The most recent update of Skype for Windows this week (Oct. 15, 2010) added two signifiant features which will be useful for many but I think these are also worth trying out for their potential in learning situations.
With this new partnership with Facebook, Skype users now have a Facebook tab which lets you monitor typcial FB content such as news feeds, status updates, comments and “Like” things from directly within Skype. You’ll also see that within Skype you have a FB phonebook enabling you to call and text your FB friends and if they happen to be on Skype as well you can do a direct Skype to Skype call with them.
With all the remote locations I am in while out sailing around the planet I use Skype a great deal for almost all my phone calls. Most of my friends and family as well as my sailing and professional “peeps” are using FaceBook so this integration is particularly welcomed by me but I would think this would have broad appeal to most users.
However it was the addition of a new group video feature to Skype that most caught my attention and which will be most useful for learning applications. I’ve only had time to give it a very quick try but my initial reactions are very positive for video calls with a small group of people. The interface moves its focus to the person who is talking at the time which goes a long ways to making it easy to follow and after a few minutes you start to see past the interface and just focus on the conversation much as you would do in person. Still a long way from true telepresence of course, but with this ability to have group video calls should make for much richer conversations amongst a group.
While I’m obviously in a relatively unique situation I would think that this integration of Skype and Facebook creates an extremely valuable combination of resources for anyone in learning, training and education. And I’m still amazed at how we have evolved to a point where these are all availalbe to us for free. Can you imagine if you had suggested this just a few years ago?
Enjoy and let me know as you gain more experiential learning with these tools.