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Skype In The Classroom

13 Sep

Skype has launched a directory which will help teachers connect with each other to find resources, share ideas, and find collaborative projects to engage in with their classes. The interface allows teachers to view existing collaborative projects, email the creator of the project, make comments, or set up their own projects. Projects are categorized and searchable, making it relatively easy to find other teachers looking for similar projects.

I have a feeling that the Skype directory has an advantage over some other dedicated sites, such as e-Pals, because of the ease of access to other interfaces from Skype itself. Put another way, my Skype is set up on my toolbar so that incoming messages reach me immediately, but I often miss messages from e-Pals because it is at a remove. I am not knocking sites such as e-Pals at all, but the more direct an interface is, the better. A very useful blog on using skype in the classroom has been set up at http://langwitches.org/blog/2010/11/20/assessment-of-learning-via-skype/ which looks at various pre and post skype activities to enhance the learning experience. The various tasks which are necessary to set up a skype call with another classroom make it an excellent activity in fostering collaborative and co-operative skills.

I am going to confine myself to offering just one suggestion. Looking at what people are writing about skype in the classroom I have not seen much comment about how Skype can be used for gaming applications. I am not talking about the extras that come with Skype, such as Chess, Checkers, Go and so on, although that is a very useful tool and the possibility of running extra-mural programmes through Chess, Checkers and so on is a good one. I was thinking, however, of using Skype for more Role Play, simulation type games in which students from different classrooms take on different roles. Although Skype is set up to handle synchronous voice or video calls, it can also handle text-based chat and asynchronous conversations, which gives it a great deal of flexibility as an interface, ideal for games play. Let us say, for example that in a History class you are exploring the French Revolution. You might set up a tribunal on Skype in which historical figures have to defend themselves against a charge of responsibility for the Terror. One group might take on the role of Robespierre, Danton, Marat, the King, etc. Groups could be within the same classroom or cut across different classrooms. Groups would need to use Skype to prepare a defence or a prosecution charge, culminating in a trial staged via Skype.

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8 responses to “Skype In The Classroom

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