It never ceases to amaze me about the many opportunities that technology can provide to learning in breaking down the barriers of distance, cost and effort. This also includes seas and time zones. Our school is rural remote – 30-40 mins from a major shopping centre. Our students either live on farms or in very small country towns. The town our school is situated in has 150 residents. We are surrounded by farmland on three sides.
One of my favourite tools continues to be skype. It is user friendly, able to be readily used by people from all countries, is free and relatively stable with our unpredictable school bandwidth. Bearing this in mind our students were offered the opportunity to linkup with the TED conference in Vancouver, Canada several months ago. Permission notes went home to parents of year 8 ICT students and my year 11 Business Management and Accounting students.
Year 8 ICT students were to play Mystery Career with a TED speaker (who turne out to be Alisa Miller, CEO of Public Radio Internationaland Year 11 students were to be given the opportunity to talk with Blake Mycoskie founder of TOMs shoes. Then, the most exciting connection of all (from the students’ point of view was the opportunity to interact with Mark Ronson! (of Uptown Funk fame). He is an English musician, DJ, singer, and record producer. Please watch the fantastic result.
Prior to the linkups
- Permission forms were sent home to be signed by students’ parents.
- Year 8 students prepared a series of questions that they could ask their mystery connection to determine their career.
- Year 11 students compiled a series of questions to ask of Mark and Blake.
- I booked the library as it had a cabled computer for best bandwidth, a whiteboard for projection of the TED conference
- Our school was tested on several occasions for bandwidth and other technical capabilities by Skype technicians in London to ensure that our school, computer and setup would be capable of the connection.
- 45 mins before the official connections, we were dialled in to ensure that lighting, backgrounds, framing of the students and audio was all okay! Our webcamera ended up being taped with masking tape to one of the speakers to ensure students were centred and framed well. So, please dont say that teachers need a lot of money or technology to achieve great things!!!
The actual linkup no 1 with Alisa Miller – Mystery Career
- The call came through and we answered and connected with good video resolution and audio
- all went well for the first 10 mins and then our computer independently rebooted and we lost connection
- We dialled in again but our computer rebooted once more
- Highly frustrated, I connected my laptop which had not been tested and it worked well enough for us to finish the first connection.
- Surprisingly one of the year 8 students finally asked whether she was a CEO and there was an affirmative answer. See the questions they had at their disposal to ask and determine the mystery career.
- Alissa went on to talk more about what she does, how she got to the top and encouraged the girls to do their best and aim the highest!
- again we connected 45 mins prior and tested the connections (technicians had replaced the desktop computer in the library). We were framed appropriately.
- the dialling and connections worked a treat, the video and audio was of high quality. Another school from Tasmania was on skype with us and Mark Ronson
- students were really excited to work with Mark as his work in the musical field was well known to them.
- Blake was highly motivating in his stories of success and where he had started from. He outlined his social entrepreneurship as part of the Toms Shoes organisation. The content covered was highly relevant to their study of Business Management.
How amazing to be able to talk to three highly regarded global entrepreneurs from the comfort of our small rural school! Students may not remember much of the textbook but they will remember their skype call with these people.