Saturday, March 11, 2006

Skype in My Teaching

Skype, that handy combination of video, voice, and text chat, is a fine tool for teaching. I've used it in the following situations:

Virtual Office Hours

While sitting in my office during scheduled office hours, I run Skype so students may chat with me more conveniently. Some students will Skype with me who would not come to my office. Admittedly, most of the calls I receive come 24 hours or less before an assignment is due, asking for last minute instructions. However, some students are more planful. They call me while writing a draft of a paper. I "look over their shoulder" while they write in Writely, or write comments on a draft while they wait for me to send it back to them. Also, students seem to like to know I'm online, even if they don't chat with me. I use Skype to let them know I'm here.

Extra Office Hours

The night before a paper is due I'll start a large group chat and keep it open until midnight or 1 am. I'll call it something like "ENGL 101 Up All Night." I hope, at these times, to create a sense of community and support.

Student Chats

My students work in groups. Sometimes they have trouble scheduling meetings. Skype helps them conquer time and space. They can meet from anywhere there's an internet connection.

Chat with a Librarian

When students work on bibliographies, they sometimes chat with a generous librarian who sometimes helps me out. In the future, I'd like to record these chats so other students and I may review them.

Guest Lecturer

Guests may Skype into a class to give a talk or take questions from students.

I've heard that some teachers use Skype for language instruction. They have their students talk to students in other countries.

If you think of more ways to use Skype for teaching, please let me know!

Call me!
get your own Skype "call me" button

Note: If Skype doesn't work for you, try Gizmo!


Anonymous said...

Kudos for excellent turn around time!

I find these suggestions very helpful and encourage you to include others like this.

appreciatively, cyberian

Dan said...

Thanks, Cyberian!

I'm still getting used to the idea that anyone reads this blog.

It used to be just a scratch pad for me.

Now that it has become a resource for others, I am changing my posting style to reflect an awareness of audience.

I shall do as you advise more often.