Friday, September 19, 2008

Benefits of Skyping

"A family who Skypes together stays together"

Ok probably as debatable as the old saying "a family who prays together stays together" - but in this instance the skyping lifestyle has helped to keep my family, at least, together and deepened our relationships.

The young girl who blew me kisses over skype ended up costing me over three thousand dollars. And despite the miles that have separated us, we are as close, if not closer, than we have ever been. I couldn't mention it then, but the day after my two and half year old niece was taught by her other aunt to blow kisses to me over skype, I booked my ticket to Tuscany!! I had said I couldn't afford it - but those kisses made me do it. (see story on the ICTECT blog)

My entire family congregated in Tuscany and skyped me everyday. They were planning my fathers 70th, and in the end I decided the best birthday present for him would be for us all to be together. So with those two events in mind (the kisses and the birthday) I travelled to the UK on the 13th of September (now booking airline tickets online is something I need to re-consider - the travelling story is a whole other story). Through the use of technology, skyping, email, texting - I slowly made my way to the UK, then to Goring, and then along the canal tow path - and knocked on the door of my father's canal boat. Stuck in a canal boat, away from the internet and most communication, he had no clue of my imminent arrival. He was gob smacked and I had a great week on their canal boat despite the rising river and appalling weather.

Then on to Tuscany to meet that little girl and my sister's family. Skyping has helped my nephew (check out his amazing blog about his time in Tuscany) and neice communicate with me on a regular basis, to see me, to hear my voice, to know me. Even as a two year old, Ana was able to pick up with me as we left off over six months ago. I also met up with my teenage neices in the UK. I haven't seen them for over two years. And again, via skype, blogging, and facebook our relationship is as comfortable as it ever has been.

Skyping has kept us all together. If you want to keep in touch, or rekindle your relationships with overseas family and friends, download skype today.

If you would like to know more about my adventures in Europe over the next three weeks check out treehouse dwellers. Next week I plan to skype Manaia Kindergarten children as they arrive at kindergarten for the day. Don't forget to visit next week to hear that story of skyping in education.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Can Technology benefit Eudcation?

At Manaia Kindergarten technology has become integrated into the emergent curriculum.

Digital Photography
Children use technology to record and assess their learning. It has become a natural part of their kindergarten (and for some - home) lives. Children spend time creating sculptures with blocks, building volcanoes in the sandpit, or pushing their bodies to swing so high they can touch the shade sale... Then they grab a digital camera (or ask a friend or teacher to) and record their work. Quickly the analyse the images, return to their work, and perhaps modify their processes.

Movie Making
Later these same photos are often put together into a movie using Photostory3. Children again analyse their images - this time assessing which photographs best tell their story. The next step is to talk to their images and tell their story to an unseen audience. This can be tricky concept for children, so with the support of teachers they are sometimes encouraged to preview their movie and asked if they would like to make any modifications.

Children now expect that their movies will be show cased on the Kindergarten blog. They know that when their movie is on the blog they can share it with their families at home. Families at Manaia Kindergarten are emailed when their children have an item on the blog. The blog has become a focus for parents to support the children's learning and to find out what is happening for their children at Kindergarten. They regularly leave comments for their own children and other children who share their learning.

Learning Stories
Images children create with the digital camera can also be used to create stories of learning. Using Comic Life children can easily select their images of choice and drag and drop them into picture boxes on the digital page. With the support of a teacher, they share the words they want typed on the page. Children have a large amount of control of the way the final page will look - choosing the background colour, font and colour of the title, and the shape of the speach bubbles in which to type their words.

Note: the suggestion is that Technology benefit Education - Technology is not the education.

To explore this further you need only visit schools and early childhood centre's who have integrated technology into their programme.
Check out these sites:
Manaia Kindergarten - New Zealand
Geraldine Kindergarten - NZ
Kindergarten Tales - USA
Greenwood Kindergarten - NZ
Nelson Central Primary - NZ

Technology benefiting teachers
You might also like to consider how technology benefits education by the way in which it builds professional community. When teachers are engaged in technology, sharing their knowledge, reading about the work of everyday teachers such as themselves, then the profession of teaching becomes richer - and thus in turn - children/students education benefits.

Read also:
The Benefits of Technology in Education: Real life anecdotes of Technology in use in Kindergarten
Technology for Teachers, Technology for Education