Wednesday, 11 June 2008

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.


Nik Peachey


Hudak said...

I would just like to add that there is now a viewer component available as well for rapid joining of sessions with no software download/installation required.

-Tom Hudak
IT Manager, Yugma Inc.

Chad said...

Hi Nik,
Nice video on Yugma - thanks for that. I tested it out, but it's not quite what i'm after. All my students have to sign up and register to use it and it only worked after they downloaded and installed the yugma software. This is a small problem, but annoying because i'm a EFL teacher and it is hard to explain this to some of my students.
I'm now trying mikogo ( because it also has a Skype plug-in. For me, the most important feature is switch screen sharing view, so i can see a student's screen and their work. From what i understand, this is not free in yugma. Mikogo has this for free. Also, quicker to setup due to lack of registrations etc.
I'm curious about the security, primarily for my students, when using screen sharing. I can't find much info on this....

btw, thanks for a great blog.


Nik Peachey said...

Hi Chad

I just had a quick look at and it does look quite good but it does still require download and registration from the tutor and I would guess from students too if thy wish to share their screens. Anyway, I'll certainly have a better look when I have some time. It's great that it is free, but it is a bit more restricted than Yugma in that it only seems to be a screen sharing app and doesn't have some of the other features that Yugma has. Could well be a nice ap to run along side though and certainly worth looking at in more detail.
Thanks for sharing.