Ease **** 7+ years
Overview: Skype is surprisingly easy to master and, for the most part safer than other modes of communication such as phones and email. The possibilities are endless and teachers and innovators are constantly finding new ways to develop learners’ skills and understanding. In this activity, the teacher opens her classroom to the world whilst remaining confident that she is in complete control of the teaching, learning and safety issues.
Description: Creating a Skype account is easy. You will need to download the software but the step-by-step guide is fool-proof. Log into your account and click on Add Contact. You will be asked to provide the email address of the person you’d like to add. It is a good idea to start your list of contacts by adding classes in the same school, colleagues and classes in other schools and suitably vetted people in the community e.g. the local children’s librarian. The people you’ve added will receive an email asking them to accept you as a contact which they can either accept or decline. In most cases you will have already spoken to them, checked that they are happy to be your contact and, importantly, that they have Skype!
When your contacts have accepted and added to your list, click on ‘Call phone’ next to the chosen contact. You will need to pre-arrange with your contact a set time and date for the call to take place. In this instance, the teacher wants learners to develop their understanding of the geographical differences between the inland town where they are located and a school in a seaside town. The teacher in the contact school Is an old friend of hers and together they have planned a series of Skype interviews to develop learners understanding of contrasting localities.
Learners had already drafted questions they wanted to ask and each class took turns in asking questions. When they were asked a question, learners were allowed to put their hand up if they felt they could answer. During the interview, learners were asked to note the responses.
Over the coming weeks, other calls were made in order for learners to delve deeper and inquire further as more questions and queries arose. To end the unit of work, each class presented their Contrasting Localities Project to the other via Skype.
What do I need?
- Skype account
- An internet connection
- A web cam if you want to make a video call (recommended)
- The world literally is your lobster… I mean oyster.
- Endless applications (see below for just a few)
- Develops skills that cannot be developed through other modes of electronic communication e.g. email is ‘static’ whereas this is live and requires learners to ‘think on their feet’
- You remain in control of the resource at all times
Hints and tips: Having set up the account, you will effectively become ‘gatekeeper’ to your Skype account. You get choose who is added to your contacts and you will have control over every call that is made or received. It isn’t possible to receive unsolicited calls and when you are logged out of Skype no one can call you. If you are happy to have only one contact in your list and that is someone you’ve known for 30 years, is also a teacher, and happens to be teaching in the classroom next door, that’s fine. It’s a start!
Make a test call first, mainly to check your internet connection. If the video call is constantly interrupted or disconnected, you may wish to opt for an ‘audio only’ or SMS interview.
To see how the rest of the world is using Skype in the classroom got to https://education.skype.com 43,000 teachers can’t be wrong!
Other opportunities to use the same software:
- Practice a foreign Language
- Compare weather patterns nationally and globally
- Set up international quizzes or spelling bees
- Have an inter-school debate
- Where are we: link with a ‘mystery’ school, learners have to discover their location through deducing a series of clues or riddles
- Skype teacher/parent meetings… why not?
- Interview artists and authors who have 10 minutes to spare but live too far away to visit the class
- http://edudemic.com/2012/11/online-colleges-50-creative-ways-to-use-skype-in-the-classroom/ for loads more ideas
This post is also available in: Dutch, German, Italian, Portuguese (Portugal), Romanian, Welsh
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