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June 17, 2019

Videoconferencing service making collaboration easier at U-M

October 21, 2014

Videoconferencing service making collaboration easier at U-M

Topic: Campus News

Faculty and staff are finding new and creative ways to collaborate with people on the U-M campus and around the world, using a new videoconferencing option powered by Blue Jeans.

Faculty and staff can now connect for meetings without worrying about the compatibility of software, hardware platforms and devices. Meeting participants can join from multiple locations using a variety of devices, including telephone (voice-only), smartphone, tablet, laptop or videoconference room systems.

"One benefit of the new service is U-M faculty and staff are able to bring guests in remotely and reliably with a lot more confidence than services, such as Skype, that were used in the past," said Rosa Peters, information and technology director at the Law School.

"The Law School is using Blue Jeans for everything from interviewing job applicants and attending meetings with others on campus and beyond, to recording classroom lectures and discussions."

The service was first piloted in 2012 by LSA. In early 2013, LSA, the schools of Education and Social Work, and Information and Technology Services worked to further test and evaluate the technology and build a campus consortium to fund a new contract.

The consortium, which added the Stephen M. Ross School of Business, U-M Library, UM-Flint and UM-Dearborn to the original units, funded the contract and continued evaluating and testing for another year.

In May 2014, U-M signed a two-year contract with Blues Jeans Network that made the service available to all faculty and staff on the Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses with the ease of a standard U-M sign-on. The U-M Office of the Chief Information Officer funded this contract, and there are no additional charges to use the service.

A Blue Jeans user account is needed to schedule, host or moderate a meeting, but it is not needed to participate in a meeting. Gone are the days of needing to create accounts to participate in remote meetings.

"Another benefit of the Blue Jeans service is the ability to continue use of our high-definition videoconferencing room equipment, and meet with others who do not have this equipment," said David Hytinen, media consultant for the U-M Library.

"In the past, we were only able to use this equipment when meeting with participants who also had access to high-definition videoconferencing equipment, meaning our equipment was often underutilized.

 "The service allows for 100 participants, increasing the number of ways we can use the service, and the number of participants we can have. The service is easy to use so we are also saving time supporting users."

The flexibility of the service allows faculty and staff to attend meetings, classes, or interviews from anywhere in the world, whether they are traveling on business or working from home, access to others is just a click away.

Some types of sensitive university data may not be shared at all using Blue Jeans. For details, see Sensitive Data Guide: Blue Jeans Video Conferencing. UMHS faculty and staff should be aware that this service is not permitted for Protected Health Information, and are encouraged to contact the Compliance Office to discuss any data privacy concerns.


Dan Atkins
on 10/22/14 at 10:07 am

I have had bad experience with Blue Jean voice quality. I expect it is variable but beware.

Todd Austin
on 10/22/14 at 11:57 am

There are many variables that come into play on any networked call. Network conditions, equipment being used, the audio environment at each end, etc., can play roles in the quality of any call. The best results come when attention is paid to those factors when setting up a call.

An important advantage of Blue Jeans over Skype, in addition to the absence of the need to have an account, is that Blue Jeans calls route directly through a Blue Jeans server between the participants. Skype calls are routed through the computers (and network connections) of other logged-in Skype users, so your call may bounce through dozens of other computers on its way across the Internet. This is why Skype calls can be of such unreliable quality.

Blue Jeans also uses the H.264SVC protocol for communication. It allows connections in low-bandwidth situations and will vary the amount of data used for video, preserving the audio channel so that conversations can continue even when the image may degrade when bandwidth falters.

Todd Austin
on 10/22/14 at 1:35 pm

For those interested in a quick-start introduction to Blue Jeans and videoconferencing, I'll be presenting a one-hour class a number of times during the remainder of the fall term. Please search on "Blue Jeans" at the Teaching and Technology Collaborative web site to pick and register for a time that works for you:

Kathleen King
on 10/22/14 at 2:45 pm

The History Department has used Blue Jeans for a dozen meetings so far and has had outstanding success with picture and sound quality.

Kanai Adhikary
on 1/04/17 at 6:03 am

BlueJeans video conferencing is good. Additionally, you may also try other video conferencing alternatives like R-HUB HD video conferencing servers. It is an on premise solution which provides 30 way HD video conferencing.

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