In the education technology business you don’t often get the chance to develop something from scratch for your own purposes. Most of the time you have to look for something made for non-educational purposes that already do something close to what you need and then adapt it to work for you.
While there are many great apps for education, the ubiquitous Skype app may be one of the most useful out there. Here are five advantages that Skype has as a learning tool for both teachers and for students.
1.) Gratis For All:
Unless you need the professional version of Skype, using the software will not cost you a cent. The same can’t be said for purpose-built educational webinar and chat software, in which case licences can run to hundreds or thousands of dollars.
In world where education budgets are always under severe strain, this is a massive advantage.
2.) Distance Is A Distant Issue:
The best things about technologies like Skype is the way it compresses space. We can see and speak to someone anywhere else in the world. Most importantly, we can do it without the cost and lack of reliability that telephone systems have.
It lets students from developing nations access teachers or mentors from more developed nations. It can allow an American citizen to learn Italian on Skype before setting off on that once-in-a-lifetime vacation.
3.) Like Clockwork:
Backed by Microsoft and one of the leading cloud platforms in the world, it’s almost unheard of for Skype to go out of service. The same can’t be said for video-calling chats that you have to host on your own hardware or on an internal learning management system.
The world is moving towards software as a service (SaaS) as the main way we use computers and Skype is a fantastic example of this.
4.) You Can Show And Tell:
Skype is more than just a video chat application. It makes it easy to share your screen for direct instruction and files can also be exchanged directly. This transforms it from a simple business tool into something that’s of true instructional value.
In the hands of a savvy teacher Skype becomes an engaging and powerful way to teach almost anything.
5.) Teach Anywhere:
While many people concentrate on the fact that students can learn wherever they are, it’s just as important that teachers can use Skype to teach from almost anywhere they can get a mobile signal.
This means you can teach from the field, from the lab or from any other place where the actual subject of the learning takes place. It take teaching out of the classroom and turns theory into practice.
Skype can access just about any camera hooked up to a device, so it’s possible to do some really impressive things with it when it comes to transmitting signals.
Friends In Unlikely Places Places:
One person can look at something and only see the purpose for which it’s been created. Another will look at something and see many possibilities it can be adapted to. It’s something that the Indian people refer to as Jugaad.
Skype happens to be one of those tools that does not need a lot of imagination on our part to apply well for educational use. It’s already most of the way there.
If you combine it with collaborative pedagogical techniques and a curriculum that plays to its strengths it can be a formidable addition to the toolset of every modern teacher.