As part of the Teaching, Learning, and Assessment class in Seattle Pacific University’s Digital Education Leadership Program, we are learning about ISTE student standard 7- Global Collaborator. For this standard I wanted to investigate what ways I can build diversity in my classroom by introducing my students to global communication and collaboration. My goal was to find programs, activities, and ideas I can use in my classroom to allow my students to connect with others from around the world as well as around their community. Through research, my focus for this investigation was to cover the following standard indicators:
7a: Students use digital tools to connect with learners from a variety of backgrounds and cultures, engaging with them in ways that broaden mutual understanding and learning.
7b: Students use collaborative technologies to work with others, including peers, experts or community members, to examine issues and problems from multiple viewpoints.
Skype in the Classroom
Soon after beginning my research, I found that many articles and educators referred back to the communication tool known as Skype. I have heard of this application before and have even used it to make personal calls to home when on vacation, but why was this tool getting so much hype in educational blogs and research articles? I decided to change direction a bit with my research and look more into the ways Skype is being used in the classroom, and I am glad I did! Skype is a Microsoft communication application that has recently created a live opportunity of learning that they call “Skype in the Classroom” for creating global experiences for students including: “Virtual Field Trips, talks from Guest Speakers, classroom to classroom connections, and live collaboration projects. ” In this blog post I will be exploring three of the ways Skype in the Classroom can bring global communication and collaboration into your classroom.
Virtual Field Trips
A Digital Alternative to Traditional Field Trips
Every teacher knows the hassle of putting together a field trip, (making sure permission slips are signed, finding chaperones, funding transportation and so on) but what if allowing students to explore their community or even the world wasn’t so difficult? These days technology has allowed us to see the world in a completely new point of view. We are able to see structures in real time and speak to experts from around the world. Companies like Skype are now encouraging an alternative to the traditional field trip design called Virtual Field Trips. Skype describes Virtual Field Trips as “live experiences that allow educators to let their students experience the world.” Skype also provides benefits to such experiences as being:
- “Another level of connecting students to the real world.”
- “A way to deepen students understanding and learning as they can be tied to each classroom’s curriculum. “
- “Customized by the host so as to meet your students’ needs and your teaching goals.”
- “The ability to travel around the world without a passport, experience different cultures, and have fun at the same time. “
Skype provides educators with a variety of resources that allow them to plan their own Virtual Field Trip and consider what it is that they want out of a Virtual Field Trip (what objectives are being met). Also on their website (https://education.microsoft.com/courses-and-resources/courses/virtual-field-trips-with-skype-in-the-classroom) they help organize your thinking by providing an outline of what you can accomplish before, during, and after the virtual field trip.
Connecting With Experts From Around the World
Imagine doing a book study on an author, your students have questions about why the author made a certain character act the way he/she did or even what inspired the author to write the story, but these are questions that you may not have the answer to. Skype in the classroom has connected with guest speakers around the world including authors that allows your students to meet and ask questions they may have directly to the source. This experience allows students to recognize how what they are learning in the classroom connects to the world around them. Imagine the possibilities, students could meet:
- Game Creators
Access to these types of connections can inspire students for what they want to do with their futures and being able to ask the questions they are curious about will help them gain the information they need in order to get there.
A Fun Interactive Way to Explore Different Cultures
“Mystery Skype is an educational game (invented by teachers) played by two classrooms on Skype. The aim of the game is to build cultural awareness, critical thinking skills, and geography skills by guessing the location of the other classroom through a series of yes/no questions. It is suitable for all age groups, from kindergarten through university students, and can be adapted for any subject area. ” Mystery Skype also teaches other 21st century skills such as:
- Deductive Reasoning
- Digital Literacy
To learn more about how to find another classroom and set up your first Mystery Skype you can check out Mystery Skype’s OneNote curriculum: https://education.microsoft.com/mysteryskypeonenote
Connection to ISTE Standards
What Technology Skills Are Students Demonstrating When Using Skype in the Classroom?
In an article written by Matt Bower he explains the importance of collaborating in web-conferencing environments. He goes on to relate the learning students gain from these types of experiences to ISTE standard skills such as:
● “Use technology effectively and productively”
● “Communicate and collaborate”
● “Conduct research and use information”
● “Think critically, solve problems, and make decisions”
● “Demonstrate creativity and innovation”
● “Be ethical digital citizens”
Bower, M. (2011). Synchronous collaboration competencies in web‐conferencing environments – their impact on the learning process. Distance Education, 32(1), 63–83.
ISTE Standards for Students (2016). Retrieved from: https://www.iste.org/standards/for-students
Skype in the Classroom. Retrieved from https://education.microsoft.com/skype-in-the-classroom/overview