Mrs A's Blog

My Rambling Thoughts on Teaching and Learning

PKM Routines

I have for years wondered how people find their info, process it and then if worthy share it. Today I read a piece for my current subject at Uni about PKM Routines ( The penny has suddenly dropped.

Personal Knowledge Mastery is about how you seek, sense and share what you know. So over the years, I have narrowed down my way of finding information to the following routine…

Seek – I read through my newsfeeds in Outlook, Twitter and good old Google searches

Sense – I read, notetake, draw and talk through my thoughts in OneNote

Share – when I find a good idea I share through my networks on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and if I have the time I’ll write a blog post.

So below is my first version of my PKM routine! Would love to know what you think!

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Online Personalised Learning

Is it Possible in a High School Course?


The Universal Declarations of Human Rights states that “everyone has the right to education” (UN General Assembly, 1948, p. Article 26). Schools in their current form are a one size fits all system which does not cater or even allow access to education for every student (Consortium for School Networking, 2019). As such “this uniform model has been giving way to more flexible, student-focused instruction” (Consortium for School Networking, 2019, p. 6). As educators attempt to find ways to make education accessible to all students, research has led to many different pedagogical approaches, tools and resources. Personalisation is one approach to engage a student in the learning process (Ferlazzo, 2017); however, as a high school teacher when you teach 150 different students in a single school year how do you achieve this? This literature review aims to assess what is known about how online learning can help to enable personalised learning in a high school course. In particular, it will investigate the implementation within a single subject course and existing school structures. It is important to note that the focus is not solely on online learning as the only pedagogical approach utilised within the classroom.

For students to engage in the learning process, they need to “find their spark and make their own fire” (Ferlazzo, 2017).  In order to accomplish this sense of agency, educators need to incorporate the four essential elements of autonomy, self-efficacy, relatedness and relevance into the personalisation of the high school course (Ferlazzo, 2017). 

Personalised learning has been around in a variety of different forms since Jean-Jacques Rousseau advocated for student-centred education in 1762 (UNESCO International Bureau of Education, 2017).  From the Montessori Method (1897) to the Dalton Plan (1914) and the Keller Plan (1968) through to differentiation (1999) have all built on and contributed to the understanding of what personalised learning is in 2020 (UNESCO International Bureau of Education, 2017).  This literature review will consider the understandings developed over the last ten years, attempt to define personalised learning in the context of online learning in a high school course, barriers and enablers for online personalised learning and how this can be implemented in a high school course.

Historical Background

Over the last ten years, personalised learning has undergone a shift in understanding not only of the concept but of how and when it would be implemented in mainstream education.  The 2011 Horizon Report (K-12 Edition) expected personalised learning to be implemented in the mainstream classroom by 2016.  The belief was that it would happen naturally through the use of Social Media and the development of personal learning networks, it just required a shift in attitude by educators (Johnson, Adams, & Haywood, 2011).  While this view was still held in 2012, technology had changed with the implementation of cloud computing and the mainstream acceptance of mobile devices and the use of apps to personalise learning in the classroom (Johnson, Adams, & Cummins, 2012).  High-speed internet supported better access to online resources and high school courses started to be personalised through electronic feedback, tutorials, and playlists with the thought that it would be mainstream by 2014 (Johnson et al., 2012; West, 2012).  In 2014, personalised learning became a solvable challenge, as the thinking changed to focus on the pedagogical approach (Johnson, Adams Becker, Estrada, & Freeman, 2014).  Each student had the opportunity to utilise online learning to “follow an optimal learning path and pace through a mix of instructional methods” (Childress & Benson, 2014, p. 34).  Implementation of personalised learning proved to be more difficult than initially anticipated as the belief was it could only be accomplished if there was a complete overhaul of the curriculum and education in general (Johnson, Adams Becker, Estrada, & Freeman, 2015; Starasts, 2015).  As educators attempted to implement personalised learning, the realisation that the process was labour intensive and that technology and online learning platforms needed to become more adaptive to ensure more mainstream implementation (Jacobs, 2016).  At this point, the development of online learning was “largely being steered by suppliers, while many schools are still in the midst of identifying their needs” (Adams Becker, Freeman, Giesinger Hall, Cummins, & Yuhnke, 2016, p. 32).  The next few years have seen the rise of Learning Management Systems (LMS) as a way to personalise learning in an online environment (Leonard, 2017).  In 2017, The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) outlined their position on personalised learning stating “It is a vital goal for educational systems: access to quality education means access to personalized learning” (UNESCO International Bureau of Education, 2017, p. 9).  Understanding that engaging and motivating students leads to deeper learning, personalised learning as an approach to enabling agency in students, became an accelerator and mega trend driving education forward (Consortium for School Networking, 2019).  Unfortunately, there is still some confusion as to what personalised learning actually is and what it looks like in a classroom.  Until a definition and agreement of what personalised learning is, it will be difficult to implement it as an approach to learning in the classroom.

What is (Online) Personalised Learning?

Everyone can agree that online personalised learning “starts and ends with the student” (Keefe, 2007, p. 220).  From here it gets murky, is it a process (Johnson et al., 2011; Keefe, 2007), an approach (Johnson et al., 2012; Miller, 2019) or a philosophy (Keefe, 2007; UNESCO International Bureau of Education, 2017)?  Can it be a combination of all three?  A philosophy of student-centred education that is developed with a variety of pedagogical approaches that are individualised for each student and a process in which a student assesses their own goals, aspirations and understandings and plan a pathway towards success with the support of the teacher or mentor.

There are many ways in which learning can be personalised—the easiest way is to adjust the pace of learning.  Allowing students to move through the course work at their own pace and only moving on when they are ready (Kamenetz, Feinberg, & Calvert Mason, 2018).  However, this is just one aspect of personalising learning (Miller, 2019).  Personalised learning is about each student tailoring their learning journey to their needs, interests, strengths, skills and goals.  When we look at online learning, most software packages and Learning Management Systems (LMS) promoting personalised learning focus primarily on the pace of the learning (Leonard, 2017).

The pace of learning is an aspect of competency-based education.  The objective of this model is for students to demonstrate mastery of skill and content and students receive support based on where they have knowledge gaps (Johnson et al., 2015).  Online learning supports competency-based education by creating opportunities to evaluate and measure student performance in real-time (West, 2011). 

Online learning can also support personalisation through teacher curated student playlists and how students consume content (Childress & Benson, 2014; Johnson et al., 2014; Leonard, 2017).  Choice of activity for interacting with content helps to promote agency and allow students to engage with the content on a deeper level (Stanley, 2019).  This extends further in allowing students options for completing an assessment and demonstrating understanding.

According to Starasts (2015), a method of personalized learning requires the student to create their own learning goals based on learner preferences.  From here, the learning environment and activities should be organized so that the student can control their learning using a variety of learning resources (Starasts, 2015).  It is these individualised learning plans that ensure that students have ownership over their learning (Torrens University Australia, 2018). An extension of goal-based personal learning is learning through interests as a method for students to choose their own curriculum, usually disguised as project-based learning where students can undertake learning through inquiry (Kamenetz et al., 2018).  This can also include taking courses which would not be considered to be a typical high school course like forensic science or emergency medicine (Jacobs, 2016).

With many methods available to personalise learning, what needs to be considered first is a teacher’s personal view of what personalised learning is to them.  Once a teacher has decided if they believe it is a process, approach, philosophy or some combination of all three, then they can decide how they are going to implement this in their classroom.  It might even be a case of they start small, implement pace or choice, master that for themselves and then move to add a new approach as they and their students are ready.

Barriers and Enablers

For online personalised learning to be implemented successfully in a high school course “it needs to be developed consciously and carefully” (UNESCO International Bureau of Education, 2017, p. 5).  This means that an educator needs to take into consideration the barriers to implementation so that they can be addressed and ensure success. 

