Had a call from our SETBC consultant about whether we allow Skype in our district. “Absolutely” was my response. They are looking at using it more for web meetings in addition to / instead of adobe connect and are just checking to make sure that it is available in districts they work with.
We’ve used it here on TEDx or various connections around the world, two of which I mentioned in previous blog posts http://www.prn.bc.ca/ts/?s=skype . One I really enjoyed that I was able to watch was a Grade 3 and 7 class that was able to speak with three Astronomy PhD’s from U of T about whatever questions they had come up with. Gravity happened to be the answer to many of their questions …
Skype’s also handy for a remote/rural district to allow as our teachers can use it before/after the school day to connect with home. Many of our teachers are from other parts of the country, and the world in some cases. Access to Skype is a simple but important retention strategy to allow teachers to use tools like Skype to catch up with Mom or Dad at home especially if they don’t have high speed access where they live. PLNet in their Acceptable Use Agreement asks users to limit the personal use of bandwidth during 8am – 4:30pm so this fits in the rules as far as I see it.
Bandwidth is a key consideration for all of us and Skype certainly does use it. That’s why there needs to be discussions with schools about appropriate use of internet. Internet use should be educationally focused during the school day. Bandwidth needs to be conserved just like water is, but we shouldn’t be afraid of using lots of water to put out fires. Just like we should use Skype to connect people, experts, and classrooms as well as build and maintain relationships around the world.