There are many ways to connect with others virtually; some are more complicated than others but two of the easiest to use in the classroom may be either Skype or Google Hangouts. (See our Google Hangouts Guide). If you are using Skype in the Classroom (which is a free resource for educators to connect with museums, experts and other educators around the world) you will most likely be using Skype.
Signing up for Skype
Go to Skype.com. Choose to sign in (in the upper right corner).
Follow the prompts to create an account. You may wish to write down your email address/Skype name and password for future use.
As of posting, we cannot use our educator emails to sign up for Skype. (It will accept most other types of email addresses.) That being said, you can choose to sign up for an account either by a phone number or email. I use an email address that I created for this purpose, you can choose to use whichever method you are most comfortable with to create your account.
Logging into Skype Online
*Note: You do not need to download the program to use Skype* Frequently I use Skype online instead of downloading it; this is a personal preference. If you want the desktop application installed, you will need to put in a help desk ticket prior to your first connection.
Click on the “Sign in” drop down menu and select “Use Skype Online” (Pic 3)
Sign in as usual (using your credentials from when you signed up for an account.)
Searching for Users
You can search for other users by entering either their name or phone number. (Pic 4) Generally the best option is to put in their exact Skype ID, which may be their phone number or a specific Skype name which may not match their display name. (Example: My Skype name is “video.wwcs” but my display name is “Tech Coach.”)
When you find a connection you can view their contact information by clicking on their name or profile picture. (You may need to click their profile picture in the chat window.) You can send a message or add them to your contacts (messaging them sends them a contact request.)
Making a Call
To make a call, find your contact and click on their name to open the chat window. In the upper right there will be three icons – you will need to choose the video camera to make a video call. Click to make the call. (Pic 5)
- If the video camera is grayed out (not clickable) check to make sure your camera is connected. Also, make sure the Lifecam software is not open (in will appear in your taskbar). For both of these you may need to refresh your browser page.
- For the first call, you may be asked by Google Chrome to “Allow Skype.com to use your camera and microphone”. This usually appears when you try to dial your first call. Click “Allow”, hang up the call (red phone) and then try to make the call again. This sometimes happens the first time you use Skype on your device (so you may see this prompt if you are using a new device each call).
You can mute your microphone, turn off your camera or hang up by tapping the buttons on the bottom of the call (they “disappear” during the call but will reappear if you click in the call window.)
Your Profile, Skype ID, and Signing Out
Click on your profile picture in the upper left to view your basic information. (Pic 6)
- Your profile picture (May be good to have match your Skype in Classroom profile picture if part of that community)
- Your display name
- Your Skype Name (listed under the display name, without the “live:” – this is useful to add to your Skype in the Classroom profile if you are part of that community or to give so that people can find your account when searching.)
- Manage your profile
- Sign out (Helpful so that you are not contacted accidently)