Skype is a software program that allows teachers and students to communicate with other teachers and students anywhere in the world using the Internet. Skype is used to make free video and voice calls, send instant messages, and share files with other classrooms or teachers. This program also provides one of the optimum methods for allowing students to work collaboratively with other students around the world.
Using Skype provides an opportunity for students in a foreign language class to connect with classes in other countries to practice their language skills. Being an essay writer, I know that this free Internet service allows science students to collaborate with a science class or classes inside or outside their school to share data and experimental findings. Social studies students can conduct a virtual visit to another country hosted by another school or museum.
Collaborative Learning: Tearing Down the Classroom Walls
Besides the examples previously discussed, the following are strategies for using this free online tool for local or regional learning.
- Allow outside experts to share information with a class.
- Conduct parent conferences in school districts in remote areas.
- Provide mentoring or homework help.
- Students can read, present, or perform for other students.
- Collaborate with other teachers on writing or research projects.
- Homebound students can view and participate in classes.
Recommended Strategies: Teaching Techniques and Tips
Both teachers and students need to develop a new set of classroom skills for this virtual setting. The following are techniques and tips for the efficient use of Skype in the classroom.
- When speaking into web cameras students need to use eye contact with the camera, avoid reliance on body language, and minimize animated voices. However, they must avoid monotones voices.
- Use the online chat feature for feedback, questions, and variety in delivery methods. When working with others who do not speak English as their first language or if the sound quality is weak, the chat feature is a good method to ensure everyone understands what is said.
- Teachers need to be able to multitask by speaking, reading chat messages, and positioning cameras or microphones for optimum performance.
- Use a tripod or fixed point to keep the camera still. It is better to bring students and objects to a position in front of the camera to avoid blurring.
Classroom Management: Ensuring a Successful Skype Session
According to the academic essay writing service, the following are tips for successful classroom management techniques during a Skype session.
- Ensure students are seated so that they can be seen by the webcam.
- Assign students specific roles such as operating the chat feature, operating the webcam, managing the microphone, moving and placing objects, and directing student movement.
- The organization is critical to success, even a rehearsal may be necessary at first to ensure everything is organized and all required materials are ready.
- Always test the equipment before any classroom use or before teacher collaboration meetings.
- It is best to use with other teachers and classes in the school and country, before setting up collaboration efforts involving other countries.
- Technical difficulties may cause students to become restless and misbehavior consequences need to be addressed in advance.
- Students out of webcam need to be aware that their voices will probably be picked up by the microphone. They should be cautioned to use low voices.
- Establish an account with the ePals Organization to set up collaborative Skype sessions with other classrooms, especially when beginning to ensure student safety.
Skype is a free software program is primarily Internet-based; however, calls can also be completed to landlines. This online tool takes another step in the direction of tearing down classroom walls to enable students to learn globally, as well as locally.