Sunday, February 3, 2013

Skype in the Classroom!

Hello there! I'm Allie Holland, an eLearning Coach for Plymouth Community School Corporation in Plymouth, Indiana. As an eLearning Coach, I have been blessed to be a part of many different Skype sessions!

When I was in school, video-calling someone was what you saw on the Jetsons or some other futuristic show. For students now, it has become the norm with things like Facetime, Google Plus Hangouts and, of course, Skype! One of the first sessions for the school year was a ‘Mystery Skype’ with a Ranger Amy from Yellowstone National Park.

Skype Session with 6th Graders and Ranger Amy!

Students were not told where she was so they had to come up with questions to ask her. They would then formulate new questions based on her answers. This was an amazing experience for many reasons, one specific one being that each student was attentive and engaged the entire session.

7th grade students were able to interact with Iraq War Veteran, Josh Walker!

We have been able to Skype with local and state politicians, a war veteran and students who experienced Hurricane Sandy. One of the best and most exciting Skype sessions I have been a part of was when our intermediate school Skyped with Shaquille O’Neal, the former pro basketball player. We held this in the gym and all 600 students at Riverside Intermediate School were able to interact with the superstar.

The most amazing thing about Skype is that students are able to have experiences that before, were virtually impossible!

A great way to get started with Skype is to join Skype in the Classroom! You can find other classrooms or even professionals to Skype with simply by searching on the site or posting your project idea. Another great way that teachers have found people to Skype with is through Twitter. There is an amazing global community out there just waiting for you to ask them for help! Both @SkypeClassroom and @Skype do a great job of helping educators connect with experts across the globe.

Tips for using Skype:
  • If it is your first time using Skype, do a test run prior to the actual session
  • Connect with educators through Skype in the Classroom
  • Use Twitter to your advantage! Include @SkypeClassroom and @Skype when you are tweeting!
  • To ensure a smooth connection, have all other devices off of the wifi
  • Use a webcam (if available) instead of the internal camera on the computer to give a wider view to the caller
  • Take lots of pictures and video!

    And the best advice I could give you is, don't be afraid to shoot for the stars! The worst anyone could say is no!

    The Challenge

    Allie shared examples of using Skype with students, but also consider using it for professional development. Set a goal for yourself -- how are you going to use Skype this school year? Please share your Skype goals or, if you've used Skype, share your experiences.

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