Some of these barriers include existing structures, technology and infrastructure, curriculum requirements, resources, students, teachers and time.  When attempting to implement online personalised learning into a single high school course, existing school structures such as timetables (Schwartz, 2019) and school policy (Johnson et al., 2015) are beyond the teachers’ control. As such, there is a requirement to try and work within the constraints of the system.  Schools often struggle with a lack of technology resources and infrastructure to support learning (Johnson et al., 2015) or with the technology driving how learning should occur (Schwartz, 2019).  While personalized learning can occur without technology, it does make the process more challenging to implement.  What is more specific to personalised learning is the difficulty of data integration between the different digital tools that are being used to support the learning (Downing, n.d.) or that an adaptive system might not always get the provision of content right for the student (Thalmann, 2014). These are issues not so easily solved without the direct involvement of suppliers and administrators.

Teachers, at times, can be their own worst enemies when it comes to barriers to implementation of any new teaching approach, without adequate training and familiarity often they can lose faith in the system or doubt their abilities (Downing, n.d.).  Personalised learning requires teachers to give up the control of the classroom and as such put a lot of faith and trust in their students to manage their time and ability to meet the required standards (Downing, n.d.; Schwartz, 2019; Stanley, 2019).  The last barrier is time (Downing, n.d.; Schwartz, 2019).  It takes time to develop and implement personalised learning plans which meet the needs of every student in the class (Downing, n.d.).  Time will always be an issue for teachers, like with every new initiative it takes time to implement.  Teachers need to remember to take one step at a time, start small and do not try to implement everything as once.

While all of these barriers can deter the implementation of online personalised learning, there is no doubt that teachers should take the time to invest.  Research shows us that if a student is interested in learning, then they will succeed at it (Downing, n.d.; Ferlazzo, 2017; Keefe, 2007; Schwartz, 2019; Stanley, 2019).  Some of the other by-products of online personalise learning include empowering student voice, increased teacher productivity, purpose-driven in-class movement, student and teacher organisation, more effective personalised feedback and a boost in student confidence (Downing, n.d.; Ferlazzo, 2017; Stanley, 2019).  As long as a teacher follows the advice of UNESCO and takes the time to plan the personalised learning deliberately and sensibly, then both the teacher and the students will experience success.

Online Personalised Learning in a High School Course

Depending on the approach to personalised learning an educator chooses to implement, there are many ways online learning can support and enable personalised learning in a high school course.  Some of these include facilitating

  • self-paced learning effortlessly allowing students to access the content when and where they want (Gonzalez, 2015; Leonard, 2017; Tucker, 2007)
  • flexibility in the provision of resources through ‘playlists’ for students to explore concepts especially utilizing multimedia (Miller, 2019; Starasts, 2015; West, 2012)
  • immediate feedback for students to act upon and utilise in goal setting (Downing, n.d.; UNESCO International Bureau of Education, 2017; West, 2011)
  • opportunities for communication with mentors, teachers, experts and even teams of students (Leonard, 2017; Starasts, 2015; UNESCO International Bureau of Education, 2017)
  • project-based and inquiry learning (Leonard, 2017; UNESCO International Bureau of Education, 2017)
  • agency over how students demonstrate their learning (Johnson et al., 2015; Leonard, 2017; Torrens University Australia, 2018)
  • with ease, record-keeping for students and educators (Consortium for School Networking, 2019; Starasts, 2015)
  • the use of digital portfolios as a way for students to reflect on learning (UNESCO International Bureau of Education, 2017)
  • flipped classroom experiences as a way to remove content delivery from the classroom and instead use it to ensure understanding and application (UNESCO International Bureau of Education, 2017)
  • exploration and experiential learning (Schwartz, 2019; UNESCO International Bureau of Education, 2017)

Technology, especially online learning “can simplify and amplify personalized learning” (Consortium for School Networking, 2019).


