Skype in the Classrooms

Do you use Skype to video chat with your friends or family? I know that I have used Skype many times before. Well have you ever thought of using Skype in the classroom? Chances are, it’s never occurred to you, or at least I hadn’t thought of it until reading a few blog posts about the power of video chatting in a classroom. As a teacher it’s important to keep up to date with technology and utilize tools, such as Skype, to make engaging lessons for your students.

In Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano’s blog, Langwitches, she gives many tips for how to teach effectively with today’s technology.  Silvia presents and consults with teachers on topics of technology integration, 21st century skills and literacies, digital story telling and connecting with schools world wide. Last April, she published a post titled, Bringing in Experts. Transformative Teaching & Learning discussing how teachers can effectively used Skype in their classrooms. Silvia worked with a fifth grade classroom at Martin J. Gottlieb Day School during their unit on the American Revolution, inviting experts to video chat with the class. Silvia’s class had a chance to learn from Travis Bowman, a 6th generation descendant of Peter Francisco.  The class asked him questions and learned more about his ancestors.

The fifth grade class also invited a history teacher from Maine, named Richard Bryne to Skype with them.  Mr. Bryne could teach the students a lot about the American Revolution, because he teaches a unit on it to his high schoolers.

There are many other lessons that teachers could use Skype for.  Video conferencing can be an alternative for field trips. If a school has a tight budget or a strict field trip policy, one could look into video conferencing with experts instead! Students could video conference with historians or scientists, who could teach the class something unique and in-depth that matches up with their unit. This could be an especially good way to use Skype in the classroom for topics that may be more difficult to engage children in because they’ll become excited by the idea of using Skype, especially to learn from an expert! When Silvia’s students video chat with an expert, she has them think of thoughtful questions for the expert, forcing them to use their critical thinking skills and become interested in the material.

A third grade teacher of 25 years who recently received her Master’s degree in Integrating Technology in the Classroom, Mrs. Yollis blogs about what her class has been doing with technology. In her blog post, Skyping with Canadians, Mrs. Yollis shows how she used Skype with her class to video conference with a classroom in Canada that she calls their “blogging buddies”. The two classes shared with each other geographic information for their country, for example the area, population, flags, and even their national bird.  Check out her blog post to see some exciting photos from the class’ Skype session and for more tips!

I definitely plan on using Skype in the classroom. Both Silvia and Mrs. Yollis’ ideas for using Skype interest me. I may also like to get my class involved in “Around The World with 80 Schools”, a project that connects students with Skyping partners from around the world. There are so many other ways that Skype can be used in a classroom setting. How do you imagine yourself using Skype to teach your students?

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About Hilary S.

Hilary Stevenson Sophomore at Elon University Member of Sigma Sigma Sigma Sorority, Lunch Buddies and Isabella Cannon Leadership Program, Student North Carolina Association of Educators Elementary Education Major, Spanish Minor
This entry was posted in Collaboration, Communication, Instruction. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Skype in the Classrooms

  1. Erin M. says:

    Hilary, I think using Skype in the classroom is a great tool that I definitely plan to use with my future students! I have heard of teachers using it before in the classroom but in more of an international sense to get to know other students their age from around the world. I really like the ideas you suggested about using Skype chats as alternatives for field trips because I already have so many ideas for field trips but I also know I will not realistically be able to make all of them happen. Skyping with experts in different fields is also a really great idea. You could Skype with authors of books that you read or scientists in the subject area you are teaching!

  2. Emmie C. says:

    Hilary, I really enjoyed reading your post about Skyping in the classroom. I think this is a great way to show students a sense of diversity and for them to understand more global and international issues. I feel like the students would really enjoy being apart of talking to someone in another city, state, or country. It seems like a great way to create a fun, comfortable, and collaborative classroom environment. I thought the video of the Revolutionary War was such a great idea, and I wish I had been apart of something like this when I was in the 5th grade!

