As Skyping becomes part of our daily vocabulary -- like "googling" and "friending," it's also being used more in schools. As a way to connect students to valuable resources across the world, schools are embracing Skype, WebEx, Google video chat, and other tools as an alternative the chalkboard generation could only dream of: conversations with astronauts, field trips to the zoo, and connecting with kids across the globe, for instance -- all from the comfort of their own classrooms.
Grant funding for videoconferencing equipment in schools is becoming more prevalent, too (often, that money is federal; Tandberg, for example, is one resource). This means that more kids might get to meet peers in El Salvador, and snow days could be a thing of the past.
1) DISTANCE LEARNING.
In Tennessee, instructors at Dyersburg State Community College 11 interactive TV classrooms can teach students more than an hour's drive away, thanks to a $800,000 USDA grant. A distance learning program in Alabama that uses webcams, big-screen televisions, and interactive whiteboards has been lauded for its ability to bring Advanced Placement (AP) classes to students who wouldn't otherwise have access. And the Gallup-McKinley and Jemez Valley School Districts in New Mexico are each receiving $500,000 in federal grants to create a videoconferencing system that will enable students to take AP and foreign language classes as well as facilitate professional development for teachers.