Skype videoconferencing software allows students to meet—virtually—with someone anywhere in the world, in real time, and at no cost. With Skype, the classroom walls open so students can learn from a worldwide audience, connect with other cultures, and expand their knowledge
Skype allows users to communicate with peers by audio, video, and instant messaging over the Internet. Students can learn from other students, connect with other cultures, and expand their knowledge and perspectives. All that is needed is a computer with a high-speed Internet connection, a Webcam, and a headset with a microphone.
Getting Started and Using Skype
You need an Internet connected computer with a webcam and a headset with a microphone.
Download and install Skype onto your computer.
Follow the tutorial for downloading and using Skype.
Field Trips - Bring the field trip to your classroom using Skype.
Foreign Language Study- Practice foreign languages with native speakers.
Interviews – Have students conduct interviews or be interviewed. Place students in groups and have them send the Skype feed to the classroom for all to watch.
Author Visits/ Guest Lecturers - Invite writers or other distinguished guests to your classroom via Skype.
Cultural Exchange – Learn about another culture or community.
Inclusion – Help a classmate join the classroom from home.
Present a Performance - Whether your class performs a play, demonstrates a science experiment, or presents the results of a class project, share their works with other classes, parents, or other interested people.
Share Field Trips with Others - If your class embarks on a field trip, connect with others to share the experience.
Skype Ideas for Educators
Professional Development - Access professional development opportunities, such as watching conference presentations via Skype
Share Students’ Work with Parents – Provide parents a first-hand look at their children’s learning via Skype.
Receive Teaching Feedback – Invite a mentor teacher to watch you teach via Skype and receive valuable feedback.
Finding Collaborators Using Skype
There are many ways to connect with others using Skype in classrooms.
ePALS - Sign up for a free account, then find other teachers and classes around the globe using Skype.
Voicethread is an interactive, online slide show. Students can comment on their slides and as they talk they can use a pencil to write on the screen to further explain their reasoning. For example, third graders could be drawing and commenting on arrays to explain how they would solve the array by grouping or splitting the array in some way that allows them to come up with the answer, other than using a simple multiplication sentence. Furthermore, students can comment on each others’ work and people around the world with Voicethread accounts can also comment on student work should you opt to open the voicethread to public viewing. It is easy to use and it is a great collaboration tool!
PLEASE NOTE: There is an educational version of this tool located HERE and if your school is interested your library can purchase a license with 50 users and your school can share the tool throughout the year.
Students will use engaging technologies in collaborative, inquiry-based learning environments with teachers who are willing and able to use technology’s power to assist them in transforming knowledge and skills into products, solutions and new information.
What is a 21st Century Learner?
You may have heard the term “digital natives” to describe today’s students and “digital immigrants” to describe today’s educators. Teachers are working with students whose entire lives have been immersed in the 21st century media culture.
Today’s students are digital learners – they literally take in the world via the filter of computing devices: the cellular phones, handheld gaming devices, PDAs, and laptops they take everywhere, plus the computers, TVs, and game consoles at home.
A survey by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation found that young people (ages 8-18) mainline electronic media for more than six hours a day, on average. Many are multitasking – listening to music while surfing the Web or instant-messaging friends while playing a video game.
Even toddlers utilize multimedia devices and the Internet with tools such as handheld video games like Leapster and web sites such as www.PBSkids.org and www.Nick.com. Preschoolers easily navigate these electronic, multimedia resources on games in which they learn colors, numbers, letters, spelling, and more complex tasks such as mixing basic colors to create new colors, problem-solving activities, and reading.
However, as Dr. Michael Wesch points out, although today’s students understand how to access and utilize these tools, many of them are used for entertainment purposes only, and the students are not really media literate.
We need to use the tools to enable our students to become truly media literate as they function in an online collaborative, research-based environment – researching, analyzing, synthesizing, critiquing, evaluating and creating new knowledge!
A wiki is an online document that can be edited by multiple authors.
“A wiki is software that allows users to create, edit, and link web pages easily. Wikis are often used to create collaborative websites and to power community websites. These wiki websites are often also referred to as wikis.” (Wikipedia)