The Learning 2.0 School

Shifting Perceptions of Teaching and Learning in and out of the School Library

Integrating Technology w/Skype

Posted by Michelle Torrise on May 20, 2009


Celeste joins her fellow 4th grade students at Agnes Risely School
in Sparks, Nevada, where she attends school through Skype.

As a media specialist, I am an advocate for integrating technology in teaching, but not just for the sake of using technology.  Rolling in a cart of laptops so that students can spend 30 minutes searching Google, is not, in my opinion, an effective use of technology–nor does it represent best practices in integration.   In its simplest terms, technology is most effective as a tool that facilitates “measurable learning.”

Having said this, I’d like to share one teacher’s approach to integrating technology in the classroom that extends and integrates the use of technology through inclusion.    4th grade teacher, Brian Crosby, of Agnes Risely School in Sparks, Nevada, and his students (above) prepared the following mini documentary about how their fellow student, Celeste, (who was undergoing treatment for leukemia and unable to attend school in person) Skyped into school each day so she was able to actively participate in daily lessons with her peers.

>> View documentary: If A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words, What Is A Video Worth?

The impact this experience has had on Celeste and her fellow students is in some respects immeasurable, but no less important.  The depth of learning that Celeste (and her peers) experienced included being able to:

  • participate in  two-way class discussions
  • hear the questions asked by other students and hear the teacher’s respective response to those questions
  • ask questions of her peers and teacher that were answered in real time
  • benefit from live lectures and classroom interactions that were rich in teachable moments

The use of technology in Brian’s classroom is an excellent example of integration through inclusion.   At the same time, it’s important to recognize another benefit that is the creation of an environment that represents how students are interacting and learning outside of school in the 21st century–where there is an increased focus on a social, participatory approach to knowing

I see Brian’s integration as a best representation of what we really mean when we talk about integrating technology.  His work has been an inspiration to me and many others, as noted in the comments made on his blog.

See also:

>>A similar approach to teaching is being conducted as part of The Flat Classroom Project.
>>View Brian’s Blog, Learning Is Messy


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