Skype’s Staying Power

Skype isn’t the newest technology. It’s not even especially sexy.

You don’t hear a lot of buzz about Skype. But if buzz were generated by inherent usefulness or efficiency, Skype would get huge buzz.

We use Skype for inter-office gossip, to chat with friends in faraway places as well as corporate video conferencing.

On top of all that inherent usefulness, it’s free!

How is it that we’ve grown to take Skype for granted so quickly?

Efficiency

It wasn’t very long ago that an overseas trip required expensive phone calling cards that invariably expired in the middle of an important phone call.

And inter-office collaboration happened via interminable email exchanges. Have you ever imagined a day in the life of an average Skype user? I use Skype before even showering in the morning.

It’s how I know which one of my colleagues is bringing the donuts—or if I have to bring them.—again. And once I’m at work, Skype is the first thing I’m checking—even before my company email.

When I need to send spreadsheets and Word documents, I just drag them into the Skype chat with the intended recipient. That’s it. No attaching files needed.

It makes my job a lot more efficient. And the added benefit? I can engage in inter-office gossip while still looking like the poster boy for industrious work ethics everywhere and an overall example of the perfect office worker.

Am I exaggerating? A little bit, but not much. The truth is that we’ve integrated Skype into the landscape of our lives so completely that we don’t really think about it much.

We don’t think about it for precisely the same reasons we don’t think much about the fact that we have incredibly well functioning fingers on our hands. We just do and we leave it at that.

Skype’s New Potential

Although Skype has become nearly indispensable in our personal and professional lives, it has encountered resistance.

Skype was never able to penetrate the education space in terms of really finding application inside the classroom. Teachers have used it informally for a while, but Skype’s real potential for education has gone largely untapped until now. That may be about to change in a big way.

Skype’s new initiative to roll into the education space looks like it may have legs. “Skype in the Classroom” came out of beta testing last March with around 4,000 teachers signed up.

That has swollen to nearly 16,000 and growing quickly. It’s quickly becoming a vehicle for collaboration with teachers sharing lesson plans, posting projects and doing video chats between classrooms.

And if Skype is functioning primarily as a collaboration supercharger for teachers now, the possibilities inherent in its evolution may benefit students even more than it is now.

The video conferencing ability that has made Skype so indispensable for personal and professional arenas could have really positive applications for the classroom going forward.

Foreign language classes may be able to tap into Skype’s potential to connect classrooms and bridge distance by using Skype for language immersion and chatting with native speakers.

And the potential for Skype to take the place of the traditional pen pal experience in grade school could make that exercise a lot more enriching for young students.

Skype may never be a technology that produces a lot of buzz in the blogosphere. But it’s hard to imagine a more useful technology.

Jesse Langley
Jesse Langley lives in Austin where he works and enjoys the live music capital of world. He enjoys sports, social media and blogging. He writes on behalf of Colorado Technical University.
If you wish to write for techchai, you can get in touch using the write for us form above.


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One Response to “Skype’s Staying Power”

  1. David says:

    Killer Article Jesse. Really great writing. Now if only Skype could hire you to revamp those convoluted instructions on their websites to make them current and cookie cutter easy to understand…sigh.

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