By Cameron Pipkin
The universe must be speaking to me this week, because every teacher I’ve talked to in the last few days, without any prompting from me, has mentioned the same teaching tool: Skype in the classroom. They’ve all raved about it too.
I’m sure that many of my readers are aware of this program by now and have even used it with their students, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t give it a brief mention.
Essentially, Skype in the classroom connects you with experts on hundreds of subjects who can speak to your class via Skype. To do this, simply go to the “Skype in the classroom” website, enter a term in the search bar titled, “I am a teacher looking for an expert in,” and sift through one of the site’s many postings.
Some of the entries you’ll find on skype in the classroom are queries posted by teachers looking for an expert, but you’ll also see bios and contact info for experts willing to speak with your students about a subject they love.
For example, when I searched “culture” I found a Spanish education expert who lived in the Dominican Republic for two years and wants to talk to students about the “Dominican way of life.” A search for “Shakespeare” not only brought up experts, but a teacher looking for “another high school class studying Romeo and Juliet.” “Our students,” the teacher writes, “could discuss aspects of the work, both literary and historical.” According to the posting, four other classrooms have taken part in the collaboration so far over skype in the classroom.
And if you’re interested, NASA has just joined Skype in the classroom, offering the services of actual rocket scientists to teach your class. Other organizations, from the National Museum of the Royal Navy and HMS Victory to the Woodland Trust, have done the same.
If you haven’t yet, I’d recommend checking out Skype in the classroom, and as always, let me know what you think.