The Indispensable Guide to Using Skype in the Classroom

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For people who have to work while getting a degree, on-campus learning is not the easiest, nor the most convenient solution.

skyping_classroom

Luckily, school administration software, as well as broadcasting programs such as Skype, have made mobile learning a possible solution for those who may just not be able to make it to a physical classroom that often.

Not only is Skype useful for helping those outside of the classroom, but also is perfect for bringing outside help and lessons to the classroom.

So to help you take advantage of Skype to the fullest in your school, here is the indispensable guide to using Skype in the classroom!

Setting up Skype in the classroom

Launching Skype in your classroom is a fairly simple process. All it requires is a new account, some video and audio equipment, and a device to broadcast from. Skype used to only be available through the computer, but as time has gone on it is now available on many different devices, from mobile phones to gaming systems.

Steps to setting up your classroom Skype session:

  1. Download Skype for your device here.
  2. Create a simple and easily searchable login for your classroom.
  3. Send out invites through email to all parties (students, speakers, etc.).
  4. Set up audio either with a microphone for you to instruct a virtual class, or several microphones around the classroom so that the class can participate with a Skype guest.

Skyping in the Classroom

Now that your account is set up and your session is ready to go, it is important to remember a few things about your Skype sessions. Skype is not as fluid as being in a live classroom so extra attention has to be given to details such as camera perspective, microphone placement, and speaking turns. There is a certain etiquette to using Skype in the classroom.

Tips for good Skype etiquette:

  1. Always speak clearly and loudly enough so that the microphones can pick up what you are saying.
  2. Always keep an eye on your Skype screen to make sure that whatever you are presenting can be seen clearly from their perspective.
  3. Slow down when speaking to make sure that those listening over Skype can catch all of the information you are presenting.
  4. Always keep an eye on the chat bar in case a participant loses audio/video and, if so, vocally let everyone else know that there is a problem.
  5. Try not to talk over one another, because unlike being in a classroom, audio is lost when candidates compete for microphone and speaker time since most affordable microphones can only decipher one source of noise at a time without distorting.

If you follow this etiquette, your classroom Skyping session should run smoothly.

Classroom Skyping Ideas

Sure, the standard Skype lecture may be the first idea you think of (perhaps to implement a flipped classroom), but there is so much more potential than subjecting your students to an hour or two of virtual rambling. Not to mention the complete ineffectiveness of the lecture method. So, unless your plan is to bore your students to death over webcam, here are some interesting ideas for using Skype in the classroom.

Class Competitions

Skype doesn’t only have to be used to teach students remotely. For example, you have been teaching your class all about the Revolutionary War and are confident in their ability to cover this history in detail. Well, what if a classroom from another school has been doing the same and you decide that a competition would be a solid way for your students to exercise what they know, but you don’t want to hassle the school district to transport students from one school to another?

This is where Skype shines as a way to bring distant classrooms together over the internet to collaborate and compete for knowledge. Gamifying the classroom with a competition like this is a fantastic way to solidify a student’s knowledge on a particular subject.

Skype Guest Speakers

It can be expensive and difficult sometimes to get the speaker that you want to show up in your classroom. Luckily the internet has broken down the physical presence and distance barriers, and can help bring a speaker that is halfway around the world right there to your classroom.

This idea is perfect for foreign languages classes: students can connect with individuals in other countries that speak the new language they are learning. This also has the benefit of exposing students to different people and cultures that they couldn’t experience by simply listening to an instructor.

Tutoring

Sometimes we all need that extra hand to learn a new subject or pass that exam. Skype is a wonderful tool for tutoring, especially when the tutored student is on a tight schedule. What if a student doesn’t have the time to stay after class, but still needs that extra help to pass their final exam for history? Well, rather than go to the student or have the student come to you, a Skype tutoring session can be a much more convenient solution for time constrained students.

Mock Interviews

Many jobs on the market today require some sort of online interview before deciding to bring you in for the formal face-to-face, and, for a student, learning how to go about one of these video interviews can set them up for success after graduation.

Using Skype, teachers and administrators can prepare students for the real world by holding mock interviews online so that once students leave, they will have the skills necessary to ace an interview and land the job they want.

For high school and middle school students these mock interviews can also be beneficial for applying to colleges.

Conclusion

Are there any new ideas you think would be perfect for the classroom with Skype? Anything else you think we should’ve covered? Let us know in the comments below!

Looking for School Administration software? Check out Capterra's list of the best School Administration software solutions.

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Nick Morpus

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Nick Morpus is a former Capterra analyst.

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