Although I have become increasingly frustrated with Skype over the past weeks due to all sorts of incompatibility issues with other users’ Skype versions, camera problems and painful recording experiences of Skype calls which led me to temporarily switch to another program, I have always been an advocate for the use of Skype in an educational context and I will continue to be.
My criticism aside, Skype along with UK based think tank The Education Foundation have just recently announced a new initiative with some exciting potential: The Learning Lab. According to The Education Foundation The Learning Lab, situated in the heart of London, is “a unique combination of an inspiring events and showcasing space for education leaders and businesses”, both in the UK and internationally, “a state of the art professional development centre” and “a classroom, laboratory and studio space”.
You might be familiar with the Skype in the Classroom project that launched about a year ago and based on the experiences made The Learning Lab can be seen as a logic continuation. The new partnership has the ambitious aim to get all groups of the normally rather scattered education space in one boat.
It addresses early childhood educators as well as teachers in the K12 space and leaders in Higher Education to get inspired and explore the possibilities to integrate Skype lessons in their teaching but also mentions to give businesses and providers of learning solutions the possibility to showcase their products. As Skype’s Tony Bates writes on the company blog at the launch event “guests had the opportunity to see the facility's fully-equipped, reconfigurable classroom, featuring practical examples of it in use from teachers, students and partner organizations”.
The Education Foundation sees some additional use in offering workshops and roundtable discussion by and with policy makers and government officials. The future will show if this partnership has the potential to successfully merge the virtual Skype experience with the real world by allowing people in the education sector to learn from others and experience best practices as well as getting more knowledgeable about new products or services. If all works well we may see a bigger group of really tech-savvy teachers than we have now.