Ms. Joanne Shang taught her 7th grade Chinese course from Beijing using Skype for video, audio, and screen sharing. Our Moodle was used to connect her VoiceThread so students could respond to the prompts and she could then listen to their comments in Beijing. The screen sharing was useful as she shared an animation of writing characters and the students “air wrote” the characters. It was a very natural learning exchange and not that much different then a regular class except for the fact their teacher was in China and it was 2:00 AM there. Great work by the teacher and students. This was without a doubt the most amazing use of Web 2.0 tools as we combined all of our teaching and learning tools to make up for what started as the problem of not being able to find a substitute. There is no substitute for a dedicated teacher and tools that work.
There were of course issues with earlier sessions when Ms. Shang tried to teach her Upper School classes. The connection was not as strong due to over use by one of the hotel guests. Even though Ms. Shang had run tests the day before, there was no way to account for a person downloading massive files while she was teaching. I am glad our class was in the middle of the night and that the network folks at the hotel kicked off the bandwidth hog.
This is a short video that I took while the class was going on. I actually was in and out of the class as I was showing a different class how to use Google Apps for Education in the lab next door. I even called Dr. DuPont so he could see what we were doing. Of course the students in the lab next door also were looking in through the glass windows as their interest was indeed piqued.