Tech blog offers insights into ways you can use technology to instruct and inform. Dave Adkins, NYSUT's Director of Information Technology, is the primary contributor. To read more, and comment, go to blogs.nysut.org/tech.
Video chatting made easy
You've probably seen the Cisco commercial: Actress Ellen Page visits a classroom on a virtual field trip to China, courtesy of expensive video conferencing equipment from Cisco. The equipment is amazing, but not necessary. You may already have the tools for the same type of video conferencing, or can obtain them for very low cost.
If you have access to a computer and an inexpensive webcam you can connect with other computers around the world. Many newer laptops have a built-in camera.
Software is free, and many educators are using Skype on their Windows and Macintosh computers to provide this learning tool. Skype can allow students to video chat with book authors, go on virtual field trips, practice language skills with native language speakers and demonstrate science experiments.
Various websites and services also exist to find other teachers and classrooms. One company, ePals (www.epals.com), has listings from all over the world and includes a profile on each classroom that wants to connect so you can find a match.
Using Skype does not require a special room, only a computer connected to high-speed Internet, a webcam, speakers and a microphone. I've included links to tutorials and classroom information about Skype on the tech blog for easy access. If you are using Skype, please comment online so we can learn more about it!