  3. Elizabeth L. says:

    Hilary,
    This was a great post! Skype can definitely be used in the classroom in a variety of ways. Like Erin said, I think that the idea of using Skype as a tool to talk to people internationally could be a really beneficial experience for students. In my global class last year, we were learning about the conflicts in the middle east and my teacher used Skype in the classroom so we could all talk to one of her friends who was currently living in the middle east, right in the middle of the conflict. It was a really cool experience to gain her perspective, and it made the issues we were discussing a lot more real. I think that Skype would be a great way to get students to learn from others and keep the class interesting.

  4. Kyle W. says:

    I love this idea! I think it’s such a great way to show students that the technology they use outside of the classroom can be used as part of their learning. I personally love it when professors use Skype–I got to video chat with the author of my text book just last week, and it was SO cool! I also really like the Around the World with 80 Schools project. I think showing kids the differences between students and schools in different places opens them up to new ways of thinking about differences and how to talk across them. I think as an English teacher, I could use Skype to video chat with book authors or people who are experts on Shakespeare, for example.

  5. Kate H. says:

    Hilary, along with everyone else, I think Skype is a fantastic tool to use in the classroom. I have heard about it, but never actually seen it done. Last year, one of my classes required group projects and one group presented an interview over skype that really enhanced their presentation. Whether it’s skyping people around the world to learn about cultures, experts to learn more about a field or creating skype videos to have students demonstrate their knowledge in a particular area of study, I think Skype is a fantastic tool that will become very handy in the classroom!

  6. Emily D says:

    I think using Skype in the classroom is a great idea! Skyping with “experts” or having virtual field trips are brilliant ideas. I also love the idea of Skyping with students from other places. Why not take it one step further? I think we could also ask our students about their home lives. What if a parent is living in a different state, or is even abroad (working, in the military, etc)? Why not Skype them? Or maybe a sibling is studying abroad. By having the students bring in aspects of their own lives, and connecting it with content, I think that promotes the whole idea of community and also promotes a broader spectrum of communication. Great idea, Hilary!

  7. Katie R. says:

    Hilary, I think Skype in the classroom is an awesome idea! Skyping with other classes in different countries or in different environments is a great way for students to get a wide variety of diversity in their minds. By having students connect with one another through this tool, they can learn cultural aspects that peers their age living in different places perform and understand the differences and similarities between how we live in America and how they live abroad.

  8. Maddy R. says:

    Hilary, this is a great post. Skype is an awesome and cool tool for students to not only learn about technology but also to connect, communicate, educate, and learn from experts and other students from around the world. I can see myself possibly using Skype in my high school math class. My students could Skype with other students from different schools about a certain math concept or topic and they can learn from each other on how they solve a problem and learn different technique and methods in getting a solution. Students can use Skype to collaborate together and teach each other on the material that maybe they did not fully understand before when the teacher presented it. We could also Skype with math professors or experts from around the country and get their insight on the lessons being taught in the classroom. There are so many ways that I can integrate Skype in my math classes.

  9. Patrick C says:

    Hilary, I really enjoyed reading this post. I like the idea of using Skype in the classroom. I had never thought about using it before, but thinking about it now I see how useful it can be. I think for all ages this would be a good tool. I can see students being able to collaborate with students all over the country and world. Also like you mentioned this could be a great alternative to field trips. Schools are experiencing tighter and tighter budgets so this could be a great way to still experience things without leaving the classroom. This seems to be a very useful tool and I can definitely see myself using it when I teach in the future. Great post, thanks for sharing.

  10. Meagan W. says:

    Hilary, this was a great post! I look forward to skyping with the 3 classroom next week in our CIS class! This is a great tool to introduce children to cultures all over the world. Children can learn the way people in other countries live and even get a peak at what they wear, what their schools look like ect. I would love to use skype in my classroom when learning about geography or different cultures! I think the idea of using skype in the classroom really helps to make a community feel on global issues. Great post! I look forward to using this tool in the future!

