September 18, 2007 09:01 ET

Students' Use of the Internet Opens a New Window on the World From Their Classrooms

NEW YORK--(COLLEGIATE PRESSWIRE)--Sept. 18, 2007--At Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Spanish language students practice their language skills every class with native speakers from Colombia –- without setting foot outside of the classroom. Led by Professors Colleen Coffey and Janet Banhidi, several classes conduct weekly voice and video exchanges thousands of miles away with Colombian students at Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Cali, Colombia.

Professors Coffey and Banhidi’s classes exemplify a growing trend on college campuses where students are using communications technology to connect with people who they are separated from by geography, language or culture. With just a click of the mouse, students and teachers are supplementing in-class education with foreign cultural immersion and do not even need passports.

“Using Skype, my students are able to practice their language skills and share different perspectives on social issues,” said Coffey. “In addition, video calling allows my students to actually see native speakers’ linguistic and dialect differences – something that is not easy to teach from a textbook.”

After encouraging their students to have conversations with one another across borders, both Coffey and Jose Arizmendi, the head of the language department at Javeriana, said that they have seen a drastic improvement in the students’ motivation and confidence.

“They now see the value in learning new vocabulary words as a way to expand their ability to communicate more clearly,” said Arizmendi. “As a result, we have seen a rise in the students’ confidence when speaking publicly in a foreign tongue.”

This virtual language exchange method is just a single example of how the Internet is enriching the learning experience for students. Eighty-eight percent of school districts have access to computer technologies, resulting in improved student achievement, according to The Greaves Group. And students are taking advantage of new technologies at home as well. Sixty percent of students use online tools to help them with their school work, reports

At Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, students are using technology to gain access to a completely different world. Convinced that the mainstream news was only portraying a scant portion of the daily reality in Iraq and Afghanistan, a group of students started using Skype to easily locate and interview local people about their personal experiences with the war, all at no cost. The resulting radio program, War News Radio (, showcases the conversations between the students and everyday Iraqis and Afghans, offering first-hand accounts of the realities of war.

“My most memorable interview was when I heard gunfire going off in the background,” said Hansi Lo Wang, a senior producer of War News Radio.

Students and teachers are only beginning to tap into real-world resources through the use of technology, but it is clear that this unparalleled access to faraway cultures is only the beginning. Its impact on education is limitless. It is quickly and easily connecting students over faraway distances and making the world a smaller place.

About Skype
Skype sets conversations free by providing new and easy ways to stay in touch over the internet. Millions of people every day make free Skype-to-Skype voice and video calls and send instant messages using our software. Some pay a little per minute for long-distance and international calls to phones and mobiles and for SMS, voicemail and call forwarding, or they buy subscriptions that give unlimited calls nationwide.

We certify and sell hundreds of hardware products from more than 50 partners and work with third-party developers to create software to extend Skype's functionality. Skype has been downloaded more than half a billion times and over 220 million people from almost every corner of the globe have registered. Make your world a smaller place: talk, share and do more with Skype.

Skype is an eBay company (NASDAQ: EBAY), and you can learn more and get Skype at

Access to a broadband Internet connection is required for Skype and all Skype Certified devices and accessories. Skype is not a replacement for your traditional telephone service and cannot be used for emergency calling.

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