I love the school days were you wake up super excited about the day ahead, today was most definately one of those days. I was lucky enough to have an expert in the field of Sports Nutrition speak to my students for an entire 30 minutes. So how is this different to a normal guest speaker you may ask? Well its simply because we were seperated by over 200km…..
Thanks to the completely free program Skype, which is used for video confrencing this was able to occur. Sure Video confrencing has been around for years but it has never been this simple, this cheap or this effective…..Skype just works, no questions asked. Heres how the whole process happened
I read a post in Douchys Blog a few months ago about the potential uses of Skype in the classroom, basically it allows you to create a 24/7 classroom, helping you to connect with other students and teachers from all over the world at the push of a button. The next step was to download and set up my skype account, which literally took 3 or 4 minutes (Very Simple). While this was all happening the ideas were flowing through my head of just how I could harness this simple but powerful technology in my classes. Eventually I decided that I would aim to get a guestspeaker for one of my classes and have them speak on a certain topic. At the time i was teaching sports nutrition to one of my Phys Ed classes, which i thought would be a great choice given there are NO sports dieticians anywhere near my tiny country Victorian town. The other great part was that the kids are mad about sport so anything discussed in the interview would prove to be highly appealing
So I set out to find someone willing to have a go at this ‘experiment’. My first stop was Sports Dieticians Australia, and I emailed them via the ‘contact us’ section of their home page. I stated my plans and was swiftly sent a return email with an interested participant. At first she hadnt even heard of Skype so I quickly introduced it and within 5 minutes or so, she was online and we were having a conversation, as if we were in the same room. We tested the connection a few more times proving that it was indeed super simple and truly amazing, making me even more excited for interview day.
September 12th was the day it all happened and at 12.oopm I received a call from our Guest speaker, with fingers crossed I answered and pheew it was working we could indeed hear and see one another. Needless to say the kids were blown away….and I mean BLOWN AWAY.. To top it all off I also recorded the conversation so that it could be reviewed at a later date via a program called ‘pamela for skype’ which is a groovy little addition that is also simple and works perfect. Finally with the technical side out of the way the kids could focus on their asking the questions they had organised in previous lessons. Overall the interview proved to be 100 times more beneficial then I had ever hoped or imagined, engaging kids who usually find a way to muck up or do next to nothing in a lesson.
So what does this mean for educators? Well it proves that we are no longer bound to the four walls of our classrooms, you can literally bring in experts from all around the world. You might say, "No one is going to have time for my class” but trust me, you’d be suprised just who would be happy to give you 15 minutes of their time. Initially that's what I thought, but have since changed my mind the second I organised my next Virtual Guest Speaker, the 3 Time Olympic Medalist Sprinter Ato Boldon who will be talking about his coaching and training principles.
So who will speak to your class? You can only ask…