Distance learning is going international. The Community College Times reports that Skype is the latest technology to link American students to teachers abroad. “Each Wednesday, a few minutes before 1 a.m., Ann Toumi opens her Skype software account at her home in Finland to begin teaching a German language program at a community college in Minnesota,” the article reports.
The article goes on to indicate that the delivery method works “very well.” Assisting Toumi is “lab assistant Darin Flansburg -- who previously taught English as a second language in Germany -- and two German exchange students. Several aides are also available to handle any Internet and computer problems.”
Skype has proven especially helpful in foreign language courses. The Global Teacher blog recently sang the praises of Skype in the classroom.
The great thing about Skype is that is can be used at any time, no matter where you’re based. It can also be used to include a number of students, as a type of conference call and your possible student base is huge -- it’s global! Skype also has a text entry function that can work as a type of blackboard where the teacher can type new vocabulary or introduce a new grammar point.
More and more instructors are using Skype in the classroom as a means of fostering collaborative learning. Experts suggest that instructors follow these suggestions for developing the skills necessary to ensure a successful Skype session:
By following these simple suggestions an instructor can assure that their Skype session is successful.
It looks like technologies intended to facilitate distance learning are increasing in popularity in classrooms across the nation. CampusTechnology.com
Some critics opine that American society right now is in a technological “over-adoption” stage right now, and that the future will see a return to communication through more old-fashioned means, such as face-to-face contact. But whichever way the winds of technology blow, one thing is sure: Distance learning technologies allow instructors to complement their lessons in ways that were impossible only five years ago. Whether this is a virtue or a vice remains to be seen.