June 18, 2014
Topic: Campus News
Imagine the ease and benefits of crisp video and audio during conference calls. Imagine being able to connect with collaborators and meeting attendees from across the world, and not needing to worry about compatibility of software and hardware platforms and devices.
Incorporating all these features, Blue Jeans is a new videoconferencing service now available to all faculty and staff members at U-M in Ann Arbor, Dearborn, and Flint, with the ease of a standard U-M sign-on.
Blue Jeans is a cloud-based solution that delivers high-resolution telepresence videoconferencing, content sharing, and real-time video sharing. It makes communication and collaboration easy in situations where everyone cannot be in the same physical space.
Tangible benefits include reduced travel time and associated costs, as well as contributing to U-M's environmental goals. Information and Technology Services funded the cost of providing the service for the next two years.
A Blue Jeans user account is needed to schedule, host, or moderate a meeting, but it is not needed to attend or participate in a meeting. The host simply enters the participants' email addresses, and an invitation with connection information is sent to all participants.
"The use of telepresence-quality videoconferencing technology is growing on campus. Units have invested in room systems from a variety of vendors. The challenge has been to enable high-quality communication among this disparate equipment and enable people to connect to these systems from remote locations using their laptop or smartphone," said Andy Palms, ITS executive director of communications systems.
What sets Blue Jeans apart from other videoconferencing services is the ability to connect from various devices, including telephone (audio only), tablet, laptop, smartphone, or video telepresence system (Cisco, Polycom, LifeSize).
Participants are not limited by the proprietary program they have available. Additional functionalities include: inviting up to 100 participants, sharing high-resolution documents, images and videos, recording, and end-to-end encrypted meetings.
Todd L. Austin, videoconferencing lead at LSA Instructional Support Services and Consortium unit representative, said he uses Blue Jeans to connect students, faculty and guests in ways that vastly improve the learning and research experience. In some cases, students interacted with people in regions with limited technical resources.
"Blue Jeans flexibility, cross platform compatibility, and ease of use proved to be true differentiators for us," said Kinnothan Nelson, director of technology at the School of Nursing.
"Blue Jeans eliminated existing technical barriers, allowing faculty and students to focus on what really matters, creating collaborative learning environments where real connections can be made."
Staff and faculty members at other U-M units have had similar positive experiences.
"The ability to use Blue Jeans in a multitude of collaborative ways has been a fantastic advantage to our school," said Ron Miller, assistant director of instructional technology at the School of Education.
"We use this service in dissertation defenses and classroom teaching, to bring remote speakers in, and for international conference presentations, with the ease of interfacing with meeting participants regardless of the device they use."