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June 27, 2016

Improving Student Access to the University Research Community: Project Update (June 2016)

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Salomé Villa Larenas has been working with the Department of Linguistics and English Language on evaluating how digital conferencing systems can be used to simplify access to, and support increased PGR participation in learning.

Here is the update from Salomé:

We have trialled Skype for Business with:

  • 2 research groups (several sessions)
  • 1 poster session (MA course)
  • 1 online MA course

The use of Skype for Business has improved throughout the project as we expected. The research groups involved in the trial have started using Skype for Business autonomously without the need of my assistance, which was one of the objectives of the trial.

The challenges have been related to:

  • Skype for Business limitations in terms of connectivity and Microsoft exclusivity. Fortunately, the problem was solved with the launching of plug-ins that allow people to join the meetings from a browser.
  • Time availability of researchers and academics. This has been managed by using several sessions to help the research groups in the use of Skype for Business.
  • Lack of required technology in Meeting rooms to support the trial and use of Skype for Business. Fortunately, ISS has shared a couple of their conference meeting sets (camera, aerial mic, and speakers) which has allowed the successful use of the program in the meetings.
  • Technological support. Managed computers in the department, that is academics and room meeting’s computers and department laptops do not have Microsoft 365 installed. Also, students of the department do not have their Microsoft clients activated. We have required assistance from ISS to solve this, which has been done successfully. However, software installation and accounts activations should be there by default, already set by ISS, before Skype for Business is used in any department.

We have used:

  • Logitech webcam CC3000E Video conferencing
  • Polycom CX5000 Unified Conference Station for Microsoft Lync (this one being the most optimal gadget for the purpose of the project)

The project is in its final stage now and I expect to submit the case study soon.

Find out more about Salomé’s ‘Improving Distance PGR Student Access to the University Research Community’ Project