I am very comfortable with texting on my phone, so I thought I would try the Skype messaging to stretch my knowledge base. Setting up Skype was a royal pain. I am in the Ukraine right now, so Skype came up in Ukrainian (or Russian – I can’t tell the difference). There may have been an option to switch to English, but I could not find it, so it took me a while to figure a “back door” to Skype in English.
Setting up Skype was simple enough. I added Norm to my contacts, and apparently he accepted my invitation, since he is now one of my contacts. However, I skyped a message to him and have not heard back. So I’m wondering if I did it right. I see the message I think I’ve sent, but that’s all.
Students talk about texting all the time, or facebook messaging, but I’ve never heard one of my students talk about Skype messaging a friend. I’m not sure, therefore, that I would use this for class. My wife and I love to see the grandkids on Skype and will certainly continue using it for that!
I participated in last night’s moodle chat (for me, it was a 5:00 am chat since I’m out of the US). There were only three of us, but even then our conversation tended to be a little disjointed, since by the time one of us typed out a comment or question, someone else had posted and they were heading in a different direction.
Some of my classmates commented on the time lag between typing and the posting. If they are referring to the time it takes to actually type out the message, then I understand. I am in the Ukraine right now, on a rather poor connection, but I was surprised at how fast the post appeared after hitting the enter button. Since moodle is free and the chat system is quite simple (with little to go wrong and basically no instructions needed), I could see adding this, not so much for a classroom chat session (10-15 people on a chat could be disastrous!), but for one-on-one during “office hours” and for student-student interaction.
Today I added Skype to my IPad. Much cooler than the laptop. It was easy to install and started running properly. I have not yet heard from my prof on my first Skype contact, so I am trying again. Maybe I did something wrong!
I discovered that I can make phone calls from my IPad. This could be interesting.
Today I opened a Skype account. It was easy enough to do. I am in the Ukraine and my internet access is slow, so it took about 20 minutes to accomplish the task. On the downside, I immediately received nine website popups from Skype trying to sell me new services. That is too agressive for me. I also received an email from Skype, but since I am in the Ukraine, the email was in Ukrainian. I have no idea if it’s important or not. I added my prof to my Skype list and am now awaiting his reply. If I have time, I might try making a Skype phone call.
I don’t text much and it’s usually a response to another text, so when my MVCR class required me to send a text for a poll, I was forced to figure out how to send a new text on my phone. My philosophy is, why text when you can talk? After talking to the younger generation, I realize that their philosophy is more like, why talk when you can text.
I am not sure where I would use texting with my students. There is an article, “Five Ways to Use Texting in the Classroom,” (http://connected.waldenu.edu/archive/item/663-five-ways-to-use-texting-in-the-classroom) that gives several good uses of texting, although most of them are for K-12 – eliminating home room announcements; communicating with parents about absences, tardies, and homework; and tweeting or texting updates, announcements, and activities into a school website.
One interesting use of texting is to text Google (466453) with a question or problem: Translation – hello in French; Glossary – define zenith; Calculator – 1 pint in liters. This could be very helpful when you need a short answer in a hurry. I tried a few theological terms, but did not get an answer for those. The response time, however, is almost immediate. That’s pretty impressive.
I could see the possibility of using polling. Frequently, in theological classes, we cover the historical positions or interpretive options on a particular topic. Taking a poll to see which of those options are held by the students could be interesting. They might not be willing to commit to raising a hand in the classroom, but might be willing to respond to a poll.
These counts as asynchronous communication since the answers/responses can come at a different time than the poll or text is started. Polling will probably be used more often in a synchronous setting (looking for a quick response), but texts can be valid for hours, days or even weeks and polls could even be given over a period of a day or longer.
“In the Nick of Time” is a theological blog by the former president and now research professor, Kevin Bauder, of Central Baptist Theological Seminary, Plymouth, MN. Stephen Downes, “Blogs in Education,” (http://halfanhour.blogspot.com/2009/04/blogs-in-education.html) identifies a blog as “a personal website that contains content organized like a journal or a diary. Each entry is dated, and the entries are displayed on the web page in reverse chronological order, so that the most recent entry is posted at the top. Readers catch up with blogs by starting at the top and reading down until they encounter material they’re already read.” “In the Nick of Time” meets that definition. The website contains the personal thinking and theology of the author, in dated and reverse chronological order.
The blog is located at http://centralseminary.edu/resources/nick-of-time
The blog was started as a forum for the discussion of questions being raised by seminary students and pastors in the current theological milieu. The blogs are almost all theological in content. The ideas and questions are generally contemporary questions, although there are a few that tend to be reflective of the idiosyncrasies of the author (but then we all are idiosyncratic at some place in our lives – all except me, of course). The link above brings the reader to latest 10 blogs; there are 8 pages of archives.
This blog could be used by requiring students to read these as they are produced and identify which ones relate to the specific course the student is in. The students could also be required to do a one or two-sentence summary of the blog. Since Bauder is an excellent writer, I would love to get the students to emulate his writing style; perhaps I could require them to write one blog on a specific topic in the current class and have them do so in the “Bauder” style.
After I opened my Twitter account, I began to follow my classmates and some professional education sites, as well as some theologians and/or their organizations. The majority of tweets from the theologians and organizations were links to their websites or to specific articles on their websites. This did not seem to be very helpful, either for education or for personal use.
Sending a tweet was easy enough, but 140 characters is awfully short! I’m not sure I could do much tweeting.
I could see using tweets for questions from students in a large class, but my graduate classes are all less than 25 students, so my students are comfortable asking or commenting in class. I could send announcements to the students in a tweet, but that would be only a one-way communication, unless I subscribed to all their accounts (not planning to do that!!!). However, we use a Learning Management System (eRacer) for both traditional and online classes. I’m not sure there is anything that I would tweet that I could not post on the LMS.
At this point, I’m not seeing much practical use of Twitter in the classroom.