Skyping with students is great! They are learning…There is no doubt in my mind…!
- I know…I see motivation in their eyes… I feel excitement in the air…I hear them say: “How cool”, “That was awesome” or “When are we skyping again?”.
- I know… all about the different skills students are exposed to and are practicing while skyping.
- I know… that I am helping them learn differently than from a textbook.
- I know… that I am preparing them for a work environment where they are expected to collaborate with colleagues and teams who do not live in the same country, nor continent and operate in a different time zone.
- I know… that I am exposing them to a world, people and cultures beyond their horizon.
- I know… that I am broadening their perspectives, tolerance and for someone who is different
…but… what about formal assessment and documentation of this kind of learning.
I enjoy helping other teachers get excited and comfortable using Skype as a tool to connect with other classrooms or experts around the world. I want to make it explicit, once again, that it is NOT about the tool, but about the skills and the learning.
In order to streamline the process of converting a Skype Call into a Learning Call and to make it more visual, I created the following images and handouts. Please feel free to use them in your own classroom.
You can download all of them as a pdf file here.
Credit for middle image “experience” by tombodor
A Skype call should never be done in isolation. We should not treat a video conference any different than a field trip. The actual experience should be framed by pre-activities that activate prior knowledge and post-activites that give students the opportunity to reflect, create and connect these new experiences.
- Familiarize with geographic location, language, culture, age group, etc.
- KWL Chart
- Information Literacy (locate)
- Google Earth (distance)
- Google Maps (Street view)
- Formulate questions
- Distribute job responsibilities for actual video conference experience
Pre-Activities Job Description:
Have students prepare for a call by filling out the handout below. You can easily ask them to formulate and share questions on your classroom blog as well.
Depending on the geographic location, have students “orientate” themselves to WHERE they will be connecting to by answering the following questions.
During the Call Activities include:
- Q & A
- Image & Video recording
- Blog (summarize)
- Data Collection
During Skype Call Job Description:
I have written several times about engaging students during a Skype call by given them specific jobs and responsibilities. You can listen to my 5th graders explaining each job a little more.
Once the Skype call has ended, it is important to help your students debrief and reflect on their experience. As their teacher you will want to assess in one shape or form the learning that occurred. Is skyping making a difference in their learning? Have they learned something that could not have been taught via a textbook? What was the engagement and motivational level of your students?
Here are some ideas on how to help your students reflect on their Skype experience and help you assess their learning. Give students choices on how to debrief by offering or alternating using different media.
Post-Call Activities include:
- Informal assessment: debrief right after the Skype call. Have students talk about what just happened. Read the backchannel log out loud and collaboratively add anything that was not documented.
- Information Literacy (evaluate, analyze, categorize data collected)
- Create documentary (video clip) from video clips taken during the Skype call
- Create Photo Slideshow of images taken during the Skype call
- Write reflective blog posts
- (Paper & Pencil) Journal entries: Give students prompts
- Create a Video recording from your debriefing session
- Audio podcasting
- Embed images and video into blog post
- Share with parents (informal at home) or host a parent presentation session at school
- Present to larger audience (entire school, community, conference)
Post-Activities Job Description:
Take a peek into a debriefing session after a Skype Call from a third grade class.
What are some of the activities you do to frame a video conference experience for your students? How do you document and assess the learning taking place with video conferencing?
It is important that we start documenting and assessing student learning (formally and informally) from 21st Century tools. Most assessments are not designed to take new forms of learning into consideration. The more data and documentation we have, the more we can move towards a new kind of “testing and assessing“.
Please contribute by asking your students to take the following survey about their learning via Skype. Once you have had your students take the survey, please e-mail me , so I can share the results with you.
Please disseminate the link to the survey in your own PLN by blogging or tweeting about it.