Browse Month: August 2015

Transformation Through Collaboration: Skype

I introduced the following tools for finding collaborative projects using Skype last spring, but I wanted to remind you of these tools as you are planning for this year.  There are similar sites for Google Hangout, which I will cover next week.  As you explore and consider collaborative projects, remember to start small and work to more complex collaborative tasks as you and your students become more comfortable communication outside of the classroom.  The easiest way to start collaborative projects is to work with teachers outside the district that you already know.  By utilizing your established relationships,  you can focus on the task of connecting your classrooms.  The resources I am sharing serve as communication networks where you can find other educators and classrooms looking to connect through online communication tools.

If you would like Skype installed on your SMARTboard computer, please submit a work order or let me know.  Skype also has iOS and Android mobile apps.   (Skype will not run on Chromebooks.)  You can create a free Skype account on the web without installing the program.

Skype is the Classroom is probably the best place to begin looking for connections through Skype.  You will need a Skype account to sign in. (You can also sign in with a facebook or Twitter account, but if you are going to use Skype, you will eventually need a Skype account.  Plus, when you use your Skype account, it eliminates potential confusion caused when you use a Twitter account for Skype in the Classroom and a Skype account when actually using Skype.)  After logging in, you can search for projects or other teachers by keyword, subject, and age group.  You can also register to participate in Mystery Skype.

The Skype An Author Network lists several authors who are willing to Skype with readers.  Many authors are willing to host 15-20 minute free Skype sessions with students who have read one of their books.  Details are listed for each author including contact information, presentation topics, and rates for longer Skype sessions.

50 Awesome Ways to Use Skype in the Classroom is a blog post that lists projects that other educators have conducted through Skype along with more resources for using Skype.

Transforming Through Collaboration

Rather than start with a completely new set of goals this year, I prefer to continue to build on the achievements of last year.  One of our major district-wide objectives last year was using technology to transform teaching and learning; at the end of the year I began talking about transforming teaching and learning through collaboration.  A few teachers immediately began the process of forming connections with classrooms outside of OTMS and taking the first steps to establish relationships with other educators and classrooms that would impact the learning in both classrooms.  As you begin making plans for this school year, think about how you could connect yourself with other educators and classrooms.

As you start thinking about collaborative projects, start small and work to more complex collaborative tasks as you and your students become comfortable with the process.  In their book, Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds, Lindsay and Davis describe a Taxonomy of Global Connection with five levels of progressing collaboration (54-56).  Each level represents more complex tasks and student independence.  I’ve listed the levels below and details on each level can be found here.

  1. Interconnection Within Your Own Classroom
  2. Interconnection With the School or Geographic Area
  3. Managed Global Connections
  4. Student-to-Student Connections with Teacher Management
  5. Student-to-Student Connections with Student Management

I shared several collaborative tools at the end of last year, and I plan to share them again in the coming weeks.  But before we begin talking about tools, take some time to explore how collaboration can impact the learning of your students.  THE Journal just published an article titled “6 Ways Videoconferencing Is Expanding the Classroom” that may spark some ideas as you continue thinking about connecting yourself and your students with learners around the world.