Skype in the Classroom: a Tool for Personalized Learning

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Skype in the classroom
Photo by: Cecily Healy

Fabien Cousteau, world-famous oceanographic explorer, made history with his Mission 31 exploration in 2014, turning classrooms into virtual fish tanks thru Skype in the Classroom. The video Skype in the Classroom Takes These Students on an Ultimate Field Trip highlights Cousteau’s connection with three different classrooms — one within the United Kingdom, one in Serbia, and one in the United States.

While the technology of Skype allowed that connection to happen, the technology in and of itself wasn’t personalized learning. What turned the project into personalized learning was what the teachers and Cousteau did with that technology.

Allowing Questions

The teachers allowed the students to come up with their own questions for Cousteau, something that brought a personalized learning element into the project. Had the students been reading about this topic in a textbook or watching a produced video, they may not have been as engaged in the material, tapping into their creativity in asking questions.

One question, “Is it easy to fall asleep under water?” resulted in Cousteau showing the children around his lab using the camera. Another question, “Can you describe the wave come and go out the lab without the water rushing in?” resulted in a lesson about water pressure.

The live look-in to this underwater lab, however, provided real-time answers to the questions the students came up with.

Skype in the Classroom

Teacher, John Altieri said in a Skype blog, “We love using Skype in the classroom, because we get to see different perspectives of what others are doing which really brings us out of our classrooms without having to move from our seats.”

Second grader Julia Szymanski thought “it was so cool to see all of the animals living outside of the window in the ocean” and classmate Owen Herrera “loved the tour of the lab. I learned that it’s hard to be living underwater for a month!”

Skype in the Classroom is a perfect example of the way technology has become a conduit to personalized learning, but isn’t personalized learning in and of itself. Skype is a tool for educators to design curriculum around, connecting their classrooms with professionals, speakers, and other classrooms anywhere in the world.

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