Videconferencing with another global class is always powerful learning, even when it is just ‘meet and greet’. However, further productive and effective learning will take place when extensions are made to these initial connections. It is always valuable to research further where that class was from and if possible, place a marker on a google map and discuss geography, history, cultural mixes, possible religions, season, natural disasters, foods eaten, sports etc.
Tonight was the first tweetchat on #globalclassroom. As I was not home this evening, I missed it, but noted questions from @tasteach and @mgraffin on my tweetfeed. Below is my response to how to take skype beyond ‘meet and greet’ with some examples.
Linkups can go beyond class to class and more intimate, rewarding videoconferences can take place between two small groups of students or even place students one on one. This really pushes students beyond their comfort zones, but allows them to fully direct their own learning of each other. This is really evident when the small groups are from different cultures, languages backgrounds etc and enables the learning of valuable global communication skills in our increasingly flat world.
Here are some suggestions and ways that I have used videoconferencing to go beyond ‘meet and greet’:-
- Extend the initial contacts to further linkups where students could bring an object that reflects where they live, conduct food demonstrations, favourite books, pets, favourite sports, hobbies etc (Sharing of objects using the camera dissolves any inhibitions and allows natural curiousity to come to the fore with questions, interest and passion.)
- Linkup on special days and school celebrations eg ‘come dressed in favourite book character days’, racial harmony day
- Perform a virtual concert
- Online debating
- Teach each other favourite school yard games, historic games, paper folding etc.
- Take it beyond asynchronous connections to synchronous connections eg global collaboration on a wiki, blog, ning etc Some projects that have extended our initial ‘meet and greet’ are Global Storytelling, involving the creation of book trailers across two countries/five cultures, and Across the World – a wiki setup to share school life in two schools, one from Russia and and one from Australia.
- An initial skpye videoconference linkup with Christopher Herz, an author from New York, led to regular weekly lunchtime skype linkups, called “lunch with an author“. Interested secondary students from Hawkesdale P12 College, Australia would meet in the library at lunchtimes on Tuesdays. Christopher led the students through a series of challenges to help them with their passion for writing. Evernote was used to share work, asynchronous disscusions and editing.
- Students interview an expert -organise the teacher from another country. Individual students devise a series of questions and interview the teacher, on a one to one basis, using videoconferencing.
- Trial webconferencing rather than just videoconferencing, for even richer connections eg Blackboard Collaborate, DiscoverE etc Tools such as this give an interactive whiteboard, backchannel for chat where every student can have a voice etc. See “Learning Adventures with Web Conferencing“
- Use teachable moments. Logon to skype and make use of any possible impromptu linkups rather than organised ‘meet and greet’
How have you used skype in the classroom? Have you used web conferencing with students, especially mixed groups of students? What would you add to this post?