Getting Started

This article describes using Skype for Business within a teaching room. You may want to do this to allow others to view the lecture from a distance, for a speaker to present who is not able to attend in person or for joining a couple of rooms “virtually”.

You can easily present the desktop via Skype for Business, and this combined with audio can make for an immersive experience.

The Skype for Business client should be installed on all teaching room computers, however we strongly recommend that you check this as soon as possible, just in case it needs to be installed/reinstalled. You will need to contact the IT Service Desk if this is the case.

Unlike your University desktop machine, Skype for Business will not launch automatically from a teaching room computer. You will need to launch the client either by going to the Start menu and searching for “skype” or logging into your webmail and opening the calendar item that contains the Skype meeting link (see “set up a meeting in Outlook” below)

Using Skype for Business

The following links are from Microsoft’s own support pages and include useful How to videos.

  1. Set up a meeting in Outlook
  2. Change your presence status
  3. Join a meeting
  4. Share your screen
  5. Record and play back a meeting

You are able to record the session for your future reference.

Record and play back a Skype for Business meeting

Skype for Business Recording Manager

Audio

Clear audio is key to a successful use of Skype for Business. The wrong microphone choice can cause poor audio quality when using Skype for Business in a teaching room. A lapel microphone helps reduce background noise, giving clearer audio from the presenter. We recommend that you borrow an X-Tag microphone, (as pictured), from your local IT Tech Delivery Team (via the IT Service Desk). The microphone will need to be charged before use, so should be borrowed with enough notice to allow charging and testing. The lapel microphone is wireless, and allows you to walk around the room without affecting audio quality. With it being a lapel microphone, questions from the audience will probably not be picked-up, therefore, to avoid confusion and frustration from the remote audience, the presenter will need to summarise a question prior to providing an answer.

If you are using multiple sites, you may need a member of staff at each location to facilitate the session.

Make sure you test the set-ups as soon as possible, to check for issues as well as helping familiarise yourself with the set-up.

When connecting an X-Tag microphone, check the recording level in the Windows Control panel/Sound/Recording. You should see the Revolabs X-tag listed

X-Tag_control_panel

and then click on Properties and make sure the Microphone level is set between 65-75 as shown below.

X-Tag_recording_level

You should also decide how you let students know that the session is being transmitted and why, helping manage expectations.

Have you alternative content in case of technical issues on the day?

If you’re presenting at one location, remember your distant learners too. It’s easy to forget that you have an audience behind the camera. Keep them engaged too. Ask for their questions and feedback etc.

Video

Microsoft VX 2000 Webcam

During a number of our webinars, we’ve used a standard Microsoft VX-2000 Webcam which has proved more than adequate for the sessions. These are readily available throughout the university if you don’t already have one.

You need to plug it into one of the USB ports on the teaching room computer. It will then be recognised, and ready for use. The microphone on this camera is very good at close proximity, so if you attach it to the monitor on the teaching room computer, you may be able to use this instead of an X-Tag – however, you would need to stay close to the monitor throughout the session.

If you are using it as a camera, then find a suitable position for it.

Room layout

A traditional room layout may not lend itself to a synchronous teaching session.

Consider the layout of the tables and chairs, and how the layout could affect the interaction with those on the other side of the camera. For example, try not to position people too far away, with their back to the camera and microphone.

Think about lighting. Is the room sufficiently lit? Also, think about any external noises, is there any building work going on, air conditioning units running, close proximity to sports venues (particularly on Wednesday afternoons).

Things to consider

  1. Why do you need to join campus locations together?
  2. If you do need to join them, then is video conferencing suitable and available?
  3. If not, do you know how to use Skype for Business? If not, have a look at this guide.
  4. Physically check if Skype for Business is installed on the PC’s in the proposed room
  5. If it is, book your room
  6. If it isn’t, contact IT Service Desk with a Software Request for Skype for Business on the PC/s needed.
  7. For multiple location set-ups, arrange for staff to be at each location on the day, and for testing as well. Ensure staff have access to any resources required on the day, and any “Plan B” options in case of connection, or other issues on the day
  8. Test Skype for Business between locations booked for your lecture

Useful Links

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