Before reading this chapter, I had no idea what VoIP meant. I had used video chat software numerous times, but was unfamiliar with the term. VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. In simpler terms, VoIP is video chatting using an electronic device. To illustrate VoIP, this chapter discusses Skype. Skype allows for users to hold videoconferences with either one or multiple people. When using Skype, users can also chat with each other using just text. Files can also be transferred from one person to another. I have had a Skype account for several years, and would often use it to chat with my friends while I was in college. It was definitely a fun tool for me to use, and I loved having instant access to my friends whenever I wanted. Recently I switched to using a Mac laptop, and was pleased to see that Skype also worked with Apple software. Something else that I noticed about my Mac was that I had access to another program, called Facetime. Facetime is similar to Skype, except it is an Apple product. People can videoconference using their iPhone, iPod, iPad, or Mac computer. It is really interesting and amazing that someone can hold a videoconference using just their cell phone!
I do agree that using Skype in the classroom can have a huge benefit on student learning. I thought it was great that our class was able to video chat with Will Richardson. It was so cool to watch his video during one class and then speak to him in person the next! It really made the video of his presentation so much more relevant to our own learning. I was also excited to hear that my classmate Jessica used Skype to hold a video chat between her students and students in France. This conference made their project so much more authentic and meaningful. I would use Skype similarly in my own classroom. Instead of having guest speakers come visit my class, I would have them video chat with us. I would also try to find classrooms across the country or in other areas of the world that would agree to Skype with my classroom. Of course, I would create an assignment that would incorporate a reason for this chat, but giving students the opportunity to speak with students much different from them is an experience that will last a lifetime.
However, similar to any presentation the teacher must plan and prepare. I like the 5P rule that the authors mention—“Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance.” Although teachers should make sure technology is running correctly before the video chat begins, students should also be prepared for the presentation. Students should already come prepared with a list of questions or comments for the guest speaker. Teachers need to also make sure the students know how to appropriate interact with the speaker via Skype. If everything is planned accordingly, a videoconference can be extremely successful.