Why I have a web camera
This is not going to happen today or tomorrow, but someday in the future, in order to save driving time, I might occasionally set up an experimental ESL lesson over the web. I used to Skype with friends, but I found out how dangerous that can be to my computer system, since Skype does not have its own network of servers to use. Because they do not, I found out, Skype uses computers of its members to carry the program, leaving me vulnerable for hacking AND, even more importantly, slowing my system down during Skype's busiest times.
Google, however, has the same VOIP, with their own servers, that will leave my system free for ME to use. I will download their program that is also free and ask that my target student do the same. Then with the same materials in front of us both, I can have a face-to-face training with a student from the comfort of my own home office and I will not be using gas and time for the commute. Sounds ideal, doesn't it? I can envision some problems, mostly technical, such as, what if my student's ability using a computer does not parallel mine -- as in they know more and use shortcuts I can't even imagine, or they have less knowledge than I do (hard to imagine that scenario). Or there is a power failure that impairs one or both computer systems. There are other problems that are just too hard to imagine. But these kinds of issues can be dealt with as they arise and solutions will present themselves, I'm sure.
One of the advantages of the WyzAnt system as it stands is the hands-on, face to actual face contact, so I would not want to use this as a permanent solution to rising gas prices, but if I were ill with a contagious disease, such as the flu, and there was a child at risk in my student's home, I can see this as a real advantage. So, I will continue to think about the reasons for and the reasons against using a web camera for WyzAnt students, and take steps to prepare myself for the future -- the far, far future.