Via: Engadget - Skype in the Classroom Tears Down Geographic Walls, Connects Pupils The World Over
Teachers already use Skype to connect with other classrooms around the globe, bring in guest speakers without asking them to travel, and take virtual field trips. Skype offers an immediate way to help students discover new cultures, languages and ideas, all without leaving the classroom. Now, Skype is making it easier for them to do so, Serious Games-like!
On March 30th, the company launched a free international community site dubbed Skype in the Classroom, an online platform designed to help teachers find each other and relevant projects according to search criteria such as the age groups they teach, location and subjects of interest.
Since the beta version launched in December 2010, about 4,000 teachers, across 99 counties, have signed up. Many of them have used the network to coordinate Skype projects with other schools.
A “project” tab in Skype in the Classroom allows users to post and search for projects that require collaboration. A map that shows teachers by location is another addition to the site
Using the platform, teachers can create profiles that describe their classes and teaching interests.
Once teachers create their profile, they can create projects. Projects are a way for teachers to find partner classes, partner teachers or guest speakers for a specific learning activity. You can browse through projects or even search by keyword, which makes it easy for teachers to share expertise and collaborate on projects even when they don’t already know each other.
To join Skype in the classroom, teachers should:
1.Sign up at http://education.skype.com using their Skype account details
2. Create a profile which includes their interests, location and the age groups they teach
3. Explore the directory to find projects, teachers and resources that match their skills, needs or interests
Skype in the classroom is a members-only community. Once teachers find someone they want to connect with they can add that person as a Skype contact or send them a message through the site.
As reported by Engadget, “Cisco's doing it in the boardroom, and soon, your children may be taking notes from kiddos situated in a different continent”.
Cisco's Umi and TelePresence services got together for some HD video calling synergy and the company has enabled "full interoperability" between the two. The networking giant is also rolling out a free HD calling client called Umi Connect for PC and Mac (think SkypeHD).
Accommodating teachers is a natural move for Skype. Several independent sites have already established Skype teacher phone books, class collaboration directories and virtual language exchange programs to accommodate the growing number of educators who are using the videoconferencing platform as a learning tool.
Skype spokeswoman Jacqueline Botterill says. “There are a number of online platforms that were trying to galvanize those communities, but they’re quite fragmented and disparate, so we’re trying to create one place where teachers can come together.