Skype in the classroom is a free, global community to help teachers use Skype to help their students learn. It's a place for teachers to connect, find partner classes and share inspiration, and was created in response to the growing number of teachers using Skype in their classrooms.
We were interested in identifying what teachers wanted and needed from the service, and aimed to help them to make these discoveries themselves. For example, what began as a simple directory of teachers developed into a service based around profiles and projects, with easily navigable interactive maps. Only when our particular process of simple prototyping and repeat iterations was complete did we ask teachers to bring their stories back into the project. While changes were made as a result of our testing, we were keen to maintain a light touch throughout, allowing the teachers' ideas to take centre stage. So, as well as looking at the client's expectations, we set out to listen to Skype's audience from the start - after all, if the teachers tell us what they want quickly, then we can deliver it quickly - and if they get what they want, they will continue to use the service.
Core77: What's the latest news or development with your project?
Skype in the classroom is going well. We have lots of new users joining every week and we're planning some new features around how users share their projects around the web. We are still engaging with teachers to get insights about how the service should evolve and grow, especially around how we can help other kinds of professionals link up with the service and visit classrooms for virtual lectures and other projects.
What is 1 quick anecdote about your project?
We are continually amazed at what great hackers teachers are. They rapidly pick up the tools on offer and start repurposing them for their own needs. For instance, the projects functionality grew out of seeing teachers using their profile bios to advertise projects. But they are also a very diverse audience, with different levels of technical proficiency. So keeping it simple was often a real challenge: categorizing topics and age groups was a complex process that required us to pay constant attention to how teachers were using the service.