Using Skype (Voice Over IP) in SOAS
Skype is currently installed on most SOAS PC’s and is available for Staff accounts. For students or on computers without Skype already installed it should be possible to use Skype within a web browser (currently beta).
However since this is a third-party piece of free software, SOAS does not have a dedicated account, to use this you would need to create your own account. Skype works well over the wired network (although can be less reliable on wireless). It may not be the best product for critical requests.
- Library and Information Services (LIS) cannot support Skype events, lectures, or adhoc use as a service. However you can arrange to have a software demonstration at the technician’s room (L50), prior to your event, by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org, although there are some great guides available online to get you started.
- Webcams (with microphone) can be booked in advance via email@example.com. These can be used in rooms or offices with allocated inhouse AV/ PC equipment. Oneday laptop loans (with builtin webcams) can be booked if necessary, and collected from room L50. We would advise accessing a wired connection for improved reliability. Information for this is on the SOAS IT support pages.
- A USB webcam may not pick up the image or voice of everyone present in a room. Skype is ideally designed for individual use with headsets and individual webcams; however, Skype can work in other circumstances if you position the camera/ microphone close to participants. The lighting of classrooms during presentations will affect picture quality.
- Skype is an thirdparty personal service. As such, we cannot be booked to support events in or out of hours solely for Skype support. The varying connection speed and potential inconsistencies of this free service are beyond our control. We could only restart the application in the event of failure. Issues with connection could unpredictably arise from the other parties, or from worldwide bandwidth usage which are out of our control.
- If video is not essential, or adding value we suggest you disable it. This may improve reliability and overall call quality. Perhaps ask for a powerpoint, or holding slide in advance to display, or a short (prearranged) video message that could illustrate points if problems occur. This would be an advisable addition, or alternative.
- Whatever sound is played by the classroom PC, can potentially be played through the room loudspeakers. Select "PC" on the control panel, or LAPTOP if connection is available. You may experience feedback or echo. See for more information.
- Skype is not advisable for large groups of participants. It is best suited for use with your own PC, headset and webcam. If you choose to use it during teaching, support requests cannot be treated as emergency calls.
- Familiarise yourself with the software and interface, prior to use. If you do not have a login and password, create one in advance and add your contacts. In advance preparation, test your camera, audio inputs and outputs in the room.
- Video or audio recording using SOAS computers. A portable audio recorder could be used for a basic record of events, but will not be a high quality reproduction. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to book one.
- Desktop sharing is possible with Skype, but it does not always reliably transmit moving video, PowerPoint, or other visuals. Find out if your interviewee needs to do this, so you can explore an alternative if necessary (e.g. email Powerpoint in advance, print or email handouts).
- It is always advisable to have a backup communication option to call the remote party if the link fails. Please contact email@example.com to arrange a conference telephone for meetings. Skype offers a text function as a last resort.
- There are small dedicated, videoconference units available for more reliable communication. These need to be arranged a minimum of seven days prior to the event. These are fixed units in the Brunei Building and 53 Gordon Square.Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange this.
- To create richer content for taught courses with remote participation. Collaborate software is a browser based tool that lets you add files, share applications and use a virtual whiteboard to interact with others. It can also record the sessions for sharing. Please contact the BLE team at email@example.com for further information. Additional equipment may be necessary for use on classroom PC's (eg. webcam/microphones).
- SOAS uses eduroam for WIFI access for staff and students. Once you are configured to connect here to 'eduroam' you should be able to connect internationally to any other 'eduroam' enabled organisation you visit. BTOpenZone is available for visitors for a fee. (Please contact the Conference department for information on payment options for Conferences or see the BT website).
If you are not sure about using Skype, please check their website (Skype) or Youtube for detailed instructions which are widely available. Equipment can be booked by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org giving dates, room and any further details.
SOAS support cannot ‘fix’ Skype issues, or treat ad-hoc use as priority emergency support