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Resources: Using Skype

To use Skype, start the Skype program that you downloaded into your computer. You should then see a log-in screen similar to the one below. (Note that the information in red has been added, and that the illustrations you will see here are from a particular version of Skype running on an Apple Macintosh.)

Enter your Skype user ID and password into the spaces as shown. (After the first time you use the program, it may remember your user ID.) Then click on 'Sign In'.

The program may take a number of seconds to connect you with your Skype account, but when it does you should see your home page. If you have already made contact with your instructor, the home page should already list her as a contact, as it does for Zongmin Chen (here called 'chen zongmin') in the following screen. In this case you can call her by simply moving your cursor near the small icon that looks like a video camera (the red arrow on the right points to this) and then clicking on the green call button that will appear.

When you first use Skype, however, no such contacts will be listed, so you will need to find and establish them. Clicking on 'Contacts' on the vertical menu on the left (the red arrow on the left points to this) should give you a screen something like the following.

In this case, with 'All' contacts selected on the menu, there are just two contacts shown on the screen. (We have modified the picture so it no longer shows the contact you saw on the home page.) Neither of these was actually chosen by the user: one is a contact to Apple inc. and the other is for a 'Skype test call' that lets you check your system. You will need to add your instructor as a contact, so click on 'Add Contact' on the upper right.

In the screen that appears then you will need to type in the name of your instructor and click on 'Find'. The following screen shows you what happens if your instructor is Zongmin Chen and you have asked Skype to find her name (where the red arrow on the upper left points to).

You actually get a list of four people, and from the information provided you may be able to decide that the 'chen zongmin' located in Darwin is the right person. You click on the corresponding green circle on the right (as shown by the red arrow on the right) to see if she will let you add her as a contact — and of course, if she is expecting you, and knows your name, she will. After that happens, instead of a green circle you will see a grey circle with a check mark in it.

This can happen the other way round, of course. That is, if your instructor has your contact details (your name, at least), she may be able to find you on Skype and ask to add you as a contact. In this case you will get a message asking you to approve her as a contact.

In either case, you only need to do this once for each contact. Once contact is established, you will be able to find the person on your 'Contact' page, as you can see on the following screen. Note that if you move your cursor over the contact, a green button will appear, with either (non-video) 'Call' or 'Video Call' on it, depending on the last setting you used (if any). You can also click on the arrow to get a pop-down menu with more choices, as you can see in the following screen.

(For language study with the Centre it generally will matter little whether you use video yourself. Even if you make a non-video call, you will be able to see your teacher or the lesson material she is using.)

Again this can work the other way round: your instructor can call you, and you only need to accept the call. However, the following screen shows what happens if you initiate the call. Here Skype is trying to make the connection — it's essentially 'ringing' your instructor and waiting for her to accept your call.

In this screen you can also see the 'tools' you will have available during the session, including means to turn your video and microphone on or off (when off, the icons will have a red line through them), the red handset icon that allows you to disconnect, and the icon on the far right that lets you switch from between using half the screen or the whole screen for the picture.

The same tools remain available after you make contact. At first you will probably see your instructor and anything she wants to show you, perhaps on a whiteboard behind her. She can also change the picture so you can see any lesson materials she has on her computer's desktop.

The latter is what you see in the following screen: the teacher is projecting a scene from a Chinese video from the Home with Kids television series. On part of the screen there are also small pictures of your teacher (here you only see her whiteboard) and yourself (if you are using video). (It is useful to see your own picture so you can adjust your position if you need to.)

You can enlarge the main picture by clicking on the icon that changes the screen to full size. From our experience, if the screen is very busy (as with projecting a video), it's possible that this could cause you to lose the connection, in which case you would need to establish the connection again. You can see how it goes, and if making the picture full size causes problems, just keep it half size.

You may not need to use the icon that shows a plus in a circle, but if you hold your mouse button down on it you will see that it allows for several options your instructor will be using, such as contacting additional students and displaying what is on her computer's desktop.

When the lesson is over, you can simply click on the red handset icon to end the call.

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Eastern Road Language Centre ABN 34 966 793 223
Copyright © 2013-2014 by Paul Black and Zongmin Chen
Version 1.0. Last modified on 18 July 2014
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