Alternatives to Skype - Google Hangout?

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Ramon Amira
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Alternatives to Skype - Google Hangout?

Post by Ramon Amira » Wed Aug 15, 2018 11:10 pm

I have been moving my teaching practice more and more toward Skype, as it means far less wear and tear of traveling to my students’ homes, and moreover allows more of my available time for teaching.

However, I am unhappy with many aspects of Skype. I needn’t provide a litany, but I am actively looking into alternatives. One that has come to my attention is Google Hangout, which includes a one to one video chat. Is anyone familiar with this, and if so how well does it work. Thanks for any help, and also for any other suggestions for a one on one video chat suitable for teaching.

Ramon
Classical and Flamenco guitar lessons via Skype worldwide - Classical and Flamenco guitars from Spain

mainterm
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Re: Alternatives to Skype - Google Hangout?

Post by mainterm » Thu Aug 16, 2018 2:14 pm

Ramon Amira wrote:
Wed Aug 15, 2018 11:10 pm
I have been moving my teaching practice more and more toward Skype, as it means far less wear and tear of traveling to my students’ homes, and moreover allows more of my available time for teaching.

However, I am unhappy with many aspects of Skype. I needn’t provide a litany, but I am actively looking into alternatives. One that has come to my attention is Google Hangout, which includes a one to one video chat. Is anyone familiar with this, and if so how well does it work. Thanks for any help, and also for any other suggestions for a one on one video chat suitable for teaching.

Ramon
I don’t regularly use Skype like technology for teaching, but I did have a student who moved away and we used this technology to continue lessons. I knew about Skype video calls already and was also aware of Google hangouts, so going in to lessons this way, I already had planned to use whichever worked the best. I ended up using both - one as the backup plan for the other when the video/audio stopped working well. In the end I suspected that they are essentially the same in function, and are equally subject to network issues - e.g. bandwidth, servers, distance etc.

I ultimately opted to not hold lessons this way due to latency, audio problems, connections being dropped etc. this may be a function of my local rural infrastructure while teaching in a large city with higher-end isp packages could be very different I suppose. And presumably there are router configurations which would mitigate issues with video calls.

RobMacKillop
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Re: Alternatives to Skype - Google Hangout?

Post by RobMacKillop » Thu Aug 16, 2018 3:04 pm

I teach via Skype, Google Hangouts, and FaceTime. The problem is remembering which student uses which - sometimes I forget to write it down with his or her booking, and then I have to guess, once or twice wrongly. I would like to just use one system, and the one that is universal is Skype. The student doesn't need a Google account or own an Apple iMac or iPad. As for which is the best, they are all pretty much the same in quality, in my experience.

Ramon Amira
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Re: Alternatives to Skype - Google Hangout?

Post by Ramon Amira » Thu Aug 16, 2018 3:45 pm

RobMacKillop wrote:
Thu Aug 16, 2018 3:04 pm
I teach via Skype, Google Hangouts, and FaceTime. The problem is remembering which student uses which - sometimes I forget to write it down with his or her booking, and then I have to guess, once or twice wrongly. I would like to just use one system, and the one that is universal is Skype. The student doesn't need a Google account or own an Apple iMac or iPad. As for which is the best, they are all pretty much the same in quality, in my experience.
Thanks Rob –

I generally get along okay with Skype, and you learn to live with the occasional problems, but a few days ago I had a real big problem, and for the third successive lesson with the same student, so it has to be something with his setup.

What happened was a serious sync problem. The audio and video is never in perfect sync with Skype, but usually it’s close enough so that it’s not a problem. But with this student, the audio is preceding the video sometimes by three full beats, so it’s impossible. I’m seeing his fingers moving in time to the strokes he played three seconds ago, and I can’t properly analyze what he’s doing right or wrong.

Have you ever had that bad a sync problem, and/or can you think of any reason why it should happen, and why all the time with just the one same student.

Ramon
Classical and Flamenco guitar lessons via Skype worldwide - Classical and Flamenco guitars from Spain

simonm
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Re: Alternatives to Skype - Google Hangout?

