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Start using Lync in your classroom:
A distance learning manual
manual Ill discuss the possibilities, benefits, pedagogical approaches of Microsoft
Lync and distance learning in general. After a short introduction well learn
to install and use Lync. Last but not least well take a look at an evaluation
of the students.
1 About Microsoft Lync
Microsoft Lync is a web conferencing tool. It allows people to set up meetings, online
workshops and even distance learning. By using screen, microphone and webcam
students and teacher can see and hear each other. Screen sharing allows
students to pick up the information their teacher is sharing with them. Lync
allows synchronous distance learning. Lessons can be recorded and the chat
promotes Q&A. Lync can be used on different platforms (Windows and Mac) and
devices (pc, smartphone and tablet). My school is in the Office 365 Education A2 plan, which implies Microsoft Lync.
2 Benefits and considerations
conferencing tools to enhance distance learning offers pedagogical, financial,
socio-cultural and technical benefits to the student, teacher and school.
Availability of apps, possibility to learn/teach
Possibility to collaborate, recorded lessons,
increases accessibility, increases student-to-student and student-to-teacher interaction
Con: taught and learned by one screen
Efficient time use, financial benefit, no
transportation, extra grants from the government (for the school)
Familiar environment, advantages towards employment
jams and costs can be avoided. People are learning in a familiar environment.
Ill or immobile students can catch up lessons since they can be recorded.
Weaker students can rehearse by reviewing recorded lessons. In Belgium, the
government offers grants to school who offer distance learning. However, some
considerations have to be made: students are learning and working on one
screen, this might change the pedagogical approach. It might also be difficult
to ascertain whether students are really present (they might log in to a
session and then leave). The use of a web conferencing tool increase
accessibility but also student-to-student and student-to-teacher interaction.
Participation can be increased by allowing students to use annotation tools on
a white board.
confirms the benefits of using web conferencing tools in education:
- Anderson and Elloumi (2004) claim that "Educational institutions are moving toward
the use of the Internet for delivery, both at campus and at a distance".
- Thissen et al. (2007) advocate "Its possible to use web conferencing for
teaching, because the built functions closely approach face-to-face teaching.
They also believe that web conferencing technologies provide rich enough
interaction to maintain a sense of community amongst the team members".
- Hambley et al. (2007) discuss that "Although face-to-face communication has been
shown to be the richest form of interaction within a team, video conferencing
capabilities mimic that ability closely".
- Everett (2007) advocates "Web conferencing is seen as a tool that
encourages an interactive and collaborative environment while creating a sense
Personally Im combining distance learning with screencasts. In case of technical
problems (poor sound due to low bandwidth, no internet connection), students
can take a look at short videos which offers them the theory. This approaches
the flipped classroom situation. It also allows to differentiate. Weaker
students are able to rehearse, stronger students get the opportunity to absorb
the maximum amount of knowlegde.
other hand OneDrive allows us to
share files. A side effect was that students spontaneously started creating and
sharing own written tutorials on OneDrive. A wonderful experience!
3 How to start?
At first we need to make a distinction between the software and webapp of Microsoft Lync. The software
allows telephone calls and meetings. The webapp is perfect for distance
learning. Well learn how to install and use Lync (both software and webapp).
3.1 The installation of Microsoft
software) needs to be downloaded and installed one time.
Internet Explorer and navigate to http://login.microsoftonline.com/. Log in.
Sign in with your account.
the icon and choose "Office 365 settings".
Click on Software and
next on Lync.
Click on Install. The installation file will
be downloaded. Find this file in the download folder and double click on it.
might need to change the version (32 versus 64 bit), by clicking on "Review
installation is very easy. You even dont need to hit buttons in a wizard.
After the installation the Lync icon can be found by searching for the program.
Start Microsoft Lync by clicking on this icon.
program op and sign in.
Click on Sign In.
following window appears:
3.2 A conversation with a colleague
software Lync might be very useful for conversations with colleagues. Meetings
can be arranged on a distance.
