Teachers Need Technology That Helps Them Teach

There have been some great advances in the world of technology in the last several years and everyone is in a race to keep up. Everything from social media, electric cars and mobile devices have changed the way we do things in every day life. The consumer world is usually at the forefront of using these technologies followed by the business world. The education world is typically the last to adopt any new technology. Why is that?


Aside from funding, one of the main reasons for this is that educators must justify all of their decisions. Like any good academic, they must answer the all important question: why? Why do we need this technology? Why is it better than the last? Every decision has to solve a problem and enable teachers to do their job better.

Easier Content Sharing

Teachers and professors are always looking for an easier way to share content like PowerPoint presentations or web videos from any device (laptop, tablet or phone) to their classroom projector. Finding all of the right cables and adapters is a challenge and puts undue pressure on the educators who just want to walk in a room, put up their presentation and teach. Some great wireless content sharing solutions out there make this possible including Barco ClickShare and Mersive Solstice.


Connect with Students Anywhere

Students are on the move constantly today and the number of adult learners increasing is adding even more challenges to how teachers can connect with their students. Many educators used to think webcasting and recording of their lectures was giving students an excuse not to come to class or as something only done by non-traditional, online universities. While some teachers might still be hesitant to embrace it, students have come to expect that their schools at least provide this option as a supplement to their work in the classroom in case they missed something in their notes or if they had to miss a class for any reason. Mediasite from Sonic Foundry and 323Link are both great tools for capturing lectures. 

Group Projects 

If you have students working on a group project and they have team members traveling or with kids at home, it can sometimes be hard for them to hold meetings where everyone is present physically in the same place. Technology is a great way to bridge this gap. Skype calls can work for 1on1 communication and Google Hangouts can also suffice for simple group conversation. Another great video collaboration tool is Ubiety which offers a virtual meeting room for video calls where students can call in from the desktop, smartphone app or even just over an audio line.The students can even share screens to make collaboration more effective.


Technology doesn't need to be hard and it certainly can have utility. From the moment students wake up in the morning, they are engaging with the digital world. The more teachers embrace technology, the more they will be able to find ways to keep those students engaged.

Posted by Jordan Myers at Friday, October 9, 2015 | 0 comments

The Future of Work: Telecommuting and Huddle Rooms

It seems like every day we are hearing about a new technology that can be added to the board room or conference room. There are new displays such as 4k TV's, all sorts of content sharing dongles and adapters, touch screen interfaces like the Microsoft Hub and from video conferencing solutions from Polycom like the Eagle Eye Producer that allows your system to "frame the shot" for you as participants enter the room. But what does this mean in a world where less workers have access to traditional conference rooms?

Credit: New York Times

What sometimes gets lost in the shuffle is that the nature of work is changing. Not everyone is working out of a physical office or at least not 100% of the time. Telecommuting is on the rise (by almost 80% over the past 10 years). And even when workers are in the office, they aren't working out of the 1980s-style cubicles they once were. Open-office floor plans are now becoming the norm with the idea being that it will increase collaboration and communication. However, workers still need places to meet privately (and cut down on their anxiety from an open-office) which has given a rise to smaller, simpler meeting spaces aka "huddle rooms." 

Credit: UX Matters

The days of thinking just about "what kind of tech can we fit in this conference room?" are no more. You now must consider how to organize remote workers calling into meetings from laptops and mobile devices and huddle rooms that need a scalable, size-appropriate tech solutions such as Ubiety for virtual meeting rooms and the Polycom Convene for small huddle rooms. And then figure out a way to tie all of these together that is easy and doesn't require a huge IT investment. As the nature of work changes, the need for efficient means for communication will only increase. It just might look different. 

Posted by Jordan Myers at Wednesday, July 15, 2015 | 0 comments

New Office Opens in Chicago

ISI has opened a new office in Chicago managed by Jordan Myers. Opening up the new office leads to many new opportunities for the company.
Posted by Lucy Dean at Tuesday, May 26, 2015 | 0 comments

ISI Partners With Vidyo

From our CEO, Jay Myers:

"After several years of evaluation and research, ISI formalized an agreement last week with Vidyo, a scalable software-based video conferencing solution that puts HD-quality, multipoint video communications within reach of anyone using any device, anywhere. All that’s needed is an Internet, LTE or 4G connection to join in a lifelike and collaborative meeting experience.  It is obvious to all of us at ISI that the  video conferencing industry has moved beyond providing expensive legacy hardware and dedicated networks to being able to provide a powerful, flexible and scalable software-based solution that is also cost effective. What we see with Vidyo is a product that is easy to use and manage and provides HD-quality video communication for anyone using any device, anywhere. We think that’s pretty cool and it doesn’t take a genius to determine that it's where everything is going in our industry."

