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Learning Innovation and Development (LID) at Holmesglen Institute of TAFE were the lead organisation in setting up design industry partnerships through the National Broadband Network (NBN). LID has experience in a range of educational projects and deliver internally to Holmesglen departments and to external clients. LID specialises in the:
  • development of learning resources, both online and print-based
  • research
  • development and delivery of customised workplace training programs
  • curriculum development and maintenance
  • professional development for Holmesglen staff and external clients

There were two key partners in this project – staff and students from the Design, Multimedia and Art Departmentat Holmesglen and industry practitioners from a graphic design company called Trial and Error.

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The main focus of this project was trialing innovative programs using high capacity connection. Video conferencing technology was trialed to facilitate access to industry specialists from Trial and Error, who were based at an NBN venue in Brunswick (or equivalent high bandwidth venue for some of the sessions) to a classroom setting at Holmesglen. The session aimed to enhance learning outcomes for students enrolled in the Diploma and Advanced Diploma of Graphic Design (21874VIC/21873VIC) by completing elements from the unit of competency VPAU015 Plan and implement a project in the workplace.
A by-product of this project was a video conferencing user guide.
View video conferencing user guide <Instruction to Skills Tasmania: embed link to NB168_Videoconferencing_userguide>

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The main aim of this project was to test the feasibility and suitability of video conferencing as a method to improve access for graphic design students to industry expertise. Video conferencing was seen as a method to assist in establishing, maintaining and enhancing industry relationships to ensure course content remains relevant and that students are kept up-to-date and immersed in the fast paced changing industry.

In developing the project we saw the strength of the NBN as providing a collaborative learning approach by allowing students to share and construct knowledge through interactive video conferencing with graphic art and design industry practitioners. We believed the power of the NBN would demonstrate how two groups could connect via video conferencing (no lag, no choppiness or echo) to create an engaging and motivating educational experience for the students and provide students with immediate industry feedback.
Three project outcomes were identified.

Table 1: Project outcomes, educational benefits and measurements

Project outcomes

Educational benefits


1. Improved access to real design activities by using the unit of competency VPAU015 Plan and implement a project in the workplace
  • Robust discussions between experts and learners
  • Establishes relationships and industry partnerships
  • Maintains contemporary/ current knowledge and learning
  • Evaluation/survey on the numbers of participants who agree access is improved
  • Assessment task to determine if the learners have improved qualification status
2. An operations plan to successfully ‘live video stream’ from an industry setting to the classroom
  • Feasibility of the education institutes/classroom technology systems
  • Engagement with technology as part of future industry
Action plan:
  • Checklists
  • Self-assessments
3. A model to cultivate partnerships with industry specialists
  • Applicable across different units of competency and Training Packages
  • Informed by specialist partnerships
  • Success of project and future innovations
  • Focus groups (qualitative feedback)
  • Survey/questionnaire

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About the team
  • LID – Adi Glancy, Project Manager: lead and manage overall project; allocate and manage resources, budget, timeline and risks; guide project team; quality assurance.
  • LID – Cristy Tessier, Project Officer: keep track of project timelines; identify risk; communication; complete all tasks and activities, including technical issues in conjunction with support team.
  • Design, Multimedia and Art Department – Jenny Horwill, Head of Department and Michele van Eeden, Senior Educator: responsible for the session content; ensuring that the educational outcomes of the sessions met the needs of the Design, Multimedia and Art Department.
  • Trial and Error – Cyndi Setia, Creative Director and Sarah Oliver, Creative Director: collaborated with staff at Holmesglen to design a project brief for the students.
  • Holmesglen Technology Services Department (TSD) – Chath Balasooriya, Technology Support Officer – contact network administrators; liaise with TSD; set up video conferencing equipment.
  • LID – Paul Douglas, Multimedia Support Officer: session and trial support with technology.
  • Design, Multimedia and Art Department – Rein Kivivali, Mac Technician: set up of equipment in classroom.

Knowledge on high speed broadband technology
Staff in TSD had knowledge of high speed broadband but the rest of the team really had no idea! It was a case of learn as you go. Many of the difficulties we experienced were centred on not having sufficient knowledge on video conferencing technology and not knowing where to go to ask for help.

Team expectations and project choice
The team was always positive that the project proposal was feasible and I think that this was partly due to no real appreciation of what was involved in video conferencing and video streaming. The terms are used so casually in e-learning contexts that you tend to believe you can just switch on the computer and everything will happen! It wasn’t until the project officer started the research that we understood that this project was about video conferencing rather than video streaming.

Competencies and experience of your team
It was somewhat of a surprise to find no expertise in Holmesglen regarding video conferencing. The project officer was responsible for researching information on the NBN, high speed broadband and video conferencing. Her knowledge base increased significantly in a short period of time so that she could understand how all the pieces of the jigsaw would come together. It is critical to have one person with a full understanding of all the different components and how they link.

