Sunday, June 24, 2012

Why should we use SKYPE in our face-to-face classes?

This blog post is a response to a person who found me on Skype...

The reasons behind putting Skype into the classroom are
1) to provide diversity (sometimes I am teaching only kids from Brazil or Asia)
2)  to advertise the school ...
3) to make the class exercises REAL and
4) to show the limits of skype to my face to face students.

I push the face-to-face students to make videos for the virtual students.   The homework becomes essential because there are students in other places who are waiting for the  face to face students to do something.

Skype is not a perfect connection tool for the classroom.
a) the Internet is sometimes unreliable and might be slow.
b) there is no easy way to "rewind" and listen again
c) too much information is coming... if a group of students is watching Skype with a single virtual student, that virtual student doesn't often know who is talking.
d) most of the Skype session is taken up exchanging information that is more efficiently given by email or asynchronous video.  Skype is best when it is a FOLLOWUP to a video and email exchange.

The most effective procedures are:
-- video "welcome" messages from the face to face class so that the virtual students can study something before the SKYPE contact.
-- videorecord the skype conversation.
-- analyze the Skype conversation.  Let the face to face students look and listen to the talk.
-- post the videos on youtube so that virtual students can participate, too.
-- keep maps, photos and other visual items ready near the computer so that you can show students on skype something to talk about.
-- mini-videos can be recorded and exchanged ... For example, I sometimes use my wife'siPhone to make a short video message to send to my former students who are in Saudi Arabia.  Then they send me a reply using their iPhone (to capture a video of 45 seconds and then send it).
If students are shy, point the camera at the floor when they are on the skype talk.

If you want to discuss ways to use Skype in the classroom, contact me  +1 954 646 8246 or email or catch me on Skype  SteveEnglishTeacher

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