It has recently occured to me that a tool I really take for granted is certainly the most important in my current teaching practice. Ive been utilising Skype now for well over a year since making the switch from MSN. The reason I decided to change was to create an instant message account that could be used completely for teaching and connecting with my students. After signing up I logged on in class and showed the students how I could make calls for free to other skype accounts, I then wowed them when I rang the school office asking to speak to the principal.
Now it was no suprise that as soon as I got home a heap of the students had downloaded skype and added me to their contact lists. Word soon spread throughout the student cohort that ‘Skype Was Cool’ and before long the majority of my students were online.
Instantly the conversations in the after hours happened and as my skype account is always open students have the ability to instantly contact me in regards to their school work. There are also the times when they just want to have a chat and to me this is the most important feature. The repoire I have been able to establish through conversations I have with students outside of school hours has been excellent. The ability for students to seek answers to their questions at all hours has also been very powerful. Whether its asking if they have to bring a change of clothes for a prac session tommorow or a complex eplanation of a homework question it can be done with the help of skype. Some of them have even started asking me questions about subjects I dont even teach, which again proves the power of being connected.
Anyway below is a chat transcript from a senior student in my Outdoor & Environmental Studies subject which occurred at 9.30pm. Without skype and instant messaging how else would she have been able to seek an answer so quickly?