The Scientist Engagement Working Group (SEW-G) has had great success using Skype, a free tool used for conference calls. The Production Team now conducts all of its weekly meetings via Skype, a huge benefit to the conference call budget. The software, available at http://www.skype.com, is free to install and works with both Mac and PC users, as well as with various types of internet connections. Once installed, users set up a profile and then invite others to join a contact list. All you need is a microphone and you're ready to conduct conference calls for up to 10 individuals for free, and the call quality is often superior to what you would normally find on a traditional landline. In addition, the software is expandable, allowing you to hook up a webcam for video calls and/or to share your desktop screen with other callers.
Other COSEE Network working groups and Centers are also utilizing Skype. For example, based on the success of the software, COSEE Central Gulf of Mexico is now using Skype to conduct their internal meetings, and is looking at ways to incorporate the software into their plans for teacher and scientist engagement in the future. So check it out and see how it works for you.
Contributed by Brian McCann