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Megaconference VIII Travels World November 2

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  • From: Dan Downing <>
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  • Subject: Megaconference VIII Travels World November 2
  • Date: Thu, 02 Nov 2006 08:28:04 -0500

Eighth Annual Megaconference Travels The World on Nov. 2.
Emerging Communications Technology Will Connect Thousands Simultaneously Via High Quality Internet Videoconference Technology For All Day Global Learning Seminar
COLUMBUS, Ohio. Nov. 2, 2006. – The Megaconference makes it 8th annual return to cyberspace Thursday Nov.2, uniting thousands of people in 28 countries on five continents for a day-long global learning seminar. This year’s Megaconference theme “Breaking Down Barriers to Global Connections,” reflects the international spirit of the Megaconference. The event, which runs from 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. (EST), focuses on increasing world understanding and cultural exchange through tours of national landmarks, native music and dance performances, historical recreations, and much more.
Originally intended as a technology forum to test, promote, and literally push the limits of new networking technologies, the Megaconference has grown in both size and scope, and has spun off similar events including Megaconference Jr., now in its fourth year, and the Gigaconference, in its second year.
The Megaconference demonstrates new and novel applications of videoconferencing and other emerging technologies, and viewers will see many interesting presentations and interactions including a live piano session between players in Canada and Finland, a Swiss castle tour via cell phone camera, a zoology museum tour in China, a Lewis and Clark expedition, an American Cowgirl experience, a SCUBA dive along Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, a Wright Brothers re-enactment, and an Antarctica excursion.
Dr. Karen A. Holbrook, president of The Ohio State University, is scheduled to address the Megaconference during a welcome ceremony at 9:30 a.m. (EST). This will be Holbrook’s last participation in the Megaconference as Ohio State’s president. She last addressed participants during Megaconference V in 2003. Holbrook plans to retire from Ohio StateJune 30, 2007.
The Megaconference is sponsored by Internet2, and operated by The Ohio State University and the Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC). Both Ohio State and OSC currently manage the Internet2 Commons, a remote collaboration service for large-scale deployment of Internet videoconferencing tools that are available to members of the Internet2 community and their collaborators.
"No single videoconference event involves more people or spans more continents than Megaconference. In 2005, we had over 7500 participants from 425 sites and the conference continues to grow each year," said Jonathan Tyman, Program Manager for the Internet2 Commons. "The Internet2 Commons was developed to serve as a platform for broad collaboration and innovation. Megaconference is a leading example of how the research and education community is pioneering the use of videoconference technology to provide unprecedented opportunities for cross-cultural sharing and learning."
For more information on the Internet2 Commons go to .
Pankaj Shah, director of OARnet, the networking division of OSC, said the Megaconference is much more than the worldwide educational event and cultural exchange that viewers see. Shah said the event also helps drive research and development of new and better networking infrastructure components by providing manufacturers with the world’s largest test environment.
“These networks are based on different technologies, such as ATM, ISDN, and IP, and there are so many components involved that must work in order to make this technology seamless,” Shah said. “As we do the Megaconference most of these components break at some point, and as a community we learn where and how these breaks occur. Companies learn more about their products by seeing them work or fail in conjunction with every other product and component on these interconnected networks around the world.” 
Dr. Robert Dixon, a systems engineer for the OSU Office of the CIO and for OSC, said videoconferencing will become commonplace throughout the world as Internet speeds increase, broadband and wireless access expands, better network equipment is manufactured, and more sophisticated products become available to consumers, especially handheld devices.
“It brings people together from all over the world in a way that can’t be duplicated by any other technology. Creativity is unleashed in wonderful ways that allow everyone to express themselves and describe their work and experiences to an enthusiastic global audience,” Dixon said, “The world becomes a smaller and friendlier place when we can see and talk to one another openly and freely, without political or cultural boundaries.”
