Skype Alternative: 5 Apps to Host an Online Class (Bonus!)
Ok Skype, you’ve been with us for over a decade now. No matter your age, you’ve probably heard about Skype. Businesses, educators, and families have been using Skype to collaborate, teach, or exchange musings with a loved one. But right now, you might be looking for a Skype alternative, and we can’t blame you for that.
In this blog post, we gathered our favorite Skype alternatives, along with the reasons why we picked them. We also provided some helpful tips on keeping your students engaged using these platforms, so make sure you don’t miss that.
[Related: The Ultimate Guide To Making And Editing Educational Videos For Teachers]
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Why You Might Need Skype Alternative
Skype is one stellar communication app. It has helped thousands of businesses grow and expand. It has connected families that are thousands of miles away from each other, and it helped millions of students learn even when they’re at home.
For decades, Skype has truly been a helpful app. Yet, one way or the other, you might find yourself needing a Skype alternative, and here are the reasons why:
- The app is too heavy for you or your students’ device; thus it runs slowly.
- You’re looking for features that Skype does not provide.
- Your device does not support the latest version of Skype.
- Dummy accounts keep spamming you.
- People you don’t know connect with you and send explicit content.
- Your Skype account has been hacked.
- You don’t feel safe on Skype.
While Skype is an excellent app, it has received issues that raised concerns about security and privacy. Moreover, many of Skype’s latest features do not support older devices.
Security, privacy, and compatibility are key factors to consider in a video-conferencing app, especially if you’ll use it for your online classes, where most of your participants are probably minor and use different devices.
[Interesting: Internet Safety For Students: Teach Your Children About Internet Security]
The good news is that there are tons of communication apps in the market, and they’re just as good as Skype (some have better features and more refined security).
But don’t get us wrong. Skype is far from being extinct. Microsoft, the creator of Skype, has rebranded it into Skype for Business, which has better support, broader features, and superior security.
If you’re looking for a video-conferencing app for your online class, Skype is still an excellent choice. The current limit, however, is maxed up to 50 participants only. If you handle a class of more than the limit, it’s probably best to look for a Skype alternative.
Without further ado, here’s our list of Skype alternatives:
Five Skype Alternatives (Bonus)
Free and Paid | For as low as $14.99 per month
Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, Linux
You probably have heard about Zoom. During the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Zoom was used by 90,000 schools across 20 countries. And here’s another interesting fact: According to app tracking firm Apptopia, daily downloads for Zoom increased from about 1,700,000 in the middle of February to nearly 2.5 million in late March.
There’s no question that many people have turned to Zoom—not just because it was the trend but majorly because of its outstanding features.
When it comes to security, there have been reports about Zoombombing, where internet trolls crash into private Zoom meetings and interrupt by displaying explicit and disturbing imagery.
The issue has pushed the Zoom team to enhance their security and implement new features to keep trolls away. (To learn more about how you can protect your online class from Zoombombing, read our guide: Simple Zoom Tips To Protect Your Online Meetings From Zoombombing)
Zoom offers a wide range of features for collaboration and online classes. The whiteboard and annotation tools are perfect for showing math solutions, formulas, or highlighting key points. The screenshare feature makes teaching more manageable and more interactive.
Best of all, the free version can support up to 100 participants. The downside is that the free version has a 40-minute limit. By subscribing to their premium, you can organize webinars and invite a larger group of participants into your online classes without the time limit.
[Must Read: Zoom Meeting Vs. Webinar: How To Be The Perfect Host For Both]
Android, iOS, Windows, & macOS
Our next Skype alternative is Facebook Messenger. It’s free and widely available. We use it as an instant messaging app to connect with family and friends. It’s a great app that lets you send pictures, videos, fun stickers, voice clips, GIFs, and even important documents.
Facebook Messenger, however, is more than just an instant messaging app. You can use it for your online class, too. The best thing about this app is that almost everyone has it—your students certainly do. It supports major smartphone devices, and it’s available on desktop, too.
The latest update enables you to create a room that you can make public or private. The public room means everyone in your contacts can enter your room, while the private room provides a link that you can share with your students. Only those with the link can access your room.
Facebook Messenger now has a share screen feature that allows you to show your screen with your participants. The downside is that you cannot share your device’s audio. So, if you’re playing a presentation with sounds embedded in it, it’s not quite a good idea.
Nevertheless, if you use it to give a lecture, an interactive class, or feedback, then Facebook Messenger will do the job exceptionally well.
Connecting with younger students? Try Messenger Kids. It’s built with children in mind, guaranteeing a child-friendly environment.
