I loathe talking on the phone so I don't think I'll ever embrace Skype. I love to blog, e-mail or IM and I'll even text on occasion but I have 4000+ un-used cell phone minutes and the number climbs monthly.
Skype reminds me a bit of EMG, which the district embraced some 15 years ago. It arrived with bang and left with a whimper and all that's left of it at my school is the library's direct phone line which supports a cordless phone. I do love me my cordless phone (so I can take the phone to the shelves) so I still have a soft spot for EMG. It was an early experiment in video conferencing and was supposed to help bring "the world to the classroom". Looking back at it from a 15 year perspective I can see that it was, in many ways way ahead of its time, though it was very awkward to use. Technology was unreliable (some things never change) and it required careful coordination between EMG and the classroom. Given that unexpected "things" pop up in an elementary classroom coordination didn't always work as planned. When a student upchucks, vomit trumps scheduled video conference every time.
Back to Skype and its possible use in the classroom. The manual created by The Learning Librarian is excellent and some great suggestions for classroom use. 50 Awesome Ways to Use Skype has even more suggestions. My favorite is using it to include home bound students in classroom activities. Given how many hospitals have wi-fi these days Skype is something the district's home bound department needs to investigate.
I'm wondering if the schools with an international student population might promote Skype to their parents as a way to keep in touch with friends and family overseas. Not the sort of international student body that's at my school - the villages they hail from are lucky to have electricity, schools with students from countries such as Japan or India.
It has potential as a field trip prep project too. Prior to going to Washington on the Brazos the 4th graders could "meet" one of the guides and get a feel for what they will be seeing and what's expected of them I find that the more prep one does, the better the experience. Government classes could perhaps "converse" with an elected official or science students with an astronaut.
Yeap, Skye is a keeper, even for folks like me who loathe talking on the phone.