May 19, 2024

Skype Announces Free Group Video Calling for Teachers | SXSWEdu



 The ability for classrooms to beam in authors, subject experts, and fellow students from around the world has been one of the great advantages afforded by Skype. Commonly used by librarians and other K–12 educators to provide real-time engagement for their students, the service just got better. As of today, existing members of Skype in the classroom or new registrants can use Skype’s Group Video Calling free of charge.

A feature previously available only to paid Skype Premium subscribers, Group Video Calling allows users to connect via Webcam with up to 10 parties. Skype’s blog post details instructions for signing up for free video calling. (Authentication may take 48 hours)

Launched in March 2011, Skype in the classroom offers searchable “lessons,” which enable educators worldwide to connect with each other around various subjects. “My sixth graders from Philadelphia are seven chapters into The Watsons Go to Birmingham,” reads one lesson, for example. “Is your class also reading it? If so, lets plan an activity of some sort. Maybe a book discussion.”

Skype in the Classroom’s partners program includes Penguin Books, LitWorld, Random House Children’s UK, Macmillan Children’s Books, and new partners announced today: Hot Key Books and Pan Macmillan.

New to Skype? Author Kate Messner offers practical advice in her feature articles for SLJ:

Author Visits? A Remote Possibility: Using Skype to connect is fun and affordable

Met Any Good Authors Lately? Classroom author visits can happen via Skype


Kathy Ishizuka About Kathy Ishizuka

Kathy Ishizuka (, @kishizuka on Twitter) is Executive Editor of School Library Journal.


  1. Trent Robertson says:

    This sounds too good to be true! What’s the catch? I’m guessing the Group
    Video Calling is free of charge for only a limited time.

  2. Great news. Has anyone used this feature already? I’m sure that I can position my webcam on my computer screen. However, I’m wondering if I can show my screen (i.e. a Powerpoint) while the webcam is on me?

  3. Google Hangouts lets everyone do this same thing for free. Many teachers already have a Google account either school related or personal. Make it simple and join a google hangout. You can even patch in any regular phone number into a hangout free!

  4. Yes Google Hangouts are free and Google Apps for Education will allow that as well and you can stream it live to YouTube and record it on YouTube for viewing later. That’s pretty powerful.

  5. It’s great to hear that Skype (aka Microsoft) has welcomed educators into this opportunity for group interactions dfro educators. Click on the link to access the login page,
    Also, I didn’t know about Google Hangouts but that gives us a number of options for us in the classroom.I’ve been a Skype Premium user and have used the option to video-conferencing and its works very well for me as an author and PD facilitator.

  6. Mary McBeth says:

    I applied for the free educator’s group account afew weeks ago, and it still is not working. The offer was for 12 months. I have been in a chat with Skype help now for about 30 minutes. He didn’t know about it, so I sent him these links…he’s checking on it-

  7. Mary McBeth says:

    There is a separate agency “Made by Many” that has been assigned to receive and process requests for the free group accounts. Supposedly it takes 48 hours, but I have been waiting a few weeks. They will send a voucher when they verify that the applicant is a legit educator of the school.

    • Hi Mary,

      We would like to help you resolve this issue. According to our logs you were sent a Group Video Calling code on March 10th, 2013. Please send an email to education(at)skype(dot)net and we will look into why you have not received it.

      Many thanks,

      Skype in the classroom team

  8. Mary McBeth says:

    Yes, there it was in my spam folder! So sorry that I didn’t check. The voucher code works, and we’re set to Group Video Call with Skype, free for educators! Thanks, Skype!