While monitoring my GAME plan, I found a weakness that I may need to modify. As I said in my blog previously, my goal is to add components of technology into these plans so that students can engage in ‘learning with students, colleagues, and others in face-to-face and virtual environments” (International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), 2008). I want to add a “face-to-face” interview with my host from old Soviet Russia, Valentina. Valentina’s father fought in WWII, called the Great Patriotic War in Russia, and I want my students to have the opportunity to talk to her about her father’s stories from the war. My students study the eastern front, and learn about the battles of Leningrad, Moscow, and Stalingrad. They see documentary footage from the battles, do a comparison paper between the actual battle of Stalingrad and the Hollywood interpretation of the battle of Stalingrad. It would make the lesson complete to have Valentina give them her father’s stories about the war. However, even though Valentina has Skype, we are not allowed to download it at school or use it through the school computers. I met with a member of the virtual field trip team and explained the problem to him; he is going to talk to the head of technology communication and from there we will see what can be done. We are allowed to use ClearSea, but Valentina does not know how to download that, she’s not even sure if they have that program available for free download in Russia. Therefore, if the head of technology communication cannot set us up with Skype, we may not be able to get the face-to-face interview with my Soviet hostess. To modify the situation with Valentina, I may Skype with her from home, tape the session, and with any luck play it for my students. Nevertheless, this is not the lesson I want to teach them; I want them to be able to ask the questions they are interested in hearing the answers to and interact with Valentina themselves, not through me.
To my colleagues, do any of you know of another program, other than ClearSea and Skype, which will allow my class to have a face-to-face conversation with my friend in Russia? If any of you were thinking of Tango, I just want you to know that my sister and I downloaded Tango onto our phones so we could talk free to each while she was in France. It does not work unless both parties are online simultaneously, her in France and me in New Jersey; Tango did not meet our needs.
International Society for Technology in Education (2008). National education standards for teachers (nets-t). Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/Libraries?PDFs/NETS_for_Teachers_2008_EN.sflb.ashx