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iPod Touch & iPad 2 Accessories for the Classroom (Part 2)

This blog post is continued from the post last week on iPod Touch and iPad accessories for the classroom.  The first post provides examples of screen protectors, covers, cases, and stands that are useful accessories to purchase to increase the longevity and usability of the mobile devices.  This post will focus on styluses, keyboards, headphones, adaptors, and connection cables should all be considered when purchasing these portable devices.  All these accessories increase the ease of use of the devices in the classroom setting for both teachers and students.

ipad

Styluses & Keyboards

If the iPad’s are going to be used as a laptop replacement device in the classroom, it is worth the investment of Bluetooth wireless keyboards.  Students can type up documents for class more efficiently.  The onboard keyboard is useful, but it gets tedious if you have to type or edit longer documents.  Apple has a very versatile keyboard that can hold up to daily use by students.  It is slim and compact, would travel easily for a mobile classroom.  Users have rated  this is an easy to use a keyboard and is similar in layout and spacing when compared to a traditional keyboard.

The use of a stylus with the iPod Touch or the iPad is a great addition for younger students or students who may have difficulty using the touch screen method.  Many styluses are small and not made for young students. One stylus that has gotten great ratings for students is the AluPen.  Viewer ratings state that it is easy to grip, more responsive, glides smoothly, and allows for more accurate writing and drawing.

Headphones

Headphones are definitely a necessity in any computer lab, even a mobile lab.  This allows students to listen to academic-based websites like Learning Today, educational videos from TeacherTube, or sound embedded into Apps.  I required students to bring in headphones as part of their school materials at the beginning of the year.  I ask for the ear bud style headphones so they are easy to store in their backpacks.  This may not work for all students or all situations.  Some labs provide headphones to students.  They should be durable and easily sanitized after each use.  If they have headphone pads, they should be able to be cleaned or replaced.

Adaptors & Connection Cables

The iPod Touch & iPad 2 only come with a wall charger and a UBS sync cable to connect it to the computer.  These cables will not be enough to use the devices in a classroom setting.   At minimum, a digital adaptor or an AVG cable will be needed for the teacher in order to model the use of the iPad on a screen or interactive board.

For a mobile lab, there also must be a way to sync all of the devices easily at one time.  You must also have a storage device that will allow for easy transportation throughout a school.  This syncing storage device should also provide security and lock when the devices when not in use.

What are your favorite iPod Touch and iPad accessories?

Article By Laura Ketcham

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iPod Touch & iPad 2 Accessories for the Classroom (Part 1)

When purchasing iPod’s or iPad’s for the classroom, one must consider the accessories that will need to be purchased in order to exploit the power of the devices.  Screen protectors, covers, cases, stands, styluses, keyboards, headphones, adaptors, and connection cables should all be considered as necessary additions when purchasing these devices for the classroom.  Be sure to budget in these items when determining your needs for the classroom when planning to purchase.

ipad

Screen Protectors & Covers/Cases

Screen Protectors are a clear film that is stuck to the front and/or back screen of the device.  This helps to protect the screen from scratches and can even help to protect the screen if the device is dropped.  I have used InvisibleSHIELD from Zaag on both my iPhone and my iPad.  This protective cover has proven very useful in small drops, prevented my screen from shattering on a large drop, and also prevents smudges and scratches.  Another great quality of this protector is that it has a lifetime warranty.  This is great for school use because of the amount of time the devices will be used and it is replaced for free.

In addition to a screen protector, you should also buy a cover or a case.  This provides more protection for the device.  Covers can include rubber or plastic that only protects the backing of the device or one for the front of the case as well.

For example, the Griffin Reveal is a slim-line protector case that slides over the back of the device (iPod Touch, iPhone, and iPad 2).  The advantage to this cover is that it doesn’t add bulk to the device, has rubber sides that make it easy to hold, and that it is made out of one piece of polycarbonate which is a strong material that can hold up to frequent use.

