For 30 years, BCNET, a nonprofit shared services organization, has provided British Columbia’s colleges and universities with all the IT services they need, from Internet connectivity to network storage and hardware and software procurement.
As such, ensuring that members have a say in what solutions and services are available has always been essential to BCNET’s mission of helping member institutions drive down costs, maximize efficiencies, reduce service management duplication, and maximize their negotiating power.
And for the past decade, BlueJeans’ virtual meetings platform has been key to BCNet’s ability to bring its members together to share feedback and offer input on the IT services they find most valuable.
All BCNET meetings—from ad hoc discussions to periodic board meetings—are hosted in BlueJeans. Adoption by BCNET members was driven from the top down:
- BCNET used it internally for their board meetings, then the university presidents started using it, which cascaded down throughout BCNET member institutions.
- BCNET members have used BlueJeans in numerous applications—to convene meetings of the academic senates that govern the universities, connect graduate students with far-flung subject matter experts, and even allow students’ family members who live on the other side of the world to watch them present their dissertations in real time.
- BlueJeans’ interoperable solution clears one more potential adoption hurdle—by providing a solution that works seamlessly with existing member institution room system hardware.
Using the functionality of BlueJeans Command Center, Dean Crawford, BCNET Director of Shared Systems and Technology, has given each member institution its own unique ID so he does not have to create individual accounts for users at member sites. Because each institution has a unique ID, Crawford and his team can monitor and evaluate usage, assign the appropriate chargebacks, and plan accordingly for the coming year.
Crawford can also view, analyze and report on global connectivity—allowing BCNET to demonstrate the positive impact that the organization’s technology choices make in supporting its members’ global research and identify last-mile connectivity issues so they can help improve users’ overall ability to connect.
Prior to implementing BlueJeans, BCNET was using a Polycom system that was complex and expensive. They wanted something more flexible and evaluated a number of virtual meeting solutions before selecting BlueJeans.
The BlueJeans feature that first captured everyone’s attention was the integration with Skype. Most of the faculty were already using it, so it was easy to tap into the existing workflow and provide their users a better experience. Making BCNET’s decision easier was the fact that BlueJeans offered the most flexible and cost-effective option, without saddling BCNET or member institutions with onerous video meeting hardware requirements.
BCNET soon became BlueJeans’ 29th customer and wasted no time putting the video conferencing capability to work, with video meetings dramatically reducing the need for travel and saving thousands of dollars while enabling face-to-face collaboration.
Today BCNET is looking to expand its efforts to offer multimodal learning—that is, more than one way to attend classes, whether students show up in person, attend virtually via BlueJeans (some professors use an iPad on a swivel in the room and it pans to whoever is speaking so remote students can feel like they are there in person), or watch a video recording of the class at a later time.
Just as BCNET member sites feel like valued members of a consortium, Crawford says his longtime relationship with BlueJeans has allowed him the opportunity to be part of the evolution of BlueJeans. And BCNET helps them do everything they can to improve education.