Skype Education

I’ve always heard about teachers communicating with other teachers around the globe and connecting their classrooms, but I was never sure how to find these teachers. I have found an effective way to connect my classroom globally, which was actually just featured (March 28th) on one of the blogs I am following, The Global Classroom Project. The first resource I am adding into my curation is the Skype Education website, which provides three different ways in which you can use skype in your classroom. You can collaborate and communicate with classrooms around the world, find guest speakers or take a virtual field trip anywhere around the world. It provides students with the ability to conduct collaborative projects or start international clubs. If teachers are not sure how to take advantage of skype, the website provides a variety of lessons teachers could use as well as stories of successful skype classroom interactions. The reason why I like the skype idea is because it makes the experience personal for the students. It is more than just having students read and research information about different cultures around the world; it allows them to make a personal connection with those cultures, through building friendships and having fun.

I want to focus specifically on one use of Skype Education which I think could have practical use in a 21st century teacher’s classroom. “Mystery Skype” is a  game crated by skype where students have to use their inquiry and questioning skills to guess the location of their classroom. I have embedded the video about this global guessing game as an introduction.

As I watched this video, some key words stood out including: technology, connect, world, fun, team, critical thinking process, empower. What do all these key words have in common? They are a part of the new story, they are used within 21st century classrooms, they are/are part of 21st century literacies.

Directly quoting Michael Graffin’s (The Global Classroom Project) blog post about mystery skype, he present’s clear objectives of this activity. There is a clear connection between mystery skype, integrated curriculum (IC) and global, multicultural, technological, and critical literacies (Which I added to each objective below in italics):

Students will use map skills to find the location of the mystery classroom (IC – Social Studies/Geography)

Students will use communication and critical thinking skills to ask questions to help them find the mystery location. (IC – Language; Critical Literacy)

Classes communicate with other classrooms via Skype or Google+ Hangouts. (Technological Literacy)

Students will learn to respect and appreciate the cultures and customs of others. (Multicultural & Global Literacy)

Students will be able to see the differences and similarities between themselves and others around the world. (Multicultural & Global Literacy)

I believe the Mystery Skype activity would be a great introduction for inquiry-based learning, as it gives student’s the opportunity to collaboratively formulate questions and gather evidence to solve the location. As these skills develop during Mystery Skype, a teacher can then apply them to a more authentic and real world problem which Drake, Reid and Kolohon (2014) describe as key components to Inquiry-based classrooms and learning.