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Following on the series about ways to use Skype in the classroom, I was presented with a wonderful opportunity to interview the person who leads up Social Good for Skype and who is in charge of the Skype in the Classroom initiative – Jacqueline Botterill.
The Skype in the classroom initiative, while itself relatively new, has been undoubtedly a smashing success. The initiative, in fact, was born out of the realization that the technology was being utilized by educators and who better to create a hub where educators and organizations look to exchange ideas and resources than the creators of the software that allowed for these connections and exchanges in the first place?
How Skype In the Classroom Started
The beginnings of Skype in the classroom came from years of feedback from educators who had, on their own initiative, been using Skype to connect their classroom’s students with others around the world.
We had received feedback for a few years of educators that had been utilizing Skype in the classroom – and that it was being used internationally so the decision was made to initiate the Skype in the Classroom program to further encourage it’s use in the classrooms. We wanted the program to proactively work to proactively connect everyone on the planet.
How Skype In the Classroom Has Evolved
From its inception to date, the program has adapted and progressed from being able to upload profiles and share resources, to allowing for public “Project Sections” where most activities are listed. Examples of these are lesson plans, “webinars” offered by organizations, lessons by other educators or even projects by industry leaders.
While the initiative is aimed primarily at educators, there are many other organizations discovering ways to utilize Skype to connect and educate – NASA is one, for example, that is looking for ways to engage students via the Skype in the Classroom initiative. There are many students also connecting to offer tutoring and provide resources for their fellow classmates around the globe.
This project takes on a more remarkable feeling when realizing that it went into public launch in March of 2011 after being in beta since December of 2010. Naturally, during the course of our extremely entertaining conversation, the topic of social media came up as did the question of what role it played and continues to play in the development of this initiative.
Social Media’s Role – How Skype In the Classroom Integrates Social Media
Social media has played a very large role in the creation and development of this initiative. The ability to engage and encourage the growth of a community via Twitter, and Facebook has been invaluable as the process has progressed. Even before the beta launch, we connected with educators that had been using Skype via Twitter and created a community which we then were able to communicate directly to inform them about the beta. Additionally we set up a Facebook group to solidify the community and grow our following. We also have several blogs and we utilize all of these to cross promote projects and events as well as educators utilizing Skype In the Classroom in innovative ways.
Dispelling Myths about Skype In the Classroom
As we conversed, one of the so-called “myths” about Skype in the classroom was laid to rest. As an adult college student myself, I have had conversations with professors who were under the impression that Skype in the Classroom is only for educators teaching primary and secondary grades and not really for higher education.
Right now the majority of our members are using Skype in primary or secondary environments we do have a segment of educators that are working with higher education and college level projects. So there is no focus on any one segment or demographic – the actual focus is on connecting educators and their students – globally, regardless of their level of education.
Get Involved – Here’s How
Ok so how do you get involved with this project? First stop is the Skype in the Classroom site.
You can also follow them on Twitter – Skype Classroom
Visit their Facebook Page : Skype in the Classroom on Facebook
Visit the Peace One Day site
Connect with the Global Learning Exchange