skype-in-the-classroom

Skype in the classroom encourages collaboration across oceans

March 30, 2011 at 4:28 PM ET

It's a small world, after all, when you can Skype from your classroom.

But now, Skype is not just the means by which far away students and teachers can communicate with each other, it's also a destination for teachers to exchange resources and ideas, as well as collaborate on projects.

The video conferencing company has launched Skype in the classroom, a free community created to help teachers all over the world who use Skype to help their students learn. In this virtual space, teachers can connect with each other, find classes to partner with and share each other's stories.

Skype declares, "This is a global initiative that was created in response to the growing number of teachers using Skype in their classrooms."

It's been in beta mode for a little while, but now that it's live, it's taking off. More than 5000 teachers have embarked on 70+ projects and shared or provided more than 300 resources (videos, links, tips, etc.).

The newest 100 teachers are pinned on a global Google map on the main page. Clicking on any of those will bring up the teacher's profile. Looks like teachers are signing in from all over the world, with a high concentration in the U.S., Europe and South America. There are also a smattering of teachers in places like Guam, China and Russia.

If they don't already have one, teachers create a Skype account. Then, they can tag themselves in several categories, including Classroom exchange, Lesson examples, Guest speaker and Hints and tips. All the major school subject areas are covered too. Then, they describe what they're looking for from other teachers. Teachers also need to identify their location and language, provide a website or blog if they want to and student age ranges.

Skype in the classroom teacher directory

The forum is already bubbling over with all kinds of projects, which range from language lessons to building leadership to "the use of real-time 3D computer graphics rendering engines to create a cinematic production." 

Skype in the classroom has a few objectives in this open forum. It hopes to facilitate a few things:

  • Cultural exchange: Introduce your students to new ways of seeing the world with a cultural exchange between your class and another classroom anywhere in the world.
  • Language skills: Bring language to life with real-life conversations where students can practice a new language with a class of native speakers, or help English learners practice their skills.
  • Discovery: Try mystery Skype calls, where classes connect online and give clues to help each guess the other's location. Or introduce your students to a classroom in the location of a book they're reading or a subject they're studying.

More stories on educators and technology:

Check out Technolog on Facebook, and on Twitter, follow Athima Chansanchai, who needs to Skype with her friends more often.

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