Skype launch NEW social network for teachers

30 03 2011

Skype launched today, a free international service called “Skype in the Classroom”, an online platform designed to help teachers find resources, collaborate and contacts from around the world.

Skype, a big supporter of educational initiatives as demonstrated by their September 2010 support of Peace One Day, where they launched their first interactive Global Education Resource. Developed for 12-18 year olds, and free to all, the Peace One Day Global Education Resource was designed to encourage students to appreciate their own individual capacity to make a positive difference to their local community and the world. The service uses Skype video to produce intercultural cooperation lessons.

Another supported initiative is The Global Learning Exchange, which uses Skype to foster communication between a school in California and one in Singapore.

The launch today will definitely receive a big thumbs up from teachers and educators. Skype’s internet telephony services already assist people make free or low cost video conference calls, SMS etc but today’s launch adds another level of service.

There are already over 3900 teachers around the world signed up and using the tool. As an added bonus users can share and find a wealth of knowledge and inspiration in the resources area.

The community has been developed in response to, and in close collaboration with, a passionate group of teachers who are already using Skype in their classrooms to help their students learn.

Young people need to be able to communicate effectively to develop their own opinions and present information and ideas to others. Research in this field suggests that ICT applications strengthen and increase the possibilities of communication and reinforce the development of collaborative skills between peers. This is arguably just one of the reasons why teachers are taking advantage of rich communications tools like Skype to facilitate learning that exposes children to different cultures and ways of communicating.

Taking this blog’s theme: Learning how technology can be used to improve lives, it’s heartening to hear wonderful stories about how software is being put to good use for learning. From international projects on weather, mega-cities, and world populations, to classroom exchanges on earthquakes, culture and language, to helping deaf children communicate, teaching English to Haitian children, connecting students with experts from lawyers and authors, survival experts, paleoanthropologists, and other inspirational guest speakers on global issues such as peace and the importance of intercultural cooperation.

A members-only community, Skype in the Classroom lets teachers easily add each other to their Skype contact lists or message one another. To participate teachers need only sign up with their Skype account at the website, create a profile with their interests, location and the age groups they teach and start connecting with other teachers by exploring the directory, where they can also find projects and resources that match their skills, needs or interests.

The Skype in the classroom is an excellent idea and one that will surely we most appreciated in the education world. It offers the chance for students to received lectures by experts (via Skype) that they may otherwise not receive. They can also exchange ideas with students in other parts of the world and benefit from information sharing. This new service is still in beta (test) mode, which means it is still being developed and refined. They are very open to feedback as to how it can improve it, so please send and share your comments to Skype. That way everyone can benefit.