Read more on the ISI-Vidyo partnership on Jay's website,

Posted by John Emery at Friday, July 18, 2014 | 0 comments

InfoComm Day 2

The show just keeps getting better. Signal Management company Altinex unveils a revolutionary way to provide Video, Control and Power at the end of a 300' low voltage, unshielded CAT-6 cable. The new Muse HDMI+Power+RS-232+IR Transmitter and Receiver is sure to be a game changer. Visualization solutions provider Barco shows off new projector with built in Click Share technology.  This thing is super Cool! Simply hang the projector and shoot it on any smooth surface or screen, plug in your wireless dongle and start collaborating. Creston's new RC3 control system is sure to be a hit. Its small form factor will fit perfectly behind a flat panel or on top of a projector. You got to check this thing out. Kramer's new K Touch control software is a perfect fit for smart classrooms. The K−Touch system allows the installer to easily integrate common touch devices as user interfaces in your Kramer based room control system. Apple and Android flavors are available. Display manufacturer LG shows off cool new products.  A 105" inch 5K curved display, this thing is a beast! The screen is so clear and bright you almost cant believe its real. They also have a new transparent screen that while displaying a image you can still see through. Another cool LG product is the Mirror/Display. When on it looks like a regular display when off it looks like a mirror. Pretty Cool!

Posted by Brad Kirby at Thursday, June 19, 2014 | 0 comments

InfoComm 2014

InfoComm 2014 is off to a great start, The prevailing technology around the show is still cloud based video conferencing with heavy ties to WEBRTC, browser based video plug-ins and Microsoft Lync integration. PEXIP announces WEBRTC browser plug-ins will be coming in Q3 to early Q4 2014. Video wall manufacturer Prysm demos curved touch screen video wall with outstanding sensitivity to touch and collaboration capabilities. You have to see this thing to believe it, over 20 foot long with at least a dozen different windows open that you can manipulate individually with just a finger or two. Super Cool! AMX also shows off new control systems with dual LAN cards for internal and external network connections as well as the new Enzo meeting presentation system with Microsoft Lync intergation.  

Stay tuned more to come

Posted by Brad Kirby at Wednesday, June 18, 2014 | 0 comments

SECURITY ALERT: Latest info on "Heartbleed" Bug

As some of you may be aware, the IT world has been taken by storm this week with the announcement of "Heartbleed", a bug in the OpenSSL platform that allows attackers to access any information on servers that use OpenSSL for security. Many different sites and services were affected, and there have been a blizzard of articles recommending users change passwords and test often-used websites for the bug before disclosing personal information.

However, one thing that has been overlooked in the coverage (until yesterday evening) is that fact that servers are far from the only hardware affected. Concerned for our security and the security of our customers, we tested a number of our most popular conferencing and infrastructure products and the results were alarming. In our demo lab, we are able to use the "Heartbleed" bug to gain control of Cisco SX20, C20, C40, and C60 codecs, along with Polycom HDX 6000 and HDX 7000 codecs. At that point, we immediately reported our findings to our vendors, and as a service to potential, current, and former customers we want to post the following links to more information on what products are affected and what steps you can take to protect yourself.

Cisco Security Advisory: OpenSSL Heartbeat Extension Vulnerability in Multiple Cisco Products

Polycom Security Bulletin CVE-2014-0160 (Security Advisory Relating to OpenSSL Vulnerability “Heartbleed”)

We are currently reaching out to customers with active service agreements concerning the Heartbleed bug, but if you have any questions or concerns regarding your video conferencing security please feel free to contact the ISI Help Desk at (866) 541-1295 or

Posted by John Emery at Friday, April 11, 2014 | 0 comments

Can you get a better staff with video?

Can video conferencing help you develop and maintain a better staff? 

We think so, and it appears we're not alone. This blog post from The Future of Things brings up a few trends we've seen developing in the video world for some time, and the theme is simple: video helps you find and retain the best-qualified talent. From using video to screen candidates, to reducing out-of-town travel, to allowing workers to telecommute from home, video conferencing allows workers to better balance career and personal lives while giving employers better staff morale and productivity.

At ISI, we "practice what we preach", and we use the same technology we sell to customers to help our employees stay connected, productive, and satisfied. Contact an account manager and see what we can do for your staff.

Posted by John Emery at Wednesday, March 5, 2014 | 0 comments

Video: Getting you out of the "Polar Vortex"

Here at ISI, we're very familiar with the advantages wide access to video gives an organization in times of emergency. Many of our customers have used ISI technology to deal with floods, fires, medical issues, and most recently severe winter weather. We believe widespread employee access to videoconferencing and collaboration tools is one of the best ways a business can keep operating in the face of adverse conditions, so it's always a treat when we see others come to the same conclusion.

