Tuesday, July 9, 2013

My First Skype Mystery - Figuring out how to Skype!

This is my third of a five part series about my Skype in the Classroom journey. If you would like to read the entire journey, here it is!
1. My Skype Challenge
2. Skype is blocked???? (and other issues)
3. My First Skype Mystery - Figuring out how to Skype
4. Answer The Call!
5. Windows to the World (Global Classroom)

I explained what Mystery Skype calls were in the first post entitled "My Skype Challenge," but in order for me to create a 'mysterious' experience for my students, I had to figure out a mystery of my own first:

How do you Skype?

Yes, I know it sounds silly and yes, I know it's 2013, but after scheduling and confirming my first five calls, I still had never Skyped with anyone. Up until this point in my life, I had used Facetime, and I figured it worked the same, but I knew there would be some differences.

Here are the basics and some tips if you've never Skyped or used Skype in the Classroom before:

#1-  Sign up for a Skype in the Classroom account. Your user name and password will be the same when you log into Skype. Go to: education.skype.com

#2 - Download Skype on the computer you plan to use. Here's the link

#3-  Add the user you plan to Skype with as a contact (you can then chat with the teacher, Skype, send documents, etc.) It's much easier to chat than to email so I left my Skype on during the day for teachers to send me messages about our upcoming calls and I responded when I had time.  You can add a contact on the Skype in the Classroom site or on the Skype program that you downloaded by searching for the person's name. You'll both need to be contacts of each other in order to make the call.

#4- Be sure to do a test call with the teacher beforehand.   If possible, try to call each other at school so you can make sure the connection works.

#5- Change your 'status' during calls!  You can change your status to Online, Away, Do Not Disturb, Invisible and Offline. Because I had so many calls in a short time frame, a few times a teacher would message me during another call and this wouldn't have happened if I would have changed my status.

#6- Remember time differences! I would type in a Google search "Local Time in ___________" (Ex. Sardinal, Costa Rica) for each city to help me plan the times we could Skype. This was much easier than using a time zone map!

#7 - DO NOT put your location (city, state, or country) in your Skype profile if you plan on doing a Mystery Skype activity. Also, check to see if the other teacher's location is in their profile. If you have the projector on before your call, the students may see the other teacher's location and ruin the whole activity! There's nothing that will ruin the activity more than a student yelling: "His profile says he's from Michigan!" :)

#8 - When completing a Mystery Skype activity, be sure your students know where you live! Sounds humorous right? But this was one of the most challenging parts to the Mystery Skype activity. Students wouldn't know where our state was compared to to another city or state. It's very helpful to have multiple maps available and a map beside the computer/camera.

#9- Use the same map in both classroom! We only had access to a handful of computers so we had to use a lot of paper maps. The Mystery Skype calls that went the best were the ones where the teacher and I emailed each other maps beforehand. So, for example, when the students asked if we were east of Zanesville, we could look on the map to see how to answer that question.

#10- On the Skype in the Classroom page, you can search for Skype Lessons, Teachers, Guest Speakers and Resources. You can also narrow your search by Age Group and Language. Definitely use the search engine to search for any of your needs. If you're not sure how to use Skype in the Classroom for your subject area, use the search engine to find lessons for your subject. There are hundreds of lessons archived on the site that might give you an idea!

#11- Create Skype lessons. It's very easy to do and most likely you'll get some response. Here's the lesson I created for my 'Around the World in 8 Days' project.

#12- Search Skype Collections for some of their 'Showcase Lessons'

#13-Follow @SkypeClassroom on Twitter if you don't already! They are very active and tweet out great lesson ideas and guest speaker information!

#14- Use Twitter or any other form of Social Media to find great guest speakers. If you have an idea for a guest speaker (author, motivational speaker, etc.) who isn't already on Skype in the Classroom, try contacting them via Twitter to set up a call!

#15- Even though you may plan a lot beforehand, things still may go awry! The post, Um, Skype is blocked???, discusses some of the bumps in the road that I encountered this past year!

Lesson #18:   Failure to prepare is preparing to fail. 

I know it seems like setting up a Skype in the Classroom call/activity is a lot of work, but it's totally worth it! Here's another video from @JennRegruth. Again, if this doesn't hook you, nothing will! Great job Jenn and thanks again for sharing a glimpse into your classroom!


Hope the above tips help! Feel free to add more in the comments below or contact me on Twitter (@ArinKress) In my next post I'll talk about the different types of Skype calls we participated in! Stay tuned! Thanks for reading!

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