Post by simonm » Thu Aug 16, 2018 4:59 pm

Ramon Amira wrote:
Thu Aug 16, 2018 3:45 pm
...
Have you ever had that bad a sync problem, and/or can you think of any reason why it should happen, and why all the time with just the one same student.

Ramon
I don't use Skype but have used other systems for work. Sounds like a bad internet connection on the students end. Maybe the student lives in Styxville.

RobMacKillop
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Re: Alternatives to Skype - Google Hangout?

Post by RobMacKillop » Thu Aug 16, 2018 5:02 pm

Only, like you, with a particular student,and we decided his modem wasn't up to the job. Occasionally I'll have a problem with someone who is otherwise always fine. It happens. But never three times in a row with the same student. Something wrong there.

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Adrian Allan
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Re: Alternatives to Skype - Google Hangout?

Post by Adrian Allan » Thu Aug 16, 2018 5:36 pm

Try Cisco Spark.

Better than Skype and universities tend to use it for conferencing.
D'Ammassa Spruce/Spruce Double Top

DCGillrich
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Re: Alternatives to Skype - Google Hangout?

Post by DCGillrich » Thu Aug 30, 2018 3:23 am

I receive live lessons by teachers based in or near New York (12,000 km away). I also participate in live guitar "meetings" online. We use Zoom for these sessions. I also use Skype, Skype for Business, and WebEx for business related meetings, usually involving several participants from various countries, some in developing countries. In terms of video/audio quality, they are all more or less the same in my experience.

Unless you are using corporate systems with a dedicated wide-area network (WAN), any video/audio connections will travel through the normal, world-wide internet. All packets of information travelling through the public internet have the same priority, irrespective of whether its video, audio, email, web-browsing, whatever. The data packets travel through myriads of servers, and data packets compete to use the same transmission lines and servers, often queuing before being sent on. The user experience depends on the local broadband connection and internet provider's levels of service, other data traffic loads, internal modem configuration/type, and house/office wiring. [As an aside, I just had a recent experience at my own home where the internet wiring connections under the house had been made using simple screw (electrical) joints some 15 years ago. The joints had slowly corroded affecting data transmission speeds (down to 0.8 Mbps). Once the joints were replaced with proper telecom gel-crimp connectors, the speed was immediately back to the maximum for ADSL of 8--10 Mbps.]

There will always be a lag between users depending on distance. In a discussion recently involving two people who wanted to practice duos across the Atlantic (USA to UK), someone with a telcom background said the best case, minimum latency would be 200 ms. That is roughly the time of a semiquaver at a moderate pace each direction! Most often, the lag will be more, although still acceptable for one way instruction.

For cases where students are experiencing severe problems with internet speed, you could ask them to do an internet speed test (ping time, upload/download speed). There will be plenty of speed test sites available in most country that operate straight out of a web browser (a Google search will find them easily).

In terms of which system is best for teaching, if the video quality is more or less the same, perhaps consider which is easiest to use for both the student and teacher. Personally, I have found Zoom has the most intuitive, easy to understand interface. The user buttons and features are readily displayed and easy to find. The teacher can toggle audio on/off if there are several participants (helps remove feedback and extraneous noise). It is easy to do screen sharing to display music, to annotate, or display other resources. Ever since an upgrade about 18 months ago, I found the personal Skype interface cumbersome. Yes, the interface looks very clean, but that means user features are hidden away. Doing simple tasks such as video/mic testing, screen sharing, creating URL links for meetings, and adding new participants live have become harder and not intuitive. At least, that is my experience and opinion.

Cheers... Richard

Jack Douglas
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Re: Alternatives to Skype - Google Hangout?

Post by Jack Douglas » Thu Aug 30, 2018 12:32 pm

No one mentioned ‘WhatsApp’. To be clear, I don’t teach, but I do communicate internationally. I have tried Skype with spotty success. I switched to WhatsApp that has a FaceTime and regular audio choice and like it a lot. I always use it when I’m logged in on a WIFI Network, but I’m not certain that’s a requirement on both ends. For example, I received a WhatsApp FaceTime call from my daughter in Italy while riding her new bicycle.
I’m curious if anyone else uses with success, WhatsApp.
Richard Brune 'Artist' Cedar/Brazilian 1996

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