GV Athletics saves $11,000 with ooVoo

Athletic department uses video chat service to cut interviewing costs

By Emanuel Johnson | 9/15/11 1:01am


Those who have paid close attention to the inner workings of Grand Valley State University Athletics may have heard that the university recently hired a new Associate Athletic Director, Keri Becker. But what’s interesting is not who the university hired – it is the amount of money it saved in the process.

GVSU Athletics saved about $11,000 this summer by using ooVoo, a Web-based video chat service, to conduct first-round interviews in three job searches. The savings were tracked based on projected expenses that Athletics would have incurred with a normal interview process, which include travel by plane, train or car, food, lodging, employee pay and entertainment.

As a result, Athletics is now looking to fully implement ooVoo within its department and use it for future interviews, conference calls and recruiting.

GVSU Athletic Director Tim Selgo said using ooVoo in lieu of traditional interviews also aided the department to save a great deal of time.

“To be able to do a first round of interviews via ooVoo was just tremendous from a time standpoint,” he said. “It allowed us to get our searches going, (and) we could do them all in one afternoon instead of spreading them out over one week.”

Becker, who formerly served as the head softball coach at Ferris State University with added administrative responsibilities, said the technology was simple and convenient.

“The search committee did a great job communicating with me via email or phone and explaining to me what was going to happen and how ooVoo worked,” said Becker, who was on vacation at the time of her interview. “They walked me through it and helped me with a few things … it was easy to navigate and set up.”

Recruiting

The service also offers opportunities for coaches to have more effective sessions with their recruits, which some coaches are already doing, Selgo said.

“When you’re talking to a recruit over the phone, they might be playing a video game or on the Internet,” he said.

“But if you’re talking to them face to face through ooVoo, it makes it a worthwhile phone call.” But there will be some NCAA restrictions to consider in the near future, Becker said. Under current NCAA recruiting rules, coaches are allowed to speak to a recruit once per week via phone call and three times total through the entire recruiting process.

“So we’d have to think about where ooVoo fits into that,” Becker said. “Is it a phone call, or is it face-to-face?”

As of right now, Becker said there are no plans for the NCAA to discuss how this technology plays into the recruiting process, but she expects it to be a topic at its convention in 2013.

For now, Selgo said ooVoo will be considered a video phone call.

Team ooVoo

Team ooVoo, a group of interdisciplinary students in the Seidman College of Business working under GVSU professor Star Swift, first brought the idea to Selgo in May as a way to save money, but it had been working implementing the video service within the GVSU community for more than a year.

The students on Team ooVoo, whom Swift handpicked herself as trustworthy students, receive no compensation for working on the project.

“All of us on Team ooVoo are working for free – none of us are gaining any credit for it,” said senior Douglas Trudeau, a member of Team ooVoo. “We’re doing this for the sole purpose of sustainability and to save the university money and ncourage different ways to communicate.”

Team ooVoo tracked the initial savings in the search for several athletic positions and will continue to do so until the end of next semester, at which time it plans on pointing out benefits and flaws in a documentary video and a white sheet.

ooVoo across campus

Swift, who has worked on various projects with ooVoo officials for the past four years, was also instrumental in ooVoo’s decision to make GVSU its lab school.

“That means every member of the Grand Valley community gets the business plan – which costs a lot of money – for free,” she said.

The business plan, which costs anywhere from $15 to $25 per user per month, includes 12-way video conferences, high-definition video and desktop sharing, among other features.

It is currently available for a free download to anyone with a GVSU email account at ww.gvsu.edu/oovoo, which also hosts tips on how to effectively use the service.

Swift added that ooVoo is a more viable option than other programs such as Skype for students looking to conduct business over the internet.

“Skype is old echnology,” she said. “It was built mostly for voice whereas this was built for video. The thing is you use a lot more bandwidth because it’s a very strong program … It’s the difference between a BW and a BMW.”

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