Sunday, May 17, 2009

Classroom Connections with Skype

One of the best ways to introduce technology into the classroom without having to purchase a lot of equipment is to use Skype as a free video conferencing tool. Skype is the application covered in the Creating Global Connections workshop offered by my department. And it really goes a long way towards making communication and collaboration with other classrooms or Skype users easy. Many educators and classrooms in our district are already using Skype to connect with other classrooms and engage in some collaborative projects. Some are still looking for classrooms to contact. I'd like to help more classrooms get connected. If you are interested in getting started and would like to contact a classroom across the county before you communicate around the world, these are some folks who might be able to help.

Ms. Hutchens (Skype name leahhutchens) at Ward has been using Skype with her kindergarten class to contact places like California and Australia this year. Sam Walker (Skype name swalker21) at Bolton used Skype to set up a guest speaker for his school and has teachers currently working with classrooms around the district—like Ms. Lee at Southwest (Skype name heidi.lynn.lee) and Ms. Edwards from Diggs (Skype name mwedwards815). In addition to the contact with Bolton, Ms. Edwards recently skyped a classroom in Georgia she’d contacted through the Skypeinschools wiki. Her experiences are detailed on her blog. If you are looking for a middle school class to get in touch with, Nanette Naylor at Philo (Skype name nmnaylor) is looking for Skyping partners for some of her classrooms. And finally, you can always Skype with me (Skype name emaiden3). At the very least I think I can help you get started finding another class to Skype with.

Recently I was shadowed for a day by a WSFCS student for the SLIDE program. I tried to think of a ways to have her use technology in a meaningful way while she was here in the department. That afternoon I had her Skype in with classrooms at Bolton and Diggs, and I bet that was the best part of her day with me. Using Skype she was able to speak to and engage with students around our district who got a chance to ask questions of a high school student in her last semester here in WSFCS schools.

I think that is the real power of Skype—to engage students and create connections with other learners and classes far outside the walls of the building.

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