Imagine for a moment, if you will, sitting with an assigned group in my first ever college class. They’re all talking about when and where they’re going to meet up and all the while I’m sitting there waiting for the right moment to tell them that I commute to school and could not make it to any of the dates they were discussing. It was a terrifying moment. Besides a golden opportunity to make friends, if I didn’t meet up with them, I probably wouldn’t be able to do my part of our final project.
Could Skype be a solution!!
Finally, gathering enough gumption, I told my partners and they said that we would find a way to all meet up at once! After about a month of trying to coordinate a date, we all eventually gave up. At that time, I had just recently discovered Skype. I told my group, who knew about the program long before I did, that when they met up, they should just Skype me. Through this, I would be able to participate in all their discussions and stay within the loop. That would have been the ideal situation.
But the initial confusions…
Keep in mind that each group had five people. So, my group all decided to meet up in the library. Here they all are – gathered around a cluttered library table in order to talk to me. It wasn’t organized, which naturally caused confusion and disaster. After a while, one of my partners (let’s call her Ophelia Payne) took over the computer completely. She relayed messages from all my other partners to me. For a while, that worked until we got down to the nuts and bolts of our project. I couldn’t hear the conversation going on around Ophelia’s computer and she couldn’t listen to other people and talk to me at the same time.
Was Skype a good idea (esp. in educational projects)!!
Come back to present day. Working more with technology and education every day, I now know Skype wasn’t a good idea. The problem was that I couldn’t talk to them all at once, despite them all having computers there. Being broke college kids, none of us were about to pay for group video chat. Now you might think to yourself, “Why didn’t you just use a Google+ hangout?” Mostly because back then, in 2010, Google+ was just a distant dream. And also because it doesn’t have the capacity needed to genuinely collaborate with my partners. We didn’t want to all hang out (so to speak). We wanted an A on our project.
It makes sense that a “hangout” would be fairly limited education wise. However, a lot of people use Skype for business meetings. Skype has all the business tools needed to hold a full-fledged meeting at any time. This is not the case when it comes to education and online classes. My experience with Skype and school was not through an online course, but it very well could have been. Universities should supply programs where students can meet outside of class without leaving the comfort of their dorms or their homes.
Now I ask myself and the various Educational institutes “Why not WizIQ??”
We have Blackboard available to us. Through Blackboard, we can use WizIQ. Why doesn’t my university pay for any of this? Time and again, our administrators will say, “our students and their education come first.” If that were true, why aren’t technology programs that would further our studies priorities for investment rather than new athletic centers? Particularly in a school where almost half the students are commuters like me? I almost failed my first ever college class because we didn’t have the right tools at our disposal. Our university professors expect us all to just meet up on our time, not taking into account commuters, adult learners, work schedules, or the fact that students who park and walk to and from our campus in the evenings tend to get stabbed (no, seriously, I like my school and all, but during the daytime…at night, police escorts are recommended for the football players, let alone an English and theater major like me).
Skype isn’t good enough anymore. If my university is planning to continue down the “improving” path that they’re trying to pave, it’s going to take a lot more effort. Or at least some remarkably cheap tools that are made for working and learning together, not merely meeting or “hanging out.”