How to Use Skype for Skills Training

How to Use Skype for Skills Training

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I have a love/hate relationship with Skype. So do you. VOIP and video chat are only as good as the weakest connection—usually mine. But I must admit I can’t do without it. What I’ve noticed recently, however, is that most people don’t realize how Skype can be used for training. Here’s the answer.

Organizations rely on Skype (and other VOIP/video apps) for live calls, meetings, screen sharing, and presentations. Trainers also use it to conduct live webinars. However, the real secret for trainers is not Skype’s live connection, but the ability to record conversations and meetings.

These recordings are potential training gold. They can be best practice examples, trainee rehearsal/reinforcement sessions, or “challenge” assignments. They are invaluable, whether the subject matter is sales, customer service, or any skill involving two-way interaction.

With a little practice, capturing Skype sessions is quite easy. Using them effectively in training is another matter. It takes planning—and a good online learning system.

recordskypeSkype Recording Basics

Skype itself does not yet include native recording, but the support site lists several free or low-cost Skype recording applications. Many of these depend on Adobe Flash, so (for now) this will be easier to do on PCs with webcams than on mobile devices.

If you don’t use Skype, don’t worry. Google Hangouts has it’s own, somewhat convoluted process. Paid services, like GoToMeeting or WebEx, typically include built-in recording capabilities.

Making and saving a Skype recording is usually straightforward. Depending on where you live, you’ll probably need permission to record.

Skype recordings are an affordable alternative to high-end videography. But that’s no reason to ignore good production values. Invest in a decent webcam and microphone, make sure you have good lighting, and try to record in a low-noise environment. Your fellow team members will thank you.

Using Skype Recordings in a Learning Portal

Simply hosting a Skype video file on YouTube does little to advance learning. To achieve skill-specific learning outcomes, you need the right online learning environment, like Viddler Training Suite (VTS). Skype videos or audios can be used in different ways:

  • Practice reinforcement – One of VTS’ more powerful features is the ability to assign practice sessions, have team members record themselves, and upload the best “take”—which is evaluated by the team leader and/or other team members. With Skype recordings, two or more team members can practice together, including screen sharing and visual presentations, and submit the results as a video. With a customer’s permission, this even extends to live sales or support calls—both video and audio-only.
  • Core training content – As you build your library of practice sessions and recorded presentations, you’ll find some real gems. With VTS, you can add them to existing training videos, with the system’s seamless playlist feature, or on their own. To each playlist or video, you can also add in-line comments or links, multiple choice questions, and even related, non-video documents.

Planning for Success

As with any training program, the video elements must reflect your overall training strategy. This applies to recorded Skype video. Forcing your trainees to view hours of Skype calls will have the same lack of results as hours of ordinary, non-interactive video footage. Fortunately, Viddler Training Suite provides far more than secure playback.

skypevtsvideocontent

For starters, rate the sessions. A training assignment could be two team members practicing an interaction on Skype, as shown above. To each uploaded recording, you can add a series of evaluation questions. These are completed by the trainer or team leader—or possibly by other team members—and used to track learning progress.

VTS also facilitates group discussions about a recorded interaction. Team members can add comments and replies to any point in the timeline. They can also add private notes or bookmarks to a Skype video. If a practice session is “promoted” and used as an example, the trainer can add multiple choice questions to any point in the timeline, or attach related documents to the video.

Skype recordings need not be limited to team role-play. With the customer’s permission, recorded sessions of actual calls can be invaluable training tools for teams like customer support.

Think about all the ways you use Skype (or a similar service) in your business. Imagine what you could do if that activity could be recorded and used for training. Then imagine using those recordings interactively—in a secure, measurable way. The mind boggles.

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Written by John Parsons

John Parsons is a writer, consultant, and business analyst for the communications, publishing, and training industries. He has written numerous articles, white papers, case studies, blogs, and other material for national publications and business clients. At Viddler, he leads the communications and business development efforts for the company's online sales training, interactive video training, and sales enablement efforts.