Who Could You Skype?
Making real world connections is such an important part of bringing relevance and context to your classroom content. With video tools such as Skype you can bring in authors, statisticians, scientists, diplomats, native speakers, World War II vets, even other classrooms directly into your room. Just imagine the educational value this type of activity can bring to your class!
Skype is actually interested in you doing just this (imagine that) and they have created the site Skype in the Classroom to help you make connections with people and groups around the world. You should definitely check it out! Additionally, there are Skype classroom directories out there specifically for teachers and I've found that if you email teachers located in International Schools they are often willing to engage in class-to-class discussions (studying China? Email Shanghai American School). Just pay attention to the time zones.
A Few Skype Tips
- Use cables - directly connect your computer to the projector and Internet (if possible).
- Check the audio - make sure you have your computer connected to a nice set of speakers of classroom audio system.
- Use a quality microphone - If students are going to be asking questions a nice microphone is critical. With Cara's class we used a Blue Snowball (you can see it to the left of the laptop in the picture above) so students could ask questions from anywhere in the room.
- Full screen video - If the bandwidth is working great, use full screen video for the best quality experience. If you notice things starting to slow down or get "jerky" go ahead and make the screen smaller, this should help tremendously.
- Have a plan B - Sometimes there will be issues, Skype may freeze or lockup. Sometimes the "call" gets dropped. Plan ahead of time what you will do if you have these issues. With Cara's class, the video worked most of the time but at one point we had to go audio only since the bandwidth in Nepal was not playing nicely.
Skype can literally provide a window to the entire world right in your classroom. Amazing times we live in... take advantage of it!
50 Interesting Ways to Use Skype in the Classroom
10 Ways to Use Skype to Learn - includes a link to a Skype classroom directory
How Teachers Use Skype in the Classroom - From Time Magazine
Have You Used Skype for Learning? If so, let us know about it in the comments below!