Try It Tuesday: Connect with Students From Around the World Using Skype

"The World Is As Big Or As Small As You Make It" | Sundance Institute from Sundance Institute on Vimeo.

Last Friday, June 19, 2015, was the 4th annual ENGAGE 2015 conference sponsored by the Philadelphia Youth Network. One of the most exciting projects showcased at the conference was Sannii Crespina-Flores's Do Remember Me program, featured in the 12-minute film above.

There's much to love about how Sannii runs Do Remember Me, but one of the most profound things she does is connect the young people she's working with in Philadelphia with other young people from around the world using the free video-conferencing software, Skype.

As she told us at the ENGAGE conference, the conversations young people have through Skype opens them up to a much wider world and so many different perspectives. It helps them see possibilities and opportunities that might never have occurred to them at an age when it's critical for teens to be exploring a wider world.

One look at the video above, and you'll see how engaged these young people are in sharing their worlds with each other through Skype. In this week's Try It Tuesday, we're going to show you how you can do this yourself!

Getting Started on Skype

Skype is a free application that you can download here. It works with both Macs and PCs and can be used on a laptop or desktop computer and even through a smartphone or tablet.

Help Guides for all versions of Skype are available here--just select the platform you're using from the drop-down menu. You can then find guides for adding contacts and making both video and voice calls.

Finding Classrooms to Connect With

Your next step is finding classrooms you could connect to. A good place to start is with ePals, recommended by Education World as one of the best communities for making global classroom connections.

Membership is free and once you create your profile, you can search for classroom matches with criteria such as language and country. You can also browse for classroom connections or create your own profile to be found by others.

Some classrooms are looking to do collaborative projects, while others are looking to make more informal conversational connections to connect young people and broaden their perspectives.

When you find a potential match, you can contact the educator and discuss scheduling, ideas for discussion, etc. as well as get their Skype contact information.

Ideas for Connecting/Discussion

If you're looking for some ideas for topics, one fantastic resource is the Youth Voices Programs from the Global Nomads Group. Each program explores a "big" question and there are student and educator workbooks you can download for free. They provide some great ideas, lesson plans and frameworks for talking with youth from around the world about important issues.

You can also go really basic--brainstorming with your students about what they would want to learn about students from other countries and coming up with a list of questions to ask each other.

This is an idea that can be used as part of an existing program--or you could develop an entire project around the concept of making global connections. If you try this out, let us know how it goes--we'd love to hear from you through comments!

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