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Free Video Chat & Conferencing Tools and How to Use Them Like a Boss

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video conferencing in schools

Tips and Resources for Using Free Video Conferencing Tools in Your Classroom

Video conferencing and chat tools can be a wonderful instructional resource, as most educators know. You can bring the outside world and guests into your classroom, enable a sick or disabled student to present from home and interact with the class, get to know online students better and have more constructive conversations than voice alone permits. The possibilities are endless!

As I am putting the final touches on the 2015 update to The Free Education Technology Resources eBook (which will be made available this week!), and I've added a chapter focused on free video conferencing and chat tools. In today's post, I share these tools and resources.

Skype

Skype has been a powerful and popular classroom tool for years. Microsoft bought Skype back in 2011. Here’s their education-focused Skype page on the web: https://education.skype.com/.

There are lots of good articles on the Web covering many great instructional uses of Skype (and other video platforms). Here’s some focused specifically on Skype:

Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts are much newer to the tech world than Skype, but with the power of this leading tech company behind it, they’ve become quite popular quickly. An added bonus – Google owns YouTube and they added a nice value to Hangouts by making it possible to broadcast them via YouTube, as well as record them for long term storage and access in YouTube.

Here’s some resources that teachers and schools have written to help other educators learn more about using Google Hangouts for teaching and learning:

Oovoo

I first learned about Oovoo from my kids – my son was using it to talk with friends and classmates.

Here’s a couple pieces from educators discussing how they use Oovoo in their classrooms:

FaceTime (and Android alternatives)

If you’re a fan of the iPad, you know Facetime. Of course, the downside to Facetime is that it only works with other iOS devices or a Mac. But if you’re in a 1-to-1 iPad school, you and your students are quite likely to be putting it to use!

In addition to Skype and Google Hangouts, this article, The 5 best alternatives to FaceTime for Android, recommends Viber (www.viber.com), Tango (www.tango.me), and Zoom (zoom.us). We use Zoom under a paid plan at The College of Westchester, and we love it! (This more recent article suggests other alternatives as well – KW).

More Tips for Getting the Most out of Video Conferencing in the Classroom

To round this post out, I scoured the web for some good resources offering smart tips and techniques for getting the most of these free tools in the instructional setting.

Of course, there are plenty more free options and resources out there, so please feel free to drop a comment and tell us about your faves!

Creative Commons licensed image source.

15 COMMENTS

  1. Kelly I just want to say that you wrote a really nice article with useful links and it was a pleasure to read it. I saw that you want to hear our opinions about video conferencing tools so I have to touch on ClickMeeting platform. It’s my favourite and if you want to read something more about it, it’s their website: http://clickmeeting.com I hope you’ll like this tool just like me :)

  2. […] L’outil Appear.in répond à ce cahier des charges et permet d’organiser des réunions virtuelles facilement en créant une URL comme espace de type vidéoconférence qui sera l’adresse communiquée aux différents participants. La simplicité au programme Un navigateur suffit : pas d’installation d’application ni d’inscription pour une mise en route immédiate de la vidéoconférence qui peut accueillir jusqu’à 8 personnes en mode simultané. Appear.in – one click video conversations. Tutic. Google Fight : make a fight with Googlefight. Free Video Chat & Conferencing Tools and How to Use Them Like a Boss. […]

  3. […] Esta página se actualizará constantemente, cada vez que me encuentre con una nueva pieza de software o un sitio web interesante, lo listamos aquí. Esta lista no es exhaustiva de ninguna manera. TÉCNICAS DIDÁCTICAS CON TIC. Web20. Listen to a Wall of Music. Free Video Chat & Conferencing Tools and How to Use Them Like a Boss — Emerging Education Tech…. […]

  4. […] Video conferencing and chat tools can be a wonderful instructional resource, as most educators know. You can bring the outside world and guests into your classroom, enable a sick or disabled student to present from home and interact with the class, get to know online students better and have more constructive conversations than voice alone permits. The possibilities are endless!  […]

  5. Hi there! Great article and examples. I keep a wiki on video/web conferencing at http://caisefiles.wikispaces.com. If you click on the classroom resources page you will find ideas for implementation and resources for web conferencing platforms. The game templates page has several templates that can be modified and used for competitions in a web conference. Thanks for sharing about video/web conferencing!

    Kim Caise, NBCT, M.Ed.

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