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Using Skype to Make Global Connections

Page history last edited by Roxann Nys 6 years, 2 months ago Saved with comment

Using Skype for Making Global Connections


Skype now has a special Skype in the classroom center that includes a directory of teachers interested in collaborating as well as MANY other resources which should make learning about and connecting to other classrooms much easier!


Here's a video of a teacher talking about her project and what benefits she and her students had from incorporating Skype videconferencing into her classroom:

Kara from Missouri, speaks about finding teachers to connect with on Skype in the classroom from Skype in the classroom onVimeo.


From international projects like Kara’s to classroom matches in neighboring cities, teachers are coming up with new and amazing ways to help their students learn with Skype. Here are a few of the most popular approaches:


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.


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.


Skype is a computer based option for videoconferencing. All you need is a computer, a good Internet connection, a webcam andmicrophone or headset and the Skype software (for Windows, Mac or Linux) that you can download for free.


To help you get started with Skype, here is a good video for beginners: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMAeAeyh7zM



Skype is also now available for many mobile devices, including Windows MobileNokia N800/N810,Skype Lite, iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad and Skype on PSP.   


Overall, the video quality is not  as good as using a portable Polycom (or similar) HD unit for H.323 videoconferencing (and you may find yourself getting disconnected if bandwidth is busy or low,) but for the price (FREE!), it's worth checking out. Computer to computer Skype calls are always free. For a fee you can also make computer to land-line phone calls with Skype and save money, especially on overseas calls. Additional services for purchase, including voicemail, SMS (text messaging) are also available.


Skype has added the ability to make conference calls (Audio ONLY) with up to 25 people (including yourself.) There are MANY other features that Skype offers, most of them for additional fees, but it is NOT necessary to buy any of them to use Skype in your classroom!


Be aware that although Skype is easy to use, it also does use a fair amount of network resources (in the form of bandwidth) and some schools ban it or restrict its use. You will also need to be sure to pay attention to time zones and scheduled as you begin to communicate gobally. 


Skype has tremendous potential for classrooms. Here is a list of how some are using Skype:

  • Teachers can invite experts and other guests from all over the world to speak to their students

  • Social studies can use it to have their students learn from other students about culture in various countries

  • Foreign language teachers could use Skype to connect with classes in foreign countries

  • Language arts teachers could connect with the authors of works they are reading.

  • A science teacher could demonstrate a lab activity using Skype's video capability or invite a researcher to discuss latest developments in his/her field.

  • Allow students to make presentations about what they are to other classrooms within/outside their district (or different countries)

  • Conduct an intra-district competition for a review of concepts with other classes that are learning the same content. 


You can record Skype calls (to a .wav or .mp3 file) with a 3rd party piece of software called "PrettyMay" (for Windows only) but there is a cost of approx. $25. The software can only be associated with one Skype name, but is portable from computer to computer with the same Skype name. There are many other 3rd party extras (for additional costs) that can enhance your Skype experience--none are absolutely necessary just to get started. 


Getting Started with Skype in the Classroom


Skype's education center is packed with tons of information for you!


Vicki Davis ("Cool Cat Teacher") has an outstanding blogpost where she shares her experiences and tips for using Skype. She includes a video step by step guide on how she taught her classes about Skype and a great video about Skype that explains the process of getting started.  Details on Vicki's video is a little hard to see, but the tips she includes make it worth listening to. I highly recommend subscribing to Vicki's blog and following her on Twitter. She's always leading the way when it comes to technology in the classroom.


Skype also has a comprehensive set of user guides on their website which are very helpful.


Janine Lim's Collaborative Videoconferencing Wiki 

"This wiki is a collection of educator-created templates and projects for collaborative videoconferences. Start by browsing the projects. Then follow these instructions to add your own projects! You may also use the lesson template and thesample agendas."


Resources to help you find others using Skype in their classrooms


A nice start of directory by state of teachers using Skype.  Join the wiki to add your own information to the charts created by the wiki owner. This is one of the more organized options I've seen.


You can search for classroom to classroom collaborations on two excellent web resources:

  1. CILC.org's collaboration database. You can search for past (for ideas) or present collaborations by keyword without registering. However, in order to post your own, you will need to sign up for a free account. When you register, you can also sign up for an automatic newsletter so you know whenever someone posts a collaboration in your curriculum/grade level.

  2. TWICE (Two Way Interactive Collaborations for Education) Network's Collaboration Center. The site's homepage has a wealth of resources and links to collaborations posted by teachers, many of them in Michigan, but anyone who is registered as a site member can post their own requests. Registration is free. You will have to register to view the postings.

  3. ePals The ePals initiative aims to provide a safe learning environment for K-12 students and to enable students in Wisconsin to connect and collaborate with other students from around the world. The project is focused on mail (email or snail mail) but would also be a great place to post a request for a videoconference collaboration. You can join for free and read stories from teachers about successful online collaborations. 


Skype an Author Network provides K-12 teachers and librarians with a way to connect authors, books, and young readers through virtual visits.  Another great article that gives a step by step for Skyping with authors how to as well as a list of authors who will Skype for free (usually for 20 minutes) is posted by the School Library Journal.


"50 Awesome Ways to Use Skype in the Classroom" lists a number of ways to take advantage of Skype, including inclusion for students who might be homebound. You will also find a comprehensive list of resources to help you make connections with others interested in using Skype in their classrooms.


 Sue Waters set up a page on Edublogger to help you make connections with classes in other countries who are interesting in having Skype conversations with other classes. You can contact each person by clicking on their name or using the information they’ve shared. This list was started 12/08 and is updated pretty regularly.  However, due to the nature of this type of list, and when it was started, people’s contact details or position may have changed.


Global SchoolNet.org

Their mission: "is to support 21st century learning and improve academic performance through content driven collaboration. We engage teachers and K-12 students in meaningful project learning exchanges worldwide to develop science, math, literacy and communication skills, foster teamwork, civic responsibility and collaboration, encourage workforce preparedness and create multi-cultural understanding.  We prepare youth for full participation as productive and effective citizens in an increasing global economy. Founded in 1984, GSN is a 501(c)3 non-profit education organization. Let's work together to give youth the skills they need." Get Involved


Janine Lim's "Videoconferencing Out on a Lim" has a great page containing a variety of Skype resources.


For ideas and guidance about classroom to classroom collaborations, be sure to check out  this collaborative projects template booklet"Kid2Kid Videoconferencing Projects" created by Janine Lim and Arnie Comer.


Collaborative Projects Wiki Yet another Janine Lim creation. A global collaborative videoconferencing community! This wiki is a collection of educator-created templates and projects for collaborative videoconferences


Read Around the Planet Information about the current year's plans for celebrating NEA's "Read Across America" project including flyers, coordinator and teacher packets and how to involve all your students.


"11 Interesting Ways to Use Web Conferencing in the Classroom is another good article with ways to use Skype.


"Tips for Using Skype in the Classroom" by David Wetzel, includes 25 Collaborative learning strategies, teaching tips and techniques, and classroom management techniques are provided to assist teachers and students using Skype.


Another great blog "Langwitches Blog" shares Reasons for Skyping in the Classroom. From links in the blog, you can also read about other teachers’ experiences and the logistics of setting up Skype. 


Still not convinced of the potential Skype holds beyond a “video phone call?” Watch  Brian Crosby’s class on this powerful video, created by his students about how they used videoconferencing to connect to a homebound classmate.


Skype In the Classroom's Facebook page is a very helpful resource. You can also follow them on Twitter if you prefer. Lots of great ideas as well as many opportunities to connect and collaborate are posted regularly.




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