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Skype in the classroom

Skype has launched a beta version of skype in the classroom

Skype in the classroom is a new product inspired by the growing community of teachers that use Skype and video chat to help their students learn. It’s easy to see why: video chat can help students discover new cultures, languages and ideas, all without even leaving the classroom. Schools use it to bring speakers, experts and guest instructors into the classroom.

Skype in the classroom, a directory of like-minded educators, can help those teachers prepare and manage the new learning experiences more efficiently:

  • Cultural exchange: Introduce students to new ways of seeing the world with a cultural exchange between their class and another classroom anywhere in the world.
  • Language skills: Enable real-life conversations where students can practice a new language with a class of native speakers, or help English learners practice their skills.
  • Discovery: Try mystery Skype calls, where classes connect online and give clues to help each guess the other’s location. Or introduce your students to a classroom in the location of a book they’re reading or a subject they’re studying.

Although Skype has supported several educational initiatives before, e.g. Peace One Day, which uses video chat to produce intercultural cooperation lessons, Skype in the classroom brings the whole learning and teaching experience to a new level.

Skype in the classroom (beta) is still under development and for the moment basically a growing directory of educators. But Skype says it plans to widen the network and to support connecting classes with speakers and experts who are willing to Skype in to a class. Just imagine an astronaut skyping in from the international space station.

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Learning without a school?

“You can have places where you can’t build a school. And even more commonly you can have places where you have schools but good teachers don’t want to or can not go there. What do you do about that? Because there are children everywhere. And that’s what I’m trying to address.”

After his groundbreaking Hole in the Wall Project, Sugata Mitra, came up with another great idea providing education to those who used to be excluded or could be reached only with great difficulties. He uses Skype video chat and has recruited hundreds of grannies in Newcastle — the UK Granny Cloud — to go online and help children in India with their education, based on the grandmother method – stand behind, admire, act fascinated and praise.

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This a great example of how to bring together aging societies in developed countries with children in the devoloping world in need for quality education. A technology enabled win-win-situation. As Val Almond, a volunteer teacher in the project, puts it: “So many children in the world don’t have access to education. But through technology you can get through to the poorest of children.”

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