Sunday, July 10, 2011

A potential project for students: The SKYPE (Phone) Booth

What if every school could be connected to a Skype booth "out there" (perhaps in a local museum)? What if outsiders could call into your school and look through the Skype connection to what's happening in the classroom?

In a school with LOTS of computers
Technology in the school: HIGH
The focus could be to create procedures where students assume the role of "ambassador to the world" for their classroom. Each student who wants to participate would have a start and end time during the day when calls to the assigned Skype account would be answered.

The focus is more on PROCEDURE than technology. The school's rules should include procedures to allow students to be listed as "school ambassador" and to give students permission to answer when someone from the outside rings in. It might be that there are several "school ambassador accounts," so that at least one of the accounts is active and open, ready for outsiders to call in. With every student's laptop or internet device "ON" for Skype, then each student can bring in a partner for a class discussion. UNCERTAIN: What impact would ten Skype calls have on a school's internet system?

A second project might be called "SET UP A SKYPE BOOTH IN A MUSUM." The students could approach a local museum and find out what equipment or expertise is needed to connect the museum to Skype booths in other museums or to connect local schools to the lobby of the museum.

Schools that have a lot of technology could look for a neighboring school that lacks technology. The High Tech school could offer to procure, install and train the low-tech school's students to maintain a Skype Booth -- and then students in both schools could call in and participate in class discussions.

In a school with FEW computers:
Technology in the school: LOW
The project could be to request or set up a Skype station IN the school. A location could be selected to make it easy for students to interact with the machine between classes or the booth could be mobile and placed in different classrooms to allow outsiders to participate in class discussions.

The focus is on both PROCEDURE and TECHNOLOGY. The school's rules should include procedures to allow the Skype booth to be answered when someone from the outside rings in, for the Skype booth to be "on" at set times (ready for a call) and for who takes care of the equipment. Part of the project will be finding the equipment to set up the Skype booth.

Skype Phone Booth

Excerpts from the announcement:

Instead of phone booths, will we see Skype booths all over public areas like airports and hospitals? Well, we are not quite there yet, but the Estonian Tallinn Airport just placed a futuristic-looking Skype station in their building.

This Skype station has a 22-inch touchscreen and a headset and you have to log in with your Skype account to use it. If you have Skype credits, you can use them, if you don’t Skype-to-Skype usage is still free. What if you forget to log out when you are done? That shouldn’t be a problem, since the Skype booth will automatically log you out as soon as you step away from it.

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