Classroom Collaboration with Skype

Classroom Collaboration with Skype
Explore how Skype can be used to build community and collaboration both for students and teachers. Start with account creation, basic Skype features, and safety concerns. Next, learn how students can use chat for recording student discussions. Creating group chats, conference calls, and management strategies will be discussed. See how Skype video and the use of group conference equipment such as the Polycom Communicator will can enhance a project. Classroom to classroom and classroom to expert projects will be highlighted.
Getting Started
  1. Connecting with Skype
    1. Set up account, interface basics, profiles
                                                              i.      Privacy settings
                                                           ii.      Skype status and safety issues, e.g. Don’t select “Skype Me” Invisible allows someone to try to contact you but doesn’t show that you are online.
    1. Skype audio settings – when audio doesn’t work.
    2. Add a contact. Searching for contact.
    3. Make a call – add to contacts.
    4. Buttons – receive call, hang up, mute, and put call on hold.
  1. Sharing contacts
    1. Contacts from your contact list can be shared with others.
  2. Profile and Preference settings
    1. Photo – if you have a photo you may drag into Account èMy Profile…

                                                              i.      Drag and drop onto contact.

                                                           ii.      Discuss concerns about students putting too much information in their profile or using their photos if connecting to someone outside of school.
                                                         iii.      Other privacy settings in profiles
  1. Skype video
    1. Skype video – settings
    2. Logitech cameras and video in Skype or use built-in video on new laptops
    3. When to use or not use video.
    4. Discuss educational uses of video in a Skype connection.
  2. Chat
    1. Send a chat first to ask if someone is available to talk.
    2. Can bookmark chats for ease of returning to chat to continue – sort of like an open forum.
    3. Members can be added to your chat.
    4. Chat reviewed later or printed.
  3. Chat project – chat with three others about how students could use chat to communicate. Have a teacher pose a question to the group. Such as, “What are some examples of how animals use camouflage?” or “What is your passion in teaching?” or “What is your favorite movie and why?”
  4. Conference calls
    1. Set up a conference call with at least 3 different people.
    2. Have all mute their microphone unless they are talking.
    3. Skype allows you to conference with up to 9 other people.
    4. How does video work with in a conference call?
  5. Conference call project – conference with three others and answer one of these:
    1. What excites you the most about using laptops with students?
    2. Share one project which you did with students and the laptops which really worked well.
                                                              i.      The youngest teacher will be the conference initiator and moderator for the call.
  1. Sharing files
    1. Share a digital photo or other file with someone.
  2. Skypecast
    1. A large, hosted conference calls, scheduled to begin and end at a certain time and usually have a certain topic of discussion.
                                                            i i.
    1. You may create a public chat
  1. Skype Out and other Skype tools…voice mail…
  2. Recording Skype Calls for podcasts
    1. Special software makes recording Skype calls easy. Try PrettyMay for Windows or Call Recorder for Mac.
  3. Educational applications
    1. Talk with your group about how you might use Skype with your students.
                                                              i.       Connecting with an expert
                                                           ii.      Connecting with another teacher or classroom – debates, reader theater
                                                         iii.      Connecting with a student who can’t be in class
                                                          iv.      Connecting with parents
    1. Wesley Fryer shares how Skype may be used in the classroom

    2. Vicki Davis shares how Skype is being introduced to her students. Nice 13 minute video: 

  1. Equipment and approximate price:
    1. Logitech Premium 350 USB headset ($32)
    2. Plantronics DSP 400 headset ($41)
    3. Polycomm Communicator C100S for table top discussions ($100 - $120)
    4. Pretty May ($25)
    5. Call Recorder (Mac) ($15)


 Hands-on Learning Activities:

Skype hands-on activities:

  1. Find a partner and get their Skype name.  Add them to your contacts.
  2. Start a discussion in chat with your partner about the newest technology tool or resource you have recently learned about and how it can be used to support learning.  Add a link to a website referenced in your chat.
  3. Start a group chat with three others and share about what you discussed in the previous chat.  See if the chat can be saved and printed.  It must be started by one person and that person adds others to their chat.
  4. Talk with your partner using Skype audio.  Decide who will initiate the call.  If possible, try it both with and without a headset.
  5. Add video if you have a camera.
  6. In a chat or call, send a file to the person you are chatting or talking with.  Try both sending and receiving a file.
  7. Create a conference call with three other people.  It must be started by one person and that person will add others to the call.
  8. Add your digital photo to your Skype profile.

ePals hands-on activities:

  1. Explore the ePals project section and learn about one project that interests you.
  2. Explore the search for classroom section of ePals and find a classroom which you might be able to connect with that has indicated that they support Chat, Audio/Voice software, or Video software. Make a note of the contact's name.



Connecting with other classrooms

  1. Go to and create a free teacher account.
    1. Select "Join Us" then "ePals Global Community" to create a free account,
    2. Explore the ePals Projects section (no membership required to explore.) See if you can find a project of interest. For additional project ideas explore “The Archives” link on the bottom of the project section. Save any .pdf of interest for later viewing. 
  2. Explore the e-pals discussion areas.
  3. Brainstorm with your group some of the projects you could do, classroom to classroom. These projects might involve classroom to classroom interaction or student to student interaction. Talk with your group about how the collaborative tools you learned about today could be used to support your project.
  4. Click Find Classrooms on the right side to search for a classroom to make a classroom to classroom connection with. Click on More Options on the bottom to see the option to search for only schools with Chat, Audio/Voice software, or Video software. You may want to restrict your search to schools with a description keyword or by geographically area. Be sure to search by participant age or you may have your middle school students talking with adults wanting to learn English. Be aware of time differences if you are interested in a synchronous exchange.
  5. Send an e-mail to the teacher at one or more of the classrooms introducing you and suggesting further discussion about collaboration. You may want to provide your Skype name and ask if they use Skype. Don’t be surprised if it results in a conversation with someone from another part of the world. 
  6. Other sites for classroom to classroom global projects. 
    1. Global SchoolNet Foundation
    2. Click on iPoPP or enter to search for projects.
    3. Taking It Global –

      Look under the Take Action Projects section.


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