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We met with TSD to discuss how they could support us with technology services. Initially we hoped to use AARNet for high bandwidth Internet connections at Holmesglen, however the connection had been delayed. Fortunately, Holmesglen had NBN equivalent infrastructure through Optus (100 mbps). It was surprising to find that video conferencing technology was not being used at Holmesglen. We were on our own and had to borrow, hire and trial products, services and equipment. TSD recommended contacting AARNet for support. They had bridging services ‘Multi Conferencing Unit (MCU)’, conference scheduling systems and recording/streaming services; not that we knew how these would be of use to us. Unfortunately they did not have video conferencing software applications.

The NBN venue

The NBN venue for this project was a private registered training organisation, KAL Multimedia Training (KAL), in Brunswick, and was discovered by walking the NBN grid to find a suitable venue. KAL were not connected to the NBN so we had to arrange this.

Connecting to the NBN

The Business Development Manager at AARNet, liaised with NBNCo and Telstra on our behalf, to organise the NBN installation and connection. A Network Termination Device (the device that provides a connection to a carrier) and power supply box had to be installed. It is worth noting that in trying to connect to the initial venue we found, Telstra said the job would be too difficult because the location was on the first floor and the wires were messy and required work which might cost up to $2,000.

Software and hardware

Research focused on video conferencing products – Polycom, Sony, Tandberg (now owned by Cisco), Cisco and LifeSize. These vendors offer standards compliant products for video conferencing over Internet Protocol (IP) networks. Video conferences can be point to point (directly linking two sites) or multipoint (three or more sites). We needed a point to point video conference – Holmesglen classroom to industry practitioners at the NBN site.
Each venue participating in the video conference required:
  • video input – video camera or webcam
  • video output – computer monitor, high definition multimedia interface HDMI television and/or projector
  • audio input – microphone
  • audio output – speakers
  • computer – codec1(video conferencing unit), desktop or laptop
  • data transfer – Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) lines, local area networking (LAN) or Internet (preferably with a bandwidth of 100 mbps).

We planned to research video conferencing software products to install and trial on desktop or laptop computers and locate a webcam and audio device for both end points, but were concerned about the quality of built-in devices, especially on the classroom end point. We wanted to borrow or hire good quality high definition (HD) equipment suitable to capture 20 students in a classroom. AARNet offered to lend us their HD equipment for the classroom end point for Session 1. We received a Polycom HDX 8000 hardware system, which was a welcome surprise. Hardware systems include a webcam, microphone, speakers and a codec. This meant that we didn’t need to connect it to a computer or install any software program.
We did however still need to find a trial version of a video conferencing software product for the laptop at the industry practitioner end point. A one-week trial of the LifeSize ClearSea client software was downloaded and installed onto a laptop. Test calls were unsuccessful because the product was blocked by the Institute firewall.

Information technology challenges

Video conferencing was difficult to negotiate through the Institute firewall. The Polycom and LifeSize vendors offer H.3232 standards compliant products. Holmesglen’s network administrators permitted the use of video conferencing using this standard. Vidyo are pioneers in H.2643 SVC based video communications. To work, certain ports in the firewall needed to be opened. This request was denied. We experienced delays in firewall configurations because the technology support officer did not have network privileges and the network administrators were not always available. As our project infrastructure changed for each session, it made trialing difficult. We trialed as much as we could and had contingency plans in place.
1Codec: The camera and microphone capture the image and sound, the codec converts it into a digital signal, encodes and sends out. The codec at the other end decodes the signal and distributes the video and audio to the monitor and speaker.
2 H.323: Popular communication standard, specifying standard codecs for audio and video, defines the communications over LAN and is optimised for the Internet, widely used and supported in commercial and educational markets.
3 H.264: Also known as Advanced Video Coding (AVC) is a widely used codec standard, basically it can enable video conferences to connect at half the bandwidth and still produce high quality video.

The graphic design sessions

Students were given a project brief, the ‘South Melbourne Project’, in advance of the first session. This project asked students to promote a local small business in South Melbourne by designing a scene constructed from paper, to use as the creative base for a poster. Three one-hour sessions were delivered via interactive video conferencing.
  • Session 1: The industry practitioners introduced themselves to the students, discussed their personal experiences in graphic design, showed their previous and current portfolios and discussed the requirements of the South Melbourne Project.
  • Session 2 (two weeks later): Student groups visited their small business and formulated ideas. They presented their concepts, asked questions and received immediate feedback.
  • Session 3 (two weeks later): Students delivered their completed scene. They photographed the paper design, pasted the image into the poster template and presented the final product to the industry practitioners. Immediate feedback was received.


