June 8, 2016
Topic: Information Technology
The Blue Jeans online conferencing system now is available to much of the campus community through a partnership between Information and Technology Services and a variety of units that have joined in a cost-sharing contract.
ITS and participating units have partnered to fund the service through May 31, 2017, with an option to renew for an additional year, giving faculty, staff, students, and members of the U-M Health System the ability to use Blue Jeans to host online conferences or record video.
Since 2012, faculty and staff have been using Blue Jeans to collaborate with their colleagues on campus and around the world. The cloud-based conferencing service offers audio, video and content sharing across devices in a secure, user-friendly interface, even when dealing with some sensitive data.
ITS serves as the administrator for Blue Jeans and allocates the cost to participating units. Previously, the Office of the CIO started the service by funding a two-year contract that expired May 31.
"We are thrilled so many units agreed to join together and contribute to the cost of providing Blue Jeans to their faculty, staff, and students," said Andy Palms, ITS executive director of Communications Systems. "With so many units participating, most of the U-M community will be able to collaborate via high-quality video with just a few clicks."
A Blue Jeans account is available to faculty, staff, students, and sponsored affiliates in units on the Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses, including UMHS, that have opted into the campus contract. Although a user account is required to schedule, host, or moderate a Blue Jeans meeting, it is not needed to participate in one.
Blue Jeans is used on campus in a variety of ways to facilitate teaching and learning.
For example, Stefan Szymanski, professor of kinesiology, teaches a split class with a group at Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan. The classrooms are linked via Blue Jeans with telepresence units, allowing them to interact as if they were in the same place.
"This unique classroom setup gives students perspective on how cultural differences apply to the same topic," said Ryan Schell, IT manager for the School of Kinesiology. "The students really seem to engage in this level of international classroom collaboration."
Participants can attend a Blue Jeans conference from multiple locations using a telephone, smartphone, tablet, laptop, or video conference room system.
Schell said Blue Jeans has made all the difference at the School of Kinesiology.
"Before Blue Jeans, we had difficulties linking to units overseas — there always seemed to be some incompatibility or firewall issue," said Schell. "Since we switched to Blue Jeans there have been zero issues. Everything just works."