Skype introduces ‘Skype in the classroom’

By ALISON AGUDO

It’s likely that at one point or another you have used Skype (or at least heard of Skype) and know that it is a great way to stay connected with people across the globe. Whether you use the video feature or just the voice feature, it’s a free way of connecting with people you may otherwise not have access to.

Some teachers already use Skype for panel sessions, seminars and guest speakers but now Skype has introduced a free online directory for teachers who want to use the system to “bring education to life.”

Skype in the classroom advertises three main aspects:

  1. Cultural exchange: Allowing students to be introduced to new cultures around the world and actually exchange ideas and projects with another classroom anywhere in the world.
  2. Language skills: Allowing students to interact with students in different countries and engage in real-life conversations where they can practice their skills.
  3. Discovery: Connect with classrooms online and give clues to help other students guess the classroom’s location, or even use the system to show what type of learning a classroom in another country does by giving previously unachievable access.

Still in the beta stages of development, teachers run the classroom community by creating a profile that sets out their interests, specialties and location. Once their profile is created, they can browse through the community in search of other teachers/classrooms they’d want to connect with as a contact or a Skype-related teaching resource. The purpose of Skype in the classroom is to help “like-minded teachers find each other and share inspiration and resources.”

Currently there are 4,857 teachers involved, 52 projects underway and 324 resources.

Of course, Skype’s initiative to further the global response to a growing number of teachers using Skype in their classroom is a great example of what can be done in other professions, such as journalism.

Connecting with sources from around the world or even comparing notes or working on projects with other journalists in other countries can be facilitated through programs like Skype. With companies cutting costs, it’s likely a boss would prefer you Skype with a contact or source than fly half way around the world if it’s possible, so prepare to see more and more online resources such as Skype being used in newsrooms just like they are being used in classrooms.

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