The 1962 cartoon The Jetsons showed how George and Jane communicated instantly through linked video monitors. Now, jet-pack 50 years forward and realize that this happens every day via Skype. Armed with an inexpensive webcam, see how this free video conferencing service can expose your students to a world of possibilities.

Planning a Skype experience

  1. Set a goal. Have a clear objective in mind when using Skype. Ask yourself what standards could best be taught utilizing outside collaboration?
  2. Locate lessons. By joining Skype in the Classroom, teachers gain access to a free platform that connects educators and experts to learners globally. Search for lessons based on your standards or create your own. Watch this video for a brief overview of how to introduce Skype in the classroom to your students and parents.
  3. Test the technology. To ensure your class will have a positive experience, be sure to test your connection before a scheduled call. Consider contacting your school’s IT department in advance to ensure there won’t be any issues with bandwidth.
  4. Prepare the class. Depending on the purpose of the Skype call, students should practice their presentations, develop strong questions, designate roles, etc.
  5. Debrief. Once the call has ended, discuss with your class what they learned and how Skype was effective in attaining the learning the learning objective.

Skype ideas worth the hype

  • Mystery Skype–The idea is simple. Two classrooms come together via Skype. Neither class knows the other’s location. By asking closed questions, with yes/no answers, students narrow down possible locations. Once the students have discovered where the other class is located, engaging conversations about their locations come alive. Download a set of Mystery Skype task cards. To get the gist of a Mystery Skype, watch this clip (to the right) of South Creek Elementary fourth grade students. Interested? Click on this link to get your class signed up today!
  • Literacy Discussions–Center Skype conversations around a text. Check out the Global Read Aloud created by Pernille Ripp. Broken down into grade levels, teachers can sign up with classrooms world-wide for Skype connections. Download a set of Literacy Discussion Skype task cards.
Literacy Discussion Skype Roles

For more technology tools and resources follow Nadine Gilkison (Smekens Education Digital Resource Designer) on or @nadinegilkison on Twitter.

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