Skype My School

Here is an idea that I have been kicking around for some time. If your school is like mine it likely has the original or nearly original PA system. This system consists of wired speakers to each classroom which can be accessed by a switchboard which may or may not have been equipped with a record player or 8 track. My idea is a simple one and it is likely one that someone has tried already. My school has recently undergone some major technological upgrades.

1. A laptop for every teacher
2. a projector (some SMART) in every classroom
3. Wifi throughout the school
4. Fiber on the way

Our current PA system is glitchy, it sometimes requires a Fonzy-esque knock to get the lose wiring to work correctly. In the classrooms it is muffled and either extremely loud or muffled but always very intrusive. There are two options with the system, Call one class, or everyone in the school.

What I envision in the future is a system which would allow me to call groupings of classes with sound and video, share and celebrate student successes and even have outside guests greet our students. Skype, Google hangouts, Rounds and many more have the ability to create conference calls with one or many people or groups.

Although I used skype in the title of this blog post I am much more in favour of Google hangouts for a few reasons.

1. It’s free, really it does not cost a thing.

2. Integration of google documents- you can share files and interact with others in a call.

3. Games- there are lots of fun apps which can be added to enrich the Hangout experience.

4. Free Calls- Anyone and everyone can be invited to a call for free.

5. Video- You can have many simultaneous video participants all able to discuss a given topic.

6. No download required.

7. The ability to broadcast your announcements synchronously or even asynchronously.

8. Teachers can easily place phone-calls from their classroom, free.

So what I am thinking about doing is testing this approach to using Google for my PA system by giving each classroom a google ID then following up by conducting announcements, O’Canada, and even sharing student work and accomplishments with the school.  In theory an administrator could do the morning announcements from anywhere with an internet connection, or even from their IOS or android device.

With a little tweaking the radio system used to cover playground supervision could be changed to one where supervisors could make WIFI calls for help over our Hangout PA system. There are lots of hurdles to overcome to make this a reality but it could be something that changes the school PA system for good.

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