Collaboration | News

Skype Community Comes to the Classroom

Skype in the classroom offers teachers a free platform for communications and collaboration.
Skype in the classroom offers teachers a free platform for communications and collaboration.

Skype has launched a global community for educators called Skype in the classroom.

The free service is focused on connecting teachers from around the world to allow them to communicate, collaborate on projects, draw expertise from one another, and share learning materials and best practices. It also serves as a launchpad for connecting students with their peers in classrooms across the planet using Skype video.

According to the company, the service was created "in consultation with the growing number of teachers using Skype to help their students learn." Skype said one of the hurdles these teachers have had to face, though, was simply locating one another, a problem the new service is designed to eliminate.

Said Skype user Kara Cornejo, a fifth-grade teacher at Zion Lutheran School in St. Charles, MO: "Skype in the classroom is an amazing resource to find teachers to collaborate with and to bring people into your classroom that you would never have been able to."

Skype in the classroom had been in beta since December but formally launched Wednesday. More than 3,000 teachers participated in the beta. As of this writing, more than 5,600 teachers had already signed up for the public service and were providing hundreds of resources and working on dozens of projects. Most of the recent signups originated in the United States, but teachers from other parts of North America, Europe, Asia, South America, and Africa--including Egypt--had also begun participating, according to information provided by Skype.

"Before arranging the first video call, our students exchanged letters and e-mails but we decided to bring the two classes together face-to-face over Skype video to enrich their relationship," said Christophe Fetat, the teacher at Lakanal school in Lille, France in a statement released by Skype. Fetat used Skype to connect his elementary-age students with students in in Canada. "The result was amazing. Students were really engaged to discuss different topics. It is really a simple and effective way to exchange ideas, learn and bring other cultures into the class."

Educators can join Skype in the classroom now at no charge through a new or existing Skype account. Further details can be found here.

About the Author

David Nagel is the executive producer for 1105 Media's online K-12 and higher education publications and electronic newsletters. He can be reached at dnagel@1105media.com. He can now be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/THEJournalDave (K-12) or http://twitter.com/CampusTechDave (higher education). You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=10390192.

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