Engaging your students with others outside the classroom used to require field trips and guest lecturers. Technology has made the process much easier. With an iPad, you can use Google Hangouts, FaceTime, and Skype to connect with others throughout the world.
I have used each of the apps for a variety of purposes. I often FaceTime with my children and grandchildren. Also, I have used it to participate in a board meeting from another country. At Thanksgiving we usually Skype with my brother and his family in Arizona. When I was hiring a new teacher at a school, we conducted video interviews using Skype for those candidates who lived in other states. Google Hangouts has allowed me to bring in a business owner and fellow law school alumnus to speak with students in my Introduction to Business Law class. Additionally, I have used Google Hangouts to speak to a classroom in one of our other buildings when I was unable to leave the classroom.
Google Hangouts allows you to have conversations with others who have a Google account, and they have activated their Google+ account. Active speaking participants is limited to 10 unless you are utilizing a Google Apps for Education or Business account, then you may have up to 15 active speaking participants. Many more participants can be involved through comments in Google+. To learn more about Google Hangouts, you may want to visit and read The Missing Guide for Google Hangout Calls.
FaceTime requires the use of an Apple device. Only two devices may be used at one time. However, you can have multiple people sharing a device to have the classroom participate .
Skype permits the user to have video conversations with other users. The most recent information I can find claims one person must have a premium account (cost $4.95/month), if you want to have more than one person in the video chat (Popular Mechanics (2012).
Usefulness of Video Calls for Professional Development
Conducting a video call, with other educators, may be helpful for the purpose of professional development when the other person is providing feedback that requires screenshots or video coaching. Being able to get advice, via video, while trying to employ a certain skill or utilize a certain app would allow the other person to give you advice based on what they see. I have participated in many webinars that have provided video examples or step-by-step instruction. The ability to see what the other person is doing while they are talking helps to clarify questions you may have based, if you can view their screen.
Enhancing and Transforming Learning Through Video Calls
Using video calling apps can be very useful with enhancing and transforming student learning. Apps can be used for a variety of purposes to engage students in learning outside the class.
Here is a list of 10 ideas to use video to expand beyond your classroom walls:
- Visiting expert can speak and be interviewed
- Students can learn about other cultures by talking to other students/classes
- Students can participate in global learning conferences and share their learning with the school
- Authors can visit remote classrooms/schools.
- Teachers can communicate with students when the teacher is absent from the classroom.
- Students from different schools/locations can discuss a novel they are reading
- Students can participate in a video class being taught at another school
- Students can learn Geography/test their knowledge through mystery Skype or Google
- Absent students can participate in class by watching class
- Students can work on group projects when they are not all in the same place.
If you have ever used video calls to enhance or transform learning, please take a few minutes to provide me feedback concerning video calls and ideas of how we can expand the boundaries of learning outside the class. Let me know what worked for your students. The idea of choosing to share my blog–to hear what others think and enhance my learning. Hopefully others will be able to learn from your comments.
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