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Monthly Archive for May, 2007

Communication/Collaboration Tools

This afternoon is the last meeting of the year of the Local District 6 Ed Tech Leadership Cadre. As part of the sharing we will be doing, we will be talking about communication tools that can be used in the classroom. We will be connecting through Skype to Local District 5’s EdTech meeting, where Jose Rodriguez will be talking about how Skype can be used in education. He is a great practitioner and even got tips from THE Jeff Lebow on how to make the best connection without feedback. …I’m thinking about how to present some of these tools this afternoon. Of course, the best way is to give examples of how they can be used for learning.


A free way to connect to anywhere in the world, from computer to computer. Can include video calls with one person, or it can connect up to 10 people through audio, with accompanying chat. I hear examples of people using Skype almost daily through podcasts.

Many edubloggers use Sype to conduct interviews and conference with colleagues. They record their conversations for a podcast.

  • Most of the quality podcast interviews that Steve Hargadon does on School 2.0 seem to be conducted through Skype.
  • Dean Shareski just released a one-year follow-up interview on Telling the New Story; with Kathy Cassidy, an elementary teacher, Clarence Fischer, a middle school teacher, and Darren Kuropatwa, a high school teacher. These outstanding teachers reflect on how their teaching and learning has changed with using collaborative tools.
  • Wes Fryer uses Skype frequently. Today, I listened to an outstanding leadership interview with Dr. Scott Mcleod of Dangerously Irrelevant and LeaderTalk. Dr McLeod is leading the way in offering opportunities for learning for school administrators through blogging and collaboration. This has significance for me as I strive to provide the tools for my own local district instructional staff as they form Professional Learning Communities.

Many teachers are using Skype in the classroom.

  • The one example that always moves me is how Brian Crosby used this tool to bring a student, Celest, that was confined to home with Leukemia, into class to interact with the other students. Watch the video his 4th grade students created to tell the story. The good news is that Celest is feeling much better and is able to now attend class in person.
  • Vicki Davis often uses Skype to invite experts into her classroom. One memorable podcast was an interview with nanotechnology expert, Earl Boysen, who visited her class through Skype.


I was thinking about showing the YackPack plugin for PBWiki, that acts as a walkie-talkie, but having heard the recent comment by Darren on the Telling the New Story Podcast, I wonder about the usefulness of having a walkie talkie on a blog or webpage.

More useful would probably be the YackPack player. This allows users to post a recorded message on a blog, wiki, or website. One educator, Christine Tomasino, shares her ideas of how YackPack could be used in the classroom.

Similar to YackPack is Evoca, which is a tool for posting audio on a website. My favorite example is the keynote presentation by Karl Fisch on the Horizon Project, a collaborative project by students in diverse geographical areas, exploring the possiblities of the 2007 Horizon Report .


I think this software has great potential for student learning. You can create a channel and leave it on your website or blog where students can record messages for each other or for the teacher. In turn, the teacher can leave audio messages for the students. Wes Fryer writes about Vaestro in a recent article, Asynchronous Online Audio Discussions. Darren Kuropatwa tried it out. It sounds like it could be a great tool for learning.

I don’t want to overwhelm our group with too many tools, so this might be enough for today. How are you using audio communication tools in the classroom?

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