The iPad Smart Cover is nice, but doesn’t seem like it will hold up to use by students.  It turns off the iPad automatically when shut and is magnetically attached to the side.  It flips over to become a stand, but it isn’t very sturdy and I can see this breaking easily.   I think it is too early to tell which case will be the best for students that will provide protection along with providing the option to turn it into a stand.   Buying a case for protection and a separate stand is the better option for the classroom.

Stands

Stands are a definite extra that should considered when buying these types of devices.  This is especially useful in the special education classroom.  While buying a separate stand for home use may seem unnecessary, it is very useful in the classroom.  Stands hold the device in a leaning position so that students could use a stylus, read from it, or use in a more ergonomic fashion.  Xtand has some of the top-rated stands for both the iPod Touch and the iPad 2.  These stands are durable and more stable than the stands that fold up or are built into a case.  The one down side is that it is not easily transported as it doesn’t fold up.

The remaining accessories will be included in another post next week.  Accessories are an important component that should definitely be thought out and planned for when building a mobile lab.

Article By Laura Ketcham

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Life Science Apps | Education

The featured learning applications from the Apple App Store this week are life science apps.  Life science lends itself to be hands-on and engaging.  Visual tools including websites, videos, and photos are easily accessible for teaching this topic.  Apps are especially useful to assist in teaching this topic because of this interactive nature.  Life science topics include biology, anatomy, physiology, plants, animals, reference tools, games, and application of life science.  Here are a few of the interesting apps that you can find via the Life Science Learning Apps on Apple.

butterfly

Butterfly Migration Game

National Geographic’s Great Migrations App is a very timely app.  Monarch butterflies begin their migration north around this time of year, depending on the weather.  In this game-style app students have to help guide the monarch butterflies through various weather, geographical, predator-related and physical challenges, similar to what butterflies will encounter on their journey north.  There are several levels and modes (other animals that migrate) that make this app adaptable for students of a variety of levels.  This would be a great way to introduce a unit about butterflies or even to conclude your unit.

This app is based off of a series that National Geographic created called Great Migrations.  There are videos and an extensive website about the various animal migrations that happen each year.   This would also be a great learning resource for the classroom.

Easy Dissection

Easy Dissection is an app for students to learn the biology of a frog.  This tool can be used as a pre-learning resource before students actually dissect the animal or as a dissection alternative.  Pins easily identify the parts of the frog and students can easily zoom in and out on the organs of the animal with a swipe of their finger.  The images are of an actual frog, not an animated image of a frog, so students can see what the actual organs look like, not just a cartoon image.

Another frog dissection app is called Frog Dissection.  This app is more interactive where students get to cut, pin back, and dissect the virtual frog.  Labels include the function of the organ, lifecycle, and classification.

EcoBugs

EcoBugs is a super fun free educational app.   There is setup required both physically and electronically that must be done by the teacher to plan the activity.  Teachers should login and create an account on the Eco Bug website.  Then they have to setup the habitats for the location of the virtual bugs.  There is a teacher’s resource packet available on their website to help in setting up the activity and planting the locations of the bugs.

The app is downloaded to the iPod Touch or iPad and then the students are sent on a journey around the school location that the teacher chose to find virtual bugs based on the habitats that you set up.  Students working in teams will use the iPod Touch to bait, name, and classify the bugs.  The more bugs a group catches the more the points they earn.  There are 13 additional activities for the students can complete after they have located the bugs.  These activities include learning about the compass rose, classifying bugs, food chain, habitats, sorting, and identification.

What other great life science apps have you used in your classroom?  Feel free to share by commenting below.

