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Student Affairs Relies on Microsoft Lync, now called “Skype for Business”

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By Julia McBee

August 3, 2015 – 

If you’re wondering why you hear more typing than footsteps in the departments of the Division of Student Affairs, it’s probably because staff is communicating via Microsoft Lync, renamed as “Skype for Business.”

Skype for Business is the same communications software as Lync. It features instant messaging, video conferencing, voicemail, email and the ability to transfer files.

“It looks, feels and functions really well,” said Shaun Holloway, the Director of Information Technology for Association of College & University Housing Officers – International (ACUHO-I). “I’m on it all the time constantly with teams across the organization,” he said.

Holloway said Skype for Business has affected his work in two ways: utilizing webcams more often and allowing more people to work at a distance.  ACUHO-I is an international organization that improves residential experience at colleges, universities and other post-secondary schools.

Holloway said he has to make sure his staff has high definition webcams that are easy to use for video conferencing through Skype for Business; while it will work with any webcam, high definition webcams provide a better experience.

From utilizing webcams, Holloway said his staff is able to work offsite. Instead of traveling to various offices and locations, he said more people can communicate through webinars and video chat. He said one of his employees even works two hours away but uses Skype for Business through a tablet to communicate.” We rely heavily on Skype for Business,” he said. “Not every employee uses it, but a majority do.”

Kevin Morgan, part of the Student Affairs IT Assistance team, who runs Skype for Business, recommends to all employees to try and use Skype for Business. He said it will lessen the burden on receiving late emails and provide a faster response. “It’s an amazing tool,” he said. “It all comes down to communication.” Morgan also said most people don’t know that they can do more than instant message; Skype for Business also allows you to share virtual Whiteboard documents, PowerPoint presentations, PDF documents, Windows applications, create a poll and even share your desktop.

Anthony DeSantis, the associate dean at the Dean of Students Office, said one of his favorite features of Skype for Business is how you can screen share with another person. He said sharing your desktop is helpful when you’re having trouble, and the IT Team can access the screen. “It’s definitely easier to get a hold of someone,” DeSantis said.

He also likes how he can check the color status of someone and see if they’re available. If they are, DeSantis uses an instant message or video conference for a direct reply. If they are not, then he sends them an email.

Natalie Rella, a specialist for GatorWell Health Promotion Services, said she also likes how you can quickly send and receive information on Skype for Business. In a recent instant message, Rella said she dragged a PDF document from her desktop into the instant message. “It’s probably not affecting my health positively because I don’t walk across or go to offices anymore,” she said. “But it has increased productivity and getting questions answered.”

If there was one thing Skype for Business could change, Rella said it should have more emoticons. “Anything you want to do, it does it faster and quicker,” Rella said.

DeSantis and Rella have both been using it since their first day of work. They use it every day to communicate with their staff, secretaries and student assistants.

Skype for Business is also available on your mobile device. You can download the app, called Lync 2013, for free in Google Play or the Apple App Store.

For more information on Skype for Business or if you need assistance, please contact the Division of Student Affairs IT team at 352.392.2465 or ITHelp@ufsa.ufl.edu

If you are interested in utilizing video chat, please contact your department supervisor to acquire a webcam if you don’t have one installed on your computer.