Do Teachers Want Help with Homework? Skype Thinks So

Carrie Schmelkin : Gossip from the Hallways
Carrie Schmelkin
Web Editor, TMC

Do Teachers Want Help with Homework? Skype Thinks So

It’s a common site in any elementary school, high school or college – hoards of students clustered around tables with their backpacks messily strewn about with their notebooks (or laptops) and textbooks flooding the table. After all, two heads are better than one and four heads are certainly better than two when it comes to completing school assignments, right?

Well not unlike students, teachers are looking to get in on the power of collaboration and thanks to Skype, it looks like teacher collaboration just got a whole lot trendier.

Recently, Skype, the educational technology platform that currently has 16,448 educators signed up from 171 countries, announced a number of improvements to its free online education resource which is designed to help teachers create projects and collaborate with other instructors.

“We've seen and heard about some great projects on Skype in the classroom so far,” Skype blogger Jacqueline Botterill wrote. “To make it easier for you to find the right partners and the right projects we've made some improvements to how you create, share, and provide valuable feedback on projects.”

One of the first advancements is that teachers can confirm end dates for projects and hyperlink to additional content when they are creating projects or sharing resources. And for the teacher who has trouble meeting project interval goals? Fear no more as Skype in the classroom allows teachers to send email notifications to themselves reminding them that by Friday they ought to be done with chapter three of their thesis on “Classroom Management: When to Be Assertive and When to Hide under your Desk.”

In addition, the new version of Skype in the classroom makes it easier to share projects than ever before. Teachers simply need to get a Skype in the classroom badge which allows them to spread the word about their affiliation with Skype on their blogs and on the Internet. Teachers can also promote projects effectively by enlisting the help of Skype project sharing tools which teach you how to embed projects and share them more widely.

Finally, Skype has given team collaboration a whole new meaning as teachers can solicit instant feedback on their projects from teachers around the world who have already successfully completed similar projects. By clicking the “I’ve done this” button on the project page, teachers can leave feedback and content that they have used with similar projects. 

Seeing as though I am not a teacher, I have deferred to my colleague TMCnet Copy Editor Rich Steeves, a former social studies teacher, to weigh in on just how helpful these new Skype teach collaboration features are.

“One of the toughest things about being a teacher is working in a bubble,” Steeves told me. “Your colleagues at school and your local community can see the good work you are doing, but, if you and your students put weeks of work into a huge project, like the school-wide Silk Road Fair that my middle school created, it's hard to share that with others. But with the Skype collaboration, we can tap into the experience of other teachers who have put on big projects, talk to educators in parts of the world that we were studying and recreating at our fair, and share our results with other teachers, so classrooms around the world could take our idea and run with it.”

The ease of being able to collaborate with teachers on Skype opens up a world of possibilities for teachers. As Steeves touches upon, thanks to Skype collaboration, projects that are created in small towns can grow legs quickly. For example, a small-town teacher in Wapakoneta, Ohio, can gain international recognition for the fruits of his/her labor.

Even teachers need a little help too, ya know?


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