Monday, 18 March 2013

Skype

Skype
By Microsoft Corporation
Free
Available for Android, Kindle Fire HD, Windows 8 mobile OS and iOS mobile platforms
Conference calling app, calls are free from mobile Skype app to mobile Skype app or mobile Skype app to desktop Skype app over a wireless network.   This app has enabled me to supervise students from a far on projects.   Whether students or myself who is away from the University enables us to discuss project progress, issues, ideas and documentation together in the same way as project meeting face to face.   Use the app on speaker oppose to with a headset, the project conversation can be recorded using recorder pro and email the conversation to the student.  Therefore ensuring the project supervision is similar to my usual face to face project supervision meetings, see previous blog entry.   A student’s reflection of the experience:
“After having to split my final year into two years, Skype enabled my project supervisor to help me to complete a successful dissertation despite me not being able to attend regularly at the University Campus.  It played a major part in the completion of my degree”
Also, added advantage of the app you can text message with one another is ready for the conference call.   The only niggle I found was Skyping at home on a throttled broadband connection, i.e. broadband connection throttled by broadband provider and household of teenagers with multiple devices connected to the household WiFi and internet would result in my conference call connection being dropped.   Best advice I can offer is Skype conference call when the kids are not at home or use work WiFi.
In terms of students using mobile apps innovatively for learning it was the use of Skype I recently reported an event I witnessed and was the recipient of being used most innovatively last year to support a student’s learning experience, (Nortcliffe and Middleton, 2013).   A student member of a group was unable to attend a group’s feedback session due to medical reasons, so one of his peers initiated a Skype video call connection using his HTC phone over the University Wi-Fi to the other student at home on his laptop.   The phone was held at head height in the group circled around myself.   During the feedback session all the students (physically or digitally present) actively participated in the group’s feedback discussion and reflections.   In an recent email the digitally attended student recommended the learning experience as seamless despite the sound quality issues:
Being on Skype with everyone there was just as ordinary to myself as being there (albeit the bad sound quality). I did enjoy taking part in the call though and think it should be done more regularly for people who are physically unable to attend.”
Reference
Nortcliffe, A.  and Middlleton, A. (2013) The innovative use of personal smart devices by students to support their learning, In Increasing Student Engagement and Retention using Mobile Applications: Smartphones, Skype and Texting Technologies, (Eds) Wankel, L. and Blessinger, P. (eds), (Cutting Edge Technologies in Higher Education). 175-210, 2013, Emerald, Bingley, UK

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