Start Lync by clicking on its icon
change your status on the top, so colleagues and students can check your
contacts by searching for their name.
the avatar of a contact. Some extra icons will appear.
take a closer look at the different icons and options.
conversation with a colleague by clicking on the second icon .
conversation will start in a second window.
is enabled by microphone (voice), webcam (video) or chat. All functions can be
3.3 Starting a meeting
meeting by clicking on and next by choosing "Meet Now".
by choosing OK:
following window appears.
invite other participants to this meeting.
1. Open/close the chat window
2. Activate microphone
3. Activate webcam
4. Share your desktop, a program, etc
5. Overview participants
the fourth icon, you can share your desktop, or limit screen sharing to one
specific program. You can share a Powerpoint file, which will be uploaded.
Participants can browse the presentation at their own pace. By sharing a
whiteboard, participants can participate by using annotation tools. The poll
allows to ask feedback.
extra menu on the right corner (3 dots) allows to record the meeting or manage
3.4 Scheduling a lesson
are different options to schedule a lesson:
1// invite people to a Lync session which has already
Lync session (software) already started, the url can be shared to other people.
2// schedule a session via your agenda (office 365)
Outlook or Outlook Web App user, you can schedule meetings.
Click on Submit. The meeting is scheduled.
3// Scheduling via sched.lync.com
Last but not
least, one can schedule using https://sched.lync.com
in, meetings can be scheduled.
scheduling a url is offered. Your students can access the online class by
entering this url in their browser.
Once the url is accessed, the visitor can participate to the online
session using the Web App.
4 Participating as a student
4.1 The first time
student enters the url of a meeting for the first time, a plugin needs to be
installed. This needs to be done exclusively during the fist time. The student
will be confronted with this window:
The student needs to fill in his/her
name. Next he/she needs to click on "Join the meeting".
plugin needs to be installed. Choose execute.
the browser (web app), the student can participate to the online meeting.
Windows Firewall might ask for access. Click on Allow access.
Click on Participate to the meeting.
1. Ability to end the presentation (eg. a shared Powerpoint presentation)
2. Ability to end the meeting
3. An overview of all presenters and participants (and whether they
4. Your own webcam
5. The presentation, software you are sharing
6. The chat window
7. Show/hide the chat window
8. Activate/deactivate microphone
9. Activate/deactivate webcam
10. Share desktop, Powerpoint
presentation, software / set up whiteboard or poll / use OneNote
11. Show participants window
12. The duration of the current meeting
13. Extra options which allow you to
record the meeting, manage recordings, configure audio, video and telephone
presenter, you can deactivate the microphones of participants (students). Its
also possible to deactivate all microphones or the ability to chat at once.
also allow participants to be a presenter, so they too can share their screen
and ask a question. When an icon turns light blue, this indicates someone is
Record a meeting:
clicking on "Start Recording", you will notice these buttons:
to realize: Lync allows several simultaneous meetings!
5 Lync on different platforms and
nice apps, Lync is available on different platforms and devices. A quick
be used on Mac too. 2 features arent available on Mac though: the ability to
share one program (rather than the complete desktop) and the ability to record
6 Tips for Success:
- Schedule at
least one test session with your students to ensure they can access, hear and
participate in your meetings.
- Provide "How to
Join a Meeting" instructions to your students. In our school, student get the
chance to bring heir own computer, to try to activate the Lync plugin on their
computer. In a next stage, an online tutorial will follow, before we actually
start using Lync during our lessons.
- Always check
that students can hear you (before you start teaching) well and ask them to
alert you if they are having trouble hearing.
- Make sure the
learning goals, and not the technology, drive the instruction.
- Make clear
arrangements about the use of the chat. Students have to be polite as in a
- Allow students
to join 15 minutes prior so there is time to verify microphones and speakers
are working correctly before beginning
- Consider not
using the webcams because this may cause a higher usage of bandwidth and thus a
- Keep e-mail
running in the background and have your phone handy in case students try and
contact you when having technical difficulties.