I was speaking “face-to-face” with Grace Lee…in China…on a Friday morning while sitting at my desk in my home office in Dubuque, Iowa. We were discussing Grace’s use of Skype to connect her students in Pennsylvania with a class of students in an English class at a sister school in China. AND IT WAS FREE!
It took no more than an account and the push of a green telephone icon button, and the entire world opened up to me and, potentially, my students. The only, tiny, concern for Grace and I was what time we would connect. In China, Grace is 12 hours ahead of my Central Standard Time here in Iowa. 9 am worked for me and 9 pm worked for Grace. And so 9 it was.
For my own professional growth, I think that Skyping would be incredibly helpful. I would love to travel to Finland or New Zealand where some significant educational/instructional strides are being made, but let’s face it, I have a job, and I’m not made of money. Skype could connect me internationally with other teachers and programs and pedagogy that I could bring back to my professional practice.
It is no longer impossible for me to investigate personally one of the 13 Most Innovative Schools in the World. I could even see as well as speak to the National Teacher of the Year for 2010 from Iowa, Sarah Brown Wessling.
For my students the list of possibilities is both excitingly endless and overwhelming:
- Connect with and interview an author we are studying
- Speaking with newspaper, blog, magazine, e-zine…writers about their craft and their advice
- Sharing learning with distant and new audiences–soldiers, engineers, doctors…so many more
- Research by speaking to people who were there, experts in the field, etc.
- “Book clubs” with students in another state or another country
My idea bank is filling rapidly with all of these possibilities and all of the ways to enrich my student’s and my own learning.
And the only issue of concern that I’ve encountered so far is–what timeS shall we meet?