I became a fan of Skyping when my parents moved to Russia for work. It’s amazing how, at the end of a skype call with them you really do feel as if they have just popped around for a visit. It’s almost as if you don’t miss them quite as much because, ‘We see them all the time.’ We often have the kids show them a toy they just bought, do a dance or piano recital and one time Dad took us for a tour of their apartment with an extra long laptop cord.
This term our class had some ebuddies set up with a teacher in Alabama, USA. We set up a combined wiki to pose some questions and used the skype call as a motivation to teach the students questioning and conversational skills – we even had co-constructed a success matrix to help us write some open questions (a skill that we have much road to travel on!)
The Skype calls were a huge success, in terms of a rich learning experience. We learnt a lot about questioning, how to have a conversation and were even opened up to the obvious cultural diversity that exists, even between two western countries; the students in Alabama were quite taken with the fact that a lot of our children wear bare-feet all day, quite unheard of for them.
Next term we are looking to use Skype for some research into our ‘biotechnology‘ inquirys – as well as renewing our connection with Alabama! I’m setting up a media room in the corner of the class that has our school logo behind the camera and a sliding door to block out some noise. It’s all very exciting and helps us to achieve a goal for this year – to branch out of our four walls and connect with the outside world, even if that means digitally as well as physically.
(Photo above used under Creative Commons, by Shareski, from Flickr.com)