Saturday, July 11, 2009

Bringing the World into Your Classroom with Skype

It can sometimes be quite costly to bring a speaker into the classroom. Depending upon the presenter, teachers sometimes need to cover the cost of transportation, lodging, as well as an honorarium for the speaker. Field trips can be a logistical nightmare. From organizing the venue, collecting permissions slips and ticket money, to arranging for transportation, getting a classroom full of students organized for an outing can leave a teacher at wits end. Which is too bad since these authentic learning experiences are often times the ones that stick with students. An alternative? Bring the speaker or field trip to you using Skype.

Skype is a free application that allows users to make free audio and video calls through their internet connection. Skype is a type of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) application, which uses your dial-up or broadband connection to make free calls over the internet. You can use Skype to connect with one person or a group. It features a chat function, file sharing, audio and video connections, and so much more. Teachers are using Skype to connect their students with classrooms on the other side of the world, to collaborate on projects, and to share materials.

WHY USE SKYPE?
  • Check out this wonderful post by Silvia Tolisano, an edublogger who writes at Langwitches. In it, she outlines not only how she has used Skype but why Skype is such a great resource for teachers.
  • Not convinced? Watch this. Brian Crosby's fourth grade class connects to a classmate via Skype.
USING SKYPE IN THE CLASSROOM:
Below you will find examples of how teachers have used Skype with their students. Their reflections offer insights on the benefits as well as the complications encountered when they opened up their classroom doors.

Connect your class to virtual pen pals

Help students hear native speakers when learning a foreign language

Collaborate with another class on a joint research project

Bring authors into your classroom via a Skype

Learn about another culture by connecting students to a classroom from that culture

Learn about geography from students living in an area you are studying

Bring professionals from your content area to "speak" in your classroom

Conduct interviews

Create pod- and screencasts with students from other parts of the world

Study the same book with another class and hold web book talks

Have students in your class create virtual presentations for students in other schools

Attend a webinar with your students


GETTING STARTED WITH SKYPE:
TOOLS FOR SKYPE:
  • The Skype in Schools page offers a good list of Skype add-ons.
  • Skype has a cool list of applications made with teachers in mind. Download them today!
  • Recorder for Skype - Collaborating with another school on a project and want to record your Skype call so you can replay the audio later? Use the Skype Call Recorder to create podcasts of your calls.
MAKING CONNECTIONS:
Use these links to find other teachers and classroom projects to connect to
  • Sue Waters at The Edublogger has put together this list of teachers interested in using Skype in their classroom. It is organized by country and subject area.
  • This is an excellent directory of teachers organized by state. Add you information if you are interested in connecting with other classrooms.
  • Also, check out the resources that I've collected through my Delicious account.
RESOURCES:
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