Skype, Ed Tech Solutions Help Students Attend Class Virtually

As technology becomes, cheaper, faster, more widely-adopted and simply more useful in everyday life, schools are beginning to experience greater benefits. At, William Croyle introduces us to Gideon Egan, a 6-year old who’s reaping the benefits of technology himself — Skype, software that allows video and audio conferencing for free via the internet, allows him to attend class when his body doesn’t cooperate.

Gideon, a first-grade student at Campbell Ridge Elementary School, was born with arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (AMC). The joints in his arms and legs cannot bend, and his muscles are very weak. As a result, he has never been able to walk.

Croyle reports that Gideon is recovering from surgery — one of many — and Skype lets him continue along with his classmates without skipping a beat.

Not only does Skype let him stay on top of classwork, but it provides an important social function for his classmates, too. They seem to have a great time being able to see and talk to Gideon, which is both exciting and comforting.

His classmate, Arianna Turner, 7, said Skyping with him has made her “very happy.”

“It’s really awesome because he is my most favorite friend in the whole wide world and I miss him,” Arianna said.

Blogs, articles and conference keynotes tout the potential academic benefits of education technologies like Skype often — but should education technology be employed more often to increase classroom morale and cohesion?

Skype, which is available for free and unlocks premium features for a very low cost, is one such mechanism that could connect chronically-ill students, or those out for an extended period of time, with their classmates. As in the case of Gideon and his class — who first talked to him when he was in Pennsylvania for surgery — the students seem to have been helped tremendously by the connection.

Rubrics and lesson plans pile up on teachers’ desks, but few touch on the notion that students could learn about the value of technology from situations like these. We don’t need a longitudinal study to tell us that Gideon and his classmates will remember their ability to connect via Skype forever.

Matthew Tabor

Matthew Tabor

Matthew is a prolific, independent voice in the national education debate. He is a tireless advocate for high academic standards from pre-K through graduate school, fiscal sense and personal responsibility. He values parents’ and families’ rights and believes in accountability for teachers, administrators, politicians and all taxpayer-funded education entities. With a unique background that includes work in higher education, executive recruiting, professional sport and government, Matthew has consulted on new media and communication strategies for a broad range of clients. He writes the blog “Education for the Aughts” at , has contributed to National Journal’s ‘Expert’ blog for Education , and interacts with the education community on Twitter and Google+.
12 20, 2012
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