A couple of weeks ago I had a go at using Tiny Chat. It’s a very cool little tool that enables you to create your own chatroom and invite people to share chat with you by sending them to a link that you are provided with. Here is what it looks like when you get into the site;
You don’t have to sign up for anything, just click on create my chatroom and you will be provided with a link that you can share with whomever it may be that you want to chat with. Everyone who has the link just needs to click on the link and they’ll be taken to the room that has been created.
I used it in my Yr 9 class the day after I’d had a play with it. I created the chatroom and sent the link to all the class members. I posted a discussion topic and our aim was that we were going to use the chat to post our thoughts. We would then be able to see the updates on the screen we have at the front of the room (we have a data projector).
We met a hitch when not all students found themselves in the room together. About 15 of us were sharing the same chat, but some others were in the chat with only a couple of others. Weird. I’m not sure what went wrong but it was interesting seeing how it might work. I’m going to give it another go at some stage. The students certainly were interested in the idea, maybe because it gives them the means to set up chats themselves.
I know that Tiny Chat works well with one or two participants; maybe having 21 in the chat was being a bit ambitious!
Wow. We had an amazing couple of days last week at my school using Skype to connect our students to the world.
First stop was Buffalo, New York, when Laura Stockman skyped into our Grade 5 class. They were learning about her good works because they have been doing some themselves . Our Junior School last week raised $2,700 to help victims of the bushfires. I was just going to refer to Laura’s site and Working together 2 make a difference, but Angela Stockman was on Twitter and suggested that Laura could Skype in.
The Grade 5 students were amazed that someone from New York State was looking at them and answering their questions. It has given them a real boost as they think about what they may be able to do to make a difference. Glenn, their teacher was thrilled and went on to discuss it with his staff at their staff meeting.
Stop 2. Hiram Cuevas organised for his school, St. Christopher’s in Virginia, to Skype with our students and staff about the bushfire situation here in Victoria. This was initiated because St. Christopher’s has committed to doing something in response to the crisis. We set up the call and arranged for student and staff representatives to take part with both of us using webcams to enable us to see one another. It was a great connection (thank goodness!) and a very powerful half an hour that we spent together. Hiram wanted his students to have a connection with people living in the State of Victoria so that his students could have some sense of the tragedy. Our school receptionist, Chantal, lost a house in the Kinglake fire and was able to convey her sense of loss and resulting experiences.
Hiram ustreamed the session and apparently we had 71 viewers at one stage. Amazing. All parties benefited enormously from this connection. Our staff and students were touched by the care and compassion reaching our from a school thousands of miles away. Hiram’s school is a member of our international PLP cohort; the learning is proving to be a rich experience for us all.
Stop 3: Same day, different time. Amanda Ritter organised for our students to participate in Matt Montagne’s student run podcast, Gator Radio. Matt put out a call on Twitter for Australian schools who could skype in for a question/answer session about the Victorian Bushfires. Our students were thrilled to be ‘on air’ and were marvelling at the end of the day about how great these experiences were.
Next stop is Tuesday morning for me. I’m skyping into Lisa Parisi’s Global Awareness Club. This is a group of Grade 5 students and the question I’m dealing with is ‘Why is it important to have a global perspective?’ or words to that effect. I’m looking forward to it.
Skype is such a powerful tool for making connections. With a webcam you can really enable your students to feel like they’re somewhere else. Who knows how this kind of connective experience will look in the future? Something like Cisco’s Telepresence technology could really make us feel like we are in the same room. I’d love to give that a go. If you’re listening Cisco, I’m willing and able and I bet I could line a few students up who’d be in like a shot too!