Christy Steffen Leave the Chalk Behind

Skype in the Classroom

I have followed @SkypeClassroom for a while. @SkypeClassroom have had some really interesting suggestions for using Skype in the classroom, but nothing I felt I “needed” to do to better educate my students. I always plan my lessons then see how the technology can support it. When I began planning my current class project for math lab (see Professional Experience for class descriptions), I saw an opportunity that necessitated Skype in the classroom.

My students are studying systems of equations, and to link it to real life I am having them compare the costs of hybrid vehicles to non-hybrid vehicles (more on that in my next blog). The thought came to me, I knew Mr. Wiese who owned several dealerships and could provide a unique perspective for my students, I needed to contact him. Although Mr. Wiese lives in Noblesville, his dealerships are about an hour and a half away and my class meets in the middle of the school day. Skype proved to be the best solution for all involved. The students could ask their questions and Mr. Wiese didn’t have to take a lot of time out of his very busy day.

Mr. Wiese sent a message right at noon that he was ready. My students were excited but nervous to talk to an adult they had never met. Although the goal was for them to learn about the hybrid technology, they learned so much more than that. Students must learn to communicate effectively in authentic environments to be successful after high school and this definitely provided an opportunity to practice. Each student introduced him/herself and asked the questions they prepared the previous class. I knew Mr. Wiese was prepared because he was answering questions with great detail and was very knowledgeable about all the different vehicles my students are researching. I was very proud of all my students for asking questions and listening to Mr. Wiese’s answers. Two students even asked additional questions because they were so intrigued with the conversation. I was thrilled with the results and the students were too. An administrator arrived shortly after the meeting and asked my students how it went. The students were extremely excited and repeated the information Mr. Wiese had just shared with them. They immediately went back to the classroom and began working on their own projects. My students are all excited and motivated to continue to investigate their chosen vehicles.

There was minimal preparation involved but I think it is important to mention so that others who would like to use Skype will be aware. With preparation, all Skype sessions can be as successful as mine was today. I had Skype loaded onto an iPad 2 and projected the iPad onto a screen using Apple TV. This provided the entire class with a view of the screen and the ability to hear the conversation. Last class I had the students write down two to three questions, and I emailed those questions to Mr. Wiese in advance so he would be prepared. I was a bit concerned that Mr. Wiese wouldn’t be able to understand or hear the questions if the technology wasn’t at its best. On my preparation period a few days before, I worked with our technical staff to set up and test run the Skype session. This practice proved to be invaluable and I had experienced previous problems with Apple TV dropping signal in my room. We ultimately decided host the Skype session in our tech training room where we could be sure the Apple TV signal would be more consistently reliable. The practice sessions showed the only time the signal was dropped was when the connection was initially made on Skype. I was instantly able to re-establish a connection and never lost it again. Because I was prepared, we didn’t waste any class time and were able to begin the Skype session on time and the entire process went on without a hitch. I will most certainly utilize Skype in future class sessions to better connect my students to the “real world.”

Check back next week to see the completed projects.

This is a short segment of the Skype session we held (to provide an example of the set up). Skype with Mr. Wiese

One Thought on “Skype in the Classroom

  1. Great ideas you have with utilizing Skype. Another idea would be to calculate how much time and energy Skype has saved for the planet.
    You have a perfect example of not having to transport a whole classroom of students, saving everyone time and money

Leave a Reply

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: