With today's connected classrooms, field trips aren't limited to your county, your state or even your country. Students are taking virtual field trips to some of the world's most amazing locales with experts as their guides, thanks to Skype.
Skype field trips allow educators to let their students experience the world. The website hosts a series of tours covering a wide range of educational subjects. For example, students can interview a Yellowstone National Park ranger to learn more about geology, ecology and more from the historic park; learn about the endangered African penguin, and speak with an underwater videographer and shark diver.
The tours are free and last from 15 minutes to an hour.
Another popular way to use Skype in the classroom is Mystery Skype, a global guessing game that connects classrooms from around the world. In 2014, Today Show host Natalie Morales participated in a Mystery Skype experience that connected two classrooms 4,000 miles apart.
“The kids really respond to meeting students from another country on Skype. It brings a whole new level of excitement to the classroom that I have never seen," says Holly Clark, a technology administrator in San Diego, on the Mystery Skype website.
Getting started is no more complicated than looking up a friend or family member on Skype. The difference is, of course, that the students in one classroom won’t know the students in the other classroom or where they live.
Students join the Mystery Skype list via Skype and message or tweet the teachers with whom they'd like to connect. There's a huge community of teachers using Mystery Skype. The groups arrange a date and time to connect. Once connected, the classes ask a number of questions to figure out the location of the other class.
Pernille Ripp, an educator and Mystery Skype pro, assembled a list of geographic questions in a 2013 blog post to get classes started in their online journey.
“Mystery Skype encompasses everything I try to accomplish in my classroom. I plan my lessons based on the four Cs: creating, collaborating, communicating and critical thinking. This activity has it all to the max, it is priceless!” says Jo-Ann Fox, a fourth-grade teacher in Escondido, Calif., on the website.