Posted by: MandyS | November 19, 2010

Using Skype

What an exhilarating experience! I used Skype for the first time last night to discuss with my fellow ‘group A’rs’ what we are going to do for Activity 6.3, the collaborative activity. I say exhilarating because I feel I learnt so much both personally and in respect of the course.

Although the nature of my jobs may not suggest it, I am actually a very shy person. I am quite happy to be in a group, but rarely say anything and for some reason, go bright red when I do. It’s not that I don’t know what to say, I just feel embarrassed to say anything. I think it is because I feel that I am interrupting and that no one will be interested in any event. So far with this course, I have been able to hide behind the forum and the blog, so in that respect, last night was a real challenge for me. What I was worried about, I have no idea. What a great group of people! In some respects, I suppose I was more relaxed because it wasn’t face to face. I also realised that some of the others were finding it difficult. It took a while for us to actually discuss what we needed to and determine who was going to do what. It was interesting that there was a general reluctance for anyone to put themselves forward for tasks but I got the impression this was because none of us wanted to be seen to be ‘pushy’. The only difficulty I had, was when there was a discussion about ‘Storyboard’. I have no idea what this is and felt uncomfortable asking about it given the fact that everyone else seemed to know and I thought it would impinge on the time if it had to be explained to me. I was therefore lost in the discussion about its suitability and what it could be used for. In some respects the forum has the advantage in this situation because you can look it up when it is first raised and at least have a chance to enter into a discussion about it. Anyway, it is on my ‘to do’ list. What I did achieve though was being able to contribute and feel that what I had to say was relevant.

Using Skype was relatively easy and I had no problems connecting or being heard. The only issue was that it was sometimes difficult to identify who was speaking and at times we were talking together so points were not heard. Unlike Ellumintate, there is no facility for only one person to speak at a time. However, this was the first ‘synchronous’ discussion and it is clearly a good way of communicating.  To me, this is because the issues can be identified and solutions talked about with a result or strategy being established straight away, rather than it lingering in the forum. The whole of the group were present, which was good, but I wonder whether it would have been the same had there only been a handful of us, especially in relation to the distribution of tasks. As far as the activity is concerned, we all know what we are doing and when we have to do it by. This is in comparison to the last collaborative activity where there was no real discussion about how we were going to do the activity; in some respects our group just did it.

Overall, I consider Skype to be an effective elearning tool. Personally, I have learned that I can chat comfortably with a complete group of strangers and not feel embarrassed. In respect of the course, the group has a way forward for the activity. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and look forward to doing it again.

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