Skype is a technology that can really bring the world to your classroom. It can help you connect with friends and colleagues that don’t live close by. It can allow your students to work together or to experience a guest speaker that is across the country.
Yesterday, Shawn and I talked via Skype. Even though we have “talked” via messages or posts before, being able to talk in real time with video made me feel like I “know” him now. I have a face and a voice to go along with the personality that I’ve come to know in class. I think this would make a great choice for working with colleagues in other areas. One of the things I like about using it to collaborate is that there are times when typing questions and answers back and forth is less than satisfying. By using Skype or even Facetime, you can talk things out and bounce ideas back and forth. This would also be a good tool for students to use to collaborate for the same reasons!
Earlier I said that Skype could bring the world into your classroom. This is a tool that would allow you to have guest speakers that are across the city, country or even world! My neighbor, who is a high school ceramics teacher, and I were discussing this idea the other day! There is an artist in the ceramics world, who is a bit of a celebrity in that world, who reached out to her and paid her a compliment on her students’ work. We came up with the idea of asking him if he would be willing to be a guest speaker for her classes. She is really excited about this because he lives on the east coast. We even bounced around the idea of having him critique some of the student work and give suggestions! How cool would that be for both the teacher and the student?