This literature review has identified how online learning can enable personalised learning in a high school course regardless of the understanding an educator takes, whether that is as a philosophy, pedagogical approach or process.  From the point when Rousseau promoted student-centred education to today, personalised learning is about ensuring that students get a choice and a voice in how they want to learn.  Online personalised learning needs to assist students to tailor their learning journeys based on pace, competency, interests, strengths, skills and goals.  Careful consideration needs to be taken to implement this philosophy, approach and process so that the barriers do not become a sticking point and prevent implementation.  It has been determined from the literature that online learning enables personalised learning in many different ways in a high school course provided that it is planned meticulously.  The research does have limitations in providing empirical evidence as to the success of online personalised learning in a high school course for all students.  However, if schools are going to fore fill the human right to education, educators must be implementing online personalised learning within a single subject high school course.

Reference List

Adams Becker, S., Freeman, A., Giesinger Hall, C., Cummins, M., & Yuhnke, B. (2016). NMC/CoSn horizon report: 2016 (K-12 ed.). Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Childress, S., & Benson, S. (2014). Personalized learning for every student every day. The Phi Delta Kappan, 95(8), 33-38. Retrieved from

Consortium for School Networking. (2019). Driving K-12 innovation/2019 accelerators. Washington: Consortium for School Networking.

Downing, R. (n.d.). Why is personalised learning important?  Retrieved from

Ferlazzo, L. (2017). Student engagement: key to personalized learning. Educational Leadership, 74(6), 28-33. Retrieved from

Gonzalez, J. (2015, 12th November). Self-paced learning: how one teacher does it. Retrieved from

Jacobs, J. (2016). High school of the future. Education Next, 16(3), 45-50. Retrieved from

Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Estrada, V., & Freeman, A. (2014). NMC horizon report: 2014 (K-12 ed.). Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Estrada, V., & Freeman, A. (2015). NMC horizon report: 2015 (K-12 ed.). Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Johnson, L., Adams, S., & Cummins, M. (2012). NMC horizon report: 2012 (K-12 ed.). Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Johnson, L., Adams, S., & Haywood, K. (2011). The NMC horizon report: 2011 (K-12 ed.). Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Kamenetz, A., Feinberg, R., & Calvert Mason, K. (Writers). (2018). The future of learning? Well, it’s personal. In All Things Considered: NPR.

Keefe, J. W. (2007). What Is personalization? The Phi Delta Kappan, 89(3), 217-223. Retrieved from

Leonard, J. (2017). How to personalize learning in a digital classroom.  Retrieved from

Miller, A. (2019). 3 myths of personalized learning.  Retrieved from

Schwartz, S. (2019). One big barrier to personalized learning: time.  Retrieved from

Stanley, C. (2019). 5 surprising results of a self-paced classroom.  Retrieved from

Starasts, A. (2015, 21st April). Personalising learning through IT.  Retrieved from

Thalmann, S. (2014). Adaptation criteria for the personalised delivery of learning materials: a multi-stage empirical investigation. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 30(1). doi:10.14742/ajet.235

Torrens University Australia. (2018). 4 ways to introduce persoanlised learning into your classroom without new technology.  Retrieved from

Tucker, B. (2007). Laboratories of reform: virtual high schools and innovation in public education. Retrieved from

UN General Assembly. (1948). Universal declaration of human rights. (217 (III) A). Paris: United Nations Retrieved from

UNESCO International Bureau of Education. (2017). Personalized learning. (IBE/2017/OP/CD/04). Geneva, Switzerland: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Retrieved from

West, D. M. (2011). Using technology to personalize learning and assess students in real-time. Educational Technology, 51(6), 59-60. Retrieved from

West, D. M. (2012). Digital schools : how technology can transform education. Washington DC, United States: Brookings Institution Press.

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ACUTES Digital Resource Evaluation Tool


Language teachers and students have a plethora of digital tools available to them to assist their learning of language.  Selecting the appropriate technology for use in the classroom and beyond has its challenges for teachers.  There are many different options, and often, it can become overwhelming to select the right tool for the learning environment.  In the past, the focus of technology in the classroom has been to engage or excite students (Kolb, 2017).  As a result, the frameworks available to evaluate digital tools do not always focus on good pedagogy but rather, the excitement it creates for students and often forget the importance of the learning objectives (Kolb, 2017). The purpose of this report is to develop a digital resource evaluation tool which can be used by language teachers to evaluate digital resources so they can effectively incorporate them into a teaching plan.  The ACUTES Digital Resource Evaluation Tool has been developed to assist language teachers in improving their pedagogy and integration of technology in the classroom.  This report will outline the tool along with how to use, interpret and apply the findings and successfully implement the use of technology with purpose in the classroom.

