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Technology Tip: Videoconferencing with Skype

February 27, 2013

2001_Videoconferencing

In the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), many of us were introduced to a new type of technology which let you see the person you were telephoning.  This futuristic mode of communication struck fear in the hearts of dowdy housewives and pimply-faced teenagers everywhere who thought there would come a day when they would have to “spruce up” before answering a phone call.   Regardless of the angst it generated, this technology did take root and evolve from Bell Labs’ Picturephone, introduced at the 1964 World’s Fair, to the technology we now use in every day videoconferencing.  One of the most well known of these technologies is Skype.

Skype lets you make a real-time audio-visual “call” to anyone, anywhere over the Internet.  To videoconference with Skype, you need a Skype account, a broadband Internet connection, a webcam (optional), speakers, and a microphone.  Simply download the Skype application, create an account, and then you can call anyone with a Skype account for free.  During the call, you have the option to use voice and video, or voice-only communication.  There is also a text messaging feature.  Landline and mobile phone numbers are accessible through your Skype account for an additional fee.

Skype is a great tool for group work because it can be used to make conference calls with up to 25 people. Instructors can use Skype as an alternative method of communication with students who can’t meet in person.  Students and instructors will also find Skype useful because they can share their computer screen or transfer files during a call.  Skype offers group video calls and group screen sharing at an additional cost.  A new feature in Skype is that you can connect it to your Facebook account allowing you to make Skype video calls to anyone on your friends list.

For more information about Skype, click the following link: http://www.skype.com/en/what-is-skype/

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