While exploring the applications from the seriously old article about Web 2.0 apps (7 years is more than 3 lifetimes considering Moore’s law), I decided to read more about Google applications. I chose this as my district already is subscribed, and my students already have an account and use Gmail and Google Docs. They have access to the other applications such as calendar, Google Drive, etc but rarely use them. I was one of the first teachers in my district to have students use the Google suite of apps, and have been searching for a way to make the use of these applications more seamless into what we already do. The problem seems to be that my district has too many applications and platforms to choose from and both students and staff become overwhelmed by the number of websites, log ins, or knowing which platform to use in a given situation.
Last week I blogged about using Skype to learn and my experience in attempting to connect with another classmate. In that blog post I mentioned that I was also venturing into a new online learning experience using Skype called italki. (You can read about my experience using an online teacher here.) What I learned from the experience aside from the actual learning that took place, was that we are no longer limited in how we acquire information or where the teaching takes place. While in the past I have learned using videos, books, and classroom lectures on a local level, last Monday I was able to interact and learn from a teacher who was physically in Brasil. 4190 miles as the crow flies from Wellsboro, and it has me stoked and excited about the prospects of learning in the future.
I have spent years dabbling at learning a foreign language, with limited success. I am pretty good at remembering vocabulary but have extreme difficulty in using it. I tend to get flustered and second guess myself. I also don’t really practice Spanish by talking to someone daily in my target language as life often gets in the way. That changed when I recently discovered the italki website.
One aspect of my Ipad that I love is the ease of using Skype or other video communication applications. There is something about video communication that I prefer over audio. I’ll be honest, I hate the telephone and “lose” my cell phone constantly; I also never listen to messages. Videos allow you to see facial expressions and feel connected. I recently tried to connect with a class member via Skype that did not work well due to technological difficulties. It was nice, though, to get to see her and communicate briefly. It lends a new level to what is oftentimes for me a disconnected experience.