8 – Skype in the classroom – *in the classroom*

WHAT

Quick note: Skype is Microsoft’s VoIP software. Its’ main functions are free worldwide video and audio calling over the internet. Also to mention that you can use it for messaging and file sharing. Skype services are available on Smartphones, Apple, Windows and Linux computers, and even some videogame consoles. It requires a Microsoft or Facebook account to subscribe to the service.

Skype in the classroom (SITC) is an educational platform from Skype themselves. They created a community website to connect teachers around the world. The objective of SITC community is to meet new people, talk to experts, share ideas and create learning experiences with teachers from around the world.

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HOW IT WORKS

As a teacher, you need to create an account using Facebook or a Microsoft address. Once your account is working, you can search for different types of content. Skype lessons and Teachers can be used to find teachers that offer their teaching services over Skype. Guest speakers are ideas of conferences to organize or people to ‘’invite’’ on Skype for a conference. Collections are Skype favorite projects ideas and collaborations compiled together. You have a search bar that allows to search by keywords. The best thing for classroom application is to search “Project + whatever specialised feature you want’’. You will find other teachers with classrooms that want to collaborate with other teachers. When you find something interesting, you reply to a teacher request and get in touch to set up further projects or collaboration details. You can also “create a lesson’’, describe what you are looking for and receive other teacher’s response.

 

FEATURES

Setting your account, you can set your main subject to find more meaningful results. Also, time zone is asked. It is useful as I converts your and others’ availability time to see if a meeting is possible over Skype. The company also offer while subscribing to register to get a free teacher code to get Skype ‘’ad-free’’ version.

 

HOW TO USE IT FOR THE CLASSROOM

To use it in the classroom, you have to make sure every privacy codes and rules from your school are respected. You must also prepare the configuration and set-up in advance to be sure everything works. Once all of that is done, the successful use of the application depends on the project preparation. As an ESL teacher, this tool is really interesting. For example, a cultural project could be more than beneficial to students’ education. You could find a teacher of an English community that wants to learn about your culture and language. This way both groups prepare materials, presentations and do a research on their own culture. They present a part in their target language and the other in their native one. Students need to work hard on the project to present it to a real native speaker that is interested in what he has to say. At the same time students would learn about other cultures by other cultures and this is mind opening. You could also begin regular Skype meetings and associate them with a ‘’Skype Pal’’ from the other group.

The interest in these types of interactions for language class it that they talk to native speakers so they “do not have choice” to try the target language and to do their best to be understood. Also, they develop an interest in other cultures. It shows how a language can be useful and meaningful. It gives a concrete meaning to the school subject at large. Also, they may create an affective link with their pals and hopefully to the language. Human interactions should not be underestimated.

Monsieur Blanchet

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