Session Content and Structure Plan

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Session 1
Session 1 was delivered from the AARNet offices using their video conferencing hardware system to Holmesglen (Optus NBN equivalent infrastructure) using a hardware system borrowed from AARNet. The conference joined through AARNet’s MCU.
Equipment used
  • Venue 1: Holmesglen – Polycom HDX 8000 hardware system, including codec (video conferencing unit), high definition camera, microphone, remote control, cables (power, audio, camera, LAN, Digital Visual Interface (DVI) connector), HDMI television, projector, projector screen and cables.
  • Venue 2: AARNet – LifeSize Express 220, laptop.
About the session (rating 4.5 star)
The projector/projector screen was used to display the shared content (presentation). Content sharing stopped working during the presentation. Disconnecting, and then rejoining the conference rectified this. We were advised that this was due to a glitch in the version of the LifeSize product. This could have been avoided by enabling the content sharing after joining the conference rather than beforehand. Students viewed the industry practitioners through an HDMI television and the content was shown on a projector.
This was an ideal video conferencing session, however realistically teachers or industry practitioners working from their homes or offices will not have a video conferencing hardware system. They are more likely to have a software program and use their desktop/laptop and built-in visual and audio devices.

Session 1 Video Clip


Session 1 PowerPoint

Session 2
Session 2 was delivered from the NBN site using a Mac laptop to Holmesglen using a Mac desktop computer. The conference joined through Skype.

Equipment used
  • Venue 1: Holmesglen – Apple Mac OS X (desktop) with built-in webcam and audio.
  • Venue 2: NBN site – Apple MacBook Pro (laptop) with built-in webcam and audio.

About the session (rating 1 star)
This session was not successful in regards to delivering a good quality video conferencing session. Skype was used. Students gathered around one computer with a built-in webcam and audio to present their concepts. Skype was the back-up plan but still allowed all aspects of the session plan to be addressed. Session 2 was not recorded.
Evidence Technology offered us a trial of both a hardware system for the classroom end point and a desktop software product solution for the industry practitioner end point. This however required the opening of ports in the Institute firewall for connection to the VidyoPortal. Access was not granted until the day of the session. The trial was unsuccessful, as we were not issued with the necessary licences for both end points to be able to place calls on the VidyoPortal. By the time the licences were received it was too late to use this software and hardware system.


Session 2 PowerPoint

Session 3
Session 3 was delivered from the NBN site using AARNet’s video conferencing hardware system to Holmesglen trialing the LifeSize ClearSea client software. The conference joined through AARNet’s MCU.

Equipment used
  • Venue 1: Holmesglen – Polycom HDX 8000 hardware system, including: codec (video conferencing unit), high definition camera, microphone, remote control, cables (power, audio, camera, LAN, DVI connector), HDMI television, projector, projector screen and cables – to display shared content.
  • Venue 2: NBN site – Apple MacBook Pro (laptop), external webcam (Microsoft LifeCam Studio), external audio device (Jabra Speak 410), 32” Mac display monitor (used so the industry practitioners could easily view both the students and the work they were presenting).

About the session (rating 2.5 star)
We borrowed a webcam (the built-in webcam did not work in the trial) and an audio device from AARNet. We used AARNet’s MCU to join the conference. Session 3 was good, but not excellent because content sharing was unsuccessful.

Content sharing worked in the test prior to the session earlier in the day, however during the class session, when the industry practitioners tried to show a PDF presentation, the screen froze and we lost audio. As soon as we stopped sharing content the video conference was good again. The presentation was emailed to the classroom and displayed on the projector screen. The industry practitioners instructed the staff when to switch to the next slide. It is believed that the content sharing did not work because of bandwidth congestion at Holmesglen’s end point.

Session 3 Video Clip


Session 3 PowerPoint

The NBN as a learning tool
This project set out to trial the feasibility and suitability of video conferencing as a method to improve graphic design students’ access to industry expertise. The outcomes of this project proved that the NBN is an essential component for video conferencing quality. The benefit of a fast bandwidth like the NBN is the clarity of audio and video connections and the reduction in choppiness and echo. It is important to recognise that there are other factors other than just the NBN, that make this delivery method feasible including the equipment that is used and the software application that is selected. Each needs to be considered for individual situations. While the first and third sessions had good to excellent audio and visual quality (in our opinion), only 53% of students agreed that on the whole the overall audio and visual quality was good. I think it highlighted that students’ expectations are high. Quality in all aspects of video conferencing must be at the top end of what can be delivered. The Skype session clearly did not hit the mark.
One of the real benefits was the immediacy of industry feedback. Students listen intently and are very accepting of industry feedback, much more so than they are of feedback from their own teachers. Being able to record the sessions is also a bonus particularly for students absent from the session.
The Multimedia, Design and Art teachers were particularly excited about the opportunities that the NBN brings to teaching and learning methods and have already started planning for future uses of video conferencing. It is the accessibility factor which is particularly appealing. To extend this trial further there is the potential of tapping into experts globally, by integrating social media with video conferencing to access international contacts.
The challenge for the Design, Multimedia and Art Department will be the ability to set up a video conferencing session without the support that the project team provided.

