Several years ago I was travelling around the country two or three weeks. I was looking for a tool to communicate back home with my family. This was before the days of mobile phone family plans. We had been using the various IM services with voice, but their voip technology lacked clarity and reliability. Then, I came across Skype. At that point, I was still on dial-up at home, and usually on dial-up on the road. I was very pleased with the quality of Skype voice with dial-up connections.
Skype is a free text, voice, and video messaging service. To get Skype, follow this link and sign up for an account. Skype is available for Windows, Windows Mobile / PPC, Linux, Nokia Internet Tablets, Mac, and iPhones. As new devices become popular, we will likely see Skype ported to them as well.
Over the years, my usage of Skype gradually decreased with the introduction of our mobile phone’s family plan and then my career change to teaching. I just did not need VOIP (voice over internet protocol) anymore. My Skype usage was relegated to a backup way for my family to contact me if I was working late in my first classroom (it is a mobile phone dead zone).
Recently, I have talked to several educators who have been using Skype in many unique and innovated ways. I have talked to teachers who have used Skype in their foreign language claases to talk to individuals and even other classrooms speaking the languages they are teaching. Some teachers have used Skype for bringing subject area experts as guest speakers. My classes have used Skype in lessons in online conferencing and collaboration, methods of I.T. Support, and professional interviews of guests and by guests from businesses.
I know there are a lot of great ideas for using Skype in education. If you are using Skype for teaching, leave a comment and share your experiences.