“Scheduled meeting” doesn’t always have to mean packing up and hauling everything across the campus, or even the country, only to sit in an uncomfortable conference room. In fact, with the help of UB’s new communication tool, Virtual Conference, you can meet whenever you need from the comfort of your own home or office.
UB launched the new Virtual Conference service using Microsoft Lync this summer to give UB faculty, staff and students more flexibility when it comes to planning and attending group meetings.
The software is used in conjunction with web cameras and microphones and allows you to initiate and conduct virtual discussions, conferences and classes from anywhere.
According to Saira Hasnain, Director of Enterprise Infrastructure Services (EIS), "We've had a number of requests for reliable web conferencing that would allow for classes or meetings to be conducted virutally in real time. A proof of concept environment was created for interested UB departments to test extensively before the launch. UB is comprised of a large number of Windows and Mac users, so it was important for the tool to have similar capabilities for both platforms."
Lync gives you the power to conference call people in groups, share Powerpoint presentations or use a digital whiteboard by scheduling meetings with either the Outlook email client or the Lync Web Scheduler. Instant messages can also be sent between parties.
Perhaps Lync’s greatest selling point is how much it cuts down on travel time, especially for faculty and students who don’t have the time or means to commute across UB’s three campuses.
"Lync is very helpful for meetings, classes or group projects. It will save on commute times and travel expenses," Saira continued. "Faculty can even use it to have office hours with their students."
UB students can host meetings with a group of up to 10 attendees (presenter and nine others), while UB faculty and staff can conference with up to 250 (presenter and 249 others). The large allowance for faculty and staff members is perfect for use in classrooms or online courses, allowing big groups of students to connect and chat with each other. This also allows for alternative learning, such as conferences and webinars, to be implemented in the classroom.
A large team of UB staff from CIT and the Teaching and Learning Center collaborated to make Virtual Conference possible. They include: Sharon Arieno, Chris Bates, Dave Dudek, Beth Fellendorf, Matt Helmbrecht, Tom Jauch, Linda Kingsbury, Margie Muniak, David Shurtleff, Thom Slomka, Matt Stock, Robin Sullivan, Diana Tuorto and Mark Woodard.
"UB is a great place to innovate," said Saira. "The team was excited and everyone worked well together. Since this was a discovery project, there were some surprises, as there always are. Technology does not always perform as the vendor says it will, but we were able to get necessary modifications and upgrades in place that make Lync a very stable, reliable tool for the campus."
Lync is available for use on Windows and Mac devices, as well as Windows 8, Android and IOS mobile devices. Now you can meet from home, from work or on the go – the choice is yours. Learn more about Lync.
UB Mobile now offers even more helpful features, including a full, easy to use search of UB websites. Quick links to UBlearns and MyUB are also now available.
Using a touch screen phone? You’ll notice a new landscape mode whenever the screen is tilted horizontally. In addition, campus maps now have improved detection of your GPS location. Visit the iTunes App Store or Google Play to download UB Mobile.
As of September 23, 2013, UB’s Wi-Fi system hit a peak, surpassing 18,000 simultaneous sessions, while wireless access points (WAPS) haven't increased much at all. Take a look at the chart above to see how the numbers have grown.
Computing and Information Technology at UB is more than 40 years old. Here’s a look back at the Interface newsletter from February 1990. (Please note: this PDF file includes perturbations natural to the duplication process at the time.)