Teacher talk: Using Skype in the classroom
Skype has become a powerful communication tool, allowing people around the world to connect with each other over video chat. Not only has Skype enabled us to connect globally using low cost or free calling, but it has also given classrooms the option to connect on an international level. Through my experience, I've noticed several benefits to classrooms communicating through the use of Skype.
Pen pals are a time-honored grade school tradition, and thanks to Skype, these exchanges are more engaging than ever. In previous years, I had students write and send letters to other classrooms within the school district. They waited anxiously for the arrival of their letters so they could quickly send their responses. While pen pals are a fun activity, giving students from various classrooms the chance to connect, Skype has opened a whole new world of possibilities to children of all ages. Speaking to students in classrooms around the world can give children an entirely new perspective on different cultures. Not only will students realize that dialects differ, but they'll also gain insights into time differences, dress codes, classroom layouts, and languages.
Skype can also help students acquire more effective communication skills. I have realized after several years of teaching that my students are really only prepared for presenting in front of one audience, their classmates. Occasionally we will present projects in front of other school wide peers, but for the most part, they are only presenting for the classmates they know well. With Skype, students now have the chance to prepare for audiences across the world. This could extend to not only other students, but adults that can offer useful feedback.
My students have had the rare opportunity to meet a couple of different authors and guest speakers, but unfortunately, having professionals travel to our schools isn't always possible. Thanks to Skype, teachers can give their students the more chances to have face-to-face conversations with experienced individuals and ask them questions related to their trade.
The field of teaching has changed in many ways within the last decade. Technology has opened the doors for many students who have teachers and school districts that support 21st century learning. I have enjoyed learning the many savvy tools that technology has to offer and I know that my students have benefited from the vast experiences.
About the Author:
Christi Wilson is a credentialed teacher of highly-gifted students in Northern Nevada. She has 11 years of classroom teaching experience, a bachelor's degree in elementary education, a master's degree in education leadership, and has even taught K-12 education online. A mother of three busy boys, she knows how important it is to keep students engaged in the classroom and interested in a lifetime of learning.