Tool Category/ies: Communication  

License Type: Free


Overall Rating





Skype is a software application that allows users to make voice calls over the Internet. Calls to other users within the Skype service are free, while calls to both traditional landline telephone and mobile phones can be made for a fee using a debit-based user account system. Skype has also become popular for its additional features which include instant messaging, file transfer, and video conferencing.



Rating: 4/5

Reviewed by: Steve on 04/11/2013

In my opinion, SkypeTM is a wonderful tool.It provides a great deal of functionality at the perfect price  nothing.Moreover, it is not a space hog requiring copious amounts of the hard drive, nor crashing every couple of minutes because of memory issues.But most importantly I like it because it is evolving.I remember the days when it did crash and did not provide all of the features it does today.In this version, both on Mac and Windows, I am beginning to seem practical uses for it in the classroom e.g. guest speakers from NASA, City Hall, or even institutions far away.More and more we see video conferencing being used on the news with such simple tools as SkypeTM.Why not take full advantage of them in our classrooms.The additional features such as white boarding (Not review this time because it does not come with the base package) and remote desktop sharing have practical uses in the classroom e.g. demonstrations and white boarding during lectures.So my final assessment is that SkypeTM has somewhat arrived.It still has a way to go, but it has practical uses today.

Optional software such as VODBURNER allow the student and instructor to be more productive by recording conversations held in Skype.There are other optional software for linking to My Space, Facebook, white boarding and faxing.
  • SkypeTM provides accessibility options for students and instructors as  needed.
  • Accessible on smartphones and television.
  • Easy-to-use interface
  • Ability to block callers
  • Ability to share remote desktops and windows
  • Multiple methods of communication (text, voice, video).
Interface in Windows looks significantly different than in Mac, though the functionality is the same.In the classroom this might pose some initial problems getting set up.
  • Calls do drop though not a real issue.
  • Add on software is free in some cases but most often at a subscription fee so buyer beware.
  • Though you can do one-to-one video conferencing, you cannot to multiple video connections at the same time  or at least others are put on hold while you conference with one connection.
What this means is that in a learning environment, the teacher could be remote and conference via video with a classroom in another classroom.However he or she would not be able to teach to a class of students in multiple locations with each student being able to see every other student and the teacher.In my mind, this is a major drawback to implementing it as a full learning solution.


Rating: 4/5

Reviewed by: Carolyn Huynh on 04/11/2013

Skype is a great tool to connect with family, friends, colleagues via internet. Back in the day when you need to keep in touch with someone, your choices were either snail mail and telephone. Now, you have e-mail, cellphones and web-based/internet communication Skype. Skype is a tool that allows a person to communicate with another person through audio, video and chat. This tool also allows you to have several people to communicate in conference. It is like a phone call but you can see that person live. Skype to Skype calls are free but calls made to cell phones or land-line phones using Skype require debit payment. You can also make international calls and its free as long its Skype to  Skype.It is one of the best and revolutionary ways to communicate and stay connected.

Things to know before using Skype
Making a Skype account is the first step to be able to download the program. Must be comfortable in troubleshooting small audio and video technological problems to keep the communication alive. Its good to do the initial Skype tour and test to learn how to test and adjust your audio and video.

Resources required to use Skype
You will need to have high speed internet connection, which is of the most importance to have good quality audio and video conversations. A good computer/laptop, internal webcam or external webcam, and a good earphone with microphone.

How to use Skype in a teaching environment
Skype could be used in various scenarios. For example, if my "contact" was the author of a children's book, the students could ask the author questions and get live feedback without stepping outside of the classroom. As a teacher, I could design a lesson plan around this live communication Web 2.0 Tool.Students could take a virtual field trip via Skype videoconferencing to classrooms in other countries. This is far more cost efficient than actually traveling.

As a special education teacher who has students that are frequently on medical leave from the classroom, Skype could be used in the hospital or other facilities to keep the student more connected with their peers. The possibilities of using Skype videoconferencing in the classroom are endless.

Skype could also be used as an "office appointment for coursework help". If a student has a question about a particular topic. He/she would make an appointment and it could be after hours; and we both sign-in. At the comfort of my home, and student in the comfort of his/her home. We can discuss, and have a Q&A session.

Additionally, Skype can also be a useful tool for student-to-student collaboration/discussion. Projects for a small group of 2/3 can be assigned for discussions through Skype. Students do not have to be physically together for collaborating online on these group projects using Skype. For example, we have rounds where students have to discuss patients complex health history and medications they take. With Skype, students can discuss the side effects, contraindications, and interactions of these drugs with dental local anesthetic. However it is important to note that in this and most of other scenarios Skype proves useful for discussions only but not for evaluations.

Advantages of using Skype
  • You do not have to travel to a particular place to hold group discussion or one-to-one discussion.
  • Can be done after office hours and can be done in the comfort of your home. 
  • With Skype, you can hold discussions as long and late as you want. Especially for women, leaving a class late at night could be unsafe.
  • Connecting with someone across the globe with different location.
  • Convenient and Free and also available for most smartphones.

Disadvantages of using Skype
Disadvantages mostly include technological issues. Low speed internet connection affects call quality and may result in connection loss, dropped calls, and delayed audio/video.


©2011- The University of Houston. All rights reserved.

4800 Calhoun Road, Houston, Texas 77204 (713) 743-2255