Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Screensharing with Skype

I have been a Skype user for a couple of years now but until last week I've only used it for user-to-user voice and instant messaging communications.  Last week I was invited to present for a Sacramento City College faculty development institute and was encouraged to "try something new" as a presentation tool.  So we gave Skype a try.

As a user who creates all her presentations in Apple's Keynote application (which I adore), I was excited about the opportunity to use something other than Elluminate, which is the regular web conferencing platform used within the CA community college system (rebranded as CCC Confer).  Elluminate has many terrific characteristics -- it's stable, provides great opportunities for collaboration, application sharing, etc. but for Mac users there are problems.  Elluminate does not accept Keynote slides into its shareable whiteboard nor does it accept PDFs (which Keynote exports to beautifully).  When I present in Elluminate, I am always required to first recreate my content in Powerpoint, because the Keynote to Powerpoint export format comes through a garbled mess in Elluminate.  Even then, my slides are nearly always distorted. 

The Skype screenshare feature is simple:  share your entire screen or a selection.  And, for now, it only works in calls between two single users but the Skype blog has suggested a new version will change this later this year.  I was successful at using the screenshare for my Keynote presentation, as well as using it to demo VoiceThread and Ning without needing to change between a whiteboard and application sharing.  The audio in VoiceThread didn't play, although I'd imagine there's probably a work around for this.  All in all, it was a great experiment and now I see loads of potential for educators to use Skype with students to demonstrate concepts and ideas through the screenshare feature, as well.

I am wondering if anyone has found a plug-in that records Skype video (including the screenshare feature)?  If so, please share your feedback.
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