Lync logoLast week we were able to announce the news that the University of New England, in Armidale in northern New South Wales, has become the latest big education customer to use Microsoft Lync for real-time communications. It will become the way that their 23,000 students and staff can 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, and 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.

As UNE’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Jim Barber, puts it:

  We have a long history of pioneering distance education that began in the 1950s with Australia’s first distance learning courses. 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.  

The rise in people studying later in life, or part time, means that universities need to be sympathetic to the needs of students who are juggling lifestyle commitments such as work and family. UNE’s strategic technology investment is to 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.

The UNE IT Director, Rob Irving, described that they aim to enable better communication with current and future students:

  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. 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 plan to create new channels for student recruitment – for example, to use the global reach of Skype and its connectivity with Microsoft Lync 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.

After we announced the news to the press last week, it didn't take long for it to reach the home pages of The Australian, Delimiter, ITWire, WhaTech

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Recommended further reading:
Case study: Marquette University upgrades to Lync 2013
Case study: Using Lync to replace PABX in South Australia
Using Lync for emergency contact management in universities
Joining Lync and Skype together