[Must Read: Kids Mode: Why It’s Vital Against Online Threats]
Free and Paid | For as low as $6 per month
Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, Linux
Another excellent Skype alternative is Google Meet. It’s secure and designed for companies, organizations, and educational institutions. Use Google Meet to connect with up to 250 participants without ever compromising video quality.
Much like Zoom, Google Meet is equipped with several features ideal for online classes. You can share your screen with your students or record your class for later or for students who can’t attend your class.
Another prominent feature of Google Meet that makes it an excellent Skype alternative is that you can use it to make a live-stream with up to 100,000 in-domain viewers. This means school announcements or events are possible with Google Meet.
[Must Read: Teachers’ Guide on How to Prepare for Online Teaching in 2020]
Free and Paid | For as low as $6.67 per month
Android, iOS, Windows, macOS
When it comes to online classes, Slack is another impressive Skype alternative. Although we have all known Slack to be a communication tool for businesses and organizations, you can actually use it to hold online classes and communicate with your students.
The Free Plan lets you do a lot of things—create channels, send files, integrate third-party apps, and more. The downside is that you can only do a one-on-one video and voice call. This is ideal if you’re giving feedback, but to hold an online class, subscribing to their Standard Plan might be the best choice.
The Standard and Plus Plans let you do a video call with up to 15 participants—this is perfect if you handle a small class.
Slack is available on several platforms, including Android and iOS.
[Interesting: How To Keep The “Human” Element In Online Teaching]
Cisco Webex Meetings
Free and Premium | For as low as $13.50 per month
Android, iOS, Windows, MacOS
Thanks to video conferencing apps, teachers can continue doing what they love the most: teaching. And students continue to learn even when schools are indefinitely shut down.
Cisco Webex Meeting is another superior Skype alternative. While it’s designed with businesses and entrepreneurs in mind, you can use all of its features to hold online classes and make them more fun and interactive.
Use Cisco Webex Meeting to conduct live or recorded classes. The whiteboard tool is best for illustrating ideas, collaborating, and brainstorming. Share important documents and resources, and connect with your students in high-definition.
Cisco Webex Meeting is truly an outstanding Skype alternative to host an online class.
[Related: Teachers’ Guide To Preparing An ELearning Lesson]
Free and Paid | For as low as $9.99 per month
Android, iOS, Windows, macOS
Discord is a popular streaming platform. Gamers use it to communicate with teammates or other players while in-game. But this platform is not just for gaming. It’s a top-tier Skype alternative that you can use to conduct online classes.
The free version lets you call up to 50 participants (the previous limit was 10 participants and was upped in consideration of the COVID-19 pandemic). Share your screen with just a few clicks and conduct a fun and engaging lesson using Discord’s clean and user-friendly interface.
Discord is relatively easy to use. It’s available in different various platforms, including Android, iOS, and desktop. You can use the desktop app or access it via your browser.
Tip: Keep Your Students Engaged Using These Skype Alternatives
Using the best Skype alternative plays an important role in keeping students engaged in your class. Yet, truth be told, your teaching methods are what makes or breaks your student’s attention.
Our attention span has decreased to insanely eight seconds. That’s right, it only takes up to eight seconds before your students start turning their attention to their cats and dogs. Before your students “drift away,” make sure to do something to keep their attention.
[Read This: Student Learning Outcomes: Why You’re Not Achieving Them Well Online]
Use animated teaching methods to keep them listening. Ask questions and encourage them to speak out their ideas and thoughts regarding a specific topic. Use hand movements, facial expressions, and modulation to keep them interested.
On the technical side, use a high-quality camera and microphone (getting good quality external webcam and headphones is way better than using the built-ins that come with your laptop).
To learn more about how you can make your online class more engaging, read our guide: Defy Online Teaching: Creative Ways To Keep Students Engaged
Skype is a great app in many ways: it enables you to see your students virtually, it does an excellent job sending messages and files, and it’s easy to use. However, there might be reasons why you need to look for Skype alternatives.
The good news is that you won’t fall short in options. In this blog post, we discussed five (plus one) amazing alternatives to Skype:
- Facebook Messenger
- Google Meet
- Cisco Webex Meeting
Go ahead and give these alternatives a try, and let us know what you think.
Is Skype call free?
Skype to Skype calls are totally free. Charges may incur when making voice calls, voice messages, texts, or calls to landline or cell outside Skype.
What mobile messaging apps do you recommend?
WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook Messenger, and Slack are some of the best and secure messaging apps available.
Is Zoom better than Skype?
Both platforms have their own advantages. Skype is ideal for organizations or teams that look for holistic business solutions, while Zoom is perfect for frequent meetings, online classes, and webinars.
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