Educational Technology and Mobile Learning has been diligently engaged over the last couple of weeks in writing a series of simple and easy to use guides to help teachers and educators better leverage the use of technology in education and empower them with the necessary tools to better carry out this task. What started as a simple guide on the use of social networking, expanded to be a series of similar guides covering blogging, personal learning networks, Evenote, Facebook and iPad in education. Our purpose is to give hand to both novice and experienced teachers in integrating technology within their classrooms. We are still working on several other guides which will be posted here intermittently and there will be a comprehesive ebook that will contain all these guides, so stay tuned.
Today’s guide is about Skype and here is the outline :
- What is Skype ?
- Some features of Skype
- What do I need to use Skype ?
- Skype Importance in education
- Skype tips for teachers
- How teachers can use Skype in their classroom
- Successful stories of teachers who have tried Skype with their students
- Skype video tutorials
What is Skype ?
Skype is a free communication software that allows users to make calls, send instant messages and do video conferencing online. It is one of the best voice -over-internet services online and was created in 2003 hy Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis but later on was owned by Microsoft particularly in the year 2011. Skype has over 663 million registered users as of September 2011, putting it at the top ranks with Facebook and Twitter.
Some Features of Skype
Here is a set of some of the most imoprtant features that make Skype a powerful communication tool online :
- Skype is easy to use and has a user friendly interface
- It allows users to make a free Skype to Skype calls
- Users can even call a real phone number from Skype with cheap rates.
- It also enables people to call their Skype account from a phone, for this you need a SkypeIn number to give them. Receiving calls from phones is free but will charge the caller the same rate as if they were calling a real phone.
- Users can make video calls for free allowing them thus to see each other in real time
- Skype allows you and 24 other people to make a conference call making it easy for group discussions from all around the globe
- You can easily send files via Skype to any of your contacts. There is no size limit for the file and for security reasons before the file transfer can begin, the recipient has to approve the transfer meaning that the person has to be online for the transfer to take place.
- Skype allows for instant messaging which can take place even while you are doing a voice call
- Users can also send text messages to any phone number in the world. The rates are way cheaper than what a text message usually costs.
- Skype lets you set up a voicemail where others can leave you voice messages when you are away, you need to pay 3$ per month or 20$ for a year for this service.
- It also offers a searchable directory of Skype users, as well as an alerts feature.
What do I need to use Skype
To use Skype you need to :
- First, download the Skype software into your computer from their homepage. It is very lightweighted and takes only a couple of minutes.Create an account on Skype.
- The process is similar to registering on any other web tool.
- You need a headset with a microphone.
- Check out the video tutorial below to see how you can make a call in Skype
Skype’s Importance in Education
Here are some ideas featuring the growing importance of Skype as an education tool :
- Skype as an easy and inexpensive way of communication between people all over the world, open the door to a wide range of activities that can improve student engagement and comprehension
- Interacting with people from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds help students understand cutural differences and learn about history and social norms
- Skype is great for students learning a new language. It can connect them to native speakers everywhere in the world and let them fine-tune their foreign language skills
- Learning becomes more authentic, inspirational, and engaging when it transcends the walls of the classroom
- Skype offers an easy way for students and instructors to engage in in synchronous communication.
Skype Tips for Teachers
Here are some tips that teachers need to keep in mind when using Skype:
- Download Skype ahead of time and try it to see if it is working
- Check your privacy setting and be careful what you active or deactivate
- When using Skype with students make sure that you inform their parents and take permission from them
- Only allows students supervised access to Skpype
- Try Skype’s built-in recording option to rebroadcast your conversation later
- Always make sure students prepare ahead of time for any Skype session, they can for instance prepare test questions…ect.
How Teachers can use Skype in the classroom
Here is a list of some suggested ideas to start with :
- Teachers can use video conferencing to hold teaching sessions with their students while being away from the classroom
- Teachers can have guest speakers talk directly with students using video conferencing, these speakers can be for instance, authors, producers, or other teachers or even students.
- Skype can be used in a language classroom to help students improve their linguistic skills via speaking to native speakers of the target language
- Use Skype as a tool to provide after school help to students needing extra attention
- Use Skype for interview purposes, for instance, individual students can interview other teachers or school staff, sending the Skype feed to the classroom for all to watch.
- Skype can be used to help students with disabilities, special needs or who are absent to catch up with the class from home
- Teachers can connect their classes via Skype with other classes on the other side of the world
- Students can use Skype to do peer teaching and also to forge lasting and solid friendships with each other be it locally or internationally
- Students can use it to collaborate on classroom projects and assignments by making free video calls and even video conferencing
- If you take your class on a field trip then Skype will make you able to connect with parents or other classes to share your class experience with them
- Teachers can use Skype for professional development mainly by connecting to other educators and watching and sharing conference presentations
- Teachers can use it to share students classroom work with their parents
- In case of issues with a student , teachers can use Skype to hold a video conference session with a parent who, because of circumstance, could not attend physically to the school
- Teachers can use Skype to collaborate with each other . They can , for instance, do peer tutoring by having an experience teacher or mentor teacher watch one teaching via Skype and then give valuable feedback to him/her
Successful stories of teachers who have tried Skype in their classes
Let me share with you some of successful stories of teachers who have taught using Skype.You will learn how they did it and what they benefited from the use of this tool in their teaching.
1- Working on a history project using Skype
This is a story of 7th grade students who have used Skype as a part of their history project that resulted in their collaboration with the curator of the National Museum in Canada.
2- Using Skype to help a classmate join classroom from home
Read this post to learn how a 4th grade class used Skype to help a classmate with leukemia become a part of the classroom from her home.
3- Connecting two classes using Skype
learn how this teacher brought two classes, who had been tweeting all semester, to finally get together and meet face-to-face via Skype.
4- Using Skype in classroom language
Find out how this teacher used Skype to help her students learn a foreign language from native speakers of that language.
Skype video tutorials
Around the world with Skype
How to use Skype for Audio conversations
How to screen share on Skype
How to make a video call using Skype
Click here to watch the video