Article By Laura Ketcham

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The iPad 2: An Innovative Educator & Student Resource

Yesterday’s much awaited announcement of the iPad 2 did not disappoint.  Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple was on hand to unveil the new iPad at a live press conference demonstrating the new features of the new iPad 2.  The iPad 2 will be available in store and online March 11th.

ipad

In the past year, Apple’s iPad has made a significant impact on the education world.  Administrators, teachers, and students have all embraced the tablet style computing device in the classroom.  Many features, including the long battery life, portability, innovative 3rd party applications, lower pricing point when compared to laptops and accessibilities options have made it a viable laptop alternative in the classroom.

From an educators stand-point, the updated options that are available on the iPad 2 will make it an even more popular device to use in the classroom.  Here are the new options and how I think it will impact the education world:

Faster Processor

The iPad 2 has a new duo-core processor.  This will allow students to process data at a faster speed without much lag time.  Students can create projects and multi-task smoothly with this faster processor rather than using it to surf or passively learn.  This will also allow app developers to create more robust apps that will be an advantage when teaching complex material in the classroom.

Camera

The iPad 2 has two cameras, one at the front of the device and one on the back.  This will allow students to take pictures and videos on the iPad 2 for class assignments.  The new apps, iMovie, Photo Booth, and even Face Time can be used by the students to produce polished, innovative projects.

Lighter weight & Longer Battery Life

The iPad 2 is lighter than the original iPad.  This increases the ease of portability even more.  The battery life has also been increased by 1 hour.  The iPad 2 has a 10 hour battery life.  This is one of the best selling points for its use in school.  Students can use the iPad for a full day of school without ever having to charge the device.

Video Mirroring

There is now no need for any teacher to have to “jailbreak” their iPad.  The original iPad had no way of connecting to a projector.  This was a disadvantage to teachers who wanted to use the device to show students movies, apps, or lessons on the iPad.  Now, the iPad 2 can connect to a projector using extra accessories, the Digital AV adaptor or the VGA adaport.  This will allow teachers to connect their iPad 2 to either a projector or television (even HDTVs).  These accessories also allow the iPad 2 to be charged during the presentation.   What is displayed on the iPad 2 will be mirrored onto the larger screen.

iPad Smart Cover

Reading various sites online, there was not much buzz about the new cover that Apple has created for the iPad 2.  However, as a teacher, I thought it was a great invention.  The new Smart Cover, when placed over top of the iPad 2, automatically turns the device into sleep mode.  When removed from the top of the iPad 2, it can be used as a stand.  It fits great and aligns perfectly making for an easy transition between use and non-use.  For the classroom, it will save battery life when students are not using the device along with providing a protective cover when not in use.  This will be useful between transitions of students needing to focus on the teachers’ directions and not using the iPad 2 to when the students can then use the iPad 2 for the classroom lesson.

There are also many successful features that Apple has incorporated from the iPad to the iPad 2.  The new device has the same pricing point as the original, along with the one-touch off and on options, and accessibility features for individuals with disabilities.

The iPad 2 will be a big hit both in and out of the classroom.  I’m very excited to see the impact that it will have on education over the next year.

Article By Laura Ketcham

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Voki – Creative Web Program for Students!

Voki is a free Web 2.0 website where students can create their own online avatar character that they can customize, add voice, and then publish to the Internet.  Using this website in the classroom will engage students in the learning activities offer by the website.  There are so many educational applications for this technology tool in the classroom!

voki

Using Voki in the Classroom

Voki has two pages of their site that are dedicated to using Voki in the classroom:  Voki for Education and Lesson Plans.  In the Voki for Education page, teachers can learn about what Voki is, why they should use it in the classroom, and get connected with other teachers who are using Voki.  In the Lesson Plans section, teachers can search an extensive list of lesson plans that range from kinder through high school and cover many subject areas including geography, spelling, drama, and technology.

Teachers could create Voki avatar to share with their students or even the parents.  Introducing a project, lesson, or unit with a Voki avatar really catches the interest of the students.  Teachers could also create an avatar to welcome parents to a back to school event or open house night.

