Have you noticed how the world just keeps getting smaller…or at least appears to be doing so? Technology is a powerhouse. It offers each of us more ways than ever to interact with people in our lives, from our family and friends to even creating relationships with people we’ve never met face-to-face on the other side of the world. All the “social” technologies play into this, from your basic email to networks, like Facebook and Orkut (in Brazil). But leading the charge must be Skype. It’s free and because of this it makes distance nonexistent, providing that you’ve got a solid internet connection.
As a adjunct faculty professor at ID, IIT this past semester, I utilized the offerings of Skype video conferencing extensively. My students at the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Institute of Design in Chicago collaborated intimately with a group of students from ESPM in Sao Paulo, Brazil, allowing each classroom the opportunity to receive cultural knowledge of the opposite country without the costly field trip expenses (thanks to Skype.)
The class was called Cross Cultural Research. The students used the slide show and video features of Skype to share with each other the differences between home securities in the two countries. The students would present to one another about things they were finding in their research, pulling out the insights that a home security company in the US might want to know, for instance, if wanting to expand its services to the Brazilian market.
Friendships were created and the students were excited about the knowledge they gained in the process.
Our use of Skype in the classroom was just featured in an eSchool New article about how Skype is fast becoming a module for expanded education opportunities in the classroom. Read here for the full feature article.