When the staff first received laptops, Skype was discovered as we sat in training. It was like the video-phone from "The Jetsons" or the viewscreen from Star Trek had come to life! One by one, teachers created accounts and we "Skyped" each other like miscreants instead of attending to the lessons at hand. Some teachers quickly found ways to use Skype in the classroom. My kindergarten class would get the "weather report" from another class that had just returned from recess; we "Skyped" people on college campuses and businesses during career week; teachers at workshops or out-of-town could Skype their classes to "check in". After leaving the classroom, I became a "fairy god-teacher" to a class or two, sending educational gift packages and following up with a visit through Skype.
This year, it seems we are revisiting Skype! Jerri Davis recently set up a Skype connection for one of her third grade teachers, and the two classes quickly planned an online collaborative lesson! More teachers are hearing and asking about this great tool, and this past week, Steven Anderson's blog included an entire list of great projects that classes can join if they have access to Skype, projects that can open a whole new window to a world that many students never dreamed they would experience!
Skype is important to me in a personal way as well. I have been using Skype to "call" my children at college. This visual connection has become even more vital since my twin boys, who have Asperger's syndrome, moved away to college. Never great at conversation on the phone, Skype has provided a much-needed visual connection to my reluctant communicators.
To get started using Skype in the classroom, use Skype's educational site: http://education.skype.com/
The direct link to Skype's list of ways to use Skype in the classroom: http://education.skype.com/projects
To download Skype: http://www.skype.com/intl/en-us/get-skype/
For other ways to use Skype, visit 50 Awesome Ways to Use Skype in the Classroom.
Once you get hooked on this versatile tool, the only thing you might need will be a "morning mask".