Skype Part 2 Online Workspace

Anyone who uses their whiteboard for ELT / EFL classes will know what a really useful teaching aid it can be, so how about using one with your distance learners?

In Part 1 of this series on Skype plugins, I looked at how and where to find and install plugins for Skype and I also looked at how to use Pamela to record audio materials and interviews with Skype.

In this posting I'd like to have a look at an online collaboration tool called Yugma which allows you to share files, share your desktop, make live presentations and have a shared online whiteboard all running along side your Skype application.

This quick tutorial takes you through some of the basic features.

You can download a version for your computer in Quick Time here.
Open the tutorial in a new window here.

How to use this with ELT / EFL students
Well I think this is definitely a distance learning support tool rather than some thing to use in the classroom / multi media lab with students. It could be ideal for teacher who wants to teach online 1 to 1 especially if you are doing this independently and don't have the support of a company to provide you with specialist software. I think it's also a pretty useful tool for teacher training and development if you have groups of teachers spread around the country or the world even.
  • You can show students how to use specific software for their course and talk them through the various processes.
  • You can show students around websites and use them as the basis for online discussion
  • You can share documents with your students and get them to work on them collaboratively
  • Students can share projects they have been working on with other group members
  • You can play games online such as Pictionary (a game where one player draws a picture and the others have to guess the word it represents)
  • You can share notes as you deliver presentations
  • You can record presentations and reuse them
  • You can set up a whole programme of different online business simulations such as
    • Presenting information about a company
    • Presenting a sales report of the results of survey findings
    • Students try to sell a fictional product to investors (your other students would be the investors)
    • Carrying out online interviews, with students presenting and talking about their CVs
  • The ability to record these presentations would make it much easier for your students to review them and for you to offer feedback on their work.
What I like about Yugma
  • As tools like this become a more widely used and accepted part of international business, developing the ability to use such tools is going to become a valuable 'real life' skill.
  • It's free (at least some parts are) and quite easy and quick to install and use.
  • I really like that you can record your meetings to watch later etc.
  • Great that this integrates with Skype
  • It seems to offer a pretty comprehensive package of functions

What I wasn't so sure about
  • Some of the functionality is limited after the first 15 days, unless you choose to pay for an account.
  • You have to be sure that your firewall / anti-virus doesn't block it, so if you have any problems getting it started, then that's the first thing to check.
  • You'll also need to get your students to download and install it.
Well I hope you find this tool useful. As I said, this is really one for the distance / online tutor and I'd love to hear from anyone who has tried it out with their students.