I have been a Skype user for a couple of years now but until last week I’ve only used it for user-to-user voice and instant messaging communications. Last week I was invited to present for a Sacramento City College faculty development institute and was encouraged to “try something new” as a presentation tool. So we gave Skype a try.
As a user who creates all her presentations in Apple’s Keynote application (which I adore), I was excited about the opportunity to use something other than Elluminate, which is the regular web conferencing platform used within the CA community college system (rebranded as CCC Confer). Elluminate has many terrific characteristics — it’s stable, provides great opportunities for collaboration, application sharing, etc. but for Mac users there are problems. Elluminate does not accept Keynote slides into its shareable whiteboard nor does it accept PDFs (which Keynote exports to beautifully). When I present in Elluminate, I am always required to first recreate my content in Powerpoint, because the Keynote to Powerpoint export format comes through a garbled mess in Elluminate. Even then, my slides are nearly always distorted.
The Skype screenshare feature is simple: share your entire screen or a selection. And, for now, it only works in calls between two single users but the Skype blog has suggested a new version will change this later this year. I was successful at using the screenshare for my Keynote presentation, as well as using it to demo VoiceThread and Ning without needing to change between a whiteboard and application sharing. The audio in VoiceThread didn’t play, although I’d imagine there’s probably a work around for this. All in all, it was a great experiment and now I see loads of potential for educators to use Skype with students to demonstrate concepts and ideas through the screenshare feature, as well.
I am wondering if anyone has found a plug-in that records Skype video (including the screenshare feature)? If so, please share your feedback.
Hi Michelle, have you heard of DimDim.com? It's a nice alternative to GoToMeeting and been doing screen sharing for a while (long before Skype). Our institution likes it better than Skype or GoToMeeting.
It's free and has a few nifty features. Check it out!
Yes, I have heard about DimDim (good things too!) but, honestly, I haven't tried it yet. Thanks for the reminder! I'll need to give it a whirl.
Great information about screen share using Skype. I have never used Skype although my colleagues say it is easy. I am very interested in trying Skye with the split screen for my online classes. I teach totally online (except for one course in the fall). I teach art education and wonder if Skype would be a good platform for an art media demonstration.
What do you think?
Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment. It's always fun to connect with other art educators.
I don't know if Skype is right for your needs (at least the free version of Skype). If you are mainly interested in presenting screencasts (essentially what you see on your screen), my first question would be, "Does it need to be a synchronous experience?" In other words, do you think it's necessary or important for students to be viewing the demonstration live, as you present it? If so, you need to be aware that the free Skype version right now only allows you to screenshare with one other Skype user. If you have a group call in action, the screenshare function doesn't work.
If an asynchronous experience would work (that is a recorded presentation of your screen), I'd encourage you to check out Jing for a terrific free option (but recordings are limited to 5-minutes). You can dowload the Jing movies and upload them into a CMS or share them via Screencast.com (which comes with Jing when you create your account) or you can upload them easily to YouTube and share them that way.
If you're on a Mac, Screenflow works beautifully (but runs about $100) and Camtasia is a very popular tool also (available on PC and a limited version on Mac) and runs somewhere around $150 (I think) for educators.
I'm certain others have more great ideas too.
I'm checking out "Innerpass" this week which is a premium Skype "add on" and provides many collaborative features for group synchronous presentations with screensharing and recording. I'll keep you posted via my blog!