Tuesday, November 9, 2010

It's like a phone... but with video

Welcome to the future. Our class participated in a video conference with the Royal Tyrell Museum last week and in a word, it was amazing. The conference was seamlessly put together and incorporated multiple teaching techniques that were both age appropriate and engaging. There was a surprising amount of potential given that (beyond the fancy technology) it's still basically a teacher standing in front of a class and presenting the material. As someone who prides myself on being educated on the pros of technology I have to say that I'm slightly disappointed in myself for not realizing how powerful this tool can be.

Speaking of powerful tools, http://www.teachingdegree.org/2009/06/30/50-awesome-ways-to-use-skype-in-the-classroom/ showed me that Skype isn't just for awkward chatting with old friends/family. Everything from guest lectures (especially useful in smaller communities) to helping a classmate at home (yikes, there goes the idea of a "sick day"!) this website outlines some "awesome" ways to integrate skype into the classroom.

The skype integration idea that intrigued me the most was http://www.epals.com/. When I saw this site I could not stop imagining the life changing potential that this program has. Friends can be created across continents, students can hear a foreign language they are studying first hand, and cultures can be explored at the personal level.  Instead of students learning that Turkish culture is X, Y & Z, they can learn from students their own age and hear what living in Turkey really means. And conversely, students in Canada become more aware of their own cultural identity while gaining some perspective on how fortunate we are to live where we do. I look forward to using it in my own classroom someday.

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