Web conferencing service brings new opportunities

Blue Jeans has been available since the spring

Photo/Mike Lovett

Students connected with musicians from the Peruvian Andes via Blue Jeans last spring.

A web conferencing service first offered in the spring has already allowed the Brandeis community to connect with a congressman in Washington and musicians in the Peruvian Andes.

Those examples are only a small piece of what can be done with Blue Jeans, a new service implemented by Library and Technology Services

Blue Jeans allows for easy conferencing between computers, phones and tablets and allows traditional video conferencing equipment to interact with phones, tablets and laptops from afar. It can be used for guest lectures, office hours, interviews of job candidates and potentially to help faculty and staff work through snowy weather.

"I view Blue Jeans as part of what I consider our innovation environment," said Josh Wilson, associate chief information officer for academic technologies. "Faculty need to have lots of options at their fingers, so when they want to innovate, they have what they need."

In April, when Professor Judith Eissenberg wanted to connect students to musicians from the Q'eros community, a group that lives in small villages high in the Peruvian Andes, the new service helped make it happen.

Two Q'eros musicians came down from their home about 11,000 feet about sea level to a nearby hotel, where they connected with the students via video conferencing, some 3,700 miles away.

"It was just incredible. When you have these encounters, it's a deep experience for everyone," she said. "This kind of technology, especially for my class, is the perfect thing. It swings the doors wide open."

In June, the service allowed US congressman John Lewis to connect with a conference hosted by the American Studies program. Lewis was scheduled to be the keynote speaker, but was stuck in Washington.

Faculty and staff looking to use Blue Jeans in more elaborate ways can get in touch with Media Technology Services. In most cases the service is relatively easy to use.

"This isn't rocket science, but it makes things a whole lot easier," Wilson said. "It enables people to get work done together."

Categories: Science and Technology

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