I found the following quote from Best practice in online teaching
It is always important to remember that in the online environment, we present ourselves in text. Because it is a flat medium, we need to make an extra effort to humanize the environment. In the face-to-face classroom, students have the opportunity to get to know one another as people--before or after class, during classroom discussions, and in other campus locations such as the student lounge. In the online environment, we need to create these opportunities more purposefully" (Palloff & Pratt, 2001, p. 32).
Palloff, R.M., & Pratt, K. (2001). Lessons from the cyberspace classroom: The realities of online teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
This clarifies our use of skype as an out of classroom communication tool for us as students in this course and the potential for this type of tool for students in the future. There are some sound files at this site that I am going to try to find time to have a listen to.