Personal Revelation: Skype as a new Professional Learning Tool

I had the pleasure of participating in a webinar last night on LearnCentral presented by Cary Harrod and the staff at Nagel Middle School in Cincinnati Ohio called BYOL: A Game Changer.  And as inspiring as the conversation was, it was a small comment by the Science Teacher, Jeremy Varner, inviting another participant to Skype into his classroom to see how things worked that caught my attention and set my brain on fire.

Skype!  (read: Any video-conferencing tool! )

Skype would allow teachers to do what we-always-wish-we-could-do-but-never-can-because-we’re-too-busy-teaching: Visit Another Classroom!  Be a fly on the wall.  At no extra cost.  Think of the professional learning potential of teachers being able to see how another class is set up, how another teacher teaches, how 21st Century learners can learn, how the curriculum can be implemented within a whole new paradigm of education.

“Together, we can re-imagine learning,”  says Cary Harrod, IT Specialist + Webinar host.

WOW!  The places I could go, the learning I could do, if I could just spend a planning period every now and then Skyping into the classrooms of the folks I’ve discovered in Twitter and all the amazing educational communities online.  I wouldn’t even have to interrupt or talk with the teacher or the kids — just let me watch! Just let me SEE!

I can take it from there.  I can take what I see and learn, and I can ponder and reflect and decide the next step for me towards “21st Century-izing” my curriculum and my classroom.  Like the vast majority of my colleagues, I truly want more than anything to make learning a thousand times more engaging and relevant for my students — I just need help to SEE what it could look like, to HEAR how things can be done, and to ASK later about any topics I wish to pursue.

Naturally, any teachers allowing me to “Skype” in would have to have their permissions in order (although do we have to obtain parent permissions when we visit another classroom in real life?), and more importantly, they’d have to be confident and resilient enough to allow another teacher to “visit” their class.  However that’s exactly what has impressed me the most about the amazing educators I’ve discovered online using social media in their classrooms. They are incredibly open and passionate about giving, sharing, and helping other teaches to learn, and unwilling to be swayed by the fear-mongering of skeptics.

So imagine the learning my teaching colleagues and I could do if we could see what innovative teachers are doing in their classrooms, if we could drop in virtually, and visit those classrooms to learn…

This is one more way 21st Century learning won’t be constrained by walls or distance or lack of funds, and learners will connect directly to the real world. And it’s not just breaking down walls and expanding possibilities for our students: it’s presenting exciting new opportunities for the entire teaching profession as well.

So I’m a teacher, and I want to learn.  Will you let me in?


About Cathy Beach

Recently retired elementary teacher and outdoor educator in rural Ontario, Canada. My Olympic Journeys may be over, but they lead me into some very exciting adventures with teachers and kids and the world of connected learning...
This entry was posted in education, technology. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Personal Revelation: Skype as a new Professional Learning Tool

  1. prizeteacher says:

    Technology is usually thought of as something the students can use, but Skype is something the educator can use to affect all students. Teachers can become better teachers by watching other teachers. It is a great and simple idea. Thanks for sharing.

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