The value in Skype is apparent in the way that you can communicate, relatively free, to contacts in a textual and audiovisual manner. For this week, the theme of the play and reflect activities focused upon ‘synchronous and asynchronous communication tools’. For the ‘play’ task we were asked to set up a Skype account or an account with a similar service. Furthermore, to familiarise ourselves with the features of the program we were encouraged to hold a meeting with our group members through this forum.
Over the few sessions I had communicating to each of my group members, I used text chat, VoIP (voice over internet protocol) and was on the receiving end of a video chat. I did not have a webcam and so could only participate in a VoIP way. Some of the elements of Skype are recognisable as being in a similar format to other programs. For example, text chat operates similar to ‘MSN Messenger’ instant messaging, and furthermore video chat is like ‘Facetime’ on an iPad or iPhone.
Based upon my experiences with Skype, I have found the program to be effective and fascinating to use. For example, I really appreciated the ability to type instant messages as well as participate vocally. Furthermore, they had an option to attach and send files to your contacts. In comparison to other mediums that I have used during the course, it is interesting to see how unique it is. I was surprised at the layout which was seemingly basic and clear, rather than cluttered with multiple features. It seemed to be organised, although the free space on the page did encourage the perception that features were missing. In some ways, it was less complicated than other programs that I have used before because it is perceived in my mind as a “jigsaw” of particular communication tools that are located on these sites, such as Facebook.
Overall, I consider that I would use this program more frequently for the purposes of group meetings and to remain in contact with family and friends overseas. I think it would be very helpful, particularly in conjunction with emailing. However, I think that ensuring everyone had this program available, and organising times to meet can be problematic particularly in instances that require immediate responses. There is a reliance upon everyone to meet and be available with the same equipment to communicate in these programs. For example, I did not have webcam capabilities during a “call” and despite options for communication I felt limited in the experience for facial expressions.
For the best experience I think that there should be a balance between synchronous and asynchronous communication tools that a person makes decisions based upon the situation.
Below are a few screenshots of my Skype experiences.