I'm new to Skype, and so far I think it's awesome. I wish it would've been invented when I lived abroad so I could have used it to communicate with family and friends back home. I've seen it used on T.V. shows and I've seen first-hand how it works with a friend. I've only had one Skype conversation so far with my brother. We used audio and I didn't experience any difficulties. Luckily, I already had a headset at home, so I was able to use that. I'm working on trying to set up times to Skype with others in the 13 Things class. I'll update this post when that happens. UPDATE: Last week I was able to Skype with a classmate, and it went well. It took us a minute to figure out how her microphone worked, but after that we were able to chat.
Skype would be so much fun to use in a foreign language classroom! I really liked an example of how it could work, so I posted that video on my blog. Basically the teacher would allow each student to come up to the projector screen and ask a question in Spanish to a student from a Spanish-speaking country. It's fun to watch the students' reactions on the video. They get so excited about actually using the language with a native speaker. I noticed, too, that the rest of the class was watching and listening fairly intently to their classmate. This is an excellent way to spark students' curiosity; they can formulate their own questions, they can learn in a second how easy it is to try using a new language, and they can listen to the voices of several native speakers.
I can't foresee too many potential problems. One is that I don't have a projector in my room right now, so I wouldn't be able to use the big screen. However, I could still schedule students a time on the student computer to try it out. Another option would be to ask a co-worker with a projector if we could swap rooms for the day. A third option might also be to use the projector in the computer lab; this might be an interesting option.
A second issue, then, is scheduling itself. I would have to schedule time to Skype with a teacher from a different country, and schedule the equipment and necessary facilities in my building.
I'm learning which of my friends already has a Skype account, so I can talk to them online. My one friend told me that her husband uses Skype to talk to his family back home in El Salvador.