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A great benefit for the 21st century educator is access to unlimited information via the internet. This access has allowed many educators to develop personal learning networks (PLN) utilizing one of the many social media platforms that exist. Skype in the classroom is a social network for educators which allows teachers to engage with other teachers to discover new ideas. Access to Skype in the classroom does not only empower the educator to become a lifelong learner, but can also be utilized to engage parental participation in the learning community. Here are ten ways in which teachers and parents can benefit from Skype in the classroom.
1. Professional development. Teachers can use Skype to access professional development opportunities such as watching conference presentations.
2. Share students’ work with parents. With Skype, parents get a first-hand look at what their children are doing in the classroom.
3. Conference with parents. Whether a parent has to miss a regular conference or a concern comes up that requires parental involvement, Skype can provide an opportunity to connect with a parent who may not otherwise be available for a conference.
4. Innovative teacher uses Skype and Wikis to involve parents. See how this teacher helped share information with parents using Skype and the PBS program Growing Up Online.
5. Collaborate with other teachers. Skype isn’t just for children in the classroom, teachers are also utilizing it to collaborate with other teachers and building professional learning networks to share best practices.
6. Share travel experiences. If you will be traveling during the school year, arrange for your substitute to connect with you via Skype and you can share the experience with your class.
7. Receive teaching feedback. Have an experienced or a mentor teacher watch you teach via Skype and receive valuable feedback.
8. Be available to students. If your school is suddenly closed for awhile or if you want to set up conference hours for students, use Skype to allow students to contact you.
9. Tutor former students. If a student has moved away, if you want to offer accredited online degrees, or if a student just moved up from your class, you can be available for tutoring (for free or for a fee) via Skype.
10. Bring busy parents into the classroom. A busy parent who has knowledge to share with the classroom may be more likely to make the time for a presentation if he or she can do so with Skype rather than having to leave work and come to the school.
(These are ten of the fifty ideas listed in Teachers Degree’s 50 Awesome Ways to use Skype in the Classroom http://bit.ly/pcZOZR)