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Desktop video conferencing allows individuals at separate locations to see and hear each other, conduct meetings, and work together using interactive video and audio technology using a desktop computer. Images of documents can also be exchanged and users may work together on documents or projects.
Desktop systems may operate in a LAN environment at the network speed or via data lines and ISDN (128 KBPS or 384 KBPS).
The Internet has provided a variety of tools for online collaboration. Static Internet pages, e-mail and threaded discussions have paved the way for asynchronous collaboration between educators and students.
Online chats have been an important tool for synchronous collaboration, but these forms of communication are about to be supplanted by the mediums of audio and video. Recent developments have allowed video and audio streams to be compressed into manageable sizes. This, coupled with the proliferation of broadband technologies, has made effective synchronous collaboration possible.
Electronic collaboration is important to consider because it can be done at any time, from anywhere. Further, it allows for a sustained effort where participants can propose, try out, refine, and shape ideas
Desktop Conferencing is often referred to as PC based video conferencing or sometimes even video chatting. Typically the latter is not the case when someone is referring to video conferencing.
Desktop video conferencing is not simply a scaled down version of the larger conference room settings you may be familiar with. A reduced amount of features can be expected as well a slightly reduced quality. The average desktop conferencing system consist of the individual person's desktop or laptop, a separate monitor if needed or available, microphone, headset or external speakers, and a software application that is capable of coding and decoding audio and video (codec). Typically desktop conferencing cost a significant amount less than the standard room based system, but it has some obvious limitations. The most notable is that since it is based on a desktop (or similar environment), the number of users that may participate from any one endpoint is limited by space, the limited camera view, single headset, and the surrounding environment. Normally no more that 2-3 people would be expected to use a desktop conferencing system even if external speakers were used.