Connect Your Classroom to the World
For centuries, schools have sat in silos. Teachers and students were capable of communicating only with those inside their own buildings. It was at one time not only unattainable, but unthinkable to collaborate and communicate with outside classrooms. The technology for these types of interactions had not yet been introduced to education—and even if they were, cost and practicality were barriers to implementation. I have been an active user of “video conferencing” since the early 90’s, when this type of technology was usually seen in large businesses or colleges that were fortunate to have the funds to provide the equipment to make use of such a progressive form of communication. In 1999, before all the Skyping, Facetiming, and Google Hangouts, I began using CU-See-Me, a video conferencing tool, which many people have never even heard of. This was a time when a little ball of a webcam sat on top of your box-shaped monitor and you had to make sure not to move too quickly or your picture froze mid video conference. Fast forward 17 years and schools across the world have access to video conferencing through free tools such as Skype. Skype took video conferencing to a whole new level by providing educators with a platform and tools for classroom integration. Now Swivl offers a complete solution with the Swivl Robot, Swivl Capture App and Swivl Cloud Live! One particularly fun way to connect and share ideas with other classrooms is using Swivl Cloud Live to play “Mystery Skype.” Mystery Skype is an educational game invented by two teachers and it is played in two classrooms through video conferencing. The game engages every student in the classroom as students try to guess the location of the other classroom. They must search for clues and try and solve the mystery! In order to play Mystery Skype, there are 3 steps:
- Find a class
- Arrange a time
- Share your story!
- Twenty questions Recommended for beginners and younger age groups. Students in each class prepare a set of 20 questions and 5-10 clues for the other class before their call. The classes try to guess each other’s location by answering the questions and using additional clues for a little extra help. This can work well for your first Mystery Skype lesson and is a good way to improve your students’ knowledge of where they live.
- Yes or no answers Recommended for more experienced classes. Classes are only allowed to ask each other questions with a yes or no answer. The number of questions may be limited to 20 if you want an additional challenge. These lessons can be more spontaneous and require students to think on their feet as the questions aren’t prepared in advance.
- Mystery Skype jobs Recommended for experienced classes. Some teachers have found that when students have specific responsibilities during a Mystery Skype lesson they work better as a team and the whole class becomes more engaged. These roles can include greeters, question keepers, Bing mappers, runners, bloggers, photographers, live tweeters, reporters, and anything else that works for your class (more information about these roles is available in this Google doc).