ELDON — Cardinal second-graders saw Africa for the first time through one webcam and conversations with several Ugandan children.
Wednesday also marked the first time the Ugandan children had Skyped with anyone from the United States, as they had only previously Skyped with classes in Canada. Skype is a video-, sound- and text-messaging platform that allows users to chat with anyone around the world in real time.
The CHAT to the Future house mother, Florence Kanyunyuzi (who pops up as Florie Kan on Skype), had been hospitalized over the weekend with malaria but was back in front of the webcam Wednesday morning to greet the Cardