Skype takes students beyond classroom walls

Posted on Wednesday, 4/10/2013 6:01 pm
 
 
Through the use of technology, such as computers, student software and social media, modern teachers continue to expand what classroom instruction can look like. Skype is one type of software that has become more popular among educators in recent years, and for good reason. The voice and video program has allowed instructors to take learning beyond their school's walls and interact with people from around the world. 

As long as classrooms have the right equipment, teachers can take advantage of all the educational benefits Skype has to offer. The software is also free, which is very convenient for educators who are trying to find new ways to engage students as school budgets shrink. Here are two ways in which educators are using Skype in the classroom:

Students connect with soldiers abroad
Just because students are sitting in an Eagle View Elementary School classroom in Minnesota does not mean they cannot interact with soldiers in Afghanistan. According to the Lake Country Echo and Pine River Journal , first-graders at this institution have had the opportunity to communicate with Lt. Cmdr. Amy Lindahl through monthly Skype sessions.

As Lindahl is currently stationed at a military base in Afghanistan, students can learn about the life of an actual soldier without leaving school grounds. To date, the first-graders have covered various topics, such as deserts and the combat gear American soldiers wear.

"I think it's given them an opportunity to learn about a different culture," teacher Allison Reigel told the news source. "We've even done some reading about Afghanistan."

Authors reach out to their target audience
Thanks to modern technology, students not only have an opportunity to read books, but interact with their authors as well. This is certainly the case in classrooms at Brewster Elementary School and Korn Elementary School in Connecticut, according to Durham-Middlefield's Patch website.

Using both Skype and Twitter, librarian Jenny Lussier has been able to connect students in these schools' classrooms with authors and illustrators. These individuals do not have the time to visit schools across the country, but they can easily turn on a computer and have a Skype conversation from the comfort of their own homes.

Kate Messner, who writes chapter books Korn Elementary's fourth-graders have been reading, was among the authors willing to participate in a Skype session. The writer gave a presentation over the internet on how she became an author and the journey to get her book published.

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