Posts Tagged ‘skype’

PostHeaderIcon VSee vs. Skype

I am a great fan of Skype and have used it several times this year for truly rewarding projects. However, if you want to share your screen it can be hit or miss with it functioning the way you want it to. Case and point, I was doing a presentation with 2nd graders and their PowerPoint did not show up at the correct time. Then I was fiddling with it during class. VSee changes all that.

I think VSee might be a good solution for education because it uses half the bandwidth of Skype. Bandwidth and having it are the real struggles with using technology in education. Unfortunately or fortunately depending on your perspective it is a download. This can be challenging when trying to have things downloaded onto machines. I prefer cloud computing because it is then not computer specific. I then have to think… this the machine I have it loaded on? I think that these devices can and should be utilized in the cloud. I have yet to see a solution that I’m particularly happy with thus far though Blue Jeans network is an interesting site to ponder. There is always the future though.

Though one item of note is that Skype can be credited for creating a community. I do not think we can forget about the incredible resource that is Skype education.  Skype not only has provided connections, but hosts ideas that have inspired me to take part in new and exciting projects.

Do not count VSee out as they do use less bandwidth and are HD…this will improve call quality and clarity. I do wonder if this is dependent on the video capture device you are using.  However, you can easily pick up a Blue Eye HD for around $40.00.  The camera is small, but I have been very happy with the picture quality.  There are many other options of course.  Check it out!

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PostHeaderIcon Virtual Author Visits

Skype an Author

According the the website: The mission of the Skype an Author Network is to provide K-12 teachers and librarians with a way to connect authors, books, and young readers through virtual visits.  Wouldn’t it be great to invite authors into your classroom or library to video chat with students before, during, and/or after reading their books? We are growing a list of authors who want to make that connection with you via Skype. Visit our Skype Overview page to learn more about Skype.

I have not yet used the service but it sounds very interesting.  I am amazed at how many authors are willing to Skype for little to no cost.  This is ideal for shrinking budgets.  From experience, it costs around $2000 to host a visiting author.  This is actually on the cheap side.  What if one could take this same $2000 and have 10-15 authors during the school year that relate to what the students are learning and interested in?  This sounds great to me.  Especially in a school of multiple grades…..there is no way to make every grade happy.  I am in a K-3 building and it is difficult to find an author that works for all levels.  What you end up doing it focusing on K-1 one year and then 2-3 the next year.  The range of reading levels is immense!

So check out Virtual Author visits and introduce your students to a variety of authors and experiences.  If you are an author check it out and sign up!

Directions for Teachers and Librarians

Directions for Authors

PostHeaderIcon Skype vs. H.323 Videoconferencing

Skype is a free video conferencing solution.  The user only needs a web cam and they are ready to go.  I have used the systems from Tandberg and Polycom and Skype really gives the 15K systems a run for their money.  Although Skype does not offer multi-point connections, a cloud website solves that problem (which I will discuss later).

How to connect teachers and other educators?  Skype realized educators were beginning to utilize their product.  Skype then created a section called Skype in the Classroom.  This has excited me immensely because it connects classrooms and projects.  Skype is accessible to everyone and is not limited to those with a 15K video conferencing system.  Whereas a school might have 1 video conferencing system, with Skype each classroom can have a webcam and the software.

But traditional video conferencing systems, with a bridge, can connect multiple people at the same time.  This is a fabulous feature if you are trying to have an event.  Blue Jean Network is a cloud website that allows simultaneous connections using traditional video conferencing units and webcams.  This is very exiting because prior to this site connecting a H.323 videoconferencing system with just Skype and webcams was not possible.  This left many free opportunities unavailable for those schools without H.323 equipment.


Examples of Skype Projects:

Skype Across the US — teachers are Skyping with 1 school from each state in the US.  Questions about each location are answered and time is left for questions.  You can find an example of the questions here from a connection I participated in with a school in Iowa.

Roar Book Club – Our middle school book club in South Carolina, USA hopes to connect with a class in the United Kingdom to discuss the book The Roar by Emma Clayton. Please contact me if you are interested, There are three different middle school book clubs participating, so we could chat with up to three other groups maybe four if that works better for your group.

Performances – My kindergarten students are learning about plays. They are reading many and learning parts of their own to perform. It would be fun to get to put the play on for an audience through Skype. This way the students can have a purpose and a live audience. This will make the learning more authentic for them. If anyone would like to put on a play for us to watch, it would be great as well. The play will be about 10-15 minutes long.

Pen Pals — students can write/email each other and meet via Skype.

Whats Your Weather – Kindergarten class is going to be studying weather and would like to talk with another class from other parts of the world (or US) about what their weather is right now. The unit will be covered in the next few weeks (April). If you are interested in kids discussing what they know about weather and what our current weather is, please let me know.

My favorite webcam is the BlueEye which is High Definition and the microphone is pretty good.  This can be found quite reasonably on

Enjoy and start Skyping!

More info here


April 2014
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