Skype in the Classroom
We have been using Skype in our school for video conferences between classes in our own school and classes in partner classes in two Comenius projects that we have engaged in with other European schools. In the early days we found that the technology wasn’t at all as reliable as it is today, connections often failed, leading to disappointment for pupils and teachers even though I had tested the connection the previous afternoon with the teacher in the partner school. With the overall improvements in technology both hardware and software and improved internet connections, videoconferences with partner classes in our current project have been very successful. Our last Skype video conference was a group video call between our fourth class and classes in two of the partner schools. The group video calling service is normally only available where one of the participants has purchased a Skype Premium Service which costs from €8 per month. This month I learned that if a teacher or a school sign up to Skype in the Classroom one of the advantages offered is free group video calling. Currently, there are over 75,000 teachers, schools or educational agencies worldwide registered which includes approximately 100 teachers from Ireland at first, second and third level. Skype suggest three different ways for use in the classroom – collaborate with other classes in projects in all curriculum subjects, invite guest speakers to your class or take part in virtual field trips anywhere in the world. Registered users can organise or join in projects using Skype. Some of the interesting projects listed at this time include Brazil World Cup, Connect With Classrooms ALL AROUND THE WORLD, In the Garden, and Making Beautiful Music Together. A number of Scientists, Childrens’ Authors etc. and a few Skype employees offer to visit your class as a guest speaker via Skype. A number of Skype employees take part in Skype’s global Read Aloud initiatives posting details of the dates and times of Read Aloud Projects from time to time.