ACUTES Digital Resources Evaluation Tool

Instructions on How to Use the Tool

The ACUTES Digital Resource Evaluation Tool asks teachers to answer a series of questions about the digital resource they are looking to implement in their language curriculum.  Each question is allocated a score from zero to three based on the answer.  If the answer is “Yes” it earns two points, if the answer is “No” it earns no points and if the answer is “Maybe” then it earns one point.  For the questions which ask the teacher to “List advantages/benefits” and “List disadvantages/costs” teachers allocate three points if the positives outweigh the negatives and no points if negatives outweigh positives.  From there, each aspect is given a total score, and an overall score is then calculated at the bottom.  The final total can be anywhere from zero to seventy.

The ACUTES Digital Resource Evaluation Tool

The ACUTES Digital Resource Evaluation Tool is as follows:

Instructions on How to Interpret and Apply the Results

There are a number of ways the results from the ACUTES Digital Resource Evaluation Tool can be applied.  Ultimately, the results are a guide for language teachers to determine which particular digital resource may be most effective and are dependent on which aspects (Access, Curriculum, Usability, Teachers, Engagement or Students) an educator places more importance.  Overall, each aspect should be considered independently before looking at the evaluation as a whole.  When making the final evaluation, teachers need to make their final decision based on how many red, yellow or green sections are in their heat map along with the total score.  The following table provides a summary of the interpretation and application of the results.

Each language teacher will value different aspects of the ACUTES Digital Resource Evaluation Tool, which may change the final decision made about the digital resource. 

The Research Behind the ACUTES Digital Resource Evaluation Tool

The ACUTES Digital Resource Evaluation Tool is based on several evaluation techniques and frameworks.  The main frameworks include the SAMR model (Pride, 2016), the TPACK Model (Koehler, 2012), the Tripe E Framework (Kolb, 2017), and the Online Technology Tool Selection Criteria (Guth, 2016). 


When choosing a digital resource, it is only beneficial to students if they can all access the resource.  There are many facets to access from price and affordability, to disability considerations, to ensure that student data is not compromised (Condon, 2017; Miller, 2019).  Language teachers need to consider if the resources are cost-effective while delivering a benefit to learning (Miller, 2019).  Another consideration is that students need to be able to access the digital resource on the device they choose to use, regardless of the operating system (Petty, 2017).  This is even more important if the school has a BYOD program.  Finally, it is imperative that language teachers investigate the terms of service; in particular, the minimum age requirements, to consider it is an access opportunity  (Hertz, 2010).


In teaching and learning the curriculum is a significant focus, where the primary concern is that the digital resource fits the curriculum (Koehler, 2012).  The curriculum needs to focus on the learning objectives, knowledge and skills (Koehler, 2012; Kolb, 2019b).  Planned and purposeful use of technology enhances learning objectives and helps students in the learning process for learning a language, including the skills for reading, writing, speaking and listening (Ferlazzo, 2013).  The technology itself should focus on “avoiding drill and practice” which can have adverse effects on learning outcomes (Kolb, 2019b).  When trying to find digital resources which fit the curriculum and improve learning outcomes, there must be evidence or research which supports the implementation (Condon, 2017; Miller, 2019).  This also ensures that the use of digital resources especially in a language classroom is not just substituting good pedagogy with technology for the sake of adding technology to the curriculum (Petty, 2017).  Technology should assist in redefining a task (Petty, 2017).


Integrating technology into a language classroom can quickly become complicated when students have limited English (Hertz, 2010).  Usability is a high priority, and a digital resource needs to be appropriate for the age and learning level of the students (Koehler, 2012).  If the technology is going to interrupt the learning process or the time it takes to use is cumbersome, this leads to “the tool detracting from the focus of the lesson” (Petty, 2017).  As a result, the digital tool needs to be easy to navigate and have training and support so students can focus on the learning of language skills (Guth, 2016; Miller, 2019; Petty, 2017).  Learning to use new tools takes time, usability along with the ability to save progress and partially finished work is essential (Hertz, 2010).


When evaluating a digital resource, teachers need to take the time to investigate the resource for themselves.  Part of this investigation needs to look at the advantages and disadvantages of the resource.  Educators know the content, pedagogical and technological knowledge they possess, and as a result, they are the best judge of the costs and benefits for them as teachers (Koehler, 2012).  As educators, the best source of advice is our teaching colleagues and specialists in the field (Miller, 2019).  As language learning is a personal journey, educators need to ensure that the selected digital resource has the ability to be flexible and cater to diverse needs (Anderson, 2020a; The Handbook of Technology and Second Language Teaching and Learning, 2017).   The last component for educators is to make the workload more manageable, from tracking student response to embedding the digital resource into the school’s LMS (Guth, 2016).


There is a perception in education that adding technology will engage students.  The danger of this is that “students can quickly get distracted when using technology tools; engagement in using a device is not the same as engagement in learning.” (Kolb, 2019a, p. 22).  When looking at the engagement aspect of evaluating digital resources, it is crucial to focus on making sure that students see the resource as part of the learning not as an add on to the learning (Kolb, 2017).  In order to improve student engagement, technology and digital resources, authentic tasks, collaboration and creativity need to support the language learning along with a healthy dose of competition (Ferlazzo, 2013; Guth, 2016; Kolb, 2017, 2019b).


While teachers must consider the benefits and costs of using the digital resource for themselves, they also need to consider the benefits and costs of using the resource from the point of view of the students learning a new language (Hertz, 2010).  One area students want, is to retain control over the content that they create, this makes it extremely important to make sure that when selecting a digital resource that they can retain the sole IP rights to the content that they create (Guth, 2016).  When working with English language learners, in order to improve their speaking, reading, writing and listening skills they need to have plenty of opportunities to get feedback, as such this is a significant component of the student aspect (Carhill-Poza, 2017).


With a plethora of digital tools available to assist language teachers and students in English language learning.  A tool like the ACUTES Digital Resource Evaluation Tool can help language educators come to a decision about the right tool for their learning environment.  By moving away from having technology for technologies sake, teachers can ensure that their teaching is driven by sound pedagogy and the importance of focusing on the learning objectives of each and every lesson knowing that the technology they have chosen meets all the needs in the classroom.


Anderson, S. (2020a, 21st January) Skype in the Classroom at JPC/Interviewer: J.-A. Angell.

Anderson, S. (2020b, 4th February) Testing The ACUTES Digital Resource Evaluation Tool/Interviewer: J.-A. Angell.

Carhill-Poza, A. (2017). Re-examining English Language Teaching and Learning for Adolescents Through Technology. System, 67, 111-120. doi:10.1016/j.system.2017.05.003

Condon, L. (2017). 3 Steps to Choosing the Right EdTech For Your Classroom. Retrieved from

Ferlazzo, L. (2013, 14th July 2013). The Best Advice on Using Education Technology. Retrieved from

Guth, W. (2016, 11 November). Web 2.0 DIgital Tools Selection Criteria.  Retrieved from

The Handbook of Technology and Second Language Teaching and Learning. (2017). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Blackwell.

Hertz, M. B. (2010). Which Technology Tool Do I Choose? Retrieved from

Koehler, M. (2012, 24 September). TPACK Explained. Retrieved from

Kolb, L. (2017). Learning First, Technology Second : The Educator’s Guide to Designing Authentic Lessons. Eugene, UNITED STATES: International Society for Tech in Ed.

Kolb, L. (2019a). SMART Classroom-Tech INTEGRATION: By asking the right questions, school leaders can coach teachers to use technology to drive deeper learning. Educational Leadership, 76(5), 20-26. Retrieved from

Kolb, L. (2019b). Triple E Framework. Retrieved from

Microsoft. (2020a). Getting Started with Skype in the Classroom Educator Guide. Retrieved from!Ah6-kSoVK_2KnD7iWVsk0kfE9osp?e=HztzFS

Microsoft. (2020b). Skype in the Classroom. Retrieved from

Miller, M. D. (2019, 23rd August 2019). How to Make Smart Choices About Tech for Your Course. Retrieved from

Petty, B. (2017, 25th January 2017). How to Choose the Right EdTech Tools for Your Classroom. Retrieved from

Pride, C. (2016). SAMR modelling as a scaffold for classroom technology. Metaphor, 2(June), 43-44. Retrieved from;dn=161509039091674;res=IELHSS

Putnam, D. (2001). Authentic Writing Using Online Resources: Selling Our Words in the Community. The English Journal, 90(5), 102-106. doi:10.2307/821862

Saqib Khan, M., Ayaz, M., Khan, S., & Khan, D. (2016). Using Skype To Develop English Learners’ Speaking Motivation. 28, 41-48. Storybird. (2020). Storybird – Artful storytelling. Retrieved from

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Speaking and Listening From a Distance!

Skype in the Classroom is a service offered by Microsoft that enables teachers to connect their classrooms with experts, other teachers and classes all around the world (Microsoft, 2020b).  Skype in the Classroom requires a teacher to visit the Skype in the Classroom website (, sign up using an Office 365 or Microsoft Account, and choose how you would like your class to participate and set up your classroom profile and availability (Microsoft, 2020a).  From here, you can participate in virtual field trips, guest speaker sessions, classroom conversations, collaborative project, special events or a game of Mystery Skype (Microsoft, 2020b).  With language learners, Skype can “play a pivotal role in the development of English learning proficiency” (Saqib Khan, Ayaz, Khan, & Khan, 2016, p. 41).  Skype can assist with the development of listening, speaking, reading and writing skills for EAL/D students (Saqib Khan et al., 2016)


  • It is easy to connect with teachers or guest speakers from all over the world – the search feature is excellent.
  • It is free.
  • The use of video assists students in being able to improve their comprehension as they can look for and use non-verbal cues.
  • The resources available on the Skype in the Classroom Site especially for playing a game of Mystery Skype are comprehensive and provide you with OneNote templates, printouts and lesson plans for the lessons surrounding the game, not just for the game itself.
  • Uses equipment we all have – can operate off a phone or computer.
  • Allows students to connect with guest speakers with whom they may never have had the chance in the past.  For example, what better way to learn about the weather than from a meteorologist or learn about a new culture from those who live the lifestyle.
  • Once connected Skype has the option to turn on subtitles to assist with understanding.


  • Being able to access a guest speaker/class at a time which would suit your class.
  • Classes/guest speakers sometimes do not turn up at the time organised.
  • Students are unable to organise a Skype in the Classroom session as it has to be hosted by the educators.
  • Relies on the quality of the equipment (webcam, internet connection) of both parties, which means sometimes there are issues with hearing or seeing the other side well.

Teaching and Learning

Skype in the Classroom is accessible for all classrooms, from students who are in Preschool to Year 12 including those students who have limited language skills.  The amount of teacher input may change depending on the skill level of the students.  Skype in the Classroom can fit in with any curriculum it just comes down to selecting the right guest speaker or class to connect with inline with the curriculum that you are currently working on with the students (Anderson, 2020).  The idea behind using Skype in the Classroom is to improve the language skills (especially speaking and listening) of students within the context of what they are learning.


Anderson, S. (2020, 21st January) Skype in the Classroom at JPC/Interviewer: J.-A. Angell.

Microsoft. (2020a). Getting Started with Skype in the Classroom Educator Guide. Retrieved from!Ah6-kSoVK_2KnD7iWVsk0kfE9osp?e=HztzFS

Microsoft. (2020b). Skype in the Classroom. Retrieved from

Saqib Khan, M., Ayaz, M., Khan, S., & Khan, D. (2016). Using Skype To Develop English Learners’ Speaking Motivation. 28, 41-48.

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