Nothing terribly earth-shattering happened the first time elementary teacher Krissy Venosdale used Skype to connect her Missouri students with children in another state. “It was kind of awkward at first,” she admits, recalling their first attempt at video conferencing. “Everyone was new to it and kind of nervous.”
Nonetheless, she knew she had found a digital tool she would use again and again to take learning deeper in her inquiry-based classroom. “When we hung up, my students said, wow –we just talked with kids in another state. And I realized, here was a way to open our classroom to the world,” she recalls thinking.
Ever since, Venosdale and her students have continued bringing the world — virtually — to bringing their small community (3) south of St. Louis. Through a project called KnowGlobe (4), they regularly talk with students on other continents, learning in the process about time zones, cultural differences, global weather patterns, and the state of education worldwide. If they come up with a project question that requires the expertise of an astronaut, space engineer, or Egyptologist, they ask their teacher to “tweet it out” and track down an expert for a Skype interview.
What caught my attention was the election project that Venosdale’s students organized in November (with some artful facilita