Skype in the Classroom

Students...Meet the World!

Let's Skype...

Teachers all over the world are using Skype to make learning more exciting and memorable. It's easy to see why: Skype offers an immediate way to help students discover new cultures, languages and ideas, all without leaving the classroom.

How to Get Started

Finding a Partner and Coordinating Activities

The greatest impact occurs when you can connect with a classroom from a different geographic region. Willing classrooms can be found by visiting nearly any teaching forum and posting your request.

The first item to agree on with your partner is the focus of your topic. Be sure and narrow this topic down.

Research Tips for Presenting Ideas

When students are researching their topics using books, articles or websites, they should focus on unique ways of communicating ideas.

They could create presentations on the computer for screen sharing, cut outs, mini-plays etc.

Practice, Practice, Practice

It is best to do all of your rehearsals on camera so presenters can self-critique and classmates learn to sit quietly, be respectful, and ask insightful questions.

Skyping between computers in your own classroom is a great way to practice and work out bugs. Remember to practice with your cross-country skyping partner so the big day will run smoothly.

Skype Implementation

Implementation Steps and Tips for Success

Install on one classroom computer: Windows operating system, Skype, web cam and microphone.
Students draft, edit and finalize presentation to share with participating classroom.
Set up contact in other classroom in advance; plan content, guiding questions, timing and student expectations.
Live test of hardware and internet connections; troubleshoot issues.
Dress rehearsal; finalize presentation process for best student experience. Practice screen sharing and best camera angles etc.

Conduct Skype session with other classroom.

Implementation Checklist

Technical Tips:
□ Test all hardware and software first with another local classroom to get the initial bugs out
□ Test again with someone who is not on your local network to identify further issues
□ Test informally with the remote classroom as the final step

Presentation Tips:
□ Set up a presentation area that provides:
□ A solid color background to keep the focus on the students, not the posters on the wall □ A marked spot for students to ensure they are fully in the frame
□ A microphone situated for best sound pickup, or that can be easily held and passed
□ Set up a screen to project the computer images so all students can see the other class at all times, not just when they are presenting
□ Rehearse every step so the students are familiar with the technical aspects

Content Tips:
□ Clearly define the scope of each presentation to ensure that all students are able to communicate their facts clearly, creatively and concisely
□ If presentation visuals are to be used, ensure they are designed to be clearly visible on camera
□ Have students prepare questions for the other classroom to ensure an interactive session

Hardware Checklist
□ Projection screen
□ Projector
□ Computers / laptops
□ Computer speakers
□ Wireless mouse
□ Web camera
□ Microphone

Lessons Learned

Project Reflections
  • School district IT security can make long-distance collaboration difficult; do not assume anything will work without testing it.
  • Get the students comfortable with the technology so they can forget the technical details and focus on presenting.
  • Have students practice presenting to the camera not the image seen on the computer screen. Make sure you and your students are prepared for glitches - don’t let a little issue stop the process.
  • Audio feedback can be a huge issue! You want the speakers loud enough so students on camera and on screen can be heard by the audience, but no so loud that the microphone picks it up and starts a feedback loop.
  • Have your students practice attentive listening and polite "thank you's" and applause.

Stormy Cullum

Instructional technologist with a passion to help students and teachers integrate technology into their everyday lives, both personal and professional.