BY KEVIN HODGSON

The world does indeed seem increasingly smaller in scale, thanks in part to the array of technology tools now at our disposal. In particular, making a connection with another class somewhere in the world has never been easier, thanks to blogs, social media, and more. For instance, the online voice/phone platform Skype has allowed my students to talk and collaborate with students from other parts of the United States. And not long ago, a colleague of mine here in New England had her kindergarten students chatting away with kindergarteners in Hawaii. That’s a pretty powerful learning opportunity that was not really available five or ten years ago, other than with paper-based pen-pal projects (which still have a lot of value today, by the way).

Now, Skype is trying to make those learning connections a bit easier to make. Skype in the Classroom is a free and simple database of educators who want to collaborate with other teachers, using Skype. You add your name and your connections to other teachers grows.

The Skype directory is still in “beta” mode as of this writing but it is expected that it will launch publicly in December 2010. A teacher will need a Skype account, of course, but there are free levels of service as well as paid ones. Skype now comes with video conferencing and screen-sharing options.

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Instructifeature: A window on the world — Using Skype in the classroom