Skyping to Learn

It wasn’t long ago that high-speed Internet access became reliable in classrooms—or even available. Many schools had computer labs that were the sole point of access for students to get online. Of course, limited access came with limited opportunities to use the Internet for learning.

Today, Internet access in schools is virtually ubiquitous. Many classrooms have their own fleets of laptops, tablets, and other devices, all connected to the Internet through WiFi. This has allowed teachers to fully use the Internet as a resource in the classroom. And it’s been extremely beneficial in helping teachers reach “digital native” students who have never known life without connectivity.

One particularly useful technology available in classrooms is Skype, a videoconferencing program that can connect individuals—and entire classrooms—in different locations throughout the country and around the world. This allows classes to collaborate and learn from each other, helping them to broaden their perspectives and communicate to achieve commonly held goals.

Teaching in Action: Learning Geography Through “Mystery Skype”

A new video on Edivate demonstrates how STEM education provides students with the opportunity to connect with local and global communities using technology. Watch as actual students in Ms. Robin Farnsworth’s 3rd grade class at Neil Armstrong Academy in West Valley City, Utah, videoconference with students in a classroom from another state and work collaboratively to determine in which state the other school is located.

The segment also comes with a downloadable lesson plan to help you conduct a Mystery Skype lesson in your own classroom. It also includes a study guide that outlines the implementation of effective STEM instruction in your own classroom, as well as general links to additional STEM-related resources.

This standards-based lesson addresses two state standards:

  • Use technology in collaborative writing activities for audiences outside of the classroom
  • Use online resources in problem-solving activities

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