UNE Brings Learning to New Heights with Microsoft Lync

Published 07 August 2013

LyncToday, Microsoft announced the University of New England (UNE) is redefining the future of communication with Microsoft Lync 2013, which will give 23,000 students and staff to collaborate and communicate anytime from virtually anywhere, including via instant messaging, video conferencing and voice calls.

With 80% of UNE’s students studying online, the university is leading the digital learning charge, enhancing their communication options for all students. The Microsoft Lync deployment, the largest within the Australian Pacific education sector, will enable UNE students, faculty and staff to make calls and benefit from online lecture delivery and collaboration, wherever they live.

“We have a long history of pioneering distance education that began in the 1950s with Australia’s first distance learning courses,” said University of New England Vice-Chancellor, Professor Jim Barber. “Technology has allowed us to remove the ‘distance’ from education and bring face-to-face online learning to people in the areas in which they live.”

Universities are changing rapidly to keep ahead of current educational developments providing students and staff with access to the most up-to-date resources, technology tools and information. As a result, for the 2013/2014 university year, UNE will be increasing its investment in technology infrastructure resulting in some of the highest relative investment in the university sector in Australia and New Zealand.

“At UNE, our staff and students can now benefit from the most innovative online learning experience through software-based audio, video, conferencing, and collaboration via Microsoft Lync,” said UNE IT Director, Robert Irving “Microsoft Lync will connect both current and potential future students with our educators and staff to facilitate better overall learning experiences and support whilst giving our researchers the ability to achieve faster results by making it easier to connect people with people and people with knowledge.”

UNE will also take advantage of the global reach of Skype and its connectivity with Microsoft Lync as a new channel for student recruitment, both locally and offshore. Potential international and interstate students interested in the university will soon have the ability to call UNE via Skype, where previously they would have incurred international call charges.

“Today’s workforce and workplace is mobile and in order to prepare students to succeed, we need to encourage and enable them to become mobile learners and active participants beyond the walls of the classroom,” said George Stavrakakis, Education Director, Microsoft Australia. “They want to be able to learn in different places; not only in the real world but also in virtual environments – or a combination of the two – which Microsoft Lync and Skype enable.”

The rise in people studying later in life means that universities need to be sympathetic to the needs of students who are juggling lifestyle commitments such as work and family. UNE’s technology investment will provide new cost-efficient education to a broader demographic of students in an accessible and collaborative environment. It is also creating a new era of digital learning, where teachers and students can learn and work both in-person or virtually via their PC, tablet or smartphone. UNE also has plans to leverage the broader Microsoft hardware platform, in particular Xbox, PixelSense and Surface.

“Rather than simply replace their phone system, UNE saw an opportunity to embrace a truly unified communication and collaboration platform” said John Schneider, Managing Director for Computer Systems Australia Pty Ltd. “Lync enables the University to deliver a superior set of educational tools directly into the hands of its users through the device of their choice, no matter where they are.”