The school years are a time for young people to develop skills for life, a time to expand their horizons and learn about the world outside their classroom, community and country. Textbooks are a must. But just imagine the doors you could unlock using videoconferencing. Too tough? Let’s find out . . .
Schools worldwide have embraced the revolution in online learning.
And with good reason. After all, a huge portion of the world’s knowledge is now indexed by search engines. And that knowledge base grows every day.
But what about the social revolution? Sure, students text, chat, tweet and update their status constantly — just like you. Oh yes you do
These tools , and others, can connect people from all over the world. How can we use them bring us closer together?
To become good citizens, children have a lot to learn about how the world works. Schools sometimes invite local leaders to speak in school auditoriums.
But what if kids could have something closer a one-on-one experience? And not with just one local leader but with several?
The chances are slim of getting a group of such busy people to find time in their schedule for a visit. But what about a quick videoconference? Travel time and scheduling issues become much easier when all you have to do is log in on your computer.
Here are 5 ideas classroom teachers could implement in a jiffy.
1. Civic Responsibility
Government is an important part of society. And there’s a lot to know, even on the local level. So a panel of local officials could discuss not only their own roles, but also provide a larger view of town government.
And it doesn’t have to be the mayor or city councilmen. Kids might get even more enthusiastic about the fire chief, police chief, and rescue chief. To a classroom of elementary school children, even the town dogcatcher might be a bigger hit than the mayor :)
And who inspired the mayor to become the mayor? Probably a teacher, just like you.
Not every school has a computer for every child. But most schools have a library or resource center with computers. The videoconference could be conducted with a few students, saved with the recording feature and shared with all students in the classroom or even on YouTube.
2. Career Counseling
Likewise, business leaders could be tapped to get children to think about their careers.
Young children might love to hear from a builder or pet shop owner. Older kids might appreciate hearing from an architect or lawyer.
And by high school age, there might be groups of kids interested in science and technology who might learn a lot from a physician or research scientist.
Remember, it was a young scientist who befriended 10-year-old Albert Einstein, inspiring him to read “easy” books like Emmanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason and Euclid’s Elements.
Where could you find people willing to share their time? There are lots of good people in the world who want to influence the next generation. When you ask around you’ll find them.
3. Twitter Stars
Social media is a great place to ask around. A Twitter search can locate those who are trying to spread their message. They make ideal candidates for speaking opportunities.
And social media is an ideal way to make initial contact. A friendly tweet or internal message on Facebook, Google+ or LinkedIn can be the start of a relationship with people you might ordinarily never meet.
Would Al Gore participate in an online meeting to tell your kids about his latest book The Future? I don’t know. Why don’t you Tweet @algore and find out.
What’s the incentive for the presenter? Publicity. It’s just the kind of thing that might get them mentioned in a local newspaper, magazine or TV news broadcast.
4. Social Responsibility
And not just business leaders. Nonprofit organizations are doing great work to make the world better. They need publicity and “buzz” to garner support for their causes.
Maybe a spokesperson would be willing to do a quick videoconference for students. And because it’s online communication, you can reach out to organizations outside your local area, like this one: https://www.facebook.com/redcross
5. Foreign Languages
Every year, foreign exchange students travel to distant countries to learn and share cultures. Why not do the same thing online?
A French teacher in the U.S. might reach out to an educator in France and coordinate an online lesson. Better yet, French and American students might interface online directly.
Just think — you might be introducing a future Barack Obama to a future Francois Hollande. Wouldn’t you be proud
The Social World
Students are hungry for knowledge. But more, they are hungry for connections with people they can admire.
Videoconferencing makes those connections possible.
It takes a little work and creativity. But when a teacher unlocks a mind, who knows that mind might accomplish?
If you know a teacher, please share this post with them — or better yet, Tweet, Like, or Plus it