I finally used Skype. I gave both my sons webcams and headphone mikes for the Christmas. One son is about 500 miles away so he does not get home much. We had no trouble connecting. He found out that he had to get the camera working first, restart Skype and then we could see each other. The joy of seeing him with all his facial expressions was heart warming. He got to show us the “computer room” by panning his webcam and to show us his new “toys” by holding them up to the camera.
The sound was quite good and the video quality of the camera was OK (a little grainy and quick movement became a slur on the screen). It reminded me of the early days of CUSeeme but with much better quality.
I thought of some possibilities for Skype in school:
-Shadowing a professional as she/he works
-Talking with people in labs, research centers, art studios, museums, “on location”
-Watching an expert do something or explain something (Your neighbor who does composting can explain it to the class and show her compost to them.)
-Class to class collaborative videoconferencing (not having to bring a big videoconferencing unit in the class and not having to go to the videoconferencing room is a big plus.) in all subject aeas.
-Conversing in the second language to people from that language area
– Watching an event such as a school play, a poetry jam, science demonstration (egg drop), etc.
– Another teacher from another district can help you co-teach your class since that teacher is an expert in the topic your students are doing.
-Mentor (A master teacher can watch your class and then give suggestions)
Skype presents a great example of bringing the world into our classroom and going into the world with our classroom. Did I mention it was free!!!!
So how have you used Skype in your school or what things would you like to do in your school with Skype?
© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007