Students can also create their own avatars.  The main idea of using this program would be to have the student research a specific topic and then record what they have learned to then share with the rest of the class.  For example, students can create a Voki about learning about facts of a state, explaining the steps on how to solve a math problem, or a science experiment.  In a special education classroom, students could use the avatars as a fun way of communicating in the classroom via the text to speech option.

When I used this program in my classroom, each student researched a different tab on the new Microsoft Word 2010 Ribbon.  They then wrote a script, recorded their script, and then they shared their Voki with the other students in the class via the SMART board.  This way, all of the students learned about the all of the tabs in Word 2010.  It was such an engaging assignment and the high quiz scores proved that this assignment really actively engaged them in the learning process.

How to Use Voki

Voki is very easy to use.  To begin, you select the create button, and then you can customize your avatar.  When you customize your character, you can change the style of head, hair, mouth, and facial features.  You can also change the clothing and ‘bling.’  The features of the avatar can then be made larger or smaller and the color can even be changed.  After that, I suggest that the students select the background for the avatar.  Students can choose one of the many pre-made backgrounds, or they can upload their own.

I suggest that before students start to record either their voice or using the text to speech feature, that they draft a script of what needs to be said.  This way, when recording the ideas are well thought out to meet the needs of the assignment and the avatar. They also need to keep the 1-minute time limit into consideration when writing their script.  Then the students can either use the phone to speech, microphone to speech, or text to speech tools.  The text to speech tool would be great to use for students who may have a disability that makes it difficult to speak or even students who are shy.  Always remind your students to “Save” their speaking after they are finished recording it.

When the students are done creating their avatar, they can then publish the avatar.  One great feature of this site is that to publish the avatar there is no need for students to create an account.  However, if they want to save the character and be able to go back and make changes, they will need to make an account.  Students need to be at least 13 to create an account.  When they publish their avatar, there are literally hundreds of ways to share them.  The most simple way is to save  are to email it, publish it to an already created website via the embed code, or to post it to a social networking or blogging site that has already been established and is approved and secure

Have you tried Voki?  Feel free to share the links of your Voki avatars!

Article By Laura Ketcham

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The Florida Educational Technology Recap

The FETC was an energizing 3-day experience with immersion into education technology.  Everyone was buzzing about iPod’s and iPads, educational apps, cell phones, and what the future may hold for these devices in the classroom.  Sessions with “i” in the name filled up quickly with many attendees creating their own seats on the floor.

conference

Edmodo

One of the great additions to the conference was the integrated use of Edmodo.  Edmodo is a free social networking site for teachers and students.  Presenters used this website by creating groups to post their materials, including their presentations, websites, and other useful links.  Their presentation pages were also used as a conduit for the users in the session to ask questions or add more information in real-time as the presenter was speaking. Attendees can join their sessions (called groups) through a group code.  Also, attendees who were unable to attend the session could then still receive the materials and the feedback from the session over the web (including those who didn’t even attend the conference).

Check out group codes FC0321, FC0492, and FC0269 to review and receive great resources and information.  Over the next few weeks I plan to see what other ways that this website can be integrated in both building my PLN and if it could be useful for my classroom and students.

Resources for Younger & Special Needs Students

This year, there also seemed to be more sessions geared to educating younger students pre-k-2 and special needs students.

One of the websites that I learned about that would be great to use with both sets of students is Kerpoof Studio.  Kerpoof is a free website created by Disney where students can create movies, drawings, and online story books.  They have a lesson plans page with ways that you can incorporate their online programs into the classroom through standards-based activities and extensions.  For younger students they can play the spell a picture game.  As they spell words correctly, it is added to their digital drawing.  The objects can then be moved around the page to build a scene and can then be printed to share in the classroom.  There are so many possibilities of ways to use this website in the classroom. (Edmodo join code:  FC0491)

A great session I attended for special needs students included apps that address social skills, schedules, and mathematics.  The presenter, Shannon Sullivan, works with special education students in the greater DC area and maintains her website about apps via www.ipads4kids.com.  On this site you can find a wide list of apps sorted by subjects and needs for the students.  There is also an area for other educators to share their favorite apps that they are using with their students.  Check this site often as it is frequently updated.

