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Using Video Chat in the Classroom

Technology is changing the way children learn and how teachers teach. The world is now open to students in a way that never was. The traditional writing exercise with a pen pal has evolved now that there are computers and an internet connection in a majority of classrooms.

These exercises help students learn about other parts of the world, and generally break down the walls that exist due to geography, cultures, and language. Here are 5 ways you can use Skype or Google Hangouts in your classroom:

  1. A new take on the pen pal

Classrooms are now able to connect to each other without the traditional pen and paper, or the more recent email outbox to inbox. Using video chat platforms such as Skype or Google Hangouts, classrooms are able to build connections between other classrooms around the country and the world. Students can chat on a classroom level, or on a small group basis with another class. Talking points can help keep the conversations productive and on track.

  1. Collaborative Learning

Video can help your students through collaborative learning. Although the curriculum varies from school to school, and country to country, talking about general issues that are relevant to your classroom can open your students’ eyes to how another country thinks about that topic.Try connecting with a classroom in Europe when learning about European history, or a classroom in Mexico when fine tuning Spanish language skills.

  1. Guest Speakers

It can be difficult to get guest speakers to take such a large part of their day to travel and speak in your classroom. Using video chat can help take the stress away from your guest speaker getting to your classroom, since they can talk with your students from their home or office. You’ll be able to expand the reach of your guest speaker asks too, since geography is not a deterring factor. The next time you schedule a guest speaker, offer the video chat option!

  1. Virtual Field Trips

Virtual field tips are a way for your class to take a trip to a far away locale without having to leave the classroom. Museums, National Parks, and other exciting destinations offer free video conferences for classrooms.

The Smithsonian offers free video conferences that allow your students to visit the Smithsonian American Art Museum without having to leave the classroom. There are 10 programs to choose from that are appropriate for students from 3rd grade and up.

  1. Mystery Skype/Hangout

If you’re using Skype, or Google Hangouts, this game could be a fun way to connect to other classrooms around the globe. Using yes or no questions, your classroom tries to discover where the classroom you’ve connected with is in the world.

To begin, have your students research about the area you live in – think geography, population, climate. Once you’ve got this information, your students are ready to solve a mystery! The classroom you’ve connected with has done similar background research, so classrooms will go back and forth asking yes or no questions until they figure out the location of the other end of the video chat.

A great reminder for students is to be patient with the learning process through video chat. Some connections may be poor, especially if you or the other classroom or person you are trying to reach has a poor internet connection, or is relying on a public internet connection.

Have you used video chat technology in your classroom? Was it successful? What other ways have you used this technology?

Want to learn more about making meaningful connections in the classroom? Check out our new express course, Breaking Down Classroom Walls to Build Bridges, which dives deeper into connections your classroom can make with others around the world!

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