Skype is a technology that highlights some of the best qualities of connectivism. This tool is easy to use, and allows you videoconference with just about anyone in the world. The possibilities of this technology in the classroom are numerous, and as time goes on, I can only assume they will increase and improve.
I have already informally used Skype to teach and within my classroom. The first time I used Skype to teach was when a previous student (who then now in college) contacted me in a panic and needed to learn how to solve buffer problems. I thought about writing an explanation back to her using an email, but it would have been really difficult to type the formulas involved with this concept. So I just called her on Skype, wrote the equations, and solved them with her in real time. The second way I have used Skype in the classroom was to contact an exchange student who had been with our school the previous year. My current class really missed her, so we figured out the time difference and gave her a ring. It was actually really neat because we got to meet her family and she gave us a tour or her Italian home.
What I Hope to Gain
One of reasons that Skype is so appealing to everyone (educators and people in general) is because this technology allows you to kind of “be a certain location”, without physically being there. Another reason that makes Skype extremely appealing is that it offers real-time audio and video communication. One of the main reasons I would like to use Skype within the classroom is to gain accessibility to knowledge from places that are too far to physically travel to/from.
Ideas of How to Use Skype In the Classroom
I would love to use Skype to hold a guest lecture with a famous scientist. I envision the famous scientist giving a small lesson, and then having a question and answer section, where students can actively become involved with the scientists.
Another way that I would like to use Skype in the future is to hold Parent/Teacher conferences! This would solve a lot of problems for parents who work out of town, or even parents who just can’t make it to the school. This format of conferencing would be much more efficient than trying to explain specific situations over email.
Finally, I think Skype could also be used for professional development. It would save districts a lot of money if teachers did not physically have to travel and stay out of town for a professional development seminar. I actually think we will see this situation in the near future, if it hasn’t already occurred.