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Can Skype's New Learning Lab Make Teachers Tech-Savvy?

The London-based 'Learning Lab' will train educators on how to use the latest hardware and software.

There's plenty of talk about how teachers need to incorporate technology into the classroom, but when it comes to training them on how to actually use hardware and software to improve teaching and learning, there's not much action. That could change thanks to The Learning Lab, a state-of-the-art professional development center for educators created by Skype and a U.K.-based think tank, The Education Foundation.

Skype's commitment to the lab stems from their experience with their year-old initiative, Skype in the Classroom, a free service that helps teachers connect their students to experts, teachers, and classrooms from around the globe. The service has enabled thousands of teachers to not just give a lesson on, say, the war in Afghanistan—their students can Skype with a class of Afghani kids and actually learn first-hand about what the war has been like. But through their experiences working with educators, Skype realized that Skype in the Classroom—and plenty of other technology—won't truly be useful if teachers don't fully understand how to take advantage of it.

To that end, the London-based lab has fully-equipped, reconfigurable classrooms and will be open to preschool through college teachers. And, recognizing how interconnected education is with the rest of society, the space will also be open to policy makers, government officials and nonprofit organizations to come and hold technology-focused workshops.

The president of Skype, Tony Bates, wrote on the Skype blog that they hope the lab will help create more opportunities "for teachers and students to use technology in the classroom" and be enable "to connect and learn from others around the globe." If the lab can provide meaningful tech training opportunities for teachers, it could be a model for similar spaces in communities across the world.

Photo via Skype's The Big Blog

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