Oh, to be a student today. No more chalkboards, no more wooden desks, no more passing notes in hallways (at least, I assume no more passing notes since every teenager these days comes supplied with a cell phone Gorilla Glued to their hand). More, companies like Skype are providing schools with the type of technology to transcend the classroom walls and learn about the world in ways uncharted during my chalk dust days of school.
Skype announced today a new plan to provide teachers in the United States with the technology resources they need in order to turn learning experiences that go beyond the physical boundaries of the classroom. Through a new partnership with DonorsChoose.org, an online charity focused on helping students in need, Skype plans to donate $250,000 to teachers requesting technology materials to enable Skype video-calling in their classrooms.
Some of the materials requested by teachers include laptops, netbooks, and webcams in order to enable their classes to connect with other classrooms, experts, or even other teachers via video-calling. This latest announcement hopes to bring in more classrooms to Skype's mission to connect one million classrooms around the globe via "Skype in the classroom," the company's free online community for Skype-enabled teachers to enhance the education of students. Check out the video below to see a demonstration of how teachers are using Skype to bring the world into their classroom.
"We realize that to achieve our goal of connecting one million classrooms across the globe, we need to partner with like-minded organizations that serve teachers," said Tony Bates, president of the Skype Division at Microsoft, in a statement. "The partnership with DonorsChoose.org is a natural fit because, much like Skype, DonorsChoose.org uses an innovative model to help make a meaningful difference for thousands of teachers and students."
To kick-off the partnership, Skype has already funded many DonorsChoose.org projects like The NASA Experience, Visual Music: Seeing the Big Picture, and Bring Science and Technology Together in the Classroom.
In the same statement, DonorsChoose.org founder Charles Best said, "We envision a nation where children in every community have the tools and experiences needed for an excellent education and Skype, through its Skype in the classroom community, is helping to make this vision a reality."