This article from the Birmingham Business Journal takes a look at some of the steps businesses can take to prepare themselves for events like this winter's "polar vortex", and not surprisingly, holding meetings via video conferencing is item number #1. If you've had issues keeping everyone up to date and productive during the wintry weather these past 2 months, give us a call and see what ISI cloud services like ISI-CONNECT and ISI-NET can do for your business's continuity planning.

Posted by John Emery at Friday, February 21, 2014 | 0 comments

Live Demo of Pexip Infinity

Posted by John Emery at Thursday, January 23, 2014 | 0 comments

An MCU Without Ports?

With the explosion of endpoint numbers over the past few years (fueled by trends such as BYOD mobile clients and PC software endpoints) one constant that has remained is the MCU or "conferencing bridge" port. Even as traditional players such as Cisco and Polycom tentatively begin to take the traditional hardware MCU full of specialized chips and replace it with virtualized appliances running on normal everyday servers, one constant has remained: the port.

MCU "ports" can be managed by a bridge any number of ways, but they all boil down to describing the capacity of the MCU to handle simultaneous calls. A simple method might be that a hypothetical MCU/bridge would have 6 ports, and each "port" represents a call to an endpoint, so for our simple 6 port MCU, we could have 6 endpoints connected to conference calls at any one time. A more complex method might be that a bridge has 100 ports, and each port represents a certain amount of video processing that the bridge can handle. So for our example 100 port MCU, an HD participant might need 20 ports (because their video is high resolution and takes a lot of resources to encode and decode) while a mobile client using less-than-standard-definition video might only need 3 ports. Most vendors choose an approach similar to one of these two, but how MCU ports are handled can vary widely even within a manufacturer's own product line.

In addition to the complexity of defining ports, the "port" model has other issues as well. One is that the idea of ports comes from a time where the capacity of an MCU was physically limited by the number and speed of the video processing chips; many early MCUs could only add ports by adding expansion cards containing more video processors. Even on models where ports could be activated by software, expansion was limited to what could be supported on a single hardware chassis. Even worse, if you bought an MCU that was upgradable via software and didn't opt to expand it to full capacity, you ended up paying for hardware you couldn't use. Another, related issue is costs: if video usage spikes, how do you get enough ports cost-effectively? What if you bought ports but a change in usage meant you didn't need them anymore? Both situations are less than ideal, but at least in the first one you can always buy more. Once you've bought ports, you're generally stuck with them unless you sell off your MCU and start over with a new one.

This blog post by Pexip touches on these issues and others, and proposes a new model from the IT world: the enterprise-wide "all-you-can-eat" license, where you simply pay a low fixed fee (in the IT world, usually based on the number of users you have) and then freely use however many "ports" you want. Check it out and let us know what you think!

Posted by John Emery at Tuesday, January 21, 2014 | 0 comments

Product Spotlight: Crestron RL for Microsoft Lync

A lot of interesting things are happening right now in video, and most of them are disruptive. We have PC based clients that are becoming increasingly capable, and x86-based server applications taking over roles that used to be the domain of custom, video-centric hardware appliances. Still, there's something to be said about the collaborative possibilities that can only be afforded by an integrated room system. Large displays, clear, broadcast-quality cameras, and digital whiteboards (that let you draw with pens instead of mice) let participants immerse themselves in a way that's hard to do when you're huddled over a laptop. This leads us to a new product from Crestron: the RL room system for Microsoft Lync.

I know what your next question will be: "Isn't Lync a PC client? You mean a room system based around a PC running Lync, right?" No, I mean a honest-to-goodness room system. And make no bones about it: it is a slickly integrated system from one of the leaders in room and A/V device control. Most of the specs are fairly eye-popping, including your choice of single or dual 65 inch multitouch displays, but more interesting than the specs is the level of integration with Lync the system affords.

The system hooks into your Exchange environment seamlessly and extracts upcoming meeting information; connecting to a schedule meeting in Lync is as easy as walking over to the touch controller and tapping your meeting icon on the screen. To draw on the shared Lync whiteboard, walk up to the display and touch it, just like a big iPad. And if you so desire, Crestron is more than happy to sell you a whole range of touch controllers, video switches, audio processors and more that plug right in to the RL system and give enhanced capabilities. You can even manage the room remotely using Crestron's Fusion system management toolkit.

Check out the video below from the debut of the RL system at this summer's InfoComm trade show, or you can look over the RL at Crestron's website.

Posted by John Emery at Monday, August 26, 2013 | 0 comments

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