Most students enjoy computers, Xboxes, iPads and other technology when they are at home. These devices are second nature to them. If today’s teachers want to incite enthusiasm in their students, they know they must incorporate technology into lessons—lectures and worksheets alone went out with the hula hoop. Videoconferencing brings an element of excitement right into the classroom. It is accessible to teachers with free services, such as Skype. You may already be Skyping friends and relatives who live in different parts of the country or the world–now you can take the next step and use it as an educational tool.
Skype in the Classroom
Students can go on virtual field trips and visit boys and girls from around the globe through videoconferencing. It is used to excite students about learning and help them better understand content. If your students read a book, and the author “visits” them to discuss it, it deepens their interest and comprehension. When a scientist demonstrates how a phenomenon works, children sit up and take notice. Students with learning disabilities–or whose minds tend to wander with other teaching approaches–become keenly interested when live resources are brought into the classroom.
Ways to Use Skype at School
If you are not sure what Skyping might look like, click here to view samples from various content providers. The options grow every day. The Baseball Hall of Fame has a program that shows students — grade five and higher — how math is used in the sport. Students can take a cultural journey across the United States, enter an art museum or visit the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. You can even invite your family dentist to Skype into your classroom. If you have friends vacationing in interesting places, arrange conferences with them. Learning comes alive when the world is at your fingertips.
Best Content Providers
Berrien RESA, a regional education service agency, has been listing videoconferencing content providers since 2000. They have hosted “Teachers’ Favorite Awards” for best content producers since 2006. Educators from around the world vote annually for their favorites in a variety of categories, including art, science and history museums, zoos and aquariums and authors and experts. Berrien RESA provides links to all the category winners, and they also offer the option of searching for programs or providers. Many of the programs are free or low-cost. Some providers charge fees such as $75 or $175 per session, and teachers often apply for grants to cover these expenses.
If you want to Skype in your classroom, connect to the service online and make sure you have a computer with webcam, a good monitor and a microphone. Your students will be talking about the experiences for weeks.
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