Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Using Skype in the Classroom

In the article, Reach out and touch someone, Damien talks about how he used Skype in his Honors British Lit class.


I have talked from my home near the mountains in South Carolina to another teacher across the state near the beach in South Carolina. If this doesn’t amaze you, maybe my conversation one morning with another educator in Australia who needed help testing out her Skype before she had a conference. I find this amazing because I never would have imagined talking to someone on the other side of the world and all for free!

In the Horizon Project 2008, students from around the world analyze, compile information, and share their predications based on the report in a "Wikinomics"-style mass collaboration. The Horizon Project 2008 teachers use Skype to conference and discuss logistics about the project and I am fascinated by listening that there are people from all over the world that participate in this conference by using Skype. If nothing else, just listening to all of the different accents is wonderful. Eventually the students will be conferencing using Skype to collaborate on their specific project. When I see all the different adults and students involved in this project, I can see that Skype is a necessity for this to work.

When I am on twitter, I see lots of calls for collaboration from teachers looking to collaborate with people from other countries. This is a great opportunity for students to learn about other cultures and social expectations. What better way to teach tolerance and cultural diversity!
I just wonder why more classrooms are not using this free tool. Is it because it is blocked in school districts? Or are teachers afraid to try it? If it is not blocked, how can we more teachers using Skype?

12 comments:

CompooperTeacher said...

I have Skype on my puter here at home, but when I tried to download it at school, I found that it was blocked. What a sad state of affairs! Imagine how much we could collaborate across the globe if we had this easy-to-use tool.

I'd be glad to chat with y'all!

David said...

There's always Pocket Skype.

loonyhiker said...

compooperteacher: i will look for you on skype!

loonyhiker said...

david: thanks for the link and the info.

Mike said...

I think by getting a few brave teachers to use Skype in the classroom, others will see it and want to use it. It all starts with getting a few users. In my district, getting Skype is easy, it's webcams that are harder. I can be skyped at mike.hasley as I'm trying to get more teachers using it right now. Also at http://henricowarriors.org/hasley.

loonyhiker said...

mike: Thanks for your comment. I added you to my Skype contact list.

A Blog said...

Hello,
I am an educator committed to hooking classroom around the world using skype. I have decided to create a place for YOU to list your info so that we can create a community of SKYPERS for the classroom. Please add your info. Let’s create on place where we can access each other for projects and collaboration. Here’s that link: http://skypeintheclassroom.wordpress.com/
Thank you,
Ken Kellner

Caroline OBannon said...

Believe me, I would love to use this in my school district, but it's currently blocked, mainly because students would be able to chat via Skype. I'm doing research right now to try and gather examples of how Skype has been used in educational settings with great results to use as my defense for unblocking this tool.
Granted for students to use Skype they would have to install it, (I assume it won't run off of a flash drive but I could be wrong.) which is becoming increasingly difficult with the restrictive policies in effect on a growing number of our computers. I think the one thing that I have going in my favor is that I work out of the central office and have a great relationship with IT. Generally, they defer to the Curriculum Department, my department, for decisions like these, so I'm hopeful that we can have access to it in the near future.

Caroline OBannon said...

I just read David's comment about Pocket Skype. There goes the students not being able to use it via a flash drive, but I still believe this will be a valuable tool in spite of that. I may approach IT to un-restrict certain IP addresses in each school so they have access to Skype. I wonder if others have done that as well?

aghnesrock said...

Another use of Skype is to learn or practise languages.
If you are looking to learn Chinese or Spanish and have fun too, I know of a skype plug-in that fits the bill. It’s called Moka Chat for Skype and can be downloaded from http://www.moka.com. You just need to install this application, select the language pair you need and then type in the text message and send the translated text to your skype contact. Because it allows you to see both the original and translated text every time a message is sent, you can learn the language faster. It is free during the beta period.

loonyhiker said...

Caroline: Thanks for the information. I didn't know about having Skype on a flash drive.

loonyhiker said...

aghnesrock: Thanks so much for that link. I'm learning Chinese and that may be something that can help me.