Various applications, services and practices used while teaching with ICT involve video, audio and text communications outside of the classroom.
Many of these applications employ some form of Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP). The most commonly used application is Skype.
Skype is a free Microsoft program that uses VOIP and is a type of web based telephone system with a few great added features.

You can have a voice conversation between two or more people with Skype set up on each computer. It is possible to use text chat while you are having a spoken conversation. It is also possible to use a web camera and have a conversation with video. Voice, text and video can be used in various combinations. While audio and text conversations can be conducted with multiple people at the same time, video conversations are restricted to one-to-one conversations.

Skype is a very popular application that is being used in many settings and increasingly in K-12 education. If you watch the video Inclusion you will see and example of Skype with video being very effectively used in a Grade 4 classroom setting.
Setting up a Skype Account
Skype is free and very simple to set up and use. Visit the Skype web site at http://www.skype.com/ and follow the instructions.
You will have to:
  • download a program from the Internet on to your computer. Find the download link on the Skype web site and mostly everything is done automatically. You just have to supply a few pieces of information.
  • Once the application has downloaded and set up on your computer you will need to open the program and set up a Skype account. I recommend that you use the same alias user name and password when you set Skype up, it just makes remembering account information so much easier.
  • When setting up a Skype account you will be required to supply an email. Use the anonymous course Gmail account that you set up in Activity 1 for this purpose. You will also be asked to supply a "Skype name". Again use your alias for the Skype name. You will be able to change things later and even set up another Skype account if you want.
  • Skype will send a message to your gmail account. Click on the link in that message to confirm your Skype account.

Adding Skype Contacts
Once that is all set up you can start making contact with other people on Skype. You will see a tab that allows you to "add a contact" When you open that you will be asked to supply the name of the contact. Type in my Skype name, ggatin, and I will be sent a message indicating you wish to establish contact. I will confirm your request and we are in business.

To call me on Skype you will select my contact from your list of contacts. This will be a short list to start with, just me and the Skype test call, but soon we will share all contacts for the group and the fun will begin. Click on the little green icon to dial the red icon to hang up, just like a cell phone.

Webinar platforms
Seminars held on line are sometimes referred to as webinars. Typically a webinar is an online classroom where participants connect by clicking a link and joining a live session. Usually one or two presenters deliver information while other participants converse in an attached text chat or respond to polls and questionnaires. The presenter can share a desktop or a presentation as part of the delivery. The presenter can promote anyone to the role of presenter allowing others to share information, desktops and presentation. Most webinar platforms allow for up to 6 participants to connect with their video camera. Some common webinar platforms include. Adobe Connect, WEBEX, Blackboard Collaborate, GotoMeeting. Many more are available.
For this course we will work with a free webinar platform called AnyMeeting.

Google Plus
Google's VOIP application is called Google Voice and it is integrated into the social media platform Google Plus, which is available to every Google Account holder.
Google Plus pulls together a number of Google products which can be used for conversations and information on many levels. Similar to many other social media applications, users will set up circles of contacts and connections. These circles can be organized many ways and online Google Plus communities exist for just about every interest. Education is a prominent topic on Google Plus.
It is possible to conduct multiparty conversations with Google Plus using a service called Google HangOuts. Similar to Skype, conversations can be simultaneously text, voice and video. An important difference is that Google HangOuts can have up to 9 video feeds at the same time. Google HangOuts can also be recorded and a complete video of the session is saved to a private YouTube channel.
While participants are in a HangOut the presenter can show a presentation, share a desktop, share a YouTube video and many other activities.

Use in Education
The platforms described above are used to support synchronous (same time) teaching and learning events such as classes, workshops and conferences. While webinar platforms are intended to be used synchronously, most offer the possibility of recording for later viewing (asynchronously). In your career as teachers you will certainly uses webinars in your ongoing professional development. Increasing costs of sending people away to conferences has made webinars a much more attractive way of allowing more people to participate in professional development.