What is Skype

Skype is an online platform for making video and voice calls, one-to-one or between groups. Skype also has instant text message features, screen sharing and document sharing capabilities.

What is the purpose of Skype

Skype enables video and voice calling through the internet rather than a landline or cell phone. Through its use of the internet, calls between two or more Skype users are free with a Skype account. Calls can be made between a Skype user and landline or cellular numbers at a cost. With it’s video capabilities, Skype allows callers to both see and hear one another, adding the value to the call. It is regularly used for video-conferencing and calls between people who wish to see one another and/or share materials (documents or screen views).

How to use Skype

Access Skype through Skype for Web or download the desktop app. If you are a new user, create an account to get started. To place a call to another Skype user, you must first add them as a Contact. All Skype users are searchable by their first/last name, username, and email address. Inviting a contact sends that individual an invitation that must be accepted before calls can be made between the users. Calls can be set up between two users or between a group of users. See Skype help documentation for how-to instructions on a variety of tasks including one-to-one calling, calls between groups, messaging, and sharing.

For teaching and learning purposes, Skype may be most valuable in facilitating long-distance meetings, conversations, conference calls, or office hours. With the use of screen and document sharing, users can share a variety of materials and resources to supplement their call.

Where to find Support

This tool is not centrally supported

Help and Documentation

For help, please refer to the Skype documentation

Tool Evaluation

Functionality overall rating: 1 starsFunctionality

Rating Rationale
Scale rating: 1 stars


While Skype supports multi-person conference calls, the tool would not be ideal for calls between groups of 5 or more

Ease of use rating:3 stars

Ease of Use

Skype has a user-friendly interface that is easy to navigate and personalize

Tech Support/ Help Availability rating: 2 stars

Tech Support/Help Availability

Technical support and help documentation is available from Skype. Western-based technical support/help documentation is not available.

Hypermediality rating: 3 stars


Skype and its video, audio, and text chat features, allows users to communicate through different channels (audio, visual, textual) and allows for non-sequential, flexible/adaptive engagement with material (i.e. text chat is automatically saved)

Accessibility overall rating: 2 starsAccessibility

Rating Rationale
AODA Friendly rating: 3 stars

AODA Friendly

Skype offers various assistive features to help people with disabilities. Features generally align with AODA standards for accessibility (W3C WCAG 2.0 Standards).

User Foused Participation rating: 2 stars

User-focused participation

Given the Hypermediality of the tool, Skype has some capacity to address the needs of diverse users, their various literacies, and capabilities

Required Equipment rating: 2 stars

Required Equipment

Proper use of Skype requires equipment that is common and/or purchased at a low cost (microphone, speakers, and camera, etc.). Broadband internet is recommended (the recommended minimum download/upload speed is 1000kps for basic calling).

Technical overall rating: 1 starsTechnical

Rating Rationale
OWL Integration rating: 1 stars

OWL Integration

Users must login to the Skype web plugin or Skype app. Either version of the tool cannot be imbedded in OWL. A link to the Skype web plugin could be incorporated.

Operating Systems rating: 3 stars

Operating Systems

Users can effectively utilize Skype with any standard, up-to-date operating system. See specific system requirements for running Skype on different operating systems

Web Browser rating: 3 stars

Web Browser

The Skype web plugin can effectively be utilized with most standard, up-to-date web browsers (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Internet Explorer). The Skype web plugin is not supported on Windows RT, Linux, and Chromebooks.

Additional Tech Requirements rating: 3 stars

Additional Tech Requirements

Users can effectively utilize Skype without any browser extensions or downloaded software

Mobile Design overall rating: 1 star Mobile Design

Rating Rationale
Mobile Operating Systems rating: 3 stars

Mobile Operating Systems

Skype is fully functional with a range of electronic mobile devices (laptops, tablets, touchscreens, mobile devices, etc.) See What are the best mobile devices to use with Skype?

Mobile Functionality rating: 2 stars

Mobile Functionality

Basic features of the main tool are functional on the mobile app but advanced features (i.e.. screen share) are limited

Offline Access rating: 1 star

Offline Access

Skype requires internet access. The platform cannot be used in any capacity offline

Usage and account set up overall rating: 1 starsUsage and Account Set Up

Rating Rationale
Sign Up/Sign In rating: 1 stars

Sign Up/Sign In

All users (instructors and students) must create an external account or additional login, and/or personal information is collected

Cost of Use rating:  3 stars

Cost of Use

Common aspects of Skype can be used free of charge (free calling anywhere in the world between Skype accounts). A fee structure exists for SMS text messages and making calls between a Skype account and a landline or cellular number.

Archiving Saving and Exporting Data rating: 2 star

Archiving, Saving, and Exporting Data

There are limitations to archiving, saving, or importing/exporting content or activity data. Skype does not support the ability to record video conversations, however third-party software could be used to record, if desired.

Data Privacy and Ownership rating: 3 star

Data Privacy and Ownership

Users maintain ownership and copyright of their intellectual property/data; the user can keep data private and decide if/how data is to be shared

Social Presence overall rating: 2 starsSocial Presence

Rating Rationale
Collaboration rating: 3 stars


Skype has the capacity to support a community of learning through both asynchronous and synchronous opportunities for communication, interactivity, and transfer of meaning between users

User Accountability rating: 2 stars

User Accountability

Instructors cannot control student anonymity (i.e.. users can create an account with any username that is not tied to student ID) but the tool provides some solution for holding students accountable for their actions

Diffusion rating: 3 star


Skype is widely known and popular, it’s likely that most students are familiar with the tool and have basic technical competence with it

Instructor Presence overall rating: 3 starsInstructor Presence

Rating Rationale
Facilitation rating:3 stars


Skype has easy-to-use features that would significantly improve an instructor’s ability to be present with students via active management, monitoring, and engagement

Customization rating: 3 stars


Skype is adaptable (i.e.. use of screen sharing, text chat, video calling), easily customized to suit the intended context of use

Learning Analytics rating: na stars

Learning Analytics

As a video conferencing tool, Skype is not intended to support collection of learning analytics

Cognitive Presence overall rating: 2 starsCognitive Presence

Rating Rationale
Enhancement of Cognitive Task(s) rating: 2 stars

Enhancement of Cognitive Task(s)

Enabling the ability to connect “face-to-face” through video, the tool enables functional improvement to engagement in the targeted cognitive tasks such as dialogue and communication

Higher Order Thinking rating: 2 stars

Higher Order Thinking

Skype may engage students in higher order thinking skills (given consideration to design, facilitation, and direction from instructor)

Feedback on Learning rating:2 stars

Feedback on Learning

Skype may be used to facilitate opportunities for receiving formative feedback on learning

Security and Privacy

This tool has not been formally reviewed by Western’s Technology Risk Assessment Committee

Security and Privacy Flags

Information Collection

  • Application collects information that could identify the user specifically (email address, class schedule, etc..)


  • Application's Terms of Conditions or End User License Agreement poses a risk of binding the institution to an agreement thereby requiring legal counsel to review the application. However, this is mitigated as it has undergone legal review during the Technology Risk Assessment process.

Last Updated: January 21, 2020


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