Beginner’s Guide to Skype Lessons
First time Skype user? This one’s for you… Published on Jun 3, 2017
I’ve put some information together to better prepare you for your online journey. Hopefully these tools will help set both you and your students up for success. Take the time to read the following before jumping into your first online lesson. Upon completing the reading, be sure to comment below and let me know your thoughts on Skype!
Before Getting Started
Be aware that connection errors, such as freezing, delayed audio, or dropped-calls may occur if there is poor or lost connection. Needless to say, some issues are just out of our control. While you may not be able to avoid everything, here a couple of things to consider before getting started.
Internet connection First, decide if you will be using a wireless connection or Ethernet. I suggest that you try both and find what works best for you. Having a wireless connection offers a bit more freedom with location, but may have a higher chance of connection fails such as lagging or delayed audio/video. You may decide to kick it old school and play it safe with an Ethernet connection. I tried both at home and didn’t find any difference personally. Either will do just fine, just make sure you have the correct bandwidth.
Choosing a Device The great thing about Skype is that it’s now cloud based and works across many devices. You may use your computer, tablet, or mobile phone. I’d choose the device you own with the best camera, mic, and operating system. I prefer using my iPhone 7, the picturing and audio was at a much better quality than my laptop. You can compare the two below.
HP Envy laptop (left) and iPhone 7 (right). Don’t mind my 9-yr old sister. She offered to help!
NOTE: You don’t have to download Skype directly if you plan on launching lessons through your internet’s browser; however, I encourage you to download the app if you plan on launching lessons directly from your desktop or OMNIS.
Setting the Scene
Before jumping into your first Skype call, make sure you have your environment set and ready to go. The best way to ensure a quality production is to prepare your area as much as possible. A few adjustments with lighting and spacing can go a long way!
Choose an area with plenty of space. Your home office or studio’s practice room will do just fine. Try setting up in the same area for each session. Stay consistent! It is our job, as educators, to create a comfortable learning environment for all students. Like a first time teacher setting up their classroom, get excited and creative with how you present your space.
Once you’ve picked the location, start working on your lighting. There are plenty of low budget options for first time purchasers. I recommend buying at least two light sources, like clamp lights or desk lamps, with 100 watt equivalent CFL bulbs. Take a look at the bare necessities I put together on Amazon. You can get these four items for as little as $30. As your online presence develops, I encourage you to invest in equipment and software that may provide more quality.
Hoorah! You’ve made it this far. The only thing standing in between you and your first successful Skype lesson is the launch off. Make sure students and parents are prepared to take the call. It may be best for students to install Skype on their mobile devices (if applicable) to better reach them.
Be sure to check all your equipment a few minutes before making the call. Bulbs tend to go out at the worst possible times! It’s always nice to have backups. You’ll appreciate all the upfront efforts you put into your setup.
Once your call is accepted, conduct your lessons as you normally would. Be sure to make eye contact by staring directly at the camera lens. Try not spending too much time looking at yourself! Your first couple of calls may be a bit uncomfortable for you and students, but like trying anything new, it may take some getting used to. Be confident and clear with instruction, making it easy for students to listen and understand.
If you’re still unsure about how to conduct yourself, check out this session I found on YouTube. Great example! If you currently teach online, what are some other things to think about before getting started? Did I miss anything? Comment below and let us know your thoughts.