A blog for students on the FDLT and BALT courses at the University of Northampton

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Exploring education around the world with Mystery Skype.


This week all three Foundation Degree Learning and Teaching (FDLT) groups took part in conversations with Teaching Assistants and students in other countries.

Jamaica Pic1Julie Jones, Estelle Tarry and Emel Thomas used their contacts to set up Skype conversations with schools and universities abroad. The first part of the conversation was focused around asking and answering yes / no questions to find out where in the world they were. The rest of the conversation explored comparisons between the educations systems and school life in each country. Over three days we made contact with educators in three different countries. I’m not going to say which in case it spoils the experience for future students on the course!

Dr Emel Thomas said “The students this afternoon said it was inspiring and something they would definitely do in their schools as a starting point for establishing international relationships.  Students on both sides of the Atlantic engaged in a discussion regarding the routes into education and differing styles of learning and teaching within schools. Some SkypeDay2Rotopics touched on includes: Lifestyle; Cultural Differences; Provision for SEN; Classroom Differentiation; Course Modules; Educational Politics to name but a few!” Julie Jones added that it was “really useful to our students and the conversation that came from the Skype experience was really positive, with lots of ideas about how this type of activity and opportunity could be replicated for children” and Dr Estelle Tarry captured it well when she said it “has inspired (our students) in so many different ways; international networking, employment opportunities, similarities and differences in school setting/curriculum/TA roles and using the model with their class children.”  I felt that it was possible to get a sense of the engagement when it is used in classrooms and Belinda Green added that it was fun – we could see such motivation and team work on the part of the students.

https _padlet-uploads.s3.amazonaws.com_prod_23716904_9b41b4feac4cd88ad91338a7b55eedec141ca2b0_00c20b18a819e76e836d2fce5e41d437The sessions depended on staff and students using a range of digital technology tools. They used Padlets to collect information and reflections, Skype to make contact and internet searching to work out where each group were based. We have also made contact with one of the schools via Twitter since the session. The groups of staff and students were supported by Learning Technologist, Belinda Green and Mark Rowland who provided AV Service support. Emel said “an exciting session with clear routes for future international links – all in all not as scary as you think!”

It was interesting to find out more about the range of student experience from their schools’ involvement with schools abroad.

There’s more about using Skype to contact classrooms around the world here.

If you have a go with your class let us know how it went in the comments below.

Author: Jean

Senior Lecturer, Education at the University of Northampton. Admissions Tutor for the Foundation Degree Learning and Teaching.

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