Dixon leads a team of OSU engineers who operate the technology that runs the Megaconference. He said that although the technology behind the Megaconference, called H.323, is not as widely used as telephones and computers, it is increasingly being used by schools for distance education, by cultural institutions for tours and field trips, and by large corporations for videoconference meetings.
“It’s not hard to learn how to use this technology. Most grade school teachers can learn this in one day,” Dixon said. “There are training classes and materials written specifically for K-12 teachers, and many are already using it to share resources, to take field trips, to share classrooms with kids on the other side of the country, or the other side of the world.”
OARnet video engineer Arif Khan, who leads the OSC engineering team behind the Megaconference, said the event is challenging not only for its size and scope, but for the variety of equipment that is used by engineers in different countries around the world, as well as the level and quality of bandwidth available in these countries.
Khan said many presenters and participants in developing countries must deal with older equipment, unstable networks, lower bandwidth rates, and limited technical expertise that often requires many extra hours of troubleshooting for the U.S. engineers coordinating the event.
“But that’s a big part of what this event is all about,” Khan said. “It’s about bringing this technology to all the peoples and cultures and countries on the planet, which helps deploy better technology, create better ways to provide education and healthcare, and so many other things that are beneficial.”
One of this year’s most unique Megaconference attractions is the “Shark Snack Attack” from the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Florida. Kasey Gaylord, a Mote Marine distance learning specialist, said participants will “dive” into Mote’s 135,000-gallon shark exhibit to watch sharks feeding, from the safety of two underwater cameras. Gaylord said sharks are the main attraction in this experience for Megaconference participants, but viewers will also see goliath grouper, triggerfish, southern stingrays, and other species native to the Gulf of Mexico.
“We thought sharks would be something different to do for the event this year. In the past when we’ve delivered to Megaconference we’ve done the Sea Trek showcase, which is a demonstration of all the programs we offer,” Gaylord said. “Because Megaconference has such a huge variety of people participating from all over the world­students, teachers, technologists, and even people at home­we thought we’ve give them a look into the big shark tank and a live narrated shark feed.”
Even small states like North Dakota play a significant role in producing the Megaconference. Sandy Sprafka, a classroom technologies manager at North Dakota State University, and has worked on all eight Megaconferences. Sprafka said this year event organizers were looking for presentations that were interactive, and that were distributed between two or more locations.
“Even up here in North Dakota we have schools participating in the Megaconference, and they get to see so much of the world just sitting here in their classrooms. It’s great when students can interact with participants in other countries. It’s much different than watching TV,” Sprafka said. “Students can be watching a presentation and at the end be able to talk to someone in Pakistan, or India, or China, or Finland, or any of the 27 countries that are participating this year. Or they can talk to someone next door in Minnesota, it really doesn’t matter where you are anymore in this world.”
For more information about the Megaconference go to The complete program list can be found at
About OSC
OSC is Ohio's high performance computing and networking center. Established in 1987 by the Ohio Board of Regents, the Center provides scientific computing, networking, educational outreach, and information technology resources to state and national high performance computing and networking groups. OSC empowers its academic, industrial, and government partners to make Ohio the education and technology state of the future.
About The Ohio State University
The Ohio State University (OSU) is a coeducational public research university in Ohio. The university was founded in 1870 as a land-grant university and is currently the largest university in the United States. Although Ohio operates a decentralized system of higher education, Ohio State is widely considered both within Ohio and outside of its borders to be the flagship institution of the state's public system of higher education.
About Internet2
Internet2 is the foremost U.S. advanced networking consortium. Led by the research and education community since 1996, Internet2 promotes the missions of its members by providing both leading-edge network capabilities and unique partnership opportunities that together facilitate the development, deployment and use of revolutionary Internet technologies.

Dan Downing
Public Information Officer
Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC)
Ohio Academic Resources Network (OARnet)
1224 Kinnear Road
Columbus, Ohio, 43212
phone (614) 688-3949
fax (614) 292-7168

  • Megaconference VIII Travels World November 2, Dan Downing, 11/02/2006

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