Fostering Digital Citizenship with Skype in the Classroom

Carrie Pecoraro

For the last two quarters as a Microsoft Solutions Associate, I’ve had the privilege of partnering with Poly to talk about how their audio and video conferencing options work well with our Microsoft customers’ licensing needs to create a comprehensive solution for their environments. Recently, we had a conversation about how this fits into the K–12 space, and it got me thinking. 

When I started my Masters Degree in Education, my favorite course was Technology in Education. I learned how far technology has come since my elementary school days using a floppy disk on our computer lab’s Macintosh computers. With the wealth of options available to engage students, personalize instruction, and connect teachers to the best available resources for their curriculum, it’s no surprise that Microsoft Education has taken a collaborative approach with their program.

Connect with the World

In that course, one of my favorite tools was Skype in the Classroom. Skype in the Classroom is a free program for educators to help support ISTE Education Standards, and connect students to the world around them. Features include Mystery Skype, which is a game that pairs classrooms from around the globe, prompting students to figure out where the other classroom is located by providing each other with specific clues and roles outlined in the OneNote Notebook. Students can keep a Skype in the Classroom Passport to keep track of the different places they’ve “traveled” to with their Mystery Skype journeys. 

They can embark on virtual field trips and explore the geysers of Yellowstone National Park with the National Parks Service, travel back to Ancient China in the Shan Xi Museum, or even visit the Sea Turtle Rehab at the South Carolina Aquarium. These virtual field trips provide access to students who might never have the opportunity to visit these places, enhance learning, and let students make the most of their educational experiences using just a microphone and a webcam.

Classes can work together with students around the world to become great global citizens through Skype Collaboration by increasing diversity, working towards universal goals to protect and preserve our planet, and addressing social issues such as hunger and poverty. They can also explore the solar system or appreciate the indigenous art of India and Australia.

Enhance Student Learning

Last but not least, students and educators can make use of the vast array of Skype lessons to enhance classroom learning and teacher training. There are available lessons in everything from professional musicians and authors to scientists and politicians. Teachers can learn how to round out lessons in Minecraft or create an inclusive environment within the classroom for students with difficulties, such as dyslexia.  

By utilizing Microsoft Teams in conjunction with Skype in the Classroom, teachers can build assignment, assessment, and grading into one comprehensive tool with their Skype in the Classroom OneNote to capture the full experience. 

Check out the Connected Community for more blogs about technology in the education space.

Carrie shares her expertise in Microsoft licensing for state and local government, and education. In her free time, Carrie enjoys concerts, football, and traveling.