I am always amazed at the discrepancies between schools when it comes to filtering policies. Some schools take a “block everything” approach then unblock sites as needed while other schools do the exact opposite and only block sites as needed. No matter what the case may be it is important for districts to have a clear and transparent procedure for teachers to follow when they want a site unblocked.
One of the most useful sites that seems to be blocked at many schools is Skype. Since Skype is an app that must to be downloaded to a computer, I am having a little bit of difficulty understanding why it is not available to teachers. When I put out a feeler on Twitter the other day asking why it was blocked the most common response was that it takes too much bandwidth. I am no tech expert by any means, but after reading this articlethatPaul R. Woodshared with me then I am not so sure that is a legitimate reason.
When used properly Skype can transform a classroom. Teachers can use it to connect their classroom with other classrooms or to bring in special guests. There is really no limit to number of ways Skype can help tear down the walls of a classroom.
But what if it is blocked? If your district does not have a procedure for how to go about requesting that a site be unblocked then you will need to email your principal and the IT department. Make sure you include the following pieces of information in your request:
URL of the site to which you want access
Rationale for why you want it blocked
Detailed explanation of how you will use it in class including the educational benefits
Date by which you would like the site open
Examples of how the site has been used by other teachers
List any known concerns along with a possible solution
I hope that you use this post as a reference if you are currently trying to gain access to Skype in your district. Listed below are dozens of ways Skype has been used and this is by no means an exhaustive list. If you have more examples of how Skype can be used then please share them by leaving a comment. Even is your experience was less than satisfactory we still would like to hear about it. We learn just as much from the negative experiences as the positive ones.
geraldaungst@bethstill Same concern. They can’t control who teachers talk to and when. Might do that instead of their jobs, you know.
geraldaungst@bethstill I think the worry is about unfiltered access to anything/anyone. Schools can’t control who kids contact.
kdumont@bethstill I think concerns listed by others is pretty accurate. We don’t block, but don’t promote for student use either.
dmantz7@bethstill Biggest issues I know of from IT side is bandwidth & peer-peer networking
amichetti@bethstill I’m really not sure. good question. But in countries like VN, bandwidth is a major logistical challenge to digital learning.
room214@bethstill Some block skype as a category – it falls under peer to peer – that is based on how skype works
How educators have used Skype in their classrooms: Spreadsheetstarted by Jen Wagner. Contains nearly 100 responses on how educators are using Skype in their classrooms and if the experience was positive or not.
tgwynn@bethstill I just noticed how you can now screenshare on skype. What a great way to help staff/Stdts. Similar to iChat