Globetrotting Classrooms Via Skype

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – January 8, 2012

Globetrotting Classrooms Via Skype
HLWskypers celebrates its first birthday

On the 8th of January, 2011 two high school teachers, Katherine Zablatnik from St.Veit a.d.Glan, Austria and Brad Peach from McKinney, Texas met via Skype. Generating ideas on how to promote building lifelong bridges between students and to enhance cross-cultural awareness via online became an intercultural challenge. A week later Laima Ardaviciene from Lithuania and Joe McNulty from Newton, Pennsylvania joined the two.

Eventually more and more ardent collaborators have joined the HLWskypers chat room group from all corners of the world (see map here). Today 53 passionate HLWSkypers are employing videoconferencing as a teaching tool, immersing and focusing on mutual issues on a worldwide scale. Sharing and experimenting with the state-of-the-art web-tools, organising classes to take part on mutual concern, learning to crawl on this huge multi-cultural minefield and tailoring our (students and teachers) soft skills have become a part of the weekly schedule. Inviting experts and inspirational speakers into classrooms via Skype is the icing on the cake.

I’d like to express my gratitude to Skype and to all our HLWskpyers for enriching my life and my students’ life professionally and personally. Katherine Zablatnik, St. Veit a.d. Glan, Austria
zablatnik@aon.at; www.hlw.at

QUOTES from HLWSkyper Teachers:

There are many challenges to this kind of communication. The technology doesn’t always work, the time zones make scheduling difficult, and there are always cultural differences to work out – but the long term benefits for our students outweigh the difficulties. These are exciting times to be a teacher and a student. (Joe McNulty, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., mcnulty118@gmail.com)

For many foreign language learners, the opportunity to meet students from another place and to learn about their culture motivates them to want to learn the language of that culture. Social interaction as well as curriculum content sharing is so important in this process, so spontaneous Skype conversations between students helps “friends” learn together. (Nick Hine, nickdun@me.com)

Collaborating with teachers and students in this group leads us to great 3C’s – Communication,Collaboration and Connectivity.
I usually ask my students „When was the last time when you did something for the first time?“
During this year we are here together I have been feeling myself like a student learning a lot of new things while sharing ideas with great teachers. This group has created the opportunity for us to collaborate professionally and personally. (Laima Ardaviciene – laimukasenator@gmail.com – Kedainiai, Lithuania)

Conducting lessons on the other side of the Earth, talking to students from different countries is a wonderful experience for a teacher. It is also fun. Seeing and talking to peer students and teachers who are thousands of miles away is a great source of motivation and knowledge for students. Skype is a powerful tool that can be used in every school or college, in every classroom. Teaching and learning become ubiquitous and new skills are acquired through collaboration. Thank you for sharing this new experience with us! (Mike and Anna Bukhtoyarov – mikebukhtoyarov@gmail.com, annabukhtoyarova@gmail.com – Krasnoyarsk, Russia)

Rien de plus motivant que de parler avec d’autres professeurs et leurs étudiants dans le monde entier ! C’est un moment extraordinaire de partage !
Nothing is more motivating than speaking with other teachers and their students all over the world ! It’s such a wonderful moment to share !
Armelle Griboux,from Charleville-Mézières, France, armelle.griboux@cfaindustrie08.fr

This group is certainly filled with dedicated teachers who have the desire to go beyond the four walls of their classroom! It’s a pleasure to meet students and teachers from all over the world, to share their perspectives on life and to answer their quieries. (Janet Barnstable – jbarnstable@gsbi.org – Illinois, USA)

Becoming a part of this community has made a huge difference to me as a teacher and to my students. We now interact regularly with students in the USA, have had teachers from the other side of the world come into the class and share ideas. It has been wonderful to be a part of classes who are learning English.
It is an extraordinary community. Brigid Stevens. b.stevens@greytown.school.nz

I’ve only been a part of this HLWSKypers community a short while, but in that time I have met some of the most interesting and helpful educators around the world. Having a support team of like-minded friends available 24/7 is wonderful! Lorraine Leo lorra22@gmail.com – Newton, MA, USA