  11. Anna H. says:

    Great post, Hilary! I love the idea of using Skype in the classroom. My dad is a second grade teacher, and he loves using this tool as much as possible. His kids have worked with other classes/students as far away as California, and he’s looking into overseas connections now. It’s a great way to involve the students in something new and different, and I feel like it allows for a whole new way of teaching. Guest speakers always get a lot of attention from young kids, and this draws on that to provide a whole new area of available speakers and connections. I love Meagan’s idea of using it to learn about the current cultures of other countries as well, and having the kids interact with other students their own age who live in much different worlds. Awesome tool, and something that I think will have a great place in the future of education.

  12. Hannah D. says:

    Hilary, this was a great post! I really like the idea of using Skype in the classroom. I liked when you mentioned the fifth grade students Skyping with another teacher telling them about the revolutionary war. I think videos in the classroom definitely catch the student’s attention, so when there is actually someone on the other side and it is interactive, it would be even better! I like Meagan’s idea of using it to learn about different cultures by having them Skype with student’s their own age. It is like modern pen pals! Thanks for sharing Hilary, great post!

  13. Madison L says:

    Hilary,
    I think using Skype in the classroom is wonderful concept! There is a great deal of interaction going on between you and a fellow teacher, you and a student, or anyone else honestly. I really liked the two videos that you incorporated into a blogpost because it made learning seem very fun and I feel that students will most definetely be more engaged in the classroom because of this tool. If possible, I would absolutely incorporate this tool in my classroom at some point and make sure that my students are engaged so that they can absorb all the material that is being discussed.

  14. Hollyz says:

    Hilary,
    I really liked this post and got a lot of ideas from it. I use skype all the time, but never thought about how it could be used in the classroom. I especially liked the idea of using it as an alternative to field trips because these days field trips are so strict and hard to organize. Skype is something that many are familiar with, and I loved how you were able to connect it to the classroom. One of the ideas you presented that was vey interesting about “Around the World with 80 Schools”. Being able to talk to other students around the world would be such a fun learning experience. It would really give the students a chance to be immersed in other cultures. Skype seems like it could really be a fun tool and I could see myself using it for my students to connect with others. Great Job!

  15. Riley K says:

    Using Skype in the classroom is a cool new road on already existing technology. Allowing experts on a certain subject to come into the classroom without having them physical there is a wonderful idea. Getting experts to physical enter the classroom requires them to physically have the capability to get there. Scheduling conflicts and travel costs are two big issues. Having a speaker via Skype is easier for everyone including you and your students. If the speaker also dresses up that would be another great way to excite your students. Skype is such a great way to connect people that have never met each other and discuss with one another topics so that they share knowledge!

  16. Christiana C. says:

    I think that using Skype in the classroom is a brilliant idea! You’re right, prior to reading this post it had never occurred to me to use Skype in the classroom. I think that this is a really cool idea because you can get experts and other teacher input into your own classroom which is something that is hard to do because you have to arrange for a speaker to come into your room and arrange your schedule to go around that. I also think using Skype in the classroom is a really cool alternative to going to on field trips as you mentioned in your post. School budgets can be very tight, and using Skype is really cool way to still have outside experiences brought into the classroom. Really cool idea, I think the possibilities are endless!

  17. Kendall C says:

    This is a really cool post! I would definitely use Skype in my classroom because it can be a really cool way to connect students to other parts of the world or peoples and experiences they might not otherwise have to opportunity to have. My freshman year, my global class used Skype to let us talk to people in Pakistan, Africa, and other places, which enriched our experience. It was a good way to confirm those things that we had already been reading about in text books, but also experience them… it kind of validated them and made them seem more real. This would also be cool for schools who don’t have the resources to fly or invite all these people to the school, of if working at a school with lots of security. Job well done!

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