The next web based tool that we will set up is Skype. Skype is a program that uses VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) and is a type of web based telephone system with a few great added features.

You can have a voice conversation between two or more people with Skype set up on each computer. It is possible to use text chat while you are having a spoken conversation. It is also possible to use a web camera and have a conversation with video. Voice, text and video can be used in various combinations.

Skype is a very popular application that is being used in many settings and increasingly in K-12 education. If you watch the video Inclusion you will see and example of Skype with video being very effectively used in a Grade 4 classroom setting.

We will be using Skype for many of our activities in this course and it will be one of the main ways that we work simultaneously as a group. Once everyone is set up we will begin our weekly Skype conference calls. Skype is my preference for individual consultations as well and you will find that it is easier to get in contact with my by Skype than by any other means.

Setting up a Skype Account
Skype is free and very simple to set up and use. Visit the Skype web site at http://www.skype.com/ and follow the instructions.
You will have to:
  • download a program from the Internet on to your computer. Find the download link on the Skype web site and mostly everything is done automatically. You just have to supply a few pieces of information.
  • Once the application has downloaded and set up on your computer you will need to open the program and set up a Skype account. I recommend that you use the same alias user name and password when you set Skype up, it just makes remembering account information so much easier.
  • When setting up a Skype account you will be required to supply an email. Use the anonymous course Gmail account that you set up in Activity 1 for this purpose. You will also be asked to supply a "Skype name". Again use your alias for the Skype name. You will be able to change things later and even set up another Skype account if you want.
  • Skype will send a message to your gmail account. Click on the link in that message to confirm your Skype account.

Equipment for Skype
You will need a computer headset (headphones AND microphone) for Skype. It is possible to use a mike and your computer speakers but that arrangement gives tremendous feedback in group conversations. A headset, like the Everyman Headset is preferred. If you are shopping for a headset, there are basically two types, one type that plugs into a USB port and one type that has two separate jacks for microphone and headphones. The USB ones seem to be easier to set up but the two jack ones work fine as well. USB headsets tend to be more expensive.

You will also need a web cam which will allow you to use the video function of Skype. I use the Logitech Pro 9000arrangement and I like it a lot.

Skype Test Call
When you have set up your Skype account, Skype will ask you to make a test call to make sure everything is working. Once again follow the simple instructions and the program will walk you through the steps and make suggestions for you to try if you have any difficulty.

Adding Skype Contacts
Once that is all set up you can start making contact with other people on Skype. You will see a tab that allows you to "add a contact" When you open that you will be asked to supply the name of the contact. Type in my Skype name, ggatin, and I will be sent a message indicating you wish to establish contact. I will confirm your request and we are in business.

To call me on Skype you will select my contact from your list of contacts. This will be a short list to start with, just me and the Skype test call, but soon we will share all contacts for the group and the fun will begin. Click on the little green icon to dial the red icon to hang up, just like a cell phone.

When we get set up on Skype we can share our contacts with each other.

Additional Resources for setting up Skype
You can also consult the Skype Help page and look for the User Guides. There are many helpful hints and explanations there. Even if you get set up with no trouble the Help pages and the FAQ's (frequently asked questions) links give a wealth of information and ideas for other uses of Skype.

There are also many video tutorials on Skype like this one from YouTube.

I'm looking forward to hearing from you on Skype. I teach online so I'm around my computer most of the time so don't hesitate to Skype me ( or phone me 818 574 8759). Once everyone has sent me their Skype contact information I will initiate our first group Skype "class". We will use Skype conferencing extensively to support other real-time and collaborative activities.