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Skype

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Skype is a free program, which enables users to make free Internet calls, instant messaging and videochat. Both the caller and the recipient must have Skype accounts to use the system. It is possible to call landlines and cell phones from Skype if a monthly subscription (or a "pay as you go") are set up. With the advent of Skype mobile the system has become increasingly convenient and also enables conference calls with capacity for up to 24 callers in addition to the host. The following instructions are related to the Mac OS X version of Skype; the PC version has the same functionality but has a very different interface and is much more commercially orientated.

Skype on Mac OS X

How to setup your Skype account

• Visit: http://skype.com.
• Click on the green "download now" button.
• Once downloaded, double-click on the .dmg in order to open the installer. Add the Skype icon to your applications folder.
              

• Once you have completed the installation, open the program and the window shown below will appear.

• Click on the blue lettering, which says "Create New Account".
• Create a new account by filling out the information in the popup box (shown to the right above). You will use this information to log into Skype from now on (It's good to note that although you can change what is displayed you cannot change your Skype name ever, so it's worth making it something you like).
• You can add new contacts by clicking on "Contacts" in the top menu bar and selecting "Add a Contact..." or you can click on the + sign on the bottom right-hand side of the Skype window.
              

• You can set your call availability status next to your name in the Skype window by clicking on the green check mark. You can also adjust your status by file>change status.


• To make a call click on the name of the person who you want to contact. You can hover over their status to call them or double click on their name for more options. If you double click it will open a conversation page with that person which gives you the option to instant message them or call them.
              

• Video can be added to any chat, if you have a webcam enabled by click on the green camera button in the call window (if video is enabled, see "Enable Skype Video" topic below). You can also call with just sound by hitting the green phone button.

Skype on a PC

The main elements of Skype remain the same between Macs and PCs, so you may still find the tutorial above helpful.  This tutorial will point out where things differ when navigating Skype on a PC.  If you need help downloading Skype, please review the ~fmacneil:top of the page.
              

• Once you have created an account and logged in, you will need to add new contacts.  On a PC, add new contacts by clicking on "New,” located directly above your Contact list on the left.  Select “New Contact” and fill out the information in the pop-up window.
              

• You will notice there is also an option for “New Group Conversation.”  Click on this to initiate a group chat, which you can invite multiple users to.
              

• If you would like to make a Conference Call, click on "Call" in the top menu bar and scroll down to "Start Conference Call..."
• Anytime a contact is online, you can click on their name to view their profile information.  The icon appearing next to their name will also alert you of their status.  
              

• You can change your own status to any of the settings listed above by clicking on the symbol next to your own name.  If you set your status to "invisible," your name will not appear on any of your contacts' lists to indicate you are online.  As such, only you can initiate conversations.
              

• Once you have clicked on a contact's name, you can choose to initiate a written conversation, call, or video chat.  To place a call, click on the green "Call" button below their profile. A similar button will appear that says "Video Call" if they are available for video conversations.  To begin  a written conversation, start typing in the dialogue box at the bottom of the window.
• Click "Add a Telephone Number" to add another contact to a call.  Click the gray "i" button to the right to monitor your call's connection quality.
              

• To dial and call a phone number directly, click on the "Call Phones" button below your contact list.  Please note that calling landlines and cell phones will cost extra.

Useful Functions in Skype

Classroom and Discursive Group Formats

A certain level of preparation is required to utilize Skype for group discussion as many students may not have Skype accounts. In order to add students to a conference call you will require their Skype username (enter in "Add a Contact..."). You may find the "Share Skype with a Friend" function useful for prompting your students to create accounts, this can be found in the "Contacts" drop-down menu on the top menu bar. Skype could be used to address a group of students using a single new account setup specifically for this purpose. If you are interested in this method please contact your AT for further information. Furthermore we have the ability to record your discussion, your AT can tell you more about the best recording methods.

Conference Calls

              

• To set-up a conference call, select the "Call" option on the top menu bar and then click on "Start Conference Call..."
• You may then add existing contacts (added using the "Add a Contact..." function) to a group discussion.
• You may also add iPhone Skype users to the conference provided that they are signed into the Skype App.

Public Chat

Public chat is an option to set up a real-time discussion forum, which is open to the public. You can control the preferences so that only those you approve can read and write to the forum. This method is similar to both Jabber and AIM and has several drawbacks including a tendency to crash, if side video or audio chat are initiated or if you are running several programs at once.

To use Public Chat:

• Select the "Chat" option in the top menu bar and click on "Start Public Chat..."
• Enter your chat topic, you may also add an image for your chat.
• The next step is to select your preferences, we recommend you select the following option: "Members need permission to start reading or posting".
• Skype will then give you several options for promoting your chat, including: an embed code with will create a web button that links directly to your chat from the website of your choice; a URL link to your chat that you can copy and e-mail to people; you can also display your link in your Skype Mood Message (much like "status updates" on other social networking platforms).
              

• You can add people to the public chat by clicking on the cog button and selecting "add people", it will then prompt you to enter and search for names
• If you click the phone button in public chat it will call all those taking part, creating a new conference call window. You can choose to call "friends" who are signed in to Skype.

Enable Skype Video

• It is important that you check your video preference settings in order to utilize Skype video during calls.
• Go to "Skype" in the top menu bar and select preferences and then click on the video tab.
• Make sure that you select the "Enable Skype Video" box and that your webcam is specified, it will show you a preview of what the webcam "sees" if it is functioning correctly.

Skype Videochat

Skype video chat is only possible between two people or two accounts (Professor with an account addressing a single class account).

• To initiate the video feature you must first call the individual's or class's account.
• Once they have have picked up the call you can then click the green button, which looks like a video camera to initiate the video. Each person needs to click the green camera button to initiate video on both ends of the chat.
• The new video chat has a great "share" capability where you can share the full screen of your computer or a selected area of your computer screen.

              

Skype in Moodle

In Moodle you can create a block which, supports Skype. In order to make this work there are a couple of settings, which you and your students need to change.

• First go to Moodle and enter one of your courses, then click on the participants list (left administration block) and find your own name.
• Click on your name to access your personal Moodle profile. Then in the yellow tabs select "Edit profile".
• Scroll all the way to the bottom of the new page until you reach the "Optional" area, then select "Show Advanced". You will see a space to add your Skype ID, enter it and then click update at the bottom of the page.
• In Skype you will need to go to "Skype" on the menu bar and then select "Preferences" and privacy options and make sure that you click the box that says "Show my status on the web".
              

• Now if you add the Skype block in Moodle it will show your status. Each student will need to complete this process if they want their availability to show up.

For more information about blocks please visit: Moodle 2 About Blocks

Skype Mobile

              

Is also free, but has limited functionality and is only suitable for calls to one person at a time. Skype mobile callers can not initiate a conference call but they can be added to an exiting one if they are signed-in to their iPhone app. Free calls can be made to another Skype account from any wifi hotspot.

Skype Bonus Feature

You can send files to a contact who is listed as online even if they aren't currently conducting a call with you. To use this feature first select the contact in the viewer to whom you would like to send the file. Then go to "Contacts" in the top menu bar and select "Send File..."

~fmacneil:return to top