Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Skype

This is one of the "nice to know" pieces that I will post in this blog. It is not an assignment and you don't even have to read it if you're not interested :) but it's nice to know.

Skype started out as simply an Internet telephony service. They have always had pretty good quality service, which set them apart in the early years of this movement. They started adding a great deal of functionality over time. They have surpassed most of the messenger (chat) clients in this regard. The inclusion of Video conferencing (in Beta as of this posting) puts them over the top.

I have both SkypeOut (buy credits, like a calling card, to call international--domestic calls are free for the near future) and SkypeIn (a "receiver" phone number that routes calls to your computer). I have also utilized the call forwarding function which allows me to route phone calls to just about any phone.

This is how I envision all of these working together to provide my U.S. family, friends, and students easy (and free...for them) phone access to me while I'm living in Korea.

I bought a phone number (SkypeIn) with a Chicago area code that people can call. This will only cost them domestic long distance charges (if applicable). Calling this number will ring on my computer or go to voicemail if I don't answer. Lastly, I will combine this with call forwarding, which will ring any phone that I have in Korea.

All of this doesn't cost the caller anything. I have to pay a small fee, but it is definately worth it. If I forward it to a cell phone it costs about 8 cents a minute, If I forward it to my office phone it only costs about 3 cents/min. On top of that, SkypeIn costs about $4/month (depending on the plan you use).

You may be asking, "what does this have to do with language learning"? Not much. Skype is a great application for your students to contact native language speakers no matter where they are for free or cheap (users can "call" from computer to computer, peer-to-peer, for free anywhere in the world). This brings a new dimension to class or personal exchanges between country (language) A and B. No longer are your students limited to interactions with a single model speaker (you) as the beginning and end of their L2 conversational exposure.

I also see this nearly seemless integration between telephony and computer as a given in much of our future technologies. Just look at your newer cell phone. You can send and receive text, audio, images, and video and whether you know how to do this or not, your younger students do.

I look forward to exploring the possibilities of using Skype in the near future.

* I haven't been able to find much written about how people are using Skype, though I'm sure it's out there. If you run across anything add a comment.

Thanks to Annie for this link to the Wikipedia entry on Skype (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skype). It's overwhelming technical and a little boring even for a geek like me, but there is some useful information and links.

4 comments:

Erin Iorio said...

I was noodling around and found this that relates to Skype. Have you checked this site out?
http://www.neo-fight.tv/
The July 24th episode it is pretty interesting. They mention Skype. Maybe you have seen this site, I thought it was a neat one.

Dan said...

Hi Erin,

It looks interesting, but I can't really tell what they are trying to do.

How does it relate to Skype?
Dan

Erin Iorio said...

Well,they mention Skype and they talk about another company that allows for free calls to over 60 countries in their newscast of the day at the very beginning. I thought it was neat and maybe you would be interested. If not related directly, it is a neat way to listen to new technology news.

Dan said...

I see. I didn't make the connection the first time I went through it.

The first one that I saw kind of looked like alt. advertising, but I think that was just their "Headlines" format. I went back into the archives and watched a couple others that are very informative.

I think that we will find more and more of these sites popping up in the future. As video gets easier to make and distribute, individuals will have access to publication streams that were reserved for large corporations previously. (of course these two aren't exactly regular individuals as their bios indicate).

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