As I’ve had some lovely experiences in using Skype as a teaching and learning tool. The pupils are so engaged and enjoy communicating with their peers across the world. There is a strong network of like minded individuals who are prepared to set up and organise video conferencing sessions with their classes. Everyone is so helpful and accommodating too.
I can call upon someone to participate in a video conference almost instantly as there are so many of us available. (Tim Shanker Manchester UK. shankert@audenshaw.tameside.sch.uk)

我们是Skype中国的职员,在致力于销售Skype电话点卡的同时,深深被Skype in the Classroom吸引着,我们虽然不是老师,但是我们愿意尽自己的力量为世界其他国家的孩子们分享快乐。在hlw Skypers里认识了很多世界各地的朋友,我们深深的为此感到高兴。如果你有兴趣,欢迎与我们交流。chen会说英语,nico的法语比英语还棒哦!我们的skype id是: nico-mcdull0920,liuchenjune。

To be the member of this group is a great possibility for my small students to open their window to the world. We are a small school in a small country, and with the help of these nice people in this community we could meet other children and adults from different countries. We got some information about their lives and cultures, we could ask questions, play games with them. Is was fantastic to ask quest speakers to talk about their countries, schools. It was a great way for my small kids to speak and practise English.
Thank you very much for these people and their help: Tóthné Bán Gyöngyi ( Dondi) Balatonboglár, Hungary dondi645@gmail.com

This group of teachers gives us an opportunity to work collaboratively and develop innovative projects in which our students interact with children from several countries and learn from other cultures. Thanks to Katherine Zablaknit for inviting me to join this fantastic group. Jose Manuel Sáez López (Spain) joshhe1977@yahoo.es

I was added to this fantastic group of teachers, teachers’ trainers and student projects’ editors around the world last summer by my American colleague Mr Fitzgerald from St. Louis. Since that time I have used Skype in the classroom several times a week for real different purposes. Using Skype in the classroom gives us wonderful opportunities to combine the learning of different key competences you have to teach.
On one hand you have to teach your subject and a specific topic. Now you can involve experts from the distance, maybe from abroad, to be involved into your lessons.
On the other side you get into contact with students and teachers from abroad, get to know a lot about the other cultures, have to face different kind of views about a common topic you teach simultaneously at the same time in foreign classes by different teachers.

As the editor of the one and only students radio station which operates on Shortwave, Medium wave, FM and in the internet simultaneously with support of the United Nations, New York, the students from this project have used Skype in the classroom to get into contact with several of the own foreign services, built up in several countries in the world, to discuss contents and structures of common radio programmes.

However, everyone, teachers and students, become “ambassadors” of their country. So everyone becomes aware of his cultural identity and tries to accept cultural diversities.

All these will be the basis for a “free” language learning situation where students use their English knowledge (we are no English native speakers) far from regular English lessons and English teachers (I am not an English teacher). They check their English knowledge and realise that they can be understood by their partners. They immediately get to know their lack of knowledge and they learn a lot of new words in English. They loose their shyness using their main foreign language at school and in the public. And they loose their shyness to stand in front of a great students’ group to talk to them and to point out their arguments.
These are further key competences we have to teach our students in.

Meanwhile I use Skype for sick students in my class as well. Students who cannot attend school for a longer period of time get the opportunity to join my lessons and to join the Skype meetings with our partners from abroad using Skype from home. If the health situation of the sick students allows an active participation the parents can ask for virtual attendance from the distance. They are connected by audio and video. They can watch what is written to the board and they can ask questions as all the others who attend the lessons directly. This kind of communication reduces the lack of knowledge and it will be easier for them to join the regular lessons when they will come back to school recovered from sickness. The students who attend the lessons directly have to face a constant observation by others (friends, sometimes parents) from the distance. This is a situation the students (and teacher) get used to.

