It was my Dad's birthday this week; he's 62 years old. He and I don't live in the same city and we see each other only a hand full of times each year. I spoke to him to wish him happy birthday and he's doing well. I called him from my home, I have no land telephone line and my cell phone was dead. So instead, I used Skype. It's a piece of software that allows free voice transmission over the Internet and it’s from the makers of the infamous KaZaa! But don’t let that dissuade you from trying it. It's incredibly easy to use... anyone with a high-speed Internet connection and a headset can use it. The clarity is phenomenal and far outweighs the audio transmission possible over other popular instant messaging services such as MSN or ICQ.
So what does this topic have to do with e-education? Well, I think Skype can be used as a no-cost method of increasing student-to-student interaction at a distance so that they can work collaboratively as a team. For those students who enjoy a bit of synchronous interaction with their team members that extends above and beyond conventional text-based chat, this could work very well. In fact, a teleconference with multiple participants can be undertaken with the newest versions of Skype. Because it's so easy to use, has no cost associated with it, and has excellent audio quality, Skype is getting lots of hype! Try it. You might just like the impact it has on your long distance bill as well.