This resource is available in nearly every classroom in the US and yet almost none ever use it. Video Conferencing is a tool that teachers must begin to use in the classroom.
With a basic high-speed Internet connection and nearly any laptop or computer, teachers can connect to anywhere in the world the internet does.
As a foreign language teacher I use video conferencing to talk to my friend Emanuel in Nicaragua. I have my sister tell stories of her semesters abroad in Nicaragua and Honduras.
Another friend, Garret, has talked to my class from Germany about his year abroad in Argentina and how it helped him to learn German and get a job with BMW.
My goal this year is to use Skype in the Classroom to find a class in a Spanish speaking country trying to learn English that can be a sister class to one of my Spanish II or Spanish III classes wanting to practice their Spanish, but video conferencing does not need to be limited to foreign language.
Science teachers can use Skype, Face Time, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangout, Viber etc.to talk with an expert Botanist, Paleontologist, or university professor.
The really cool thing is this can be a person in your hometown or in the Amazon jungle. History teachers studying World War II could talk to a family member of a Holocaust survivor living in Israel. A class studying Egypt could videoconference with a professor about the Pyramids of Giza.
Studying American Art? Why not set up a free video conference with the Smithsonian? The opportunities are limited only to your imagination, and the impact this has on students is priceless. Not only is video conferencing engaging, but it is proven by research to bolster listening and speaking skills through interaction and immediate feedback. My students love asking questions and are always attentive listening to someone from outside their world.
So why not make some connections this summer? Contact some college professors and museums. Talk to your friends and other teachers to see what experts they know. Call up old friends who may now be all over the world doing interesting things with their lives.
A computer is not just a tool for doing research or typing papers; it is a gateway to real people that can bridge any topic from the classroom to the real world.
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