computer conferencing

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computer conferencing

[kəm′pyüd·ər ′kän·frəns·iŋ]
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


A real-time communication via keyboard between two or more users on a local network (LAN) or over the Internet. Non-verbal, a computer chat is like sending text messages back and forth. Either characters are transmitted after each key is pressed, or all the text is sent when the user presses Enter. The term chat became so pervasive in the computing world that a two-way audio communication is sometimes called a "voice chat," and video calling is often called "video chat."

Live Chat for Support
Live text chat is a common website support system, allowing someone to be assisted by a company representative, who typically handles more than one site visitor at a time. Called "live chat," "live help," "live person" or "live support software."

Chat vs. Instant Messaging (IM) vs. Texting (SMS)
All three of these terms are used synonymously because all of them deal with sending and receiving text. Yet there are differences. In the past, chat and IM sessions were on the computer, while texting was strictly a cellphone service. Today, the same service may be used on both mobile devices and computers.

Additionally, while a chat session can be initiated by users merely browsing a website, instant messaging (IM) requires installing an IM program and opening an account. It may also require sending invitations to recipients. Texting only requires knowing the recipient's cellphone number. See instant messaging and text messaging.

Chatting Used To Be Verbal
Before chat services became popular, if people referred to "chatting on a cellphone," they meant talking. See chat room, video chat and IRC.

A Live Chat
Live chat is a great website addition for customers. When a visitor looks at the router section on Cisco's website, this dialog pops up. Although the young woman's headset might imply a voice call, the live chat is only text.

data conferencing

Sharing data interactively among several users in different locations. Data conferencing is made up of whiteboards and application sharing and are often used in conjunction with an audio or videoconferencing connection.

A whiteboard is the electronic equivalent of the chalkboard or flip chart. Participants at different locations simultaneously write and draw on an on-screen notepad viewed by everyone.

Application Sharing and Application Viewing
Application sharing is the same as remote control software, in which multiple participants can interactively work in an application that is loaded on only one user's machine. Application "viewing" is similar to application "sharing;" however, although all users can see the document, only one person can actually edit it. See whiteboard, application sharing, remote control software and T.120.

A Whiteboard
In this example, two people are collaborating on a drawing that one of them pasted into the whiteboard while they were connected in a NetMeeting conference. Using the whiteboard's red marker, a particular area of interest was circled.


A real-time video session between two or more users that reside in different locations. While videoconferencing supports several end points, the terms "video call" and "video chat" generally mean one-to-one. However, all the terms are used synonymously. See video calling and computer audio.

Although AT&T unveiled its expensive Picturephone at the New York World's Fair in 1964, there were few takers. Today, due to high-speed cable and DSL service, video calling has become commonplace for the consumer in the form of Apple's FaceTime, Microsoft's Skype, Zoom and other services (see videoconferencing software).

It Used to Be Only for Companies
In the 1970s, business videoconferencing was established between branch offices, and by the early 1980s, more in-house systems became popular after Compression Labs pioneered highly compressed digitized video. Digital video has been delivered in various resolutions and frame rates starting at 128 Kbps up to multi-megabits per second.

Room Systems - The Beginning
In the early 1980s, videoconferencing emerged with room systems like this unit from Tandberg, which Cisco acquired in 2010. (Image courtesy of Tandberg,

Early Internet Videoconferencing
Desktop videoconferencing became widely used after the universal adoption of IP protocols in the late 1990s. This software from Polycom (now Poly) turned a Windows PC into a videoconferencing system. (Image courtesy of Poly,

ISDN was the traditional transport for private videoconferencing because it provided dedicated 64 Kbps channels that could be dynamically allocated. However, ISDN gave way to the Internet protocol (IP). In a private IP network deployed by either the enterprise or via carriers, the quality can be controlled.

Using the public Internet as transport provides reasonable quality without additional cost. Although congestion is inevitable, systems can throttle down to lower frame rates to eliminate most of the jerkiness.

Multipoint Conferences and Telepresence
A point-to-point conference between two people is straightforward, but a conference with several people requires moderating. A multipoint control unit (MCU) is used to mix the audio and highlight the frame of the dominant speaker or make it larger, which is necessary in large groups (see MCU). Multipoint conferences are also achieved by connecting to a carrier's conferencing network service. A more immersive environment for group meetings is achieved with multiple monitors and loudspeakers (see telepresence).

Firewalls often presented a problem for Internet videoconferencing because they are designed to block packets that were not previously requested. However, there are numerous ways of configuring routers and firewalls to accept videoconferencing data. A common method is to invite participants, who then click links to initiate a request. Another option is to place the video system in the demilitarized zone between the private network and the Internet (see DMZ).

Video PBXs
Like a telephony PBX, a video PBX is used to switch calls and provide call forwarding and call transfer. Video network management is also required to adjust bandwidth, provide quality of service (QoS) and to log calls for accounting purposes. See videoconferencing standards.
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References in periodicals archive ?
Audio-and video-enabled computer conferencing tools allow--but do not require--distance education instructors to employ many of the verbal immediacy behaviors that previously cited research has found to be positively correlated with cognitive and affective learning outcomes.
CMC (especially BBS and computer conferencing) is used mainly to exchange information and ideas.
In her review of evaluation methodologies of computer conferencing, Mason (1992) reports that the most often used evaluation method for online discussion forums was "computer-generated statistics about logons, messages sent and read, levels of participation and number and length of entries" (p.
One potentially useful tool for supporting teacher peer interaction is asynchronous computer mediated communication (CMC) (Marx, Blumenfeld, Krajcik & Soloway, 1998), a term which can refer to computer conferencing, bulletin boards, computer assisted instruction, listervs, or e-mail.
The purpose of this research is to develop a better understanding of the relationship between moderator behavior and student engagement in synchronous computer conferencing learning environments.
Analysis of patient histories and surveys completed by the participating physicians after each use of the computer conferencing system as well as interviews and observations indicate that the FAHC consulting trauma specialists and the remotely located physicians felt the linkups do not interfere with standard ER procedures, that communication was at least adequate for all consultations, and that the consults improved the quality of care, for over half of the cases.
One of the most useful presentations at the Planetwork conference was "The Multiple Dimensions of Emergent Media," by Mark Graham, a computer conferencing pioneer who founded Peacenet and was president of Whole Earth Media, in addition to many other credentials.
(2001) that reviewed transcripts of course discussions held over computer conferencing systems.
Another method of distance education is computer conferencing, which permits either synchronous (at the same time) or asynchronous (at different times) communication capability (Connick, 1999).
Kaye (Ed.), Collaborative learning through computer conferencing (pp.
The book is itself represented as a model of the collaboration among twenty-two contributing individuals of Indiana University's (IU) Computer Conferencing and Collaborative Writing Group.

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