Okay, okay. You’re probably going to think, “There she goes! Always talking about Mystery Skype…”
But guys. It’s wicked important!
Skype has practically been my best friend since Spring 2011. I studied abroad in Rome during my junior year of college, and it was the first time I truly had ever been away from home. Although I was loving exploring the city and living the Italian life, I was homesick at times and missing events that were important to me. I’m not a huge user of Facebook, so really the best way for me to communicate and connect with home was Skype.
After college, when I began traveling more (Peru, backpacking in Europe, Thailand, etc), Skype became not only a way for me to communicate and connect with my family, but a way for me to also connect with job interviews and people I’ve met around the world. So when I finally got a teaching job, I kept Skype in the back of my mind, but had no idea where to start.
ENTER: MYSTERY SKYPE!
Thank you to the BLC for introducing me to this idea and inspiring me to further break down the walls of my classroom.
Now I won’t go into MAJOR details about how to get started (see me at the NCGE Conference in New Mexico for that hehe), but I will tell you recent ups and down with the experience.
I truly believe the one thing that is a downer with Mystery Skype is that WiFi connections aren’t the same all over the world. This week, we experienced some major WiFi problems on both sides of the camera. The lack of WiFi or the slow connection is one thing that can really bring down student engagement. Students become distracted, side-conversations begin, and the Skype conversations become halted. You realize the students that are extremely engaged in Mystery Skype, and the students who are indifferent to it. The students who want it to work stare at the SMARTBoard, hoping for a miracle. Conversations of how we can solve our crisis begin and teamwork blooms. Those who are indifferent spin their fidget spinners, go to Mars in Google Maps, or doodle.
But what comes out of this is patience, team work, and back-up plans. This week, my students, as soon as they realized it was going to be difficult to hear, grabbed the small white boards, wrote “Can you hear us?” and aimed it at the camera. Students realized they could still communicate through written language, and our Skype connection continued! Innovation, 4 broken walls, and BAM! Mystery Skype saved.
Sometimes you make a connection with another global class that is truly remarkable. This week, we traveled to Maracay, Venezuela. We experienced some of the downers listed above, but that didn’t stop my students. Our friends in Venezuela wanted to sing a song for us, so we resorted to plan C by breaking out my personal laptop, connecting to Skype, and had my 21 students crowd around it. They sang us a beautiful song that left my students speechless (a tough task to do). Click here for video
After the song and our farewells, we received this message from Professor Julio Rojas:
I dare to share with you our link of paypal. We are facing very hard times here in venezuela and we ask for help to buy medicines and food. Please if you can give us any donation will be a bless
My students IMMEDIATELY wanted to learn more and see how we could help. What was going on in Venezuela? Why did they need help? What is their standard of living? From a brief 45 minute conversation, so many questions began and the want to take action occurred.
Have you tried Mystery Skype in your classroom? What were some UPS and DOWNS you’ve experienced with Skype and/or technology? Share by adding a comment!