Looks like Skype is keeping itself busy as it awaits its own IPO, which should happen this year... The company announced Wednesday the launch of a new online tool for teachers, Skype in the Classroom. The program will allow teachers around the world to connect and collaborate, share information, find guest speakers, and more.
The company says that Skype in the Classroom was created in collaboration with a group of teachers who are already using Skype as a teaching tool in the classroom, and as of today's launch, 3,900 teachers across 99 countries are using the new program. It sounds like an immensely helpful teaching resource, as education doesn't take place in a vacuum. The program allows teachers to locate and connect with other teachers who share the same interests, teaching fields, grade levels, location, and so on.
Additionally, teachers can use the tool to find others to join them on a project, find information or advice, and share and find resources. This could potentially address a large, unmet need for teachers (namely in the U.S., but I'm sure it happens elsewhere) for a stronger support system. On average, roughly 30% of all new teachers quit within three years, and nearly half don't make it past five years. One of the number one reasons given for a teacher's resignation is lack of support, namely administrative support, but lack of cohesion with other teachers is also a big issue. Allowing teachers to go beyond their own campuses to connect with others who share the same interests could pave the way for a stronger, more globally connected educational network.
Furthermore, the world itself is becoming increasingly globalized--everything from business to communication, online video sharing, and social networking is a global feat, so it makes sense to take that globalization to the classroom and give students a chance to hear theories from leading experts around the world, language lessons from native speakers, and so on.
Skype agrees: "Young people need to be able to communicate effectively to develop their own opinions and present information and ideas to others," the company notes in its announcement. "Research in this field suggests that ICT applications strengthen and increase the possibilities of communication and reinforce the development of collaborative skills between peers."