Lync Web App is an instant messaging and audio/video chat tool. It’s a great option for online meetings, ad hoc conversations, advising and tutoring. Lync Web includes text-based instant messages, audio and video chat, the ability to share Powerpoint presentations or even your desktop to demo applications or processes. There’s also a whiteboard for quick collaboration and a polling tool for rapid feedback in larger groups.
It’s easy to get started with Lync Web. It runs entirely in your web browser and you only need to install a quick plugin to start your first session. Lync can be accessed using the same login and password as your Lesley email.
Having trouble finding time to meet with your colleagues? Why not schedule your meetings virtually? You can do this directly in Outlook or the Outlook Web App, just as you would any other type of meeting. Select the “Online Meeting” options and a link to the Lync meeting will be included in your invitation. Need to meet with someone who isn’t part of the Lesley community or want to invite a guest to your class discussion? No problem. Include their email address in the meeting invite and they will receive guest access to the online meeting. Note: Guests have slightly fewer privileges for presenting, but will be able to fully participate in the discussion and access the whiteboard.
Lync allows you to participate in online meetings in a variety of ways. There is a desktop client for both Windows and Mac and mobile clients for Windows, Android and iOS so you can even stay connected when you aren’t at your desk.
Toni Czekanski from the Center for Reading Recovery had a student who was due to have a baby and would not be able to attend residency in Cambridge. Students in residency spent time in small groups of three or four people analyzing and discussing videos of each other’s teaching before separating to work on individual tasks. Toni wanted to find a way for the student to participate in the group work that went beyond listening in on a conference call all day. She decided to give Blackboard IM (BB IM) a try.
Toni placed the student in a group that was already using online tools like YouTube or Vimeo to share their videos and asked each of them to install BB IM. The students viewed each others’ videos using the Web Tour feature and then held a discussion about their observations using the Skype-like audio and video group call functionality. They could also add quick comments or questions for the person speaking via the text-based chat without having to interrupt them or forget their comment. The Screen Sharing feature allowed them to share other documents on their computers.
During residency instructors could use BB IM to follow up with the distant student. After residency, they could also meet with all of their students online and the students could continue to work together in their groups.
How do you hold office hours for an online course? Sam Smiley uses Blackboard IM (BB IM). BB IM combines the ability to easily communicate via text, audio and video as in Skype with some web conferencing features such as whiteboards and screen sharing that allow faculty and students to collaborate online as they might in person.
In January 2012, Sam introduced BB IM to her Internship Seminar students. She then posted her Office Hours schedule in her myLesley course. Each Monday night, Sam would log into BB IM and field questions from students. Some were simple questions that could be handled with a quick text message and the student was on his or her way. Audio or video calls worked great for questions that required a bit more explanation or finesse that might not come across in text. The whiteboard tool allowed her Creative Arts and Learning students to share and annotate images while the desktop and website sharing tools allowed Sam to demonstrate processes or answer questions as she might in the face-to-face classroom using the projector or physical whiteboard.
It took a little time for Sam to build interest with her students, but by the end of the course her students were beginning to regularly check in. It worked so well that she is using BB IM with her current courses. As her students work on group projects, they can also use BB IM to collaborate on the fly without Sam needing to set up a space for them to do so.
The following webinar was presented via TeachU Ohio and features Dr. Jan Schmittauer’s presentation of an engaging blog and wiki based activity surrounding the novel Testimony by Anita Shreve. The students’ ultimate goal is to determine which of six character should be held the most accountable for the death of a student in the story. Via blog posts and group work in team wikis the students then proceed to whittle down which person they feel holds the most responsibility for this tragedy via debate and textual evidence from the book. Each day another character is “voted off the island of accountability” until only one remains. A final blog post, at the end of the process, allows students to reflect on whether or not their initial perception has stayed the same or changed. Click here to watch the webinar and learn more. You can also download a copy of the presentation.