How to get started with Skype in the classroom

How to get started with Skype in the classroom
How to get started with
Skype in the classroom
Table of contents
The basics
What is Skype?
What you’ll need to get started
What is Skype in the classroom?
Getting started
Using Skype In the classroom
Preparing for your Skype lesson
Involving your learners
Getting up to speed with Skype
Setting up your classroom
Connecting to a projector
Checklist for your first Skype lesson
Using Skype in your school
What to do if Skype is blocked in your school
Trouble-shooting while on a Skype call
Contact us
Contact us
Technical appendix
System requirements
Download and install - Windows
Download and install - Mac
Bandwidth needed for Skype video
Quality of video call
Skype in the classroom is pleased to offer teachers this guide to enable you to run
fantastic Skype lessons. The guide contains all the information you need to get started
with Skype in the classroom: from how to arrange your first Skype call, to setting up your
classroom and running your first Skype lesson.
In creating this guide, we worked closely with social and educational technologist, Josie
Fraser. Josie’s foreword is an inspiring look at using Skype in your classroom and is an
excellent introduction for teachers who are new to Skype. We’re pleased to have had her
involvement in producing this guide.
Skype in the classroom team
Josie Fraser
UK-based social & educational technologist
Many educators are familiar with Skype, using it outside of the classroom to keep in touch
with friends and family at distance, to organise events, hold virtual meetings, and to send
messages to colleagues.
Skype is now also an everyday tool in the classroom tech repertoire of educators working
with students of all ages, all over the world. Many teachers have shared online a wealth
of examples of Skype being used as an application to engage students in influential and
effective learning experiences.
I’m very pleased to have been able to work with Skype in the classroom by supporting
the development of the Skype in the classroom Teacher toolkit – designed to provide
educators with useful information about using Skype in the classroom, and Skype in their
classroom, and to encourage those who haven’t used Skype before to try it out.
The Skype in the classroom website provides teachers with a directory of examples of
how they can use Skype. Teachers can use it to access and share activities, resources and
lesson plans, to connect to other educators and organisations, and to spark even more
ideas for using the instant messaging, voice and video calling for learning and teaching.
In the classroom, many teachers now have access to
a projector, a computer and an internet connection.
Video calling is a great way to encourage whole class
interaction and participation in activities.
“Connecting to educators who
have learnt what works well is a
great way to develop confidence
and share great advice”
Like all technologies, using Skype will not magically
improve teaching or make lessons more compelling
or memorable. Effective use of Skype is dependent on the skill and imagination of the
teacher. Connecting to educators who have learnt what works well is a great way to
develop confidence and share great advice – on preparing for and framing activities, on
running Skype sessions with learners, and in getting the most out of these with follow up
Modern Foreign Language teachers have long been aware of the power of video calling
to bring language learning to life for their students. Partnering with other schools can
enable all learners to broaden their horizons and knowledge, across all subject areas, by
working together, and through exploring and understanding differences and similarities.
Skype provides educators with a real way to enable learners to not only ‘see in to’ other
classrooms, countries and cultures, but also to make meaningful connections through
collaboration and conversation.
Video calling can also be used closer to home, to build and develop local connections,
for example supporting transition by providing learners with additional opportunities
to see their new schools and talk to current students. Skype can be used to connect to
further education providers, universities and businesses, and to support careers advice or
mentoring programs.
Skype can also be used to support a range of other approaches to progression. It can
be used to connect to an audience for learners to present individual or collaborative
presentations, to formalise and make final presentations. Presentations can augment and
focus work by giving learners an external audience to communicate what has been learnt.
Performances don’t just have to be presentations to
an at-distance audience. Enacting scenes from plays
and giving concerts with learners in different physical
locations are an ambitious and fun way of making
great use of the collaborative potential of Skype.
“Skype can support
experiences that wouldn’t
otherwise be possible”
Skype lessons and activities can also be filmed and shared – with appropriate permissions
from your class and their parents and carers.
It’s important that teachers are able to make the most of all the opportunities to support
and enhance learning that classroom technologies allow. Skype can support experiences
that wouldn’t otherwise be possible, enabling teachers to bring the world into their
classroom, and to take their students into the world.
Josie Fraser, 2013
The basics
What is Skype?
Skype is a software that allows you to speak to, see
and instant message other people who have Skype
accounts wherever they are in the world.
It is an application you download which allows you
to make calls and send messages via the internet.
Many people use their computers for Skype, but you
can also use a phone or even a TV.
With Skype you can:
1. Make free Skype to Skype calls.
2. Make low cost calls and send text messages to
mobiles and landlines.
3. Make video calls on Skype and Facebook.
4. Send free instant messages.
Hundreds of millions of people are already using
Skype; many people use it to stay in touch with
family and friends. There’s something special about
seeing a face on Skype video call and it can be
cheaper than making a phone call.
What you’ll need to get started
To sign up for a Skype account and install Skype on
your computer visit
You will be directed to the best download option for
the computer you are using. It should only take a
few minutes to download and set up.
Once you have everything up and running there are
only a few more items you’ll need to make the most
of Skype in your classroom.
