Skype is a technology that has been around for over ten years and it’s a service that most tech-savvy teachers are quite familiar with. But what about using Skype for learning? As a free portal to any person or place on the planet, Skype Classroom really is an amazing tool to connect your class with the rest of the world.
Access: Email/Facebook/Twitter/Microsoft signup
A Quick Look
This video created by Skype Classroom shows one of the many possibilities that the tool can open up. Creating conversations with people around the world is an experience for students that not only puts their learning into perspective, but can truly inspire them to see beyond the classroom walls.
1. Skype field trip
Taking your class to exotic and interesting places via Skype is absolutely one of the most popular and amazing experience for students. Pre-organized Skype field trips can be found on Skype’s education site, or you can set up your own if you have a particular place or presenter in mind. Have your students prepare as if going on a real field trip, with relevant worksheets and equipment to take notes and record the adventure.
2. Meet inspiring heroes
Organizing for your class to meet real people in real jobs is an excellent way to give stale activities a bit more meaning. If you are studying the ocean, consider Skyping with a Marine Biologist. Writing? Perhaps an author. As with field trips, professionals and guest speakers can be found using the Skype education site, or organized independently. Have your students prepare beforehand and have questions and queries at the ready.
3. Exploring other cultures
Being free, there is no difference in cost between Skyping with a class down the road or a class on the other side of the planet. Use this to your advantage when studying other cultures or languages and pair up with schools from around the globe. This could be a single meetup for students to ask questions and share their thoughts or a weekly discussion where students get to know each other and make friends from completely different countries.
4. Staff professional development
Using Skype to share ideas between different schools is an excellent way to broaden your PLN and provide a different type of professional development. Start small with a school you are already close to and organize a mini-conference or joint staff meeting. Once your staff are comfortable with that, start branching out to schools in different states and countries. If you are struggling to connect, try using Twitter chats as a tool to meet other like minded schools and educators.
5. Mystery Skype lesson
One of the most wonderful games that Skype Classroom has made possible is Mystery Skype. This is essentially where two classes from anywhere in the world are paired together. Students must then guess the location of the other classroom by asking each other questions. A hilariously fun, fascinating and truly educational experience. Check out this video of a Mystery Skype in action.
Links and Next Steps
- How to join Skype in the classroom – Tutorial video from Skype team
- How to create a lesson on Skype – Tutorial video from Skype team
- Skype Classroom on Twitter and Facebook – Best way to keep updated
- Cool Ways to Use Skype in the Classroom – Ideas from TeachHUB
- Skype in the Classroom and the Extraordinary Lesson
- Skype in the classroom lessons – Virtual field trip examples
- Mystery Skype – Class experience walk-through
- Celebrating Top Ways to Use Skype in the Classroom – Skype blog
- Skype in the Classroom slide deck – Presentation from ISTE 2014
- 7 Tips for a Great Group Chat on Skype
Feature image courtesy of Flickr, Marcin Wichary.