10 ways to take skype beyond ‘meet and greet’!

Skype with an author

Videconferencing with another global class is always powerful learning, even when it is just ‘meet and greet’. However, further productive and effective learning will take place when extensions are made to these initial connections. It is always valuable to research further where that class was from and if possible, place a marker on a google map and discuss geography, history, cultural mixes, possible religions, season, natural disasters, foods eaten, sports etc.

Tonight was the first tweetchat on #globalclassroom. As I was not home this evening, I missed it, but noted questions from @tasteach and @mgraffin on my tweetfeed. Below is my response to how to take skype beyond ‘meet and greet’ with some examples.

Linkups can go beyond class to class and more intimate, rewarding videoconferences can take place between two small groups of students or even place students one on one. This really pushes students beyond their comfort zones, but allows them to fully direct their own learning of each other. This is really evident when the small groups are from different cultures, languages backgrounds etc and enables the learning of valuable global communication skills in our increasingly flat world.

Learning to fold paper money for wedding gifts

Here are some suggestions and ways  that I have used videoconferencing to go beyond ‘meet and greet’:-

  1. Extend the initial contacts to further linkups where students could bring an object that reflects where they live, conduct food demonstrations, favourite books, pets, favourite sports, hobbies etc (Sharing of objects using the camera dissolves any inhibitions and allows natural curiousity to come to the fore with questions, interest and passion.)
  2. Linkup on special days and school celebrations eg ‘come dressed in favourite book character days’, racial harmony day
  3. Perform a virtual concert
  4. Online debating
  5. Teach each other favourite school yard games, historic games, paper folding etc.
  6.  Take it beyond asynchronous connections to synchronous connections eg global collaboration on a wiki, blog, ning etc Some projects that have extended our initial ‘meet and greet’ are Global Storytelling, involving the creation of book trailers across two countries/five cultures,  and Across the World – a wiki setup to share  school life in two schools, one from Russia and and one from Australia.
  7. An initial skpye videoconference linkup with Christopher Herz, an author from New York, led to regular weekly lunchtime skype linkups, called “lunch with an author“. Interested secondary students from Hawkesdale P12 College, Australia would meet in the library at lunchtimes on Tuesdays. Christopher led the students through a series of challenges to help them with their passion for writing. Evernote was used to share work, asynchronous disscusions and editing.
  8. Students interview an expert -organise the teacher from another country. Individual students devise a series of questions and interview the teacher, on a one to one basis, using videoconferencing.
  9. Trial webconferencing rather than just videoconferencing, for even richer connections eg  Blackboard Collaborate, DiscoverE etc Tools such as this give an interactive whiteboard, backchannel for chat where every student can have a voice etc. See “Learning Adventures with Web Conferencing
  10. Use teachable moments. Logon to skype and make use of any possible impromptu linkups rather than organised ‘meet and greet’

See also eCultural Learning Adventures, The World is my Classroom, Big Little Classrooms

How have you used skype in the classroom? Have you used web conferencing with students, especially mixed groups of students? What would you add to this post?


21 responses to “10 ways to take skype beyond ‘meet and greet’!

  1. Hi, love to see this extension of Skype. As a Kindergarten teacher, I know that large group skyping can be a challenge for young children. Of course they all want to talk : ) So we started #skypeplay with a crew of #kinderchat teachers. I love the informal, “lets call up someone who can play today “

    • Thanks Mardelle for responding to this post. I love your idea of #skypeplay with #kinderchat teachers and now follow your hash tag on my tweetdeck feed. A large group is a challenge as they want to have an intimate part of the conversations and if they cannot, they lose interest and move onto something else. Thanks again for stopping by.

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  3. Anne, your experience and knowledge shines through in this post! I’ve learnt some valuable ideas which I’ll take with me when I eventually get my own class.

    Thankyou SO much for sharing 🙂



  4. Anne
    It is amazing how you do so much, it is a real lesson. I am taking my baby steps and organizing a plenary talk for an upcoming convention I am organizing; since the presenter can’t come to our city (the US embassy won’t let him travel to our state due to supposed violence) I have decided to see if we can get him to ve with us another way. I first mentioned Skyping, but he wants to try a connection with Con-X Have you heard of it before? Will there be any interactivity?

    • Congratulations on organizing a plenary talk for your upcoming convention. I think being part of an organisational committee adds another dimension to our skill and knowledge level. It is so sad to read that his US embassy would not let him travel to your state due to supposed violence. What is your perception of the level of violence in your city? I took students to Qatar, in the middle East, and many people were concerned that I was doing that. (For a flat classroom conference) Yet, we saw no violence at all – only friendly, kind, helpful people and we felt absolutely safe at all times.
      I still think skype is one of the best connecting tools or google chat video as there are few problems now-a-days.I do not know of Con-X. I tried to google it but couldnt find much either. Have you learnt more? I suggest you test the tool with him, see if it works in your city or educational institution, see whether it will do what you need it to etc and then make a decision but always test, test, test before the live event and have a back up tool/plan ready should it fall over on the day. All the best with this exciting venture.

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  7. Hi!
    My name is Heather and I work for Worth Ave. Group. We’re currently holding a contest for K-12 teachers to win grants for their schools, and iPads or iPods for their classrooms. If you’re interested in participating, feel free to email me or visit the link I’ve posted below.
    Have a great day!

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  10. I love this post and will share it with my team at our initial planning meeting on Friday. They all think I am a bit out there unfortunately… I think a purpose to connect with classes is paramount as we teach our children how to make the best use of tools such as skype. My most favourite skype session was when my class connected with other classrooms and shared their choreography for their end of year performance. Those classes filmed their “take” of the dance steps and then featured on stage with my class… The discussion that this embroiled was about culture and collaboration… Better still, they could read and view this learning experience on other class blogs… http://mrmillersblog.com/2010/12/15/going-global/

  11. Great!
    Really interesting, I work at an International School in Southern Spain and we have Skyped with India and Singapore! It was so interesting! unfortunately Australia is too far away, because of the time difference. I work with 5/6 year olds and I would love to be part of any projects.

    • Hi Caroline Thanks for your comment. Australia is in a rather awkward time zone for linking up with English speaking countries in Europe and the USA. I am a secondary teacher but teach in a prep to year 12 school so this year, I am teaching the little ones for ICT. I have just got involved with the K-2 Building Bridges project which is a Flat Classroom Project. It is in the trial pilot stage now but you might like to take part in the second one. Here is the link http://k2-pilot.flatclassroomproject.org/

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  17. annemirtschin

    Here is an interesting site with 10 ways to use skype in the classroom http://blog.learningtoday.com/blog/bid/41726/10-Ways-to-Use-Skype-in-the-Classroom

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