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Skype Becomes Regular Tool in Classrooms, Educators Say

Skype Becomes Regular Tool in Classrooms, Educators Say

Since a version of Skype was released in 2003, people have been able to communicate via video with others from all over the world. Now, classrooms have been taking advantage of this tool from virtual field trips to interviews with authors, experts, and more. 

"Ask teachers and librarians about their experiences with Skype today, and you’ll be treated to a long list of projects, from the traditional Skype author visit to virtual writing workshops, interviews with scientists in the field, Mystery Skype connections, and more," said an article on "Skype, which is currently free, has gone from being a novelty to an everyday tool, as much a part of the school day as whiteboards and textbooks."

The article highlights a number of ways schools use Skype in their classrooms, from virtual visits with authors or experts to interactive games.

"As Skype has grown, the connections have improved; it’s rare to find the screen frozen mid-sentence anymore," the article said. "In addition, as virtual visits become more commonplace in educational settings, the bells and whistles of the technology are less of a distraction for young readers. Students who are new to the technology are sometimes overwhelmed by the fact that they can see not only the author on the screen but themselves as well."

Pam Allyn, founder of LitWorld, said its initiative "World Read Aloud Day", “calls global attention to the importance of reading aloud and sharing stories. WRAD motivates children, teens, and adults worldwide to celebrate the power of words and creates a community of readers taking action to show the world that the right to literacy belongs to all people." Allyn said "Skype author visits have become a big part of that day in the past few years."

“The virtual visits exemplify the spirit of what we believe literacy is in the 21st century and what LitWorld is advocating for: access for all,” Allyn said. “Children all around the country and around the world can experience the joy and pleasure of meeting an author and feeling the profound power of a connected literacy community.”

Skype has also set up its "Skype in the Classroom" website, the article said, "which allows educators to search for guest speakers by location or subject area."

"Available experts recently included authors, paleontologists, an educator from the Whale and Dolphin Conservation group, rangers from Badlands National Park, a marine robotics expert from MIT, and one of the first oceanographers to use a combination of submarines and robots to map the undersea world," the article said. "The list is ever-changing and extensive, and it just scratches the surface of what’s available in terms of virtual visits."

Read the full story and comment below. 

Article by Kassondra Granata, Education World Contributor

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