Starting in February 2012 I will offer additional lessons in maths using Skype from home to home during the late afternoon hours to give further opportunities asking questions about what has been taught in the morning. I will do this project with one class only, which has less maths’ lessons each week at their time table to avoid a lack of maths knowledge finally.

These new projects are the results of several discussions I have had with my brilliant international colleagues from abroad, always open minded for questions and giving ideas to realise what you have in mind only by fragments sometimes.

Thank you very much for being a member of this wonderful community. Reinhard Marx, Sundern, Germany (marx@realschule-sundern.de)

My name is Nadia, I am an English teacher from Russia, Obninsk. I joined the group a year ago. I value the benefits of Skype lessons with like-minded teachers and student so much. I do believe that using a real life communication with their peers from other countries gives my student a real taste of learning and boosts their motivation a lot.

My area is not abundant in English-speaking environment, so skyping classes is a big solution and a great tool for bringing theory into practice. This year my school has been experiencing some technical problems and unfortunately I do not have a stable Internet connection, but I see the great potential of my membership in HLWskypers and hope to use it in full in the nearest future. My students are eager to have as many Skype classes as possible. I can understand them very well =).

I am so happy myself to have met such a fantastic group of peers who are ready to learn, support and share. Katherine, it was an excellent idea to set up such a fruitful and efficient group! (reed30.sol (at) yandex.ru)

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The HLWSkypers group is an exceptional group of very helpful and motivated teachers who have realised that we live in an interconnected world and that the future of education is in breaking down the classroom walls for our students and putting them in contact with their peers around the world. (Armando Vezza, English teacher in France armandovezza@gmail.com)

The HLWSkypers group is a wonderful community of like-minded educationalists that go out of their way to collaborate, empower and share with each other. The mere fact that global learning and teaching takes place using Skype – makes it instantaneous and free! I have already begun the process of reaching a target of conducting 100 international classes in 2012. The HLWSkypers group offers me the opportunity to connect and make it happen. I feel that The HLWSkypers is a ‘digital bridge’ to many shores enabling the convenience of global communication. I am humbled by the generosity and willingness of the members to work hand-in-hand. (Steve Sherman, www.livingmaths.com, Skype: livingmaths, Maths educator in Cape Town, South Africa, steve@livingmaths.com)

First of all I’d like to thank Mr. Reinhard Mar (Germany) who linked me to the hlw skypers room. It’s been proved really thrilling to me as I can see many teachers and educators who are really competent and kind to their professions. I’ve already gained much information about the use and importance of the technology in teaching learning in the 21st century education. I’m new to the technology. I’m trying to learn how I can bring technology into my daily classroom activities. I teach English in a Primary and middle school. More than that I’ve been running an English medium school in a rural farming village to provide opportunity to the rural kids go to English medium school. After I entered to hlw I came to know that only pen and paper is not enough (for which I’ve been struggling for the last 13/14 years). The world is really more than 100 times ahead to what we , here, are focussing to.
The struggle of pen and paper is still there, but now I must workout for bringing technology in teaching learning. I realised. HLW has given me a start to meet the teachers and educators around the world. I’ve already made skype talk with some of the teachers from India, Russia, Spain, Lithuania, the usa, australia, the UK, Austria, France, and so on. Some of my students have already skyped with the teachers from Spain and Russia. (The problem with the skype talk is low bandwith here). They are really thrilled with talking to them.
Now my foucus is to improve the bandwith of my connectivity which cost a lot for me as I live in a rural area. We do not have easy access of internet. The new year resolution of mine is to improve the bandwith and get connected more than 100 teachers and 100 virtual classrooms. I believe hlw will support me to bring changes to our backwarded rural school and make it a model school in Nepal through the use of technology. I’m very much thankful to the hlw members who are always encouragiung me for the use of technology and continue my work. I can’t stand without visiting hlw room everyday. Thank you again (‘Pheri pani dhayabad’).
Govinda Prasad Panthy (Founder/director also an English teacher)
SAV School, Nepal.
govinda.prasad.panthy1 (skype name)

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