5 ways to get the most out of iChat

A few days ago Aaron announced the Distance Coaching project, which uses iChat and Flip video cameras to bridge the physical gap between teachers and coaches.  We’re pretty excited about iChat’s many capabilities, especially video conferencing.  Here are some tips to keep in mind when tackling a project similar to this.

1. Adjust your bandwidth.  In iChat, visit Preferences > Audio/Video > Bandwidth limit to change.  Lowering the bandwidth will reduce the quality a bit, but will speed up your connection in the long run. (Kbps stands for “kilobits per second” and Mbps stands for “megabits per second.” 1 Mbps is over 1000 times faster than 1.0 Kbps)

2. Ensure capability.  The Connection Doctor is a handy, built-in tool that allows you to see whats going on with your connection in iChat. This list will explain what capabilities are possible (think video conferences) on your current Internet connection.  Visit Video > Connection Doctor > Capabilities to get a report.

3. Get a pair of headphones.  This isn’t always necessary, but it never hurts to have a pair on hand.  Wearing headphones will help to increase volume and clarity, while minimizing feedback and background noise.  I’ve got these, but any pair will usually suffice.

4. Compress video before sharing.  Several free programs, such as Evom, are available for download. Sometimes shortening a clip just isn’t enough, so minimizing video size before sharing on iChat makes the process go a lot smoother.

5. Practice makes perfect.  Reduce surprises by planning a trial run before attempting a video conference or presentation.  You’ll know what to expect and feel much more comfortable when it comes time for the actual meeting.

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Related posts:

  1. 3 ways to get the most out of iChat (or any video conferencing app)
  2. What is the Connection Doctor?
  3. What we’ve learned about using iChat in distance coaching
  4. 5 ways to improve video conference quality
  5. A closer look at distance coaching with iChat and Flip video

Amber Nutt

Amber Nutt is an Education Support Technologist at the University of Kansas.