Mystery Skype calls are a great way to connect with the world
[Ed. note: Katrina Keene will give a related session on Mystery Skype at ISTE 2015 on Monday June 29.]
For centuries, schools have sat in silos. Teachers and students were capable of communicating only with those inside their own buildings. It was at one time not only unattainable, but unthinkable to collaborate and communicate with outside classrooms. The technology for these types of interactions had not yet been introduced to education—and even if they were, cost and practicality were barriers to implementation.
I have been an active user of “video conferencing” since the early 90’s, when this type of technology was usually seen in large businesses or colleges that were fortunate to have the funds to provide the equipment to make use of such a progressive form of communication.
In 1999, before all the Skyping, Facetiming, and Google Hangouts, I began using CU-See-Me, a video conferencing tool, which many people have never even heard of. This was a time when a little ball of a webcam sat on top of your box-shaped monitor and you had to make sure not to move too quickly or your picture froze mid video conference.
Fast forward 17 years and schools across the world have access to video conferencing through free tools such as Skype. Skype took video conferencing to a whole new level by providing educators with a platform and tools for classroom integration through “Skype Classroom,” which boasts a free extensive database of resources for use in the classroom, as well as access to thousands of educators looking to link up with other classrooms.
One of the great things about Skype Classroom is the ability to search by lesson, subject, age group or teacher in an effort to connect with classrooms around the world. One particularly fun way to connect and share ideas with other classrooms is through Mystery Skype sessions, which engages every student in the classroom as they search for clues and try and try and solve a mystery. As Skype Classroom puts it:
“Mystery Skype is an educational game, invented by teachers, played by two classrooms on Skype. The aim of the game is to guess the location of the other classroom by asking each other questions. It’s suitable for all age groups and can be used to teach subjects like geography, history, languages, mathematics, and science.”