I know of several teachers who use Skype in their respective classrooms for a wide variety of fun things.  For example, some teachers/students at my school have recently Skyped with their Quebecois exchange friends who are coming to visit next month.  Also, back in January, Meaghan and I used Skype to conference call with a Uni class of student teachers/blog readers at McGill (also in Quebec).  Personally, I use Skype every so often to connect with family and friends in Germany and to chat with my parents when they’re gallivanting the globe (New Zealand, Bahamas, etc).  Today my students had their own awesome Skype experience with one of our classmates who is currently in Ecuador!  Doesn’t Skype just make the world that much smaller?!

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One of my students is currently in Ecuador for two weeks volunteering and exploring with her mom.  This student, we’ll call her Ella, has been planning this trip for months! She and her mom have been saving and raising money at every opportunity they could get and finally last week they flew away to Ecuador.  I remember meeting with Ella’s mom back in October when I first started in my class – she told me that she and Ella were going on an adventure of a lifetime in April and would it be okay that her daughter missed two weeks of school?  Being the avid traveller that I am I quickly assured Ella’s mom that of course they should go travelling and not to worry about the school work (let’s be real – this student is learning more in Ecuador than I could ever dream of offering her within the four walls of our classroom).

Ella’s two little sidekicks, who are missing her something fierce, were beside themselves with happiness today because of the Skype call.  These two girls sat front and centre before my iPad and guided our class’ 30 minute Q&A style interview with Ella.  Questions were asked with some prompting on my part: What are the washrooms like in Ecuador?  What are the houses like?  Where are you volunteering? Why are dogs and roosters in the background? Where do you sleep? Is stuff expensive in Ecuador? Is Ecuador a rich country or a developing nation?  What does “third world country” mean? Where IS Ecuador? All good questions that Ella answered with newfound knowledge and confidence after experiencing these things first hand.

I am a firm believer in learning through hands on experience.  I am sure Ella will come back to us in May filled with loads of stories and learning to share with us face-to-face.  Skyping from our grade 8 classroom to Ecuador today is probably as close to South America as many of my students will ever get.  Because of that I’m incredibly in awe of and thankful for the technology of Skype.  As I sit in my 1970s kitchen nook whipping up this post, Ella is getting ready for bed in Ecuador and the rest of my class is probably eating dinner.  What a wonderfully small world we live in!

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Tell us about some of your own awesome Skype-in-the-classroom experiences!

Karley