Although traditionally used for face to face real-time meetings, video conferencing programs that support application sharing may also be used for a wide variety of teaching, research and collaborative applications. As the phrase implies, “application sharing” involves synchronous, remote sharing of applications, files, or literally anything on a host computer. For example, many clients could simultaneously work on a central host database, without having the program installed on their computer. Likewise, collaboration on publications could be in real-time, rather than by passing multiple revisions back and forth. Teaching applications include guest lectures by experts on a particular subject, viewing live microscope images from another site, and/or remote collaboration with students. For example, rather than explaining how to perform a spreadsheet function, an instructor could remotely perform that function on the student’s computer. For the systematics community, one of the most exciting applications could be remote examination of herbarium specimens. Using an inexpensive video capture board and standard video camera or CCD camera, full size screen images of herbarium specimens and/or microscope images may be broadcast, in real-time, and with viewer interaction, over the Internet. Although this technique is not viewed as a substitute for critical, hands-on examination, many routine examinations, comparisons and verifications could be made this way. For example, a cursory, remote examination by a specialist might quickly validate or invalidate a determination or new endangered species record. Hardware, software and technical requirements for remote collaboration and image sharing, as well as a proposal for a central systematics video conferencing server will be discussed.

Key words: computer, internet, teaching, video conferencing