Over the course of the past year I have been thoroughly enjoying Skype. Not only was I able to talk to my friends and family from back home, but was able to save myself a ton of money on my phone bill (long distance calling adds up when you are student with zero income). Because of the function allowing you to use a webcam, the distance barrier decreases and it makes the conversation a lot more comfortable. You are not talking to your computer screen anymore, but to someone’s face. How handy!
I have also become aware of classrooms using Skype as well. Classrooms use Skype to communicate with other people/schools/classrooms around the world! Students are able to talk to others and ask questions about themselves, what the weather is like in their city, about the communities they live in, etc. I think this is a great tool allowing students to get to know the world around us and how diverse it truly is.
I had my first Skype experience with one of the classes I am mentoring this past week. This meeting consisted of the students asking me a few questions about myself and where I live, and Canada in general. Their teacher had their webcam working so I was able to see everyone on the computer screen. Unfortunately, my cam decided to take a coffee break and would not work for me. The students really wanted to see the snow since many of them had not seen it before and I was disappointed when I was unable to do this. Of course, I had tested my earlier that morning and had it all set up for my Skype call, but surprise surprise, it wouldn’t work when I wanted it to. Even though technology is such a helpful tool, it can be a frustrating tool as well. Maybe this is why a lot of today’s teachers do not feel comfortable enough using technology in their classrooms?
Since my cam would not work, I set my picture settings to an Avator through my webcam program. So instead of being a white, blonde female, I was a green alien with big eyes. Oh, and my mouth moved when I talked. It was kind of cool and the students thought it was pretty funny to be talking to this alien from a far off land (Canada!).
Through Skype, these grade four students will be given the chance to see a little bit of Canada and its weather we all love. It will also allow them to make a connection to the location of Saskatchewan on the world map and remember where my province is in relation to Canada. Without this tool, the students would not be able to make such a personnel connection to Canada and maybe not remember too much about it. It could possibly continue being a ‘far off land’ …
All I can think of is that I sure wish I was still a kid going to elementary school and being provided with the opportunities to become more aware of the people and communities all around me. I think I would have remembered a lot more of the things I had learned about the diverse world we live in. This makes me even more glad to be experiencing these tools as an adult – better late then never! 🙂