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 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:
- Cool Ways to Use Skype in the Classroom by Annie Condron
- 50 Awesome Ways to Use Skype in the Classroom by Jillian Terry
- The Complete Guide to the use of Skype in Education from EducatorsTechnology.com
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:
- Google Hangouts Guide for Teachers from the Lee’s Summit R7 School District
- How Educators and Schools Can Make the Most of Google Hangouts by Mary Key Hertz on Edutopa
- 4 Ways to Enhance Your Class with Google Hangouts by Jennifer Carey on Edudemic
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:
- How to Video Chat on OoVoo by David Neal
- Baruch College Uses Innovative Video Calling Service Oovoo to Enhance Student and Faculty Engagement
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.
- 5 Best Practices That Will Maximize Video Conferencing’s Value in the Classroom from EdTechMagazine
- This video may be low in resolution quality, but it offers some interesting ideas for using video in lessons: Classroom Management : How to get the most out of video clips
- Faculty Guide to Teaching through Videoconferencing from Allan Gyorke at Penn State U.
- Using videoconferencing to connect your class to the world from the UNC School of Education
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.