Thursday, September 2, 2010

Skype Saves the Day for Teacher Seminar

A Gift For Teaching received this amazing story from a local teacher who used WiFi, Skype and a local Subway Restaurant to teach an eight-hour seminar from 1,500 miles away.

"For the last few years, I have been involved in teacher trainings over summer break. What started as a request for specific training regarding students with learning disabilities at a private church sponsored school (twenty educators); has now grown to include specialized training for over three thousands teachers, school psychologists and administrators in both the capital city Bogota and the entire Colombian state of Meta.

"Colombia's public schools are under the government's Ministry of Education and Special Education, like that provided to students in the states, does not exist. In the past, students with disabilities who could not afford private schooling faced a grim future. Colombia has recognized this problem and desires for all students with disabilities to be identified early. Last April, the Ministry representative requested a training this August for one hundred School Psychologists who serve as first responders identifying students with various disabilities so early intervention could occur.

"Just one day before my flight, I received news from my friend and interpreter Dr. Dale Meade that the winter rains had taken out a section of the only mountain road to my conference. Because of continuous mud slides and instability, I canceled my flight and asked to reschedule. Unfortunately, the notices had already gone out and educators from several hundred miles away were not easily notified. So, Dale and I decided to conduct a live seminar from 1,500 miles away using Skype. A local Subway Restaurant offered free WiFi to any customer so I ordered a breakfast and began the eight hour interactive training on what I later learned was the first international educational seminar in Meta (perhaps in all of Colombia) on Skype. But for those of you knowledgeable on the use of a network frequented by over twelve million users at any time, the miracle was that in eight hours, we were only disconnected twice for less than one minute each time!"

Submitted by Paul Odham, Business Liaison/IST, Orange County Public Schools

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