Supporting the connected learner with Skype

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

Wow! The case studies by Silvia Tolisano of learning with Skype in the classroom have really ignited my passion for using technology to assist students to connect learning to their lives. This use of technology enables authentic learning to happen.

The articles by Silvia Tolisano may be found by clicking on the links below:

What made using Skype so effective was that Tolisano was able to connect the call/calls with previous and future learning and so the Skype was not just a call but a learning moment that fuelled future learning and tied in with past learning. The tasks were connected to the real world and made the learning task authentic to students. To get maximum effectiveness from the call Tolisano carried out several steps before the actual Skype call. They included:

  • Doing a test call with the guest speaker to check video and audio
  • Brainstorming open ended questions with students that they could ask the speaker
  • Giving each student a role during the call, such as greeter, question asker etc.
  • Having students practise speaking to the camera and recording them so they were confident in their roles

Interestingly, the call was supported by other technologies as well to assist learning in new ways. These included using backchannel collaboration via a Google Doc, Tweeting about the call, making notes on iPads as well as traditional pen and paper, summarising with mind maps on the iPad and blogging about the process.

After the call students tied in their activities during the Skype to their previous learning (in this case on blogging and Twitter usage) and looked at what they had done well and examples of how they could improve.

The students were so involved in these learning tasks that they were not asking about their grades, as one respondent to the article blog commented ‘When kids are focused on the task and take ownership of it to that degree, you know you have ’em – so much better than any grade mark.’. However, this new way of connected, collaborative learning meant that new assessment rubrics had to be developed – they could not just be added to traditional rubrics.

This is an amazing way to link in real life experts and collaboration with student learning to make the learning tasks more authentic. The possibilities for connection with experts is endless (dependent of course on technology). Microsoft offers a Skype site for educators, to view it click here  (Microsoft, 2019a).  I can see Skype calls being a real benefit to students in library time to connect with experts, such as authors for English studies or scientists or historians in the field for Science and connecting this to their learning needs.  Skype can also be used for detecting fake news (Microsoft, 2017) and virtual field trips (Microsoft, 2019b).

For a list of authors who do Skype visits see this link (Gross, n.d.)(publishing houses may also provide lists of their authors who Skype):

An author, Kate Messner has some good tips and instructions about Sky pe visits for authors here:

To skype with a scientist check out this site.

This site (Microsoft, 2018) details information of connecting with a museum curator in Egypt to view Egyptian artefacts .

Although Skype is used in these case studies the experience could work just as well with other tools such as ‘What’s App’, ‘Viber’, or ‘We Chat’ – whichever is the most accessible to all participating parties. The important aspect to remember is to link pre and post activities to the call to allow for maximum benefit for learning.

Have you ever used Skype or another app in your work? How did you find the experience? Did it link in to your previous or future work?



Gross, L. (n.d). Author’s who Skype free! [Smore creation]. Retrieved from

Microsoft (2018, June 20). Museum curator brings the Egyptian civilization to students via Skype [blog post].  Retrieved from

Microsoft (2017, October 5). Help your students find reliable news sources [blog post].  Retrieved from

Microsoft (2019a). Skype in the classroom. Retrieved from

Microsoft (2019b). Virtual field trips. Retrieved from

Tolisano, S. (2011, February 6). Framing a Skype learning experience [blog post]. Retrieved from

Tolisano, S. (2013a, January 27). Learning in the modern classroom [blog post]. Retrieved from

Tolisano, S. (2013b, February 5). Assessment in the modern classroom [blog post]. Retrieved from





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