About the project

Web and video conferencing software have become the primary delivery method for all teaching, working, learning, and research. New providers have rapidly entered the market, while established providers are releasing a steady stream of new products. 

USask’s license with our current provider, Webex, expires in 2021. We are launching a project to ensure we implement the best tool to meet our needs as we rely more and more on web and videoconferencing software.

Stakeholder engagement

The university’s need for web and videoconferencing has shifted drastically since March 2020.

We are creating a needs assessment to ensure we select the software best suited to meet the needs of the university community.

We want to hear from you! We are conducting focus groups, interviews, and surveys to find out:

  • who uses web and video conferencing
  • why and how you use web and videoconferencing
  • when you use web and videoconferencing
  • and what features you need

We will use the information gathered to create use cases, get proposals from vendors, and choose the best solution.

Our engagement process is already underway and goes until December 15, 2020. Provide your insights and participate in an interview or survey.

History

WebEx

USask implemented Webex several years ago primarily to support distributed education needs in health sciences. At that time, WebEx was the best fit for our needs.  

USask has invested to ensure that Webex is safe and secure for our faculty, researchers, students and staff. We have integrated Webex with many of our systems, such as our LMS. In mid-May, we upgraded Webex to create a better user experience. The upgrade made it easier to join a meeting, improved audio and video quality, simplified camera and microphone connections, and enhanced security features. In September, we added new features including video breakout rooms and further audio and video upgrades.      

Teams for faculty and staff

In March 2020, USask implemented a second web and videoconferencing solution for faculty and staff (not available for student use at this time), Microsoft Teams. With the launch of Office 365 at USask, Microsoft Teams is fully integrated into Outlook, SharePoint, and other Office software, and provides our staff with a new way to collaborate.   

Project timeline

  • August 2020: implement interim exception process for Zoom/other software 
  • Fall 2020: evaluate web and videoconferencing needs of campus; consult with stakeholders; consult with U15 and CANARIE
  • Winter 2020: issue RFP
  • Spring 2021: choose a vendor 
  • Summer 2021: implement a new solution (if necessary)  

timeline-.png

Interim approval process

Our needs assessment will ensure we have the software best suited to the needs of campus by summer 2021. To bridge the gap between now and then, we have launched a process to apply for an exception to use Zoom or other web and videoconferencing software. 

Without enterprise licenses for web conferencing systems such as Zoom, not all security features are available and could pose privacy or reputational risk to USask. To minimize risk, a committee with representatives from teaching and learning, research, and ICT will carefully evaluate all requests. We will approve only those requests for use with needs that cannot be met using current software, and follow up on denied requests to provide users with extra training or technical support. 

The process will evaluate needs and provide IT support and training for those who need extra assistance with web conferencing and are not eligible for a Zoom license.  

Web and videoconferencing resources