Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Connect To The Outside World...Skype In Schools

The current push in education is making our student more globally competitive and to help them connect to the world outside of their own. Whether you agree with the methods state departments of education use to get this message out we can all agree that we need to get our students to see the world beyond their own communities. Field Trips are always good but very expensive. Virtual field trips are also fun, most of the time free but most often it is hard for students to interact with the subject matter. What if there was a way to connect to guest speakers, other classrooms, other countries, and what if it was free?

Most tech people have heard of Skype. It is a free program that allows you to use voice or video chat to connect with other Skype users. For a small fee you can even call land lines (however this is not needed if you connect to other Skype users.) I can do workshops all day long on how to use the program and how it can be used in the classroom. But I need a resource to connect my classrooms to other classrooms. An now I have found it!

Dan Froelich is the Instructional Technology Professional Development Coordinator for The North Carolina Teacher Academy. He and a dedicated group of Skype users have created an awesome wiki entitled Skype In Schools. This is a place teachers, technology coordinators and directors and others who are invested in technology in education can go to connect with other Skype users. The site has a large database of users and classrooms, listed by state that you can invite to your classroom. There is a great section on the experiences students and teachers have with Skype and a great section on supporting research that discusses why we should be using Skype in our classrooms.

One of the coolest sections is the Want Ads. Here anyone can post who they are and what they are looking for in terms of a connection. Just browsing around I found a class that wanted to talk to another on Seuss Day, a middle school group that was looking for another group to Skype and blog with and directors wanting to connect to other directors to talk about assessments and networks.

The wiki has great information on getting started with Skype and how to introduce it to your students. So if you are looking for anything and everything Skype head on over to Dan's Skype In Schools wiki. When you check it out, you can find me on Skype. Just look for Steven.W.Anderson and you can tell me what you thought!

Skype In Schools


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