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Skype: Invite the World to your Classroom

Most students already use Skype, Face-time or some other video messenger. Simon Hunt shows just some of the ways they can be used in the classroom for any age group or subject.

Technology is everywhere and, as teachers, we need to embrace the fact that the teaching and learning in our classrooms is moving at a dramatic pace, along with the technology we use to deliver our lessons. However, technology shouldn’t be a gimmick, it needs to enhance learning in the classroom and engage children. I love using technology and I have seen first-hand the positive impact that it can have in English, DT and all subjects of the curriculum.

When speaking to teachers, I have found that two of the biggest barriers to using technology are:
1)having the technology itself, which due to schools’ deteriorating budgets is a huge issue.

2)knowledge and confidence of using technology in a lesson. Skype is free, easy to use and an added bonus; it can be used in any area of the curriculum! I’ve been using Skype in my classroom for the last 5 years. Most PCs/laptops these days have webcams and access to the internet. My class and I have spoken and interviewed famous authors from the other side of the world, spoken to arctic explores live from the North Pole and had a chat with an engineer who works for Microsoft!

There are 2 ways I use Skype to enhance lessons:

1)Skype in the Classroom – Skype in the Classroom is an online community that enables you to connect with experts and educators around the world. Simply Google ‘Skype in the Classroom’, click the website and sign up using your existing Skype account or create a new one for you and your class to use. The website has 5 ways in which to connect with the world, including: virtual field trips, guest speakers and mystery Skype. Each area has a simple ‘how to’ guide and short instructional video to guide you through setting up (there is even a Go Noodle video in there too!). From there, it is up to you to find someone that fits your curriculum area or topic.

2)Skype Fishing – ‘Skype fishing’ is a term I coined whilst delivering CPD sessions in schools. It literally means ‘ask people to connect on Skype!’ In a world of social media, it has never been so easy to contact authors and experts. Use whatever means you can; Facebook, tag on twitter or contact through websites. Be brave! If you go fishing, you never know what, or who, you may catch!

In conclusion, many children use Skype, Facetime and other social media forums every day. As teachers, if we can tap into existing technology that engages and excites the children, we should give it a go! And with Skype you really can invite the world into your classroom. If you are interested in using technology in the classroom, would like some creative and innovative ideas, I regularly post on my Facebook page @mrhuntsideas.

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The author

Mr Hunt is a primary school teacher who has taught Reception, Year 6 and now a mixed year 3/4 class. He loves creative and innovative ways of teaching to engage children. He is an SLE, specialising in creative and innovative teaching ideas. He shares some of his ideas through his Facebook page and connects with teachers in the UK and around the world. He has presented at various educational conferences and has provided CPD sessions, staff meetings and bespoke twilight sessions. He has also been invited to speak at the international Superpod 6 conference held on San Jaun Island, Washington USA.

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