Recently I have had a few opportunities to assist student studies outside our school, our district, and our state through the use of SKYPE. Our first adventure began with an email request for a 2nd grade class in another state to exchange information. I jumped on the chance because I knew our school had adventurous teachers who try to integrate technology into their lessons and that would be willing to collaborate on this type of lesson. After several SKYPE sessions with the librarian in Nebraska to set up "meeting" dates, to share questions the students would want answered, teach my teachers about SKYPE, and even having a test run date we were ready to share the knowledge between students. With our MacBook connected to the projector we were able to invite the whole 2nd grade to observe while each class had representatives answer questions about living in Texas. Our students learned that Nebraska students did not see armadillos or wear just a t-shirt to school during the winter. Our students were amazed to find out that the temperatures with the wind were below 0 degrees. You should have heard the rumble in the library when the librarian in Nebraska took them outside to see well over a foot of snow!
Another opportunity came along when a librarian in our district and I helped connect two of our bilingual classes up for a book talking session. The students were reluctant at first but eventually even the most shy students wanted to be involved in the questions and answers. Both teachers were able to expand student understanding of the text that was read through a discussion with peers. The teachers see this as an opportunity to expand student learning and are looking forward to their next book discussion.
If you haven't tried this 2.0 tool yet...get busy! What better way to give students who may never have a chance otherwise the opportunity to experience the world beyond their daily boundaries. The world our students live in is just a call away and they are depending on educators to facilitate the learning.