About the project

Web and video conferencing software have become the primary delivery method for all teaching, working, learning, and research. 

USask’s license with our current provider, Webex, expires in summer 2021. We have launched 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

Vendor demonstrations

Vendor demonstrations occurred in March 2021. Thanks to everyone who attended the vendor demonstrations and provided feedback. We are currently selecting a vendor solution - stay tuned for updates!

Needs assessment

We recently completed a needs assessment to ensure we select the software best suited to meet the needs of the university community. Thanks to the over 1,000 students, staff, and faculty who participated in the process, shared their experiences, and gave valuable insight including:

  • More than a dozen web and videoconferencing tools are currently being used by the campus community for teaching, learning, research, and administration purposes
  • Many users who previously rarely used these tools are now using web and videoconferencing tools daily 
  • Participants have varying degrees of satisfaction with different tools
  • There is no single tool that is preferred by all USask users
  • The top three most widely used tools scored between 65% - 84% in satisfaction
  • Users have diverse needs and feature requirements
  • Top use cases:
    • Teaching and attending synchronous courses
    • Administrative meetings with colleagues across campus as well as external participants
    • Graduate defenses or examinations
    • Large virtual events such as public lectures and seminar series
  • Five most important features:
    • Ease of use
    • Share my screen
    • Auto mute participants
    • Invite and remind features
    • Recording
  • 44% of users polled find breakout rooms important
  • USask users join web and video conferences from a variety of internet connections and indicate network connection and bandwidth considerations are important
    • 94% of users have joined through wireless or Wi-Fi
    • 34% of users have joined with cellular data
    • 15% of users have joined using a hotspot connection
    • 3% of users have joined through a satellite internet connect
  • USask users join web and video conferences tools from a variety of device types; device-specific features are important
    • 87% of users have joined using a laptop
    • 55% of users have joined with a smartphone
    • 48% of users have joined with a desktop computer
    • 21% of users have joined with a tablet

Project timeline

  • August 2020: implemented interim exception process for Zoom/other software 
  • Fall 2020: evaluated web and videoconferencing needs of campus; consulted with stakeholders; consulted with U15 and CANARIE
  • Winter 2021: issued RFP 
  • Spring 2021: select vendor solution
  • Summer 2021: implement a new solution 

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Current conferencing tools at USask

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 2020, 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.   

Web and videoconferencing resources