Google chat

Chatting with Experts

Posted on April 2, 2011. Filed under: Google chat |

If you want to really engage your students and provide a unique learning experience, give Google Chat a try. I was hesitant at first, but now I will try to include at least one chat each semester.

Since I am currently teaching Special Education Curriculum, Methods and Materials course, I began by looking for someone interested in chatting with my students about working with students with special needs. My students have a fieldwork experience with this course and are able to get the teachers’ perspective in the field. After some thought I decided to contact a couple that I follow on Twitter, SpecialEdAdvice. I checked out their profile and webpage and found that they were licensed Special Education Advocates. They also have a son who has special needs. I contacted them through their webpage and they were delighted to participate in our chat.

We traded emails to discuss content, date and time. They put together a wonderful presentation about IEP’s which was perfect for my students as this is there first course in special education. It is important to conduct a technology check at least a day before the actual chat to ensure that the video and audio are working.

My students were asked to prepareĀ  for the chat by learning about our guests. I asked them to Google search the guests and to visit their website and tweets. Each student was asked to come up with three questions about special education, IEP’s or special education advocacy.

The desired outcome was to have my students learn from experts in the field and to expose them to a new tool to take into their own classrooms. Most students had close to two pages of notes from this hour long chat. Their questions helped to focus the chat and learn more information about the IEP process, advocacy, and parent perspectives. We had a wealth of information for discussion purposes which lasted more than one class. Many took the information they learned and shared it in other special education courses. The experience was very educational.

It is important for me to share this experience with pre service teachers and to be a model and resource for them as they begin to select strategies they will use in their own classrooms. Google chat is an excellent way to engage learners, and is one worth trying. There are other venues out there such as Skype who are equally as good to bring experts into the classroom. Check them out and check with your IT team to find out which ones work best in your particular school district. Check out experts too, there are many experts willing to chat with your students, they are just waiting to be asked.

If you do decide or if you have participated in a chat share it with us below.

Photo credit Google images

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