A computer with a
microphone and speakers.
A webcam.
A broadband
internet Connection.
The Basics
What is Skype in the classroom?
Skype in the classroom is a free community that
connects teachers with educators and guest
speakers from around the world.
It is a website where teachers can find and run
Skype lessons for their students. It enables teachers
to find classes thousands of miles away, or just
round the corner, to collaborate and learn with.
With Skype in the classroom you can:
1. Connect and collaborate with other
educators using Skype
2. Find and engage with experts from a wide
range of fields
3. Share and promote your own Skype lesson
ideas and resources
Skype in the classroom also helps teachers to
connect to guest speakers who can offer their
expertise during a Skype lesson with a class.
It provides schools with the opportunity to easily
invite zoo keepers, mountain climbers, professional
athletes and authors into their classroom for a chat.
What are the benefits for your school:
All teachers that sign up to Skype in the classroom
will also be given free group video calling to use in
their classroom.
You can find Skype in the classroom at
Access to free group video calling
on Skype
Collaboration on a global scale
You can access interesting speakers,
easily and for free
Getting started
Using Skype in the classroom
Registering a new account
Getting started with Skype in the classroom is easy. Visit
to join.
It is easiest to register with a Skype account. If you have one already, simply use your
Skype username and password to log in. If you don’t then you’ll need to visit to create one.
Once you have logged in with your Skype account you’ll need to fill out some profile
information such as the screen name you’d like to be known by, your location and your
email address.
To help you connect with the most suitable classes and teachers you should also add your
areas of interest, short bio, and upload a photo.
Getting started
Finding a Skype lesson
Teachers have already created thousands of lessons on Skype in the classroom. Taking
part in one of these is a nice way to start using Skype as part of your lesson plan.
If you have an idea of what you’re looking for you can search for lessons by keyword – try
‘Civil War’ or ‘Mystery Skype’. You can then filter by category, age group and language to
find the perfect lesson for your class.
You can also browse our handpicked collections; from extreme weather to computer
programming, music and language practice; you’re sure to find something to inspire you.
Once you’ve found a lesson you like, simply click the ‘Register for this lesson’ button.
We’ll notify the person running the lesson and you should hear from them soon.
Connecting with other teachers and experts
Another way to start making connections is by messaging other teachers directly. It’s easy
to do – you will find a message button on lesson pages and on every profile page.
You can also add someone as a Skype contact on his or her profile page. It’s important to
connect on Skype so you can plan your lesson and have access to video calling. You can
use instant messaging, or a Skype call, to chat once you’ve connected.
Creating your own lesson
If you already have a fantastic idea for a Skype lesson and can’t find anyone else doing
the same thing, then creating your own is simple.
The more detail you’re able to provide to other teachers and classes in your lesson
description, the more likely you are to make a fantastic connection. Include things like the
subjects you’ll be covering, the length of the lesson and what your objectives are. A great
image or video will also make it easier for other teachers to find your lesson.
Once you’ve published your lesson using the simple form, other teachers will be able to
find it, register to take part and get in contact with you.
Preparing for your Skype lesson
Involving your learners
A Skype lesson is a fantastic way to engage your
whole class. Students can be assigned different
roles to keep everyone involved throughout the
lesson. These can include greeters, inquirers,
sharers, researchers, photographers, bloggers,
timekeepers and scribes.
A few other ideas that can work well when
preparing for your lesson include asking your
class to come up with questions, and letting them
choose which to ask. Learners can also prepare
presentations on the areas you know will be
covered in the lesson.
A lot of teachers also find it helpful to set some
basic ground rules before a Skype call, especially
if it’s the first time you’ll be using it in your
Getting up to speed with Skype
The best way to make sure your lesson goes
smoothly is to test your set up before the day
of your Skype call. An easy way to make sure
everything is working is to run some test calls.
These can be with colleagues in the building, and
with other connections you have outside of school.
This is will give you confidence that your
equipment and connection are working well.
Make sure you know how to:
mute your microphone
turn up the sound on your computer speakers
switch your camera on and off in Skype
search for a contact and add them to your
address book
• accept or decline any invitations to connect.
You’ll need to add the person you’re
connecting with as a Skype contact in order
for video calling to work. It will also make
planning for your lesson a lot easier if you can
chat beforehand.
Setting up your classroom
If you’re using Skype in a lesson with a large group you will probably want to amplify
the sound. Make sure you have speakers connected to the computer and that they
are working.
Your computer may have a built-in webcam, if not you’ll need to connect one. When
setting up, you should make sure that as many students as possible are in the line of the
camera and that the light in your classroom is providing good quality video.
If you don’t want to use video, you can click the camera button within Skype while on a
call to turn off your webcam.
Connecting to a projector
If you use an interactive whiteboard or projector in your classroom you will know that you
can connect your computer to it. Using one of these for your Skype lesson is a good idea
to make sure everyone in your class has a clear view and is involved in the lesson.
Setting up your classroom
Checklist for your first Skype lesson
Skype is installed on your computer
You’re connected to the internet
You have a webcam, speakers and a microphone
Your computer is connected to a projector or whiteboard
You have added the person you’re calling as a Skype contact
You have run a test call
You have spoken about and agreed a lesson plan
Your learners know what to expect, and their roles.
