Cool Ways to use Skype in the Classroom

By Rob Klindt

Skype is an excellent collaboration tool for teachersOf all the tech programs that have found their way into the classroom in recent years, Skype is possibly the most exciting and versatile.

The popular Web-based video conferencing program offers K-12 educators many creative ways to enhance their lesson plans and boost student learning. Among the most popular: using Skype to bring authors, scientists and community leaders into the classroom to share their expertise directly with students.

Teachers also can use Skype to:

  • Connect and share lessons with other classrooms around the country or the world.
  • Share classroom work and projects with parents.
  • Help students improve foreign language skills by conversing with native speakers.
  • Practice interviewing techniques with other users.
  • Take the class on a virtual field trip to a national park, monument or building.

Getting Started

The technical side of getting started with Skype is not complicated. Several free online reference guides can ease the process for educators.

  • Educational Technology. This site offers an extensive overview of how Skype works, tips on customizing its features, and how to set the program up for classroom use. A video tutorial is included.
    Visit the site
  • The Digital Shift. For technology neophytes, this online technology site offers step-by-step directions for setting up Skype sessions in K-12 classrooms.
    Visit the site

Resources for Teachers

Because Skype blends nicely into the social media universe, it’s easy to find online communities that focus on developing resources that take advantage of the educational possibilities of Skype.

  • Skype on Twitter. A global community of teachers working together to share and create inspiring Skype lessons for all grade levels. Free; registration required.
    Visit the site
  • Skype on Facebook. This page is devoted to connecting teachers, classrooms and experts in many fields. Users typically chat and share lesson plans, videos and tips for using Skype. Free; registration required.
    Visit the site
  • Skype in the Classroom. Lesson plans, virtual field trips, guest speakers, interactive games and more for K-12 students, along with professional development tips for teachers. Free; registration required.
    Visit the site
  • Special Ed Classroom. This education blog offers tips to teachers who want to use Skype to connect with students who are out of the classroom because of special needs or IEP requirements.
    Visit the site

Virtual Visits to the Classroom

Experts in many fields, along with children’s book authors, community leaders and other professionals often use Skype to visit classrooms to talk about their work. Here are sources for finding guest speakers:

  • NASA Digital Learning Network. Numerous NASA education and technology specialists regularly offer free presentations on science and astronomy subjects to schools using Skype. Free.
    Visit the site
  • Kate Messner. This popular children’s author and educator offers free Skype chats with K-12 classrooms or book clubs that have finished one of her books. She also maintains a comprehensive list of other authors who will do the same. Free.
    Visit the site

Classroom Projects

Teachers and students from around the world use Skype to study many subjects including foreign languages, science, history and creative writing.

  • Skype Lessons. This page offers an impressive collection of interactive lesson plans that use Skype in various subjects including English, geography, mathematics and social studies. Free.
    Visit the page
  • A worldwide network of volunteer educators offers professional development support activities for educators using Skype. Free; donations accepted and registration is required.
    Visit the site

With more than 600 million registered users worldwide, Skype is an excellent tool to help teachers enhance lesson plans, bring guest speakers into the classroom and offer students a front seat to world cultures and events.