Skype enables students to connect, collaborate, and communicate with students across the globe. It creates an opportunity for students to learn from each other, to have authentic audiences for their work, and to meet musicians, authors, and others who can further their learning. The possibilities are truly endless. Skyping is no longer a novelty — a once-in-awhile special event. It’s becoming a routine part of being an effective 21st century teacher.
Another major a-ha for me as an online teacher is the dynamic and potential for group involvement. When I describe what I do to people who are, shall we say, “not connected to the world of web culture,” they are amazed. “You mean the kids can see you and hear you? Don’t they get bored?” Well, if all they did was listen to me teach, then yes, they would get bored. Wouldn’t you? Which is why I make sure that my classes do not involve lecturing.
When I talk to other teachers about the benefits of student collaboration, often their biggest question is: How do I find other classrooms to collaborate with? If you are already connected with other educators through social media, this part seems easy, but if you are just beginning your connected journey, itâ€™s a very real problem. If youâ€™re still a little short on virtual teacher colleagues, Iâ€™d like to suggest three ways you can begin to connect.
Iâ€™m an Australian, and yet I function in online networks with educators from all parts of the world. I know my practice has benefited from these interactions. Some of the most exciting times Iâ€™ve experienced with students have come when weâ€™ve made contact with a teacher or class in another country. As corny as it might seem to some, students are really enthused by a live video connection with someone in a far off place. If you’d like to build your own global classroom, I’ve included some tips that can help you think ahead and plan for hiccups.