Using Lifesize Icon 400 and Cloud for Dual Credit Teaching

Blog Post created by michael.gunderson@highland.edu on Oct 7, 2016

When shopping for a new conferencing solution for our campus, I spent considerable time weighing all available options with our vendor.  Our institutional need was for our two year community college to be able to teach dual credit programs to high schools in our college district.  I was working under a deadline, so ease of setup and cost was a major factor in our buying decisions.  Last April, based upon my recommendation, we decided to go with Lifesize.


Our journey started with a demo of the Icon 400 with Phone HD and a cloud trial account.  We tested the Icon 400, paired to the trial could account, internally by having several staff, faculty and administrators call in from their browsers.  We then collected feedback from those users.  To my surprise, most of the users responded very positively.  Most said that they were hesitant and apprehensive to use a "distance learning" device because they heard horror stories of our older, dedicated room (Big P) system.  After internal testing, we went external of our campus and had test calls to others in our community.  Those went amazingly good as well.  Based upon the ease of use, the ability to connect to virtually anyone with a camera enabled device, and the significant less cost than other systems, we decided to purchase an identical system. 


I installed the Icon 400 and Phone HD in June of 2016.  I paired the Icon with a 40" LED monitor, mounted on a Chief TS325TU wall mount, with the TA2 camera shelf, configured so the camera would be under the monitor.  The TV and Icon 400 are mounted on a side wall in a classroom, approximately 12 feet from our classroom instructor workstation. (see rough concept diagram below) 

In the high school classroom, we kept the equipment simple and are using a Microsoft web-cam and a laptop connected to an LCD projector.  We set the school up with a user on our cloud account, and installed the cloud app on their PC. The class is being connected via  virtual meeting room, which allows either user to call in at any time and not interrupt the other classroom.


It has been two months since implementation, and I can say that the system is performing as expected.  We have had a couple technical hiccups, none of which have been with the Lifesize products!  As this program grows and we enter into an arrangement like this with other schools, we now have a document with our minimum expectations ready to go.


Overall, I believe that Lifesize was a great choice for our campus.  We've had the opportunity to enthusiastically show the room and capabilities to many of our faculty. In return, they are amazing us with a list of potential uses that we never considered when setting this up for our test case distance learning dual credit program.


Thanks Lifesize, you make my job easy!!