SKYPE is the most common free desktop software for web-based communication. Skype offers Audio and Video Calls (computer to comuter) at no cost.
This software also provides a variety of educational options:
Professors can bring in guest speakers using Skype, thus letting students interact with experts they otherwise would only read about. Recently at Albany Law School, a class on Introduction to Chinese Law used Skype to have a lawyer from China talk to the class in Albany about Enironmental Law.
Professors can also use Skype to deliver a lecture to their students from a remote location when they would otherwise have to cancel class. For example, last April, a professor from Columbia Law School was stranded in Germany and unable to return in time for his classes. The professor was able to use Skype to deliver his lessons to his students at Columbia. In this same Chinese Law class at Albany Law School, one of the students used Skype to give her oral presentation to the class while in she was in Washington, DC.
Now Skype even provides opportunities for conference calls between multiple users.
The video below explains group video calls:
To take advantage of this option, at least one person on the call needs Skype Premium or a group video subscription from Skype Manager. Though it can work for up to ten, only four participants in a group are recommended.
For everyone on the call to see and be seen, each participant needs:
The Degreesonline blog offers these suggestions to ensure the success of Skype in the classroom:
- Use eye contact when speaking into the web camera.
- Avoid unnecessary bodily movements.
- Speak clearly and concisely into the microphone.
- Check viewing angles for clearness before the web camera session.
- Use a tripod or fixed point to keep the camera still.
- Keep students seated so that they can be seen by the web cam.
So from an educational perspective, expensive videoconferencing equipment may become obsolete. Technical expertise needed to conduct a videoconference will be minimal.
How soon will Skype be integrated into Distance Learning courses on a regular basis as a synchronous option?
Will Skype-enabled lectures will the wave of the future?
Will students be allowed to attend classes through the use of Skype?