There was another session on the use of iPod’s and iPad’s in the special education classroom that has many resources posted on Edmodo (Edmodo join code:  FC0501).  One key point that they make about the iPad as a tool for the special education classroom is that it is portable, adaptable, and even socially acceptable.  It also has built in accessibility along with the power of the apps.  You should definitely check out their presentation on Edmodo and the associated website Mobile Learning 4 Special Needs.

Please check back for more resources that I’ve learned from FETC over the coming weeks.

Article By Laura Ketcham

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AbleData – Resource for Assistive Technology for Students

AbleData is a website that provides data for users to find information about a very wide variety of assistive technology.  AbleData is sponsored by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), which is part of the US Department of Education.

abledata

The Products Page

The Products page is the heart of this site.  Users can search for assistive technology resources that can help students based on a particular need.  This site provides 20 broad categories like daily living, walking, communication, or mobility.  After selecting a major category, sub categories appear with various assistive technology options.  The options are links to learn more information about the assistive technology.  For example, let’s say you have a student who is having difficulty moving around the room.  You can select mobility as the main category and then see a variety of options like carts, manual wheel chairs, scooters, powered wheel chairs, sport wheel chairs, and accessories.  When you select a link, there will be a brief synopsis of the assistive technology device, the approximate cost, and vendors for the specific product.  This information can then be used to make suggestions to the IEP team, administrators, or even the parents.

The Products page also has a classified section where users can post either re-sales of assistive technology or want ads for needed assistive technology.  All of the process is screened through AbleData.

The Resources Page

The Resources page includes information such as information centers, conferences and companies that can help users to learn more about assistive technology.   This information can provide teachers with a wealth of resources for various disabilities, services, technology, professional development, and other resources.  You could use this page to find out information about the largest Assistive Technology Conference (ATIA) that is being held this week in Orlando.

The Library Page

The library contains three sections:  publications, literature and news.  The Publications page includes fact sheets and consumer guides about the various products that they provide information for on their products page.  This page also contains links with recent articles written from the National Institute for Rehabilitation Engineering.  The Literature page includes a search box and list to find recent articles, books, and publications about assistive technology.  I found this information very useful to learn more about the current trends of assistive technology.  The News You Can Use page is very similar to a blog about assistive technology.  Posts are made every few weeks including links to various resources, surveys, conferences, or other hot topics about disabilities and assistive technology.

My AbleData Account

If you create a free AbleData account, you are able to save the assistive technology devices that you would need to access again either to share with school staff members or parents, or for your future review.

AbleData is a great resource for all individuals who are involved in working with individuals with disabilities.  It can help to provide you with the most current assistive technology trends and application information.

Article By Laura Ketcham

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Assistive Technology for Students in Music Class

When I remember my high school days, my fondest memories are that of being part of the band program.  I participated in the marching band, the percussion ensemble, and the symphony band. I even continued on to join the marching band at the University of Miami.  Being part of such great groups made me feel a sense of belonging and increased my overall responsibility as a student.  Music is a universal language where all students are able to connect, including students with special needs.  Some people may think that students with special needs are unable to participate because their disabilities may inhibit them from playing an instrument. However there are many low-tech and high-tech assistive technology tools to aid them in playing an instrument.

band

Adaptions for Reading Music

Students who have low vision may only need the sheet music to be enlarged in order for them to read the notes that they should be playing.  This is a very easy accommodation for the teacher to implement, by just using the photocopier enlarge option.  Some sheet music even comes already printed in larger font.  The music can also be translated into braille for students who are blind.

