Friday, 27 August 2010

Skype in the Classroom

Skype™ is a free software program that, when installed on your computer, works with your Internet connection to turn your computer into an Internet phone. It allows you to make Skype-to-Skype (IP to IP) calls to anyone in the world at any time for FREE. Download it from .

Skype, over the last few years, seems to have become a verb, it is one that I use at home, but have not used much in schools. I regularly have Skype chats with friends or colleagues, "Skype me" is quite a regular and well used saying.

Lately our old VC client in Oxfordshire is not holding up so well and I have been wondering if Skype could be used in schools to replace it. In Oxfordshire I think most of our video conferencing, especially in primary school, has been linking with experts at the Maritime Museum, National History Museum etc. and I have seen some fantastic teaching by specialists pretending to be famous people, dressed in costume and explaining, demonstrating, sharing artifacts and more with pupils. I have been aware of it being used for language teaching, but not so much for learning about children around the world. This is a field that fascinates me – schools without walls, flat Earth, global school and I am sure that I have seen projects with all of those names. I am starting to get together examples of how teachers are using Skype and the projects that they are doing – there are some very interesting ones!

Video recording of pupils Around the World with 80 Schools by Martin J Gottlieb Day School Students from Martin J. Gottlieb Day School and Jenkintown, Pennsylvania recite and read poems to each other.

Small Projects tells of a class project to learn all about the Alaskan Iditarod – and so lacking is my education I had to look up what that was before I understood what the children had achieved ;-) Skype and Tell – “Two kindergarten teachers in Charlotte, NC are now connecting with another kindergarten teacher from in Raleigh, NC to allow their students to share their show and tell. The students eagerly come to the computer and share the clues about their secret item tucked into their little brown paper bags. Their peers watching and listening on the smartboards in both classrooms ask questions like “what letter does it start with?” or “does it rhyme with wagon?”. Once they narrow it down, one student will approach the computer and triumphantly announce the answer. Both classrooms erupt with applause.” Just a small clip from Matt Scully's blog post.

Huge Projects  The English version of this video gives loads of ideas for getting started with Skype and there are lots of links on the page too. This video also reminds people to check the time zones of schools that you want to talk with, it is no good arranging a session that is 2pm here and midnight in your target school! This video clip goes into great detail about the whole Skype/ school meeting event with lots of helpful details.

World Class Schools is a website where one can sign up one’s own school and arrange to meet other schools around the world…
“In addition to providing innovative, cutting-edge projects, World Class Schools is bringing technology to change the future of how we learn. The future is in communication and the students who learn this lesson will be successful in life. By keeping schools in touch with each other all over the world, World Class Schools helps to provide enriched curriculum enhancement augmentation programs for any high school.”
“Adventurer and polar explorer Mark Wood is aiming to attempt the toughest journey on the planet by skiing solo, unsupported and unaided to the Geographic North and the Geographic South Poles.” On route Mark has managed to get sponsorship to set up electricity as well as computer networks for all to benefit from.
He says “On expeditions I connect with schools, universities and businesses around the world.
Relaying day to day films, blogs, podcasts and live links I hope to give people real insight into how and why our world is changing.”

Other Useful Links

50 awesome ways to use Skype in the classroom many of the ideas have examples to read about, in fact had I found this first I need not have bothered, it is very useful :-)

A Skype lesson plan for secondary school

People looking to Skype in school

The Skype educator’s phonebook

Many of these and more seem to have been pulled together in

1 comment:

Alex said...

Interesting post Carol. We used the ocn vc area a couple of times but found it a bit unstable. We've used Skype in the class once this year with good results - it'd be interesting to hear how other schools in Oxfordshire have been using it to get a few ideas.

Alex Wilson (John Watson School)