Using Skype in your school
Skype in the classroom supports teachers in using
class based Skype calls, meaning that learners
don’t need to set up individual accounts or provide
any of their personal data. Teachers manage the
engagement on behalf of their learners, ensuring
safe and productive lessons and connections.
When connecting your class to someone new,
it’s always a good idea to have a quick Skype call
with them before introducing them to your class.
If you’re uncomfortable inviting them into your
classroom, for whatever reason, you do not have
If you already have a Skype account you may
want to consider setting up a different account
for teaching, rather than using your personal one.
Doing this will mean that your personal contacts
cannot initiate a conversation during your lesson.
If you have any concerns about someone you have
connected with via Skype in the classroom, please
contact us at or use the
flagging tool on the site.
What to do if Skype is blocked in your school
It is common for schools to have restrictions in
place on the way they connect to the internet to
stop students and teachers from accessing and
downloading from certain sites.
Requests to have Skype unblocked should be clear
about how you’ll be using Skype in your lessons to
support effective learning, and enhance learners’
You may find that you don’t have permissions to
download the Skype client to your work computer,
or that Skype is blocked in your school.
Make sure that you run a test call well in advance
of your lesson to ensure that you don’t discover
any issues at short notice.
If this happens, you can talk to your line manager
about getting permission to get Skype unblocked.
Your school technician will also be able to offer
advice on how to take your request forward.
Trouble-shooting while on a Skype call
If you have trouble with your video or audio during a call, let the person you are calling
know by sending them an instant message. If, after a few minutes, the connection does
not seem to improve try terminating the call and ringing back. We often find this helps.
If you don’t have any video at all make sure that both you and the person you’re calling
have cameras switched on and connected properly. It’s important that both you and the
caller have accepted one another’s contact requests, otherwise the video functionality
won’t work.
If the Skype application quits unexpectedly, relaunch the application and see if you can
rejoin the conversation. You may have to call-in or, if someone else on the call seems to
have dropped out, you may need to call them and add them back in.
If you’re having ongoing issues with your Skype connection, you should check that your
internet bandwidth connection meets the minimum requirements for Skype, you can find
these in the Technical Appendix on this toolkit.
To get more support on using Skype you can visit:
Technical appendix
Download and install
Skype is an application which needs to be downloaded and installed on the computer
you are going to make your calls from. The Skype application requires 28MB of space on
your computer.
You will be directed to the best download option for the computer you are using. It
should only take a few minutes to download and set up.
System requirements:
PC running Windows® XP, Vista, Windows® 7,
Windows® 8, both 32- and 64-bit operating
Internet connection – broadband is best (GPRS is
not supported for voice calls).
Speakers and microphone – built-in or separate.
1 GHz Intel processor
Mac OS X v10.5.8 (leopard) or newer.
100 MB free disk space.
Either USB or regular headset if your Mac does
not have a built-in microphone.
Download drivers if you are using an external
Download and install
Windows desktop
Windows 8
Step 1
Save the SkypeSetup file to your computer.
To download Skype from the Microsoft Store,
you’ll need a Microsoft account
Step 2
Double click the downloaded file. When the Open
File screen is displayed, click Run. When it is
complete, Skype opens and the Welcome to Skype
screen is displayed.
Step 1
In the Start screen, type “Skype” to open the
search bar.
Step 3
On the Welcome screen, register as a user if
you aren’t already. You will need a Skype ID and
password to login to use Skype.
Step 2
Select the Store icon. Select the Skype application
tile displayed on the left side of the screen.
Step 3
In the window that opens, select Install. The
message “Skype was installed” appears in the top
right corner of the screen.
Step 4
On the Welcome screen register as a user if
you aren’t already. You will need a Skype ID and
password to login to use Skype.
Tech specs for Skype video
Step 1
Save the Skype application file to your computer.
Step 2
Double click the download file then drag the Skype
icon to your Application folder.
Step 3
Launch Skype from your Application folder and
register as a user if you aren’t already. You will need
a Skype ID and password to login to use Skype.
Your principal might decide that the school
should have an official account which can be
shared by teachers. In this case, you might
want to use the school name as your Skype
Download and install
Bandwidth needed for Skype video:
Call type
Minimum download /
upload speed
Recommended download /
upload speed
30kbps / 30 kbps
100kbps / 100kbps
Video calling /
Screen sharing
128kbps / 128kbps
300kbps / 300kbps
Video calling
(high quality)
400kbps / 400kbps
500kbps / 500kbps
Video calling
1.2Mbps / 1.2Mbps
1.5Mbps / 1.5Mbps
Group video
(3 people)
512kbps / 128kbps
2Mbps / 512kbps
Group video
(5 people)
2Mbps / 128kbps
4Mbps / 512kbps
Group video
(7+ people)
4Mbps / 128kbps
8Mbps / 512kbps
The quality of your video call can be standard, high quality, or HD (high definition).
Video quality
Image resolution (pixels)
Frames per second
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