Miles to go before I learn
For Shimmi Sharma, discovering Skype in the Classroom opened up a range of experiences for her students, resulting in a sustained impact on their learning.
Skype in the classroom
Skype in the Classroom is a community of educators across the globe that allows teachers and their students to collaborate on various interactive projects while developing a range of 21st century skills. It’s a powerful way to bring widely dispersed groups of learners together under one virtual roof as they interact and experience each other’s cultures, traditions, language and ideas . . . . . without leaving their own classrooms.
So how does it work? First you have to create a profile in the Microsoft Educators Community, and here you can also check out the different projects offered by Microsoft Educators, which are available on the site and in which you might like your class to participate. These projects can link your class directly to other schools and a range of direct experiences anywhere in the world, while offering the chance for students to interact directly with different, collaborative partners. After looking into the various objectives, specialities and goals of these projects you can book a session with other teachers in order to connect your class with classrooms across the globe.
This short video show you what happens:
You can also take your class on a range of virtual field-trips, visiting sites from the Taj Mahal to Yellowstone Park, as offered by other teachers and experts. You can even travel in time to visit Ancient Egypt! These resources also offer teachers the opportunity to discover new learning strategiesfor themselves, as your on-line colleagues, often from very different educational backgrounds, share a variety of ideas and techniques as they conduct thier tours: we have found this to be a great way of building our own teaching repertoire.
For example of a virtual field trip, see how a school in the UK connects by Skype with a wild life conservation centre in South Africa – The Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB):
Perhaps the most important benefits of using Skype in the classroom is the global connect and exchange of language used to explore cultural differences, a variety of climates and physical geography as they are described by students and teachers who actually experience them. This is a great source of motivation as learners interact with authentic audiences, while learning a range of literacy skills from each other – and from each other’s teachers! Learners really hone their communication skills when there is a connect between the two Skype call centres, especially when second language learners get a chance to interact with native speakers. It’s great to see how children build up their conversational skills, and, quite naturally develop their pronunciation and expression.
El Salvador field trip
It’s difficult not to feel the enthusiasm in the build-up to a Skype lesson. Perhaps my students’ most memorable trip was the El Salvador Volcano excursion with Selvin Rivas. As they virtually visited the volcanic site they were totally gripped and took on board a range of new knowledge with real understanding in a way which just wouldn’t come by flipping the pages of Geography book. I have no doubt that with this understanding comes enhanced retention, and an ability to apply these new ideas in different circumstances.
My students are now involved in various Global Projects through Skype Collaboration, and the experience has definitely made them more internationally – minded. So if you are looking for a different way to build global citizenship, while developing language skills, creativity, and critical thinking, my advice is – get connected to Skype!
Shimmi Sharma teaches at the Sunbeam School, Lahartara in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh in India and is a Microsoft Innovative Educator. For more about her work see:
To get Started with Skype in the classroom see: