In an effort timed to coincide with Read Aloud Day, a worldwide effort to read aloud to children on March 6 organized by the nonprofit organization LitWorld, Skype, an online platform that enables global voice calling via the web, is allowing teachers registered as part of its Skype in the Classroom initiative to enable the software’s group video call features for free. Skype has also partnered with Penguin Books, Random House and other publishers to make a select group of authors available to read to students using Skype.
The new Skype in the Classroom promotion is being announced on Read Aloud Day by Skype CMO Elisa Steele at the SXSWedu, the educational conference held piror to SXSW Interactive, the annual technology festival in Austin, Texas. While Skype allows one-on-one free video chat, the group video chat feature is usually reserved for its paid users.
In a prepared release, Steel said, adding free group video calling will, “help support innovation in classrooms around the world and enable students take part in extraordinary learning experiences. Students in Quebec can practice their Spanish by talking with classes in Madrid and Mexico City; science classes in San Francisco, California, Chicago, Illinois and Burlington, Vermont can share their projects with each other live.” Steele said, “The possibilities are truly endless.”
Steele listed a long group of celebrities who will be reading aloud via skype today—including former Olympic softball player Jennie Finch, Today Show anchor Natalie Morales, Survivor host Jeff Probst and many others—in addition to authors from Skype partners such as Hot Key Books, Pan Macmillan, Penguin and Random House.