UPDATE 1/6/2021 – Skype in the Classroom sent out e-mails late last year to people who were registered that it is being discontinued. Here is part of the body of that e-mail. I am sorry to see it go, and hope that the other suggestions given in the e-mail will be just as robust, if not more so. “Skype in the Classroom website will no longer be supported after December 18, 2020. After this date, Skype in the Classroom profiles, activities and calendars will no longer be available. Please download and save any content you would like to preserve.
There are so many other ways to connect your classroom to global learning opportunities. Here are some of our favourites:
- Live Events: Tune in to our weekly live events featuring authors, experts, and amazing sites from around the world. Explore all upcoming events at aka.ms/EDULiveEvents
- Classroom Connections: Join the Flipgrid community to find educators who are interested in sharing new cultures and experiences via GridPals. Once you’ve found a match, contact them to arrange a Teams meeting for a live connection or set up a shared Flipgrid to connect your classes.
- Content Partners: Explore amazing content from our virtual field trip providers, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, California State Parks, Epic! Books, Scholastic, and more, in Flipgrid’s Discovery Library.
Share your amazing adventures with us by tagging @Flipgrid, #FlipgridForAll, and #MicrosoftEDU”
We have been using Skype for a few years in my classroom. Sometimes we have chatted with experts for genius hour projects and other times we have talked with classmates who have moved away. A couple of times we have used it to talk with app developers about products the students were beta testing.
As many educators know, inviting other adults into your classroom, whether virtually or physically, can be extremely unpredictable. While these adults may be experts, that does not guarantee they are able to impart their knowledge effectively to young people. They may have great intentions, but might have a hard time keeping your students interested.
This is what is great about using the resources from Skype in the Classroom. On this site, you can look for guest speakers, virtual field trips, and other classrooms to collaborate with. The people who have volunteered to have information posted on the site are experienced working with students. Your chances of having a great Skype lesson are increased when choosing a contact who is prepared to speak to a young audience.
Right before the Winter Break, students in a couple of my gifted and talented classes had successful Skype conversations. My second graders benefited from a virtual field trip to Buffalo Bill Center of the West near Yellowstone Park as they learned about animal adaptations, while my 3rd graders spoke with a reporter about protecting the oceans from overfishing. Both sessions were scheduled through the Skype in the Classroom site after I did some filtered searching based on topics and grade level. Once they were scheduled, I received e-mails with further details to prepare for the Skypes, and reminders the day before each session.
After each Skype, my students and I felt very gratified that the hosts were willing to volunteer 45 minutes out of their days to help the students understand their topics better. The experts were able to offer perspectives and ideas that were new to all of us, and we agreed we definitely learned quite a bit. I must admit, also, that I was relieved that the presenters were not only very knowledgeable about their subjects, but excellent at communicating with children.
If you want to use the Skype in the Classroom site, you will need to have a free Skype contact already created, and to register with the Skype in the Classroom site. If you are a beginner, don’t worry. There are tons of resources on the site to get you started. In addition, you will find the people who respond to your interview requests are very happy to help as well.
Take your students to places and people they might not otherwise ever encounter with Skype in the Classroom. It will deepen everyone’s learning, including your own.
UPDATE 1/8/17: I just found this fantastic blog post that gives suggestions for Skype Virtual Field Trips from Skype Master Teachers!