Monday, January 4, 2010

3 Ways, Other Than Skype, to Bring Experts Into Class

Bringing experts into your classroom via video conferencing can be an excellent enhancement to your students' learning experiences. Video conferencing can also be used to connect classrooms in a 21st century version of penpal exchanges. Skype is the most common tool for making these connections and for good reason Skype is the most popular video conferencing application. It's easy to use and free for most uses. The only drawback to Skype is that you and the person you want to talk with must have Skype installed on the computers you are using. The following are three other ways to video conference without using Skype. is one of the many excellent services created by the folks at allows users to set up a free webinar or video conference with just two clicks. Just like with there is no registration required to use the service and there is no software to install. To use simply create a drop and share the drop's unique url (and optional password) with whomever you would like to participate in the conference. When you're ready to start your conference click "start presentation." If you create the conference you are the administrator and have full access to show the other participants files, links, photos, and any other media you're using on your computer.

Wetoku is a free service for quickly conducting, recording, and sharing video interviews using your webcam. To conduct an interview just log-in to your account, click "start new interview," and send the invitation link to whomever you want to interview. Wetoku records the videos from both participants in the interview. When you embed the recording, the videos of both participants appear side by side (see a sample from RWW here).

Vokle is a free service for hosting and recording live web conferences. Using Vokle you can host a live conference in which participants can chat with text while you broadcast yourself. You can also broadcast a conversation of yourself and another person who has their webcam enabled. The text chat room can be used to organize a line-up of people who would like to broadcast themselves to the other chat participants.