The author discusses Skype as a new and emerging instructional technology.
Exploring Emerging Technologies-Paper
Skype, an emerging instructional technology, has tremendous potential for teaching and learning. Students can directly benefit via distance learning and virtual school trips. Teachers can quickly and easily invite guests from all over the world to address their students. Administrators can benefit from Skype through video conferencing, classroom observation of teachers, and demonstrations of new techniques and methods by master teachers or specialists. To successfully blend technical tools into their instruction, teachers need to have a combination of technological, pedagogical, and content knowledge. In order for this new technology to be realized and implemented into educational settings, stakeholders must become both familiar and comfortable with the technology. This paper is an account of the writer’s experimentation with Skype as a new and amazing instructional technology. The paper identifies how Skype can be integrated in a curriculum, and describes the writer’s use of this instructional technology in her teaching environment. The account also provides important considerations when contemplating the use of Skype and notes its positive and negative effects in educational settings.
In January 2011, the writer embraced the opportunity to investigate a new and emerging instructional technology, Skype. Skype, was founded in 2003 by Niklas Zennstrom and Janis Friis. By investigating Skype, the writer learned how this digital content is transforming the way students absorb information, and how teachers engage students, prepare lessons, and assess achievement. By experimenting with Skype, the writer realized why textbooks have been replaced as the primary content medium. She also became aware that educational institutions are investigating ways in which they can benefit from the new instructional technology. The writer is not surprise to have learned that the ability to share and create a digital content lower costs and make content relevant (skype.com).
With mutual agreement from her un-named doctoral colleague, the writer downloaded the Skype program and installed the product. She then double clicked the Skype icon, and added a username and password into the “Create a Skype Account” window prior to compiling a Personal Profile page. A microphone and a speaker are essential tools for the operation of Skype. To this end the writer ensured that her microphone and speaker were functional and well-adjusted, prior to viewing a three-part Skype video tutorial. The writer learned how to search for Skype users, add contacts, make video calls, and chat.
The writer then consulted with stakeholders of her teaching institution with regards to utilizing Skype. So as to make stakeholders comfortable about the idea, she appraised Skype as a cost effective emerging technology tool that promises to improve and expand educational offerings (Tech & Learning, 2011). She explained to her Medical Assistant students that Skype is Internet-based software. She further explained that the communication software can be used to help students learn, and that subscribers are allowed to make video and voice calls between identified contacts. The entire class, excited about the new venture, consented to become Skype participants. Hence the Medical Assistant students were enlisted to the writers “Add Contacts”.
The writer and her Medical Assistant students participated in their first online Skype class session January 20, 2011. Personal Internet service and the use of web camera afforded participants the opportunity to be instructed within their homes. More than 50% of the class shared in the birthing of this new venture. Excitement escalated as participants: added fellow colleagues to their contact list, viewed each other, and gave the necessary technical assistance to receive the writer’s transmission. The writer enhanced her lecture on the importance of hand-washing by transmitting via Skype a PowerPoint document “Hand Hygiene in Health Care Settings”. Skype’s video capability can demonstrate a hand-washing laboratory activity.
The writer acknowledges that Skype has been integrated in varied curricula, and cites a few examples. Teachers have invited guests from around the world to address students. Absent students, and instructors became active class participants as foreign language and social studies teachers used Skype to connect with students in foreign countries. Language arts teachers have connected with the authors of the work they were reading (Terrell, 2010).
The writer offers important considerations for integrating instructional technology into the curriculum. Considerations include: analyzing learners, and continuous professional development. Educators who take on the task of providing quality education ensure that students are comfortable using instructional technological tools. According to Smaldino, Lowther, and Russell (2008) teachers are responsible for orchestrating the learning environment under four primary domains of learning: cognitive, affective, motor skills, and interpersonal domain (Smaldino, Lowther & Russell, 2008, p.10). From a psychological perspective how teachers view the role of technology and media in the classroom depends on their beliefs about how people learn. Behaviorists focus on what is controllable and observable. Cognitivists capture how one thinks; processes, stores, and retrieves information. Humanists assume that there is a natural tendency for people to learn. Social psychologists look at the effect of the social organization of the classroom in learning (Smaldino, et al., 2008, p. 11). With reference to continuing education, studies have shown that educators who invest 30 to 100 hours over six to 12 months in professional development programs help students improve by about 21 percentile points (Roscorla, 2010; Keir, Wise, & Kreb, 1998). Teachers who are current with the latest technology will engage their students. Such a student-centered philosophy ultimately helps students perform better.
Participants of the writer’s Skype online session acknowledged several positive aspects of the emerging instructional technology. In addition to collaboration and advancing communication skills, participants recognized that the experience: broke classroom walls, built relationships, and brought learning to life. Participants recognized the connections of themselves, the medium, and the material. The threat to individual privacy maybe viewed as a negative effect (Howard, 2010). The writer therefore cautioned her students that it is their duty and responsibility to behave in ways that do not harm individuals or public goods.
Howard, I. (2010). EDD 8010 Module V1. Reading. Retrieved January 20, 2011, from http://webctce.nova.edu/SCRIPT/32761201030/scripts/serve_home.
Keir, L., Wise, B., & Krebs, C. (1998). Medical Assisting (4th ed.). Ontario, Canada: Delmar Publishing Company.
Roscorla, T. (2010). Skype Connects Classroom around the world. Retrieved January16, 2011, from http://www.convergemag.com/edtech/Skype-Connects-Classrooms-Around-the-World.html.
Smaldino, S. E., Lowther, D. L., & Russell, J. D. (2008). Instructional technology and media for learning (9th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.
Tech & Learning (2011). Active participation is key to student’s learning. Vol. 31. No. 7. p. 40.
Terrell, S. (2010). Using skype for ELTL lessons: interview with Marisa Pavan. Retrieved January 21, 2011, from http://teacherbootcamp.edublogs.org/2010/10/20/using-skype-for-elt-lessons-interview-with-marisa-pavan/.