype users
  • Group calls for up to 250 people is supported
  • Mac users have access to fewer features than PC users 
  • Some users report Skype for Business to be more complicated than regular Skype
Learn More ​

Google Hangouts

Pros Cons
  • Free audio and video calling, including guests without Google accounts
  • Highly integrated with other Google apps like Google Docs
  • Guests can be invited to join by phone
  • Scheduling meetings in advance requires Google Calendar
  • Max of 25 participants
Get Hangouts​​

Zoom Meeting

Pros Cons
  • Free audio and video calling, including guests without Zoom accounts
  • Easy to schedule meetings in advance and send invites through Zoom App, web portal, or using plugin for Chrome, Outlook or Firefox
  • Guests can call-in via phone
  • Group calls up to 25 people is supported
  • Free accounts limited to 40 minutes each session
Get Zoom

DePaul Resources

Skype for Business

Skype for Business (formerly Lync) is a communication and collaboration solution for DePaul's faculty and staff.

Have a question for a colleague in another department? View their status and send a quick IM. Editing a document with a coworker off-campus? Skype's screen sharing feature makes it easy to simultaneously work on a document without the need for repetitive file exchanges. These are just a couple of the many ways Skype for Business helps you save time and resources as you work.

Learn More

Polycom Video Conferencing

Polycom is a video conferencing system that relies on specialized hardware and software and is available in a number of locations on both the Lincoln Park and Loop campuses. The Richardson Library Program Room, which has a Polycom system, can be reserved online. You can also view a list of Polycom-equipped rooms and their owners provided by Information Services. Contact the owner(s) for more information about a particular room.

The Collaboratory

A collaborative space in the Loop (DePaul Center, Concourse Room 101) that is equipped with 3 large screens, a computer, two webcams, and more. This room can be used to host videoconferencing sessions through Skype or a similar VOIP application. This is a shared space that is designed to promote collaboration among faculty. If you would like to reserve the space for a collaborative event, email collaborate@depaul.edu. ​

Multimedia, Production and Training (MPT)

This office has a number of hardware and software solutions to help get you started with videoconferencing. Visit MPT's website to learn more.​

Faculty Instructional Technology Services (FITS)

The tech-savvy individuals who work in this office love helping faculty choose the best technology to facilitate their teaching and promote students' learning. Learn more about their services by visiting the FITS website. ​

Recommended Reading

Kessler, Kelly. “Finding the Face-to-Face When You Have No Face: Fostering Student-Student and Student-Professor Engagement in the Online Media Classroom.” Cinema Journal Teaching Dossier. 3(1). Winter 2015.

Morgan, Ashanti. “What to Expect When Syncing: Best Practices Using Video Conferencing Tools.” IDDBlog.com. 11 April 2016.

-- “Internationalize your Online Course: Collaborative Sessions via Different Continents.” IDDBlog.com. 24 September 2012.

Stanford, Daniel. “The Best Video Conference Tool for People Who Hate Video Conference Tools.” IDDBlog.com. 21 October 2015.​

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