Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Skype Takes Students Where No School Bus Can Go

Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Skype Takes Students Where No School Bus Can Go

Article excerpt

THERE WAS A TIME WHEN public school teachers were encouraged to take their students on field trips to experience the outside world during school hours. Museums, historical sites, and concert halls were just a few of the venues that helped teachers make connections between instruction and "real world" activities.

Budget cuts, time constraints, and liability issues have taken their toll on traditional field trips, but that hasn't stopped Shekema Silveri from using technology to expose her junior and senior AP literature students to the world beyond their textbooks.

For the last year, Silveri, chair of the English department at Mt. Zio, High School in Jonesboro, GA, has been using Skype to connect outside speakers and instructors with her students in the classroom. She recently used the web-based videoconferencing software to help pupils meet her course's service learning requirement. Silveri connected with representatives from the Homeless World Cup Foundation, which supports a network of 73 international partner organizations that use soccer as a catalyst for improving the lives of homeless people, via the web.

Silveri is one of several educators who use the free videoconferencing service to connect with people from all over, even those in the most remote corners of the globe. At Herman L. Horn Elementary, School in Vinton, VA, 75 fifth-graders recently interacted directly with scientists based at Palmer Station in Antarctica.

Amanda Lusk, a social studies teacher at the school, weaves the interactive sessions into her global studies module, which includes instruction about the world's seven continents. "With Antarctica being such a scientifically oriented continent, I thought it would be great to put my students in touch with the people working there," says Lusk, who reached out to Alexandra Isern, Antarctic earth sciences program director, who at the time was working on several research projects at Palmer Station.

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During the call students got a live view of the research station's interior and its surroundings, listened to a presentation, and asked their own questions of the scientist. "She took her laptop outside and showed students what Antarctica really looks like and what was happening outside," says Lusk. "They saw a pretty harsh, raw environment that was very different from where they live in Virginia. …

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