IDEA Award Winner 2006
The Megaconferences and their Spinoffs
- Robert Dixon, Ohio State University and OARnet
- Jennifer Oxenford, Mid-Atlantic Gigapop in Philadelphia for Internet2 (MAGPI) and the University of Pennsylvania
The Megaconference programs use distributed networking - both people and technology - to solve the fundamental problem of how to regularly bring together hundreds of vastly distributed people in new ways each year. The Megaconference application is a huge interconnection of hundreds of interactive video conferencing endpoints throughout the world, using a network of cascaded multipoint control units using the H.323 video conferencing protocol, SIP, Access Grid, and 3G/H324 technologies. In 2005, there were an estimated 7500 participants.
The program seeks to provide participants a life-like environment to share cultural, technological and educational experiences across traditional geographic boundaries and time zones. Two spin-offs, Megaconference Jr and Keystone were established in 2004. Megaconference Jr., now held annually, brings together student presenters and audiences to share their life experiences enabling all who participate the ability visit cultures around the world without leaving the comfort of their classrooms. Three more spin-offs began in 2005 including Texas Connects, the Holiday Conference, and the Gigaconference.
Each year the Megaconference events attract novices to videoconferencing who by the end of their “Mega experience” are more comfortable with the technology and excited about the range of opportunities and applications it can afford. These individuals then take back their knowledge, experience, and enthusiasm for using the technology to their home institutions and become evangelists to their administrators, colleagues, and students.
The Megaconferences bring together people from all over the world, inexpensively and from the comfort of their own classroom, office or laboratory. Creativity is unleashed in wonderful ways that allow everyone to express themselves and describe their work and experiences to an enthusiastic global audience. Friendships and memories are created that will endure forever. The world becomes a smaller and more friendly place when we can see and talk with one another openly and freely, without political or cultural boundaries.
Chief Research Engineer
Ohio Academic Resources Network (OARNet) and The Ohio State University