When I first discovered Skype, I was amazed at the capabilities “skyping” afforded; quick and easy video conferencing, chatting, group functionality, and multi dimensional conversation. I also wished I was back in the classroom with students.
One of the teachers I supervise teaches Italian. He’s an outstanding and very energetic instructor. But when I turned him onto Skype, his teaching and thinking about teaching was altered. We brainstormed the possibility of Skyping with another teacher… from Italy. We are now in the process of designing a way to integrate Skye into his classroom.
Step 1: Find Them
Using a specified search, we can find a secondary school teacher who practices in Italy. Via email, we can contact this teacher as invite them to Skype into our classroom (an visa versa) for transcontinental collaboration.
Step 2: Connect
Once we are both connected through Skype, we can begin to video conference and plan the lesson or conversation. The Italian teacher could teach with the Italian teacher. Or, better yet, the Italian students could conference with the Italian students. Thus, our little hamlet (via Skype), could become a new Little Italy.
Step 3: Making It Work
To facilitate the transcontinental “skypecast”, we will need a clear and consistent web connection (something that we have via wireless connection in out school), a projector for the class to view the skypecast, a USB microphone so our students can be clearly heard when asking questions and sharing and, well, a coordinated time. We suspect a 9:00 a.m. call from NJ to Italy would do the trick since the time zones are different.
Step 4: Follow-up
Using Google Docs, our students (on both sides of the pond) can collaborate for a shared document that records the thoughts and experiences of the students. Our students can then use this documentation as part of their digital portfolio for the class. Better yet, using Audio Hijack, we can create a video podcast that can be shared with th teachers and students for posterity.
The Skypecast is not yet scheduled, but we’re looking forward to planning the event with our students. Hopefully, we’ll be able to post the skypecast here for posterity.
Obviously, Skype can be used in all disciplines n the secondary school. Some examples:
- Social Studies– skypecasts with other US History classrooms in the United States or with prominent scholars
- Language Arts – skypecasts with authors, classrooms, and college personnel
- Culinary Arts– skypecasts with other cultures whereby students learn authentic cooking from other students and teachers form around the world.