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I'm looking for input to run a sustainable (semi-permanent) video conferencing set up in my school for the upcoming year. We currently have 3 smartboards that will rotate through the school, one month per teacher. I have a data projector in my room, as well as a laptop and some speakers.  In your opinion, what is the bare minimum that I would need to be well set up for a skype session with another school on short notice?  I could get a video camera; does it serve as a webcam?  Suggestions appreciated.

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Hi Alison ~ Skype is a wonderful tool! Our class set is laptop w/ with built-in webcam and microphone, occasionally tried an external microphone, LCD projector, and a speaker cord that hooks the computer to the LCD projector that has a speaker built-in. That worked great all year! Others we Skyped with had computer, webcam, speakers, microphone, projector. I'm not sure if a video camera would do the trick too. That's a good question. I'll check into it. Skype name mrs.wells4
Hi Jan,
Thanks for the info about your set up! I will also do some research about video cameras as web tools. My Skype name is aliringbull
thanks again!
Hi Allison,
I have been skyping with my students for a couple years and it is a great tool, however, it does have a couple of drawbacks. I have learned that Skype software hitchhikes on your broadband when you are logged on so it can potentially slow your network down to a standstill. This happens if you have many teachers logged on at once. THere are several colleges that have even banned skype from campus for this reason.
Skype has been extremely usefull on many occasions for me though. My class did a cross curricular unit on the Iditarod last March and we were able to talk to students in a small village in Alaska where the mushers used their school as a checkpoint and actually slept in the cafeteria. The culture was so extremely different that my students loved it and we started a great friendship with several Native American students.
Skype is also a great tool for Science when the students collect data and them compare real time with other students.
Hi Wendy,
Thanks for your input on Skyping from school. The Iditarod project sounds fascinating! I can just imagine the culture shock for your students. I will keep exploring as this school year unfolds.
thanks again.
alison

Skype is not stable for your task. You may try dedicated video conferencing appliance to save set-up time and cost. It is plug-and-play. Leading vendors are Juniper and RHUB.

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