Engaging 21st-century learners with Skype in the Classroom

Megan Lipinczyk is a 4th-grade teacher, Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert and Skype Master Teacher from Tampa, Florida. She also recently graduated with her master’s degree in Educational Leadership. As an educator, she knows it’s tough to compete with what engages her students outside of the classroom. Megan fills her classroom with guest speakers, Mystery Skype adventures, and virtual field trips to encourage student engagement and enhance her lessons.

We recently spoke with Megan about how Skype in the Classroom created a whole new world of learning for her students by bringing them meaningful, real-world experiences.

How did your Skype in the Classroom journey begin?

My Skype in the Classroom journey began by inviting a senior software engineer at Pixar Animation Studios to share the steps it took pursue a career specializing in visual effects in movies with my students via Skype.

As a teacher, it was exciting and rewarding to see how interested and engaged my students were about all the different aspects of an amazing and relatable career. I believe that first experience with such an exceptional guest speaker truly sparked their interest. With my students’ newfound love for seeing guest speakers in our classroom, I knew we were going to have an exciting year of experiences with Skype in the Classroom.

Can you tell us about one of the most impactful speakers you’ve had?

One of the great things about bringing in speakers via Skype is the ability to connect with people wherever they are located. Anthony Salcito, vice president of Microsoft Education, took the time to Skype with my students while he was in between flights to Budapest. Mr. Salcito shared his story of how technology impacted his life and how technology can take learning to the next level—his words have stayed with me to this day. Our 21st-century learners need experiences like guest speakers to make real-world connections—even when those speakers are between flights!

Image of Mr. Salcito sharing his story with Megan’s students via Skype.

How has Skype engaged your 21st-century learners?

In addition to guest speakers, I provide many opportunities for my students to participate in Mystery Skype sessions with classrooms across the globe. This allows my students to practice important geography skills and ask students questions to help them learn about their culture.

During our Mystery Skype sessions, students use maps loaded within their OneNote Class Notebook and use digital inking to narrow down where the mystery class may be located. My classes have virtually traveled to many places, including all over the United States, Germany, and Canada.

Image of Megan’s student participating in a Mystery Skype.

In our classroom, we also use Skype to participate in Skype-a-Thon and World Read Aloud Day, and to communicate with our Virtual Valentines!

Skype in the Classroom opened the door to a whole new world of learning for my students. After virtual visits from our guest speakers and numerous Mystery Skype sessions across the globe, my students and I remain hooked. I know I must continue this innovative way of learning for my students. The possibilities are endless with the power of technology—especially for the 21st-century learners of today. If you have not exposed your students to Skype in the Classroom, what are you waiting for?

—Megan Lipinczyk and the Skype news team

Teachers—Break down the walls of your classroom with Skype in the Classroom. If you are new to Skype, get started with an introductory call with one of our Skype Guide live connections, or take the Introduction to Skype in the Classroom course. You can also create your own Skype collaboration: take the Skype collaboration course and get ready to connect your students with classrooms around the world!

Parents—Ask your school to get involved with Skype in the Classroom, so your kids can experience the world live from their classrooms.