Equipment, software and hardware
At the end of the trial period, Holmesglen did not buy any equipment or pay for any software applications, which means that we do not have the infrastructure permanently in place. Quality equipment results in quality sessions. Using the Polycom HDX 8000 hardware system from AARNet, with top of the range panoramic video camera and clear audio device improved the session significantly. The reality is that this costs approximately $700 to hire for a day and approximately $10,000 to buy. Is this expenditure acceptable for organisations? Video conferencing software applications also need to be purchased and agreed on.

Skills developed by the team
There is no doubt that the skills and understanding of the project team improved significantly during this project. Improvement in skills and understanding have specifically focused on:
  • the NBN – understanding the capabilities of the NBN, such as the bandwidth and what this allows, the steps needed to connect to the NBN, who to contact to connect to the NBN and measuring download speeds
  • video conferencing – knowledge on a range of software applications and how they differ, how to connect point to point and multipoint video conferencing and the equipment needed for the session to run smoothly.

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The main outcome was evidence that it is possible to have greater access to industry practitioners through video conferencing. This opens up the potential for national and global access such an exciting prospect for the Design, Multimedia and Art Department. The second outcome was enhancing the learning through students completing ‘real’ design activities with industry practitioners. It is amazing how much more the students listen when it is a ‘real’ graphic design practitioner rather than the teacher!

Students completed a pre-project survey on Survey Monkey to collect baseline data.


Students completed a post-project survey on Survey Monkey to determine the success of video conferencing and student learning outcomes.


The teachers feedback was collated following a Focus Group meeting. Some comments are below.

"Opens up new avenues" "Immediacy of feedback" "Students listen and accept feedback"


Evaluation Data

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Learning outcomes for students
Video conferencing is an educational tool that can add value to lessons. Through the use of video conferencing, teachers were able to plan and coordinate the experiences for students to fulfill the objectives of the unit of competency, VPAU015 Plan and implement a project in the workplace, without leaving the classroom.
Students were asked if this project had helped them to improve their essential skills (as detailed in the unit of competency). The students responses are shown in Figure 1.


Figure 1: Graph displaying the essential skills that students improved on as a result of this project.

In terms of access to the graphic design industry, students’ responses are shown in Figure 2.


Figure 2: Graph displaying students’ comments on access to the industry.

7.2 Suggestions for improvement that come from your experience
To be honest, we were really happy with the outcomes of this project and don’t see many areas that we could have improved on. Three small areas are highlighted.
  • Finding an NBN site earlier in the project would have given more time to connect to the NBN and greater time for piloting.
  • Ideally we should have agreed on the video conferencing hardware system (or equipment) and software applications before the start of the sessions. Continually changing was time consuming and increased the risk of issues as was experienced in Session 2.
  • Identifying a ‘go to’ person, or an organisation who use video conferencing on a regular basis, for ideas and support would have been really helpful in the planning and development stages. To start researching with no video conferencing background was difficult and stressful at times. There are so many options for video conferencing available that it would have been beneficial to have someone to bounce ideas off.

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This model of utilising video conferencing to increase access to industry experts is one that can be applied for many other industries and/or organisations. The NBN component is not the challenging aspect of deploying an NBN E-learning Program, assuming that the NBN is already connected before you start.
This case study highlights that many of the complexities experienced were around video conferencing. Consideration needs to be given to:
  • technical support in the planning phase
  • technical infrastructure of the organisation
  • organisation firewalls
  • access to staff with permission to open ports
  • the nature of the project: point to point or multipoint video conference
  • video conferencing hardware and software applications
  • knowledge about potential firewall issues
  • quality of equipment
  • purchasing and/or hiring equipment
  • trialling including the use of content sharing
  • technical support for trials – both ends for point to point
  • technical support for sessions – both ends for point to point
  • suitable project content that lends itself to discussion via video conference.

View more videos from this project

What the classroom

could see and hear

What the industry practitioners

could see and hear

Setting up the classroom

Setting up the NBN site

For further information regarding this NBN E-learning Project, please contact:
Name: Adi Glancy
Organisation: Holmesglen Institute of TAFE
Phone: (03) 9564 1813
Email: adi.glancy@holmesglen.edu.au
Website: http://flexiblelearning.net.au


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