This week, we’re going to talk about Skype, a global communication tool that currently accounts for 8 % of international calling minutes worldwide. Most people have heard of Skype, but I find that many people haven’t actually used it. Skype technically started as a VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) which originally only allowed voice to be transmitted from one computer to another. Over the last few years, however, it has evolved into a one-stop online communication tool. Besides allowing voice communication, Skype now supports video chat, text chat and also screen sharing. You can even use Skype to call people’s home or cell phones. The application is really easy to use. And, best of all, it’s FREE. Or mostly free. If you call Skype to Skype, it won’t cost you anything. If you use Skype to call a traditional phone number, however, Skype will charge you.
Skype has tons of applications in our classrooms. Besides offering chat functionality to communicate with students or colleagues, Skype can be used to bring in guest speakers from a distance. Imagine bringing in a national speaker who lives in California, but is communicating to your class on campus through Skype. Instructors can also use Skype to have students practice communicating in a foreign language or roleplaying a counseling session. I’ve also seen teachers use Skype to pair up their students with classrooms from other cultures. I’m sure you’ve seen the commercial where Ellen Page walks into a room and the students talk about going on a virtual field trip to Japan. The students are using a Skype-like device to collaborate with students on the other side of the world. Again, this isn’t some future classroom. This is today.
Need some help getting started? Check out this: www.skype.com/help/guides/