High-Tech & Low-Tech Assistive Technology Tools

For students who have difficulty either holding an instrument or reaching all of the keys, there are many tech tools to help out.  Clamps, toggle-keys, joysticks, and switches, can all be added to an adapted woodwind or brass instrument.  There is a great article about a boy named Lukas who participates in his high school band, playing the euphonium, through the use of a joystick that pushes the buttons on the instrument.  Woodwind instruments can be adapted with a toggle key for students who only have the ability to move one hand.  There is a very inspiring video of David Naab playing the saxophone with the use of a toggle-key.

Students who are deaf or hearing impaired can also be involved in the band.  Many students who have hearing disabilities do not have trouble playing the instrument or reading music, but have difficulty following along with the group because of the difficulty hearing.  Cochlear implants and hearing aids have helped these students learn to play music instruments.  There are computer programs where students follow the music with the vibrations and variations on the screen, which will then help them to play along with an ensemble.

Other Musical Options

Students with more severe disabilities can still be involved in the band through percussion instruments.  Students can be given instruments like bells, bongos, or a tambourine and given visual cues as to when to strike the instrument.  This means that the student would still be involved, but not necessarily have to be able to learn how to read the music notes on the staff.  However, to ensure interest is high, students should not be given the same instrument day after day and should experience a variety of percussion instruments.

Another cool “old-tech” – “high-tech” musical instrument option for individuals with disabilities is called the Hotz Box.  The Hotz Box is a musical keyboard that is connected through the computer.  There is a video including an introduction by Mick Fleetwood and a performance by a special needs adult who had never played the instrument before.  This instrument can be learned in the matter of minutes and can be integrated into a rock band and used for expressing oneself through music.

Article By Laura Ketcham

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Awesome Talking Library for Students

I came across the Awesome Talking Library when I was searching for information based on previous blog posts and thought this was a great free computer resource I just had to write about!

awesome library

The Awesome Talking Library is a free downloadable software program that was created by Code-it Software Solutions.  This program is a speaking web browser.  You download the program to your computer and install it, and then run it like you would any other web browser. (Note:  In the install directions there was a note that an extra program was needed to run “The Awesome Talking Library” on a Windows XP machine – this extra download was not necessary for me to run the program.)

Talking Web Browser Feature

The most useful feature of the program is that it will read what is on the browser screen back to the student.  The student can choose to have the whole page read aloud or the student can select the text that needs to be read.  When the user selects the “Speak” option, the whole page is read and when the user selects the “Selected” option, then only the selected text is read.  The speaking can be stopped by either using the “Stop” button or the “Quit Speak” option.  Students can just surf the net and then use the speaking options to help with the reading of the pages.  This can help students who struggle to read or who may have vision impairments.  I could even see this program being used in a traditional classroom setting for all students as it would be helpful for younger students who are learning to read and pronounce words.

Awesome Library Homepage

When the program is opened, you are directed to the Awesome Library Homepage, which is a search engine for educational online resources.  On this page, users can select age and topics specific educational and fun online resources.  Search options are included for teachers, kids, teens, college students, parents, and librarians.  The Literature links for kids and teens provide online books that students can use with the program to have them read aloud.

Options

There are many different options that make this program unique and easy for students with special needs to browse the Internet. This program has larger navigation buttons at the top of the screen to move forward and back through searched web pages.  There are also other options available in the program.  Users can change the voice options with speed, pitch, type, and volume level.  They can also choose to have a character on the screen to speak the words.  This would be especially helpful to keep younger students Interested in the program as the pre-loaded options for the program include a Butter Cup (a Powder Puff Girl) and Merlin the Wizard.  Other characters can be loaded into the program as well.  The best feature of the characters is that you can choose to turn on speaking “bubbles” to actively show the student what is being read.

The browser can also be set to different modes including Adult, boy, and girl.  This changes the color of the screen along with the character options without having to make multiple options selections.

This assistive technology browser also includes standard browser options like being able to save and print web pages, allowing or denying pop ups, and the ability to add bookmarks and load bookmarks from Internet Explorer.   There are also standard forward and back buttons to navigate back and forth through pages.

The “Surfn’ Notes” option is great for students.  They can load this option and small screen loads where students can take notes while surfing online.  They can save their notes and then load them later.  These notes can also be copied and pasted into a Word Processing Program for them to use in a paper or an outline.

The “Helpster” option is the help section for the browser to help users get started.   It provides an interactive and spoken process to help a student to learn how to use the program.  It might be a good place to have students begin the program.

This is a great free program that both teachers and parents should download to help their students and children when surfing the net.

Article By Laura Ketcham

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Skype in the Classroom

I have recently had wonderful correspondence with a reader of the MangoMon blog that lives in California.  He is an active parent in his child’s education who wanted to know more about how he could get his son’s teachers and school using Skype in the classroom.  This interest began last year when he was able to arrange a guest speaker to speak to his son’s class via a webcam and Skype.  This year, he wanted to expand this idea to have more teachers, possibly beyond his son’s school, to use Skype in the classroom to  ‘share’ interview experiences with students  who may be so busy that they cannot fly to visit schools individually, but could ‘visit’ many schools at one time virtually.  A school might be able to host a famous author, astronaut, scientist, musician, or artist via Skype. This type of experience is great for schools because the cost of implementation is very low comparative to bringing in a guest speaker or having students leave the school grounds for a field trip.

skype

I have actually been involved in setting up or participating in online face-to-face conversations in several different venues.  One of those was a science museum where they would connect with classrooms and camps to conduct virtual field trips where students would see and learn about the endangered animals they had at the museum.  Another experience I had was through a virtual video conference with several high schools and a college.   The college provided the technology equipment to the high schools, which was then used for all of the schools to connect with one another about various learning topics or to watch professors lecture on specific topics.  However, I have not actually “Skyped” or had any virtual guest speakers in my classroom. However, it is a great idea!

This spurred me to think about some of the roadblocks that I would have to overcome, or other teachers would have to overcome in the classroom, to make this dream a reality.  I already have a webcam and a high-speed Internet access, so this will not be a problem.  I would need the school to install Skype in my classroom, which shouldn’t be too difficult since it is a free program with limited, if any, costs associated with using this in the classroom.  I would need to find a good learning connection for my classroom, along with learning objectives, and then pair that with a speaker or organization.  I would obtain the support of the administration and send home parent ‘field trip forms’ for the event.  This would indicate that it was a special event and alert parents to the importance of the activity. Teaching middle school, I would also have to find a way to gather the students together at one time, or to have one group actively involved, record it, and then play it back to the other classes.  There will also need to be a standards-based connection the interview or virtual trip.  An outline of what will be presented and a worksheet or note taking sheet for the students would help to make the learning outcome connection.  This seems like a lot of preparation, but it is all very achievable – with a possible great and memorable learning event as the end product.

Through my research online, I have realized that many classrooms are using Skype in their classroom.  They have shared their experiences online and many organizations and speakers offer ‘virtual’ interviews or field trips.  Below are some of the resources I’ve read and found helpful in my quest to incorporate Skype in my classroom:

This would be a great extension for many classrooms to make the lessons they learn in school come alive, especially for special education students.  For special education students, this is a great opportunity for them to be engaged in learning through ‘video.’  It provides a means for students to watch the video live, and then after the experience, the teacher can replay sections of the video to ensure student comprehension or review material.  Incorporating this cool technology that the students have not used before also adds to the excitement and interest of the lesson.

There are many ways to incorporate Skype and virtual interviews and field trips into your classrooms – and now my goal is that by the end of this school year, my students will experience a virtual field trip or interview integrating webcams and Skype into my classroom.  Definitely, come back and look for posts this winter and spring for my experiences on incorporating Skype in my classroom!  If you have any tips or tricks, please comment below!

Article By Laura Ketcham

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