Prototype multimedia videoconferencing technology developed by Bell Laboratories Inc has brought the classroom to the Internet, with students at the University of Georgia partaking in an Internet-based master class. The Gertrude Stein Repertory Theater, New York will use Bell Lab’s audio, video bridging architecture, Montage and its remote-Web based server, Persyst to conduct lessons with students in Athens, Georgia. Supporting up to 32 simultaneous input streams, Montage enables the user to have full control of the video display layout, independent of other users. Persyst, developed by the company’s multimedia communication research department, is described as a virtual classroom enabling users to partake in courses that they have registered for. Together with Montage, Persyst enables the building of separate rooms for different kinds of tutorials, similar to different Windows, and gives access to the library, lecture hall, course information and so on. This is the first time that the technology has been used for a ‘real’ class that will include Internet video links with guest lecturers in New York, and Bell Labs believes that this is just the beginning with widespread adoption emerging in the future. Chris Pfaff, a spokesperson for Bell Labs said: We’re looking at ways to increase the average users understanding of how these technologies can be used, and think the classroom will become much more prominent in achieving this. Students wanting to run Persyst must have the Netscape 2.0 browser, Isochrone Inc’s isoAudio plug-in, MacroMedia Inc’s Shockwave for Director plug-in and Persyst’s file uploader from Bell Labs. Some of the technology is already utilized in Lucent Technologies Inc’s Multimedia Communications Exchange product, and more is likely to find its way to the commercial market over the next year or two.