Skype as a Tool

1 Jan

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Teachers are good at becoming experts in a wide variety of subjects, but it’s always nice to be able to bring in the outside perspective of someone more experienced with the topic you’re covering in class. Over the years I have spent a great deal of departmental money on bringing in experts. Experts in various professional fields have a tendency to be busy, making it hard for them to commit to an in-class visit. But a Skype call’s much easier to fit into a packed timetable.

Calls with experts can be set up as a Q&A or more of a lecture, depending on what you prefer. You can give students the assignment of doing some research and coming up with questions in advance, so they have an opportunity to interact with the expert and learn more. This can take a lot of different forms depending on the subject you’re teaching. A professional artist can do an art critique of your students’ work in class. A musician can provide an informal music lesson over Skype. A museum curator or university lecturer or local personality can discuss different items in their collection, saving the time and money of a field trip.

You can always get more out of these interviews by giving related assignments to students. You can have them summarize what they got out of it in a paper, short video, or podcast. Indeed podcasts are great. The stuff podcast are especially good. Or ask them to create something related to what the expert discussed, like a piece of art that would fit into the collections at the curator’s museum.

Well then Skype has so much potential and I hope to develop it in 2016. What was a tool that you had success with 2015 in the classroom?

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