I recently bought 4 iPads using the SA e-partnerships with our sister school grant monies and these have increased my total number of iPads in the Indonesian room to 5, which although is awesome, still means a 1:6 ratio of iPads to students. Our one Skype session with our sister school was very successful and after reading about one class having several Skyping conversation happening simultaneously in a classroom, I have visions of that happening in the Indonesian classroom before the end of the year with our sister school, Bakti Mulyar 400, using the iPads!
But in the meantime, I began exploring another way to use Skype in the Indonesian classroom. Early this term, 3 fellow teachers and our principal attended the EduTech conference in Qld and their tweet about mystery skype appealed to me. I immediately went online and read up about it.
How exciting. Asking yes/no questions to discover the location of another class! I could instantly see the benefits of undertaking this with students or an individual in Indonesia. It sounded brilliant, so I began the next step of finding a Mystery Skype partner.
I firstly looked at the pages of those in Indonesia who had listed themselves as being interested in Mystery Skype.
I chose all up about 10 and sent them all either an email or a tweet. Not one replied.
It seemed that finding someone in Indonesia to mysteryskype is not straight forward and that is for many reasons. Foremost because I began as the Indonesian school year was about to finish hence all schools, staff & students were caught up with national exams, report writing and end of year functions. Then, as soon as the school year finished, Ramadan and school holidays began!
Selamat menjalankan bulan suci Ramadhan untuk semua keluarga saya yang beragama muslim dan untuk semua temanku tersayang.. semoga kalian semua mendapatkan berkat terbaik dibulan puasa ini.
Thanks to the wonderful Ayu Ambrini for the awesome translation.
So, to get around this, I next wrote a generic invitation on Twitter using the hashtag #mysteryskype.
And again no one except for @MysterySkype replied and they were just reminding me where to look for partners, but that was all. So disappointing but I persevered.
At this point I realised that I probably should consult with the 2 upper primary classes I had in mind for mystery skyping and determine their level of enthusiasm. They agreed it was amazing and are very keen to try it but you could have knocked me over with a feather when both classes unanimously decided to delay mystery skyping till term 3 so that they could complete their current project! My constant reminders of time management must have had some impact!
This took the pressure off, but I continued to stalk @mysteryskype on Twitter and finally I made contact with a teacher in Beijing which was sooo exciting. No sooner had I shared the exciting development with colleagues, it fell through. That teacher is off to Poland now, so unless his class are happy to mystery skype at some ungodly hour, I will have to sadly pass on his offer of giving it another go.
I then had the brainwave of finding an Indonesian class somewhere else in Australia. I contacted Penny Coutas, a high school Indonesian and ICT teacher in WA, only to discover that WA and many other state education departments block Skype!! Here is a QLD Languages teachers blog post about this.
It is now the mid year holidays in Australia and it feels teachers all around the world are currently on holidays! While Australian teachers are busy with midyear planning, American teachers are busy preparing mysteryskype sessions for their new school year. So strange!
On appsgonefree today I found the time.is app which is fantastic for discovering the cities and countries that are the best time wise for us to mystery skype with. Interestingly Vladivostok would be perfect!! Wonder what their internet connection is like!
So I am going to continue my search for classes or individuals who are not on school holidays and hopefully have the opportunity to organise a mystery Skype lesson for later in the term.
One of the aspects of mystery Skyping that I just love the sound of and am so keen to explore is that it relies heavily on student collaboration. The idea of having all students working together in ‘committees’ with a student supervisor overseeing it all is something I can’t wait to both witness and experience. I also acknowledge that this is not something that all students will comprehend nor be entirely comfortable with, so am prepared to work with classes beforehand to ensure its success. If only I could be more confident about locating people to mystery Skype with because, I could easily do a whole terms work on it. It fits in beautifully with the Languages Curriculum in regard to creating global citizens.
I am really interested to hear from other Australian teachers who have successfully Mystery Skyped.