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Megaconference VII Draws Record Number of Presenters, Participants, Countries and Continents

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  • From: Dan Downing <>
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  • Subject: Megaconference VII Draws Record Number of Presenters, Participants, Countries and Continents
  • Date: Wed, 30 Nov 2005 11:54:36 -0500

Megaconference VII Draws Record Number of Presenters, Participants, Countries and Continents
WASHINGTON DC, Dec. 1, 2005 -- The Megaconference will mark its 7th consecutive year today, as dozens of presenters, hundreds of participants, and thousands of viewers in 40 countries on six continents around the world take part in the world’s largest simultaneous Internet videoconferencing event.
Megaconference VII begins at 7:30 a.m. EST, and continues throughout the day until 11:00 p.m. EST. This year's theme, Increasing Empathy Through Videoconferencing, focuses on improving understanding between individuals and cultures through worldwide videoconferencing. For information on the Megaconference, including live streaming, program guide, abstracts, participants and more, go to
Presentations will discuss and demonstrate how different groups use Internet videoconferencing in real-world situations for teaching, learning, sharing knowledge and information, and a variety of other topics. Actual end users of H.323 videoconferencing will be the predominant feature of Megaconference VII, while technical presentations will be limited. All presentations will be fully interactive, engaging multiple sites and audiences around the world.

The Megaconference, sponsored by Internet2, takes place once a year to present, test and discuss all aspects of IP-based H.323 videoconferencing. The H.323 standard allows users to make the most of existing videoconferencing hardware and software. It defines how real-time audiovisual conferencing data is transmitted across IP-based networks, allowing for shared conferences between different conferencing applications.
Internet2 is a consortium of more than 200 universities, working in partnership with industry and government, to develop and deploy advanced network applications and technologies. For more information about Internet2, go to
The technical hub of the Megaconference, the Internet2 Commons, is located in Columbus, Ohio, and is operated jointly by the Ohio State University (OSU) and the Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC). The Internet2 Commons, which operates on a system of Multi-point Control Units (MCUs), was established in 2001 to promote the adoption of IP-based collaboration technologies for the Internet2 research and education community.
Standards-based, vendor-neutral videoconferencing through this scalable service allows subscribing members to schedule and hold distributed working groups, classes, meetings, and conferences in support of research and education.
Some of the nearly 30 Megaconference presentations include: A remote controlled telescope, a killer whale, a kangaroo, and a koala from Australia; a Christmas market visit to London; a tour of the old Erie canal system in Ohio; a joint performance with musicians in Sweden and California; a panda exhibit in China; and an ocean adventure with MOTE Marine Laboratory in Florida.
Nearly 40 states in the U.S. are participating in Megaconference VII. Other participating countries include Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Columbia, Costa Rica, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Fiji, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Palestine, Panama, Philippines, Poland, Puerto Rico, Russia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, and Uruguay.
Dr. Robert Dixon, Chief Research Engineer at OSC and at the OSU Office of the CIO, is widely considered to be the “Founding Father” of the Megaconference for his continuing efforts in producing the yearly event.
Dixon cites a number of reasons for the increasing popularity of the Megaconference over the past seven years. He said the quality and ease of use of video equipment available has improved dramatically in recent years. He also cites the many H.323 workshops taught during the past few years as having increased the number of experienced videoconferencing personnel.
“More and more people keep hearing about it, and they spread the word. It has a good reputation and is unlike any other worldwide communications event,” Dixon said. “Participants get to meet others from around the world--something they could not do without the Megaconference--and this widens their horizons and gives them new projects to work on at other times during the year.”
Dixon said that the availability, speed and quality of the world's data networks have also increased dramatically, which has enabled more people from developing countries to participate in the Megaconference.
“Internet videoconferencing is spreading into areas of the world that have previously been inaccessible because they lacked the technology. We have several countries participating this year for the first time, demonstrating the role technology plays in bringing the world closer together,” Dixon said.
As the Megaconference continues to grow organizers are developing more automated methods to manage the conference logistics. Dixon said this year they inaugurated the “continent coordinators” concept, in which select people on each continent are charged with coordinating specific activities.
Dozens of volunteers from institutions around the world work year-round to plan and produce the Megaconference, which made its worldwide debut with fewer than 100 participants during the Fall 1999 Internet2 Member Meeting in Seattle.
Sandy Sprafka, Videoconferencing Administrator at North Dakota State University, said every presentation requires dozens of hours of work from many different people behind the scenes who make sure the various components of the Megaconference run smoothly.
“The Megaconference really reaches out and touches the world, and I’m humbled to be working with such a dedicated group of people who contribute so much for so long to make this event happen,” Sprafka said. “It’s truly an honor to work with so many wonderful people around the world as they share their lives, cultures, activities and research.”
“There are so many components in the Megaconference--28 presentations, three cafes, three roll calls, three choir sessions, three welcome sessions, two technology showcases and a grand prize drawing­it’s amazing that everything works so well in the end,” Sprafka added.
Donations from vendors include a one-year free license for web conferencing and collaboration server software including support, maintenance and training, from Marratech; two PCS-1 videoconferencing stations from Sony; a 30-Gig Ipod from Polycom; a Bose portable CD player from the Internet2 Commons; a Palm Treo 650 from Codian; three Polycom VSX-3000 desktop videoconferencing stations from VuPorts; two 4-Gig Apple Ipod Nanos from RADVision, and two Polycom PVX software video conferencing codecs and two Logitech  cameras from SKC Communications.

Dan Downing
Public Relations Coordinator
Ohio Supercomputer Center
Ohio Academic Resources Network
Third Frontier Network
1224 Kinnear Road
Columbus, Ohio, 43212
phone (614) 688-3949
fax (614) 292-7168

  • Megaconference VII Draws Record Number of Presenters, Participants, Countries and Continents, Dan Downing, 11/30/2005

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