Video conferencing helps bring pan-American pupils together

Pupils across America were brought together with the help of video conferencing facilities this week, according to Bangor Daily News.

The ‘Chatting Across the USA’ project was born after a third grade class took a virtual field trip to the Land of 10,000 Lakes in February. The success of the trip sparked the idea in teacher Cherrie MacInnes’s mind, and she decided to utilise the business tool for educational purposes.

Taking about the virtual trip, MacInnes said: “The kids were so excited about what they learnt and the video conference we had” that the decision was made to reach out to each state in the union.

The success of the exercise means the event will happen again next year, and teachers are already lining up to get involved. “It’s snowballed,” she said. “It’s crazy. We’ve developed a professional community with all the teachers who have participated. These teachers are emailing each other, exchanging ideas and making plans for next year. And they’re bringing other teachers in, which is really, really exciting.”

Superintendent Daniel Lee said it gave the children the chance to connect with pupils across the country. “It really demonstrates how we can use technology to expand our social studies curriculum and our technology curriculum,” he said. “What better way to learn about a state than talk to kids in that state?”

It’s expected the popularity of video conferencing in schools will really take off, especially because virtual field trips are significantly less expensive than actually sending a class on a trip. MacInnes said she has plans to send her class to visit a country on each continent, as well as the South Pole. “I want to do more than just video conference,” she said. “I could just go crazy thinking of all the things we can do. The possibilities are endless, and there is no limit to the age range.”