In a move that has sparked protest from both students and professors, San Jose State University has become the latest California school to ban Skype from most of its campus. Citing concerns regarding security and consumption of bandwidth, school administrators feel that the service is an unnecessary and potentially illegal waste of resources. The University of California–Santa Barbara and California State University–Dominguez Hills have also recently banned the popular VoIP service.
Professor Steve Sloan at SJSU is calling on others in the university community to fight the ban. On the topic of Skype’s educational uses, Dr. Sloan writes:
Skype is a foundation technology that is often combined with podcasting. Skype, when combined with audio capture software, is a major way podcast conversations happen, are captured and are then enabled to be distributed in podcasts. A Google search of Skype + Podcasting yields over 20 million hits on Google. Conversations often happen on Skype that are remixed and shared with podcasting and this has a lot of educational potential.
In my class I have been planning to use Skype to bring authors of the textbook we use together to discuss their book with my students from various locations around the globe. Since I started using Skype daily in my work I have been contacted by educators from Europe, Asia and Australia. Educators have contacted me via Skype to collaborate on teaching and learning methods. One contact was from a group of educators who wanted to use Skype technology, combined with podcasting and iPods, to extend the reach of the Internet into the Outback to reach Aboriginal children.
He concludes his post by highlighting how the use of Skype in our “flat world” really defines communication and collaboration possibilities. He continues:
I think with Skype we need to take a real cost benefit analysis of the software and the cost of not using the software. Skype is more than a program it is a global communications and collaboration platform. Itâ€™s also a pipe into a flat world where easy communications is a strategic advantage and the loss of which is a disadvantage. It is a platform of change as well as a delivery pipe of media-voice, video and data.
It has been argued that the current design may be a violation of the legal use of state computing resources. In my opinion, if the use of Skype violates state or federal law then the appropriate agency to take action should be the Chancellor’s Office or the State’s Attorney General. If what Neal alleges is accurate, I wonder why that has not happened?
Instead of banning Skype, if bandwidth is a concern educational organizations simply need to provide more bandwidth for student and faculty use. Think that’s an unreasonable proposal? Read George Gilder’s book “TELECOSM: How Infinite Bandwidth will Revolutionize Our World.” The transportation corridors of the 21st century will increasingly be paved with LIGHT rather than asphalt. Educational organizations should take advantage of the communication and collaboration opportunities offered by programs like Skype rather than banning them.
Thanks to Devin Henley for this link.
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