Objective: Global connections


Web tool: Skype


Brief description of tool: Free communications and collaboration tool to be downloaded and installed on your computer.  You can use it to have text and voice message conversations with others who have it. It is a free Internet phone for your computer that lets users make crystal-clear free calls using the Internet. There are many educational possibilities.


Use of tool: An elementary class of students from Georgia in the United States and high school students from Winnipeg, Canada participated in a Gizmo call. The elementary class had created questions about blogging that they wished to ask the high school students. Both Skype and Gizmo offer the ability to connect but Skype was down that particular day so Gizmo was chosen as an alternate. It does have a built in recording feature that enabled podcasts to be easily created after the session. Gizmo Project does not have as much online help as Skype. It is easy to use but more educators seem to be on Skype so starting with Skype might be better for beginners.


How it facilitates learning: This activity is tough to describe in words but I have to tell you that the learning can be so very powerful during these types of connections.


This type of dialogue that takes place outside of our classroom and connects two groups with different and shared experiences on blogging (or other subjects) gives students opportunities to embrace and understand each other and their own learning in profound ways. Students get to practice a form of public speaking that they have previously not encountered. There is a feeling of nervousness that is palatable in the classroom. This is coupled with a feeling of excitement and joy that this type of activity is possible through technology.  Students and teachers are learning together how to navigate in this new environment and it is important that reflection on the activity is a priority. This was done through blog posts and comments. Learning became less abstract and more connected to their own lives and experience. The ownership of the shaping of a new type of literacy that needs to be developing in all our schools was sensed by all.


I think the reading of the various blog posts below will help you see the potential of this tool and how it indeed does facilitate learning.


Blog posts: 



Additional strategies to use with students to facilitate learning and thinking:



How To: 



Additional resources: