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May 16, 2012

SKYPE News - Skype Wants to Connect One Million Classrooms Worldwide

By Jacqueline Lee, Contributing Writer

Skype (News - Alert) in the Classroom has just joined forces with Penguin Group, Save the Children, the New York Philharmonic, Peace One Day and the Science Museum London to deliver access to expert speakers as well as access to educational content via video calling. Their goal, according to Skype Division president, Tony Bates (News - Alert), is to connect one million classrooms globally.

“Skype in the classroom is excited to collaborate with stellar, like-minded organizations to bring relevant content directly to innovative teachers who are looking to create unforgettable shared learning experiences for their students,” said Bates, in a press release.

“We are dedicated to making education accessible via technology and will continue to look for ways to remove barriers to communications and connect to classrooms across the globe.”

So far, more than 28,000 teachers in over 190 countries have registered for Skype in the Classroom. Skype’s commitment to learning is just part of Microsoft’s (News - Alert) overall focus on creating opportunities for young people that help them to realize their full potential.

Some districts have created professional development opportunities that have allowed teachers to take advantage of what Skype in the Classroom has to offer. The State Department of Education in Idaho, for instance, recently put together a workshop entitled “Using Skype in the Classroom” as part of their TechnoTeach initiative.

The curriculum also provided numerous suggestions for how teachers could incorporate Skype into their classrooms. For instance, if students couldn’t take field trips because of budgetary constraints, then teachers could use Skype to bring the field trip to the classroom.

Also, Skype connects students to many prominent people in a variety of industries. One teacher, who used the movie “Hoop Dreams” to teach lessons on social inequality, was able to contact the movie’s producer via Skype and engage him in a discussion with her class.

Additionally, some seventh grade students working on a natural history project engaged in collaboration with the director of the National Museum in Canada thanks to the capabilities of Skype in the Classroom.

Teachers can also win a video call with a celebrity by entering a Skype sweepstakes. Teachers must submit a 150-word essay about how they use Skype in their classrooms by May 29 to be eligible for the contest.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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