15 December 2009

0 What is all the Hype about Skype?

Webcamming and Skype are not new to the video conferencing world. Skype (as well as dimdim, iChat, oovoo, uStream) allow the user to make calls via the web to just about anyone. All that is really needed is a webcam, setting up an account and possibly downloading the program. Our district just recently unblocked Skype allowing us to move forward and spread the word to our teachers!

So…What exactly is Skype?
Skype is a free application that allows users to make free audio and video calls through their internet connection. Skype allows you to use 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. Additionally, the “free features” include instant messaging and group IMs, and conferences and video calls.

Why Use Skype in the Classroom?
Teachers are using Skype to connect their students with classrooms on the other side of the world or maybe just down the road, to collaborate on projects and to share materials.

“Skype opens the door to a wide range of activities that can improve student engagement and comprehension. Interacting with people from other states, countries, and continents helps students understand cultural differences, learn about history and social norms, and fine-tune foreign language skills.

Learning becomes increasingly authentic as it expands beyond the walls of the classroom, and being able to have a phone call or a video chat with someone on the other side of the world can make learning come alive. An inexpensive, widely accessible tool like Skype also encourages faculty and students to experiment with new techniques to facilitate engagement……” http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7032.pdf
Check out this post by Silvia Tolisano. She outlines not only how she has used Skype but why Skype is such a great resource for teachers.

Possible Ideas to Use Skype in the Classroom
The possibilities are endless on ways to use Skype in the Classroom. Here are just a few:
  • During Read Across America – Share reading to another class in another county or state.
  • Connect to pen pals (epals)
  • Learn about geography from students living in an area you are studying
  • Learn about another culture by connecting students to a classroom from that culture
  • Collaborate with another class on a joint research project
  • Help students hear native speakers when learning a foreign language
  • Connect with a teacher buddy in another state or town
  • Connect with student’s grandparents during Grandparent’s Day
  • Connect with a student in your class who may be out for an extended period of time.
  • Conduct interviews (Q&A’s with authors, artists, meteorologists, veterans, mathematicians, scientists, etc).
  • Connect with lower or higher grade levels and have students present mini-teaches.
Please visit my delicious bookmark for more resources about Skype.