Review: Skype in the Classroom

Technology can be amazing; it allows us to contact people all over the world, see the making of history, and, yes, watch viral cat videos. But along with all the good it brings, technology has negative consequences as well (which I’m sure you’ve all heard before). For instance, while using my laptop to type this article, I cannot confirm nor deny that I watched the new Kingsman: The Golden Circle official trailer. Although if I had, I would be telling you all to go watch it. See? Distraction. Probably the number one reason teachers dislike having tech in the classroom.

Now before you roll your eyes and turn off whatever device you are reading this on, I want you to know that this review isn’t just me griping about how horrible the interwebs are, or how technology will be our doom. This article is about Skype, and more specifically, its use in the classroom.

Global Classrooms are a relatively new concept heralded by the Model UN. The Model UN defines the term as:

… an innovative educational program that engages middle school and high school students in an exploration of current world issues through interactive simulations and curricular materials. Global Classrooms cultivates literacy, life skills and the attitudes necessary for active citizenship.

Basically, what that chunk of text means is that Global Classrooms encourages the use of technology in education so students can explore current world issues. Boom. What else could a global classroom use at its disposal? Skype. Double boom.

Using Skype in classrooms could be either a One Hit Wonder™ or a Box Office Flop™. Here is a list of pros and cons. You decide which side you’re on.

Pros:

  • Skype offers free communication and subscriptions are cheap; meaning the overall costs for schools isn’t as much as you’d think.
  • Students can communicate with the world, learning new studies from the experts themselves.
  • When absent, educators could use Skype to instruct the class.

Cons:

  • You need internet access to use Skype.
  • It can affect real world interaction.
  • It does not offer language translation.
  • Skype is still lacking in business tools.

So, is the Global Classroom concept worth it?

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