Skype Tips

These are some tips and tricks we’ve picked up along the way from our journey of discovery with Skype and Video Conferencing. (If you’ve got some to share with us, please leave us a comment!)

Before the skyping/conferencing

  • Practise speaking slowly and clearly (it’s amazing how many students don’t pronounce their words very well)
  • If your topic is prearranged – have a list of the students names on the board
  • Organise your class to sit in rows with an aisle (makes movement up the camera and mic manageable)
  • Place a “speaker chair” in front of the webcam/camera

(thanks to my wonderful collaborative project partner Ms Cofino for the last two tips)

During the skyping/conferencing

Our skype call with Benton Elementary

  • Don’t have your speakers too loud – this is a major cause of feedback
  • Encourage your students to say who they are before they continue to speak
  • One class asks a question, the other class answers then asks their question etc – an organisational system that seems to work really well
  • Use a wikispace / pbwiki / blog to record the results and information from your conversations!

Other helpful tips

  • We’ve found that a hand held mic works very well to help establish one person speaking
    (you can’t speak without the “talking stick”)
  • Prearrange a student to say thank you for talking with us today
  • If possible, test your equipment (without the students)

 

The amazing Sylvia Tolisano (Langwitches) has designed an infographic with roles that students could undertake during a skype call.

Skyping: Assigned Roles

Student roles that could be used are:

  1. Calendar
    • Responsible for adding Date & Time of planned Skype connection to shared & embedded Google Calendar
  2. Greeter
    • Greets the partner school.
    • Makes initial introduction.Talks about Geographic location.
  3. Share
    • Shares something special about class, school, city, state or country.
      • Could be song, dance, souvenir, project, sports team, etc.
  4. Q &A
    • Asks specific questions for data collection.
    • Responsible for keeping conversation fluid
  5. Photographer
    • Responsible for documenting connection with still images.
  6. Videographer
    • Responsible for documenting connection with video.
  7. Backchannel Writers
    • Documenting conversation, questions, answers and classroom happenings during the connection on a backchannel chat (Ex. Today’s Meet)
  8. Backchannel Cleanup
    • Responsible to save backchannel chat as a Word Document and cleaning up duplicate comments and mark questionable statements to be verified.
  9. Live Blogger
    • Blogs skype call live to classroom blog
  10. Blogger Word Problem
    • Creates a Math word problem from data, questions and answers collected during skype call
  11. Google Earth
    • Finds location of skype partner and measures distance in miles & kilometres.
  12. Google Map
    • Responsible for adding place mark of Skype partner’s location to embedded Google Map on classroom blog.
  13. Info Station
    • Responsible to search for any data question on the spot.
    • Verifies any questionable information as well.
  14. Data Entry
    • Responsible for adding data collected into embedded google form on classroom blog. Ex. distance miles/km, temperature in F/C.
  15. Elapsed time
    • Responsible for noting time Skype call started and ended as well as calculating elapsed time