Using Skype in the Classroom (or just learning how to use it!)

I have been learning how to use skype in my classroom and have taught students how to use it as well. I had my first skypecast with my Computer Science class yesterday.

I haven't been this tired since I taught wikis last November! The students LOVE it and we're thinking of so many ways to use it in the classroom. I chronicled my adventures in a 13 minute video for you and have outlined how to set up skype and how I have my students set it up in the classroom. (I used moviemaker to produce, and CamStudio to do the screen shots.)

I also had selfish reasons for making the video. I know that a lot of other students and parents are going to ask me to help them and I can refer them to the video after I post it to the wiki!

I will share a lot more with you later, because I'm on my way to a big football game! (Go Georgia Tech!)

How I taught Skype to My Classes

Like everything, you must vigilantly supervise this. You must check student profiles to make sure they haven't put anything in them and you must “scare them” before embarking on Skype. here is how I introduced it:

1) I talked about what Skype is. (Internet telephone service that allows you to chat, share files, share hyperlinks, and conference call as well as see each other on video.)

2) I talked about the profiles, safety and security concerns on skype. (Watch the video.)

  • Do not put your real name under full name.
  • Never go in Skype Me mode.
  • Do not complete your profile.
  • No usernames with meanings that can be misconstrued.
  • Do not Skype Out (or call a landline phone) they get 5 free minutes and you don't want them calling home from the computer!

3) I had each user set up their service and make a Skype test call.

4) Then, they had to Add me as a user and call me. (This was required for a grade.)


On the phone call with me, I showed them how to turn on video calling, use the avatar that came with our web cams to protect their identity and how to launch a side chat. I also looked at their profile information and told them if anything needed to be removed. After the call was almost over I said, “Good job, you have received a 100 for making your first successful Internet phone call.” I now want you to start adding and calling your friends in the class and using what I taught you.

Each student was required to call me and add me to their contacts so I could see the details available publicly.


After I spoke with each student, I addressed the class and told them I was about to call a large group of them and as soon as they answered to mute their microphone. To demonstrate how I conferenced, I put a copy of my laptop screen on the projector. Holding down the Ctrl key, I selected those I wanted to call and clicked the green call button.

When you conference, you can only have 10 people (you can call 9) at one time, so I had to split the class in half. On the conference call, I talked about muting their microphones. I pointed out how each person's name glowed as they spoke. I also talked about uses of the side chat and sent them all a file to see how that worked. I also sent them a hyperlink and allowed them to ask questions on the side chat.

You can get echoes on this activity particularly if they don't use mute and if their microphone is not close enough to their mouth.

We discussed skype safety and other issues about skype. I showed them how to leave a chat or a call. I also had them look at each other's profiles and note if there was anything revealing or misleading in them. I asked them to conference with each other. I hung up and called again for the other half of the class.

7) The Skypecast-

I was brave and did this for only one class on a topic. I've got to refine this. We the same trouble that I had when I began using skypecasts… making it so you could ask for the microphone! I've got to refine this.

I will probably do one with a class for the K12 Online conference. I will be doing a session on wikis and am excited about it!

If you want a high resolution version of the video it is located at

Skype is a great tool and I'm going to be using it in my classroom. As with any Web 2.0 tool, you must be extremely vigilant. You may want to block and then unblock it when you want to use it in the classroom. (Yet another case for ad hoc filtration abilities, like I have.)

It is exhausting to teach because you are calling and observing and talking and engaging everything.

The video is for beginners. I had the hardest time learning to use skype! I had several other fellow educators look down at me for “being so dumb” that I didn't know how! I had to struggle with it and appreciate those who've helped me, particularly the women of web 2.0. They didn't talk down to me once!

It is OK to be a beginner and now I can call my sister in Orlando for FREE!!! WHEEE!!

I'm having the students brainstorm how to use Skype and they've come up with some great ways. More later… now for football. Go Jackets!

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Langwitches October 7, 2006 - 5:40 pm

I have used Skype with my family who has lived apart all over the world ( Argentina, Germany, Brazil, France, Hong Kong and USA) for several years now. Computer to Computer has always been for free. A few months ago, I have also purchased some Skype credit, where I can call now from my computer via Skype a landline (international).
As of now, I have not used Skype in the classroom, but we are planning a skypecast between myself and our students when I will be traveling to China in a few months.
Thank you for all the tips and inside (again). The video will come in handy for the classroom teachers when they are getting their feet wet with Skype.

Sharon October 7, 2006 - 9:33 pm

What a fabulous idea – it is so hard to convince school boards that skype should not be blocked – now some usable ideas. I am going to try to catch your presentation in the K12 Online Conference.
Also, I just registered for WOW – must find more time…. I have used some of your wiki ideas for a presentation at the Maine Ed. Conference next weekend. You are fantastic.

teacher dude October 7, 2006 - 6:34 pm

Great post. I tried this in a class last year with adult ESL students and they loved it as well.

My favourite is Skypecasting. I once hosted my own on a park bench in the centre of Thessaloniki with teachers from Brazil, Japan, Italy, Malaysia, South Korea and Scotland. Great fun.

OpenWebSchool October 9, 2006 - 6:32 pm

thank you so much, hope you don’t mind i cited your port in my blog (mainly for my own future reference, am supposed to teach skype in 3 weeks from now!)
your american english is sometimes a bit hard to understand, but we manage (belgium, flemish)

Anonymous November 9, 2006 - 7:45 pm

AccuConference offers free conferencing with powerpoint and recording (no charges) via

sawadee December 24, 2006 - 10:11 pm

Hi Vicki
I have been using Skype for about 2 years now and it is fabulous. My school does not allow Skype access unfortunately. I am setting up English language classes to teach Thai people in Thailand from my home in New Zealand. The new SkypeCasts allows public or private text and voice conferences of up to one hundred people in one group. Skype is improving and growing so fast that I have to check for updates at least once a month now.
Here is a great tip for using Skype on a laptop computer. I have my laptop connected to the New Zealand Vodafone wireless internet. This means that I can use Skype with a cordless phone or bluetooth headset (Mic & Earpiece) to my laptop like a mobile phone, except the Skype to a landline (Telecom) phone is 4 cents per minute while a mobile phone rate is 89 cents per minute! My Vodafone laptop is $49 per month so I can Skype like a mobile phone very cheap OR… Skype free to another computer anywhere in the world! Now I do not need a mobile phone (I never owned one anyway!)
Happy Skyping!

Anonymous March 6, 2007 - 5:37 pm

How do you stop k-12 school users
from seeing the bad stuff in SKYPES built in chat and Peer to peer file sharing options?

Also, Black Europe 2006 said this about SKYPE.

Hard to enforce a security policy with Skype

Jams traffic, can’t be distinguished from data exfiltration

Incompatible with traffic monitoring, IDS

Impossible to protect from attacks (which would be obfuscated)

Total blackbox. Lack of transparency.

No way to know if there is/will be a backdoor

Fully trusts anyone who speaks Skype.

BlackHat SKYPE Paper Summary

Josie Whitehead June 14, 2007 - 4:47 pm

I am a retired teacher and also a children’s poet. I am doing what all good poets should do who write for children: going into the schools and reading, working with them and helping them to write poetry, trying to give them inspiration and I hope in September to be able to use Skype to be able to go into the classrooms and meet children in other parts of the world. I would like to come into your class too. My website can be found through Google. There are 230 poems for the children to choose from, ha ha

Anonymous October 12, 2007 - 6:56 am

Check out for sending free video messages

Anonymous February 18, 2008 - 2:49 pm

Kept hearing people talk about Voip and IP Telephony. Didn’t know what it was but i found the Lloyds Business website and it shed some light. Not as exciting as i though it was gonna be

MrBenson April 9, 2008 - 7:48 am

We have begun using the ideas on this page on our classroom blog, have a look!

We are also trialling yackpack

LUNA November 18, 2008 - 4:27 pm

thanks for share,the context is useful

Anonymous January 17, 2010 - 7:19 pm

I’ve used Skype at home…however, I would love to use Skype to collaboarate with another 6th grade there a list of Skype classroom users?

suzy_south August 11, 2010 - 1:46 am

As I watched your video, the question came to mind: how do you handle the permissions of having students’ videoed and recorded….what should be included in the acceptable use policy of the school and classroom to cover this?

Haloglow2001 September 24, 2010 - 7:22 pm

Thanks for this! I have been asked to teach some senior citizens basic computer, internet and skype use and wasn’t sure how to present skype. Thanks so much for the great ideas.

St Louis Chiropractors September 30, 2010 - 8:48 pm

This is pretty cool. There is some awesome stuff on this blog.

Aiping Wang October 30, 2010 - 5:51 am

Very informative and helpful. Thaks very much.

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Vic November 27, 2010 - 5:16 pm
recruitment software features February 4, 2011 - 1:15 am

Hi Vicki
Skype is realy realy good and comfortable to use. Hey I have an idea that in the future, students will not to go to school anymore. They just have to be at home, in front of the PC using skype to attend classes. But I think it will be 100 years from now. :)

Dyson medic February 5, 2011 - 3:35 pm

Skype is just coming into UK schools this year. Its a superb tool. It was invented in Estonia and I caught on to it about ten years ago from some Russian guys I knew. Now of course, everyone has it. We use it to call clients in the US most days and the quality is usually superb. Its good its getting into schools; VOIP is the future.

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Lalerch February 28, 2011 - 2:17 pm

I have been using Skype for years but now I will be using it with a child that is homebound. Is there any forms or guidelines that I should be using for the students that are in my class.

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coolcatteacher March 8, 2011 - 7:15 pm

Brian Crosby is the person who is doing this best – or at least he is the one who taught me. He blogs at “Learning is Messy.” I would reach out to him.

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