In December 2010 we were asked to help communicate the innovative ways teachers around the world use Skype. We responded with a digital service idea: instead of a campaign to tell teachers how to use Skype, why not make Skype more useful for them every day? Ultimately we connected a million classrooms globally.
Teachers are natural born hackers, and were already ‘innovating’ with Skype in ways no-one had imagined. All we had to do was make this even easier. Helping them find each other, to connect their classes across the world, bring real astronauts and mountain-climbers into the classroom, and to collaborate with each other – all these things add the type of real value that brings people week after week. A campaign alone could never have achieved that.
Imagine you could find out if people actually want the new product you’re planning to bring into the world before you invest lots of time and money in making it. That’s exactly how our Lean approach helped us understand what teachers might need, and what they didn’t want. Having this ‘proof’ helped us change direction with confidence, and ultimately allowed us to make something teachers use more and more over time – instead of something they might visit once.
Some people seem to believe that an evidence-based approach results in small ideas that don’t matter enough. We don’t agree. SITC shows how a tiny idea based in a real value exchange with customers can become a major global initiative. Skype’s President, Tony Bates announced in 2011 that Skype in the classroom aims to connect 1 million classrooms globally. That’s big enough to matter.
SITC is an amazing advert for Skype: and the ultimate product demo for teachers. We know that teachers using SITC are twice as likely to buy other Skype products, for example. The initiative has also created a global network of partnerships for Skype, including NASA, CERN, Yellowstone Park, global publishing brands like Penguin and Macmillan, NGOs, charities, museums and guest speakers.
Skype in the Classroom won two Webby Awards (people's voice and web services 2015), a Core 77 Design Award (service design 2011), Best in Category IXDA award (2015), the Tomorrow Award (2011) and a Lovie (education, 2011).
Gary Bramall, Global Senior Brand Director, Microsoft
Made by Many took us on a magical journey, inspired by the way teachers were hacking Skype to connect their classrooms. Together we grew it into an everyday learning tool that’s become a million times more successful than we could possibly have imagined, and became the ultimate manifestation of Skype’s soul