Teaching, Learning and Assessments

Scoping out Skype

A collaborative tool that gives students authentic, real-world learning experiences.

Our world is smaller than ever. No longer are we limited by geography, our social-economic status, or level of education. With the advancement of technology we now can collaborate with people from different countries and cultures, tap into the web’s medical database to solve complex problems, or start a revolution overnight through social media. Likewise, teachers in the 21st century can harness the power of technology to connect their classroom with people from around the world, exposing their students to different thoughts, cultures, and beliefs.

One way teachers can do this is through Skype in the Classroom. This multifaceted resource blew my mind when I discovered all it could do. Not only can you skype an expert or do a classroom cultural exchange, but they also host special events, have collaborative projects, and can take you on virtual field trips. Whether touring the Louvre or collaborating with students in Hong Kong, sounds like Skype in the Classroom does it all!

If you’ve never heard of Skype in the Classroom here is a breakdown of their different features:

Skyping Experts
Imagine starting your next writing unit by skyping a real author. What an awesome way to motivate your students before they begin working. Or if you’re doing a project in Science on bugs and you’re in need of more quality resources during research time, why not use Skype in the Classroom to reach out and hear from an expert? Skyping an expert brings a new level of authenticity to your classroom. And most importantly, it’s so easy to connect with people! You can search by keyword or use their advance search option that narrows your results down by student age, subject, duration of call, language, etc. Once you’ve found an expert you’re interested in, all you have to do is click “request this session” to reach out to them.

Playing Mystery Skype With Other Classrooms
Mystery Skype is when you connect with another classroom from around the world and ask questions to try and determine where they are located. This game allows students to safely meet and interact with people from different countries and cultures. The game follows a 20 question format by asking yes or no questions. Some teachers might think “When do I have time in the day to do this?”, but it is well worth your time! Mystery Skype is a great experience for your students because they will be asked to collaborate, communicate ideas, problem-solve, develop research skills and practice digital citizenship, just to name a few. One teacher stated, “Geography taught, history covered, global collaboration created, communication skills honed — all in one Skype call.” (Ripp, 2019).

Check It Out!
– Learn more about Mystery Skypes here
– Here’s a lesson plan on how to prepare your students to conduct their own mystery skype (geared towards 3rd-8th grade)

Collaborative Projects
Connect with classrooms around the world to work on the same project. These tasks provide your students with the opportunity to share data, experience cultures, and hear different ideas and perspectives. Plus, you’re providing them with an authentic audience to view their work- what a great motivation to do their best! These collaborative projects are for all ages, or have fun creating and initiating your own.

Special Events
These special events allow your students to hear from notable people who share their stories, passions, and expertise. You can join the event live or watch the broadcast later on YouTube. Past special events featured scientists like Jane Goodall or Microsoft engineers who were in the process of developing virtual reality (VR).

Virtual Field Trips
Virtual field trips are a way to experience the world from the comfort of your classroom. These field trips include opportunities to see museums, national parks, wildlife conservations, historic cities such as Athens, Greece, etc. With Skype in the classroom, teachers can bring learning to life!

Themed Collections
Coming soon!

Classroom Vignettes

While researching I came across some powerful examples of how Skype in the Classroom has been used by other educators. Check out their stories here:

Using Skype in the Classroom to empower students to protect the marine environment

Tech tools amplify student voice and bring the world to a veteran educator’s classroom

Snakes on a Screen: Kindergartners take a virtual field trip through Skype

Our classrooms no longer need to be confined by four walls. We can tap into this awesome resource to help our students learn from experts, see the world, and develop communication and collaboration skills. Travel to Kenya to learn about endangered animals, skype a classroom in India to hear about their culture, or experience the majesty of the Egyptian pyramids by taking your students there virtually. Technology can and should change the way we teach. Not only does technology help engage and motivate our students, but it also improves our instruction, and connects our students with the real world. Check out Skype in the Classroom today – you won’t regret it!

Resources

Correia, Manuela. (2019, July 17). Using Skype in the Classroom to empower students to protect the marine environment. Microsoft Education Blog. https://educationblog.microsoft.com/en-us/2019/07/using-skype-in-the-classroom-to-empower-students-to-protect-the-marine-environment/

Microsoft. (n.d.). Skype in the Classroom (Preview). Skype in the Classroom. https://education.skype.com/

Microsoft. (n.d.). Getting Started With Skype in the Classroom Guide. Skype in the Classroom. https://education.skype.com/p/getting-started

Ripp, Pernille. (2019, September 23). Mystery Skype: Where in the world are they? ISTE Blog. https://www.iste.org/explore/In-the-classroom/Mystery-Skype%3A-Where-in-the-world-are-they%3F

Skype. (2016, Sept. 15). Teachers share why they use Skype in the Classroom [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3B6wFP9oemc

Tacoma Public Schools. (2017, Oct. 31). Snakes on a screen: Kindergarteners take a virtual trip through Skype. https://www.tacomaschools.org/news/Pages/snakes-on-a-screen.aspx

Thomas, Lynn. (2019, Oct. 22). Tech tools amplify student voice and bring the world to veteran educator’s classroom. Microsoft Education Blog. https://educationblog.microsoft.com/en-us/2019/10/tech-tools-amplify-student-voice-and-bring-the-world-to-veteran-educators-classroom/

W., Sandy. (n.d.). Mystery Skype. Common Sense Education. https://www.commonsense.org/education/lesson-plans/mystery-skype

4 Comments

  • Jan White

    I think Alexander Graham Bell would be thrilled that students across the globe were connecting and learning from each other. Mystery Skype sounds amazing. I have been somewhat timid to use Skype in the classroom, but reading your blog has been inspiring. After a quick browse I found a session titled ‘Under reported stories from Pulitzer Center journalists’ which looks like a great fit for my class. I’ll let you know if it happens. Thanks for sharing.

  • Megan H

    Thank you for sharing this amazing resource. I’ve always heard about Skype in the classroom but I’ve never actually taken the time to use it for myself, your blog post really inspired me to do that. I’m wondering what your thoughts are since you’ve taken the time to really look at it and use it, around right now as we are all learning remotely is this something that classrooms could use or that teachers could use with their students from home? Thank you again for sharing this great resource.

  • Cory M Cummings

    Kaelynn,

    Thanks so much for your comprehensive summary of Skype in the Classroom! Some of the features I was aware of and have explored, while others are totally new to me. I was not aware that Skype in the Classroom offered collaborative projects to engage in with classes from around the world, or that they will be providing “themed collections.” I am excited to explore these features more and find ways to use them in my classroom. The collaborative projects feature will also be wonderful to dig deeper into to find resources and other educators to connect with for our Global Collaborative Project. I will certainly be revisiting your blog when exploring these features in the future, and I am excited to pass it on to many of my colleagues as well. Thanks for sharing!!

  • Sarah Straume

    Wow! I had no idea that Skype was such an extensive educational tool! Prior to your post, I only knew that it was a video conferencing tool. Thank you for all of this information – I cannot wait to explore it more… I am specifically enticed by the Mystery Skypes. This could be so useful in teaching inference along with just being a fun experience!

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