Skype in the Classroom and Beyond

Almost immediately when I think of  global projects,  Skype conversations come to mind. When I first discovered Skype, I could not believe that I could call my family in another country and actually talk as long as I liked because I could afford to do so. As a student teacher in the 90s I used it to help my high school students in rural North Carolina with students in Mexico.

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Skyping became a generic term like Kleenex, for many. However, with the introduction of other web-based tools I must admit that I started to think less about Skype and more about FaceTime or Google Hangouts.  As with YouTube and  TedEd, I had never really thought about how these and other tools such as  iTunesU offer education-specific resources.  There is a whole world for teachers to discover and participate in, that has already been created. I would highly recommend that teachers interested in Flat projects begin by searching familiar tools for education specific resources.

Skype in the Classroom includes twenty categories ranging from early years to religion and philosophy that provide information for connecting with teachers and guest speakers, give previously created Skype lessons as well as comprehensive resource lists. There are also current online projects in which teachers and students can participate, such as Toys in Space and Chat With author Lisa Graff about her book Tangle of Knots. Many partners are listed on the site including VerbalizeIt  a 2012 TechStars graduate, which provides a human translation service for a small fee on any device. Maybe there will one day be a way to connect our students and allow them to participate in the translating services offered by this company.

As more and more organizations are adding an education component to their products I would encourage educators to take a second look at products that we may have believed we were already familiar with. In addition I am inspired to look for companies that do not offer specific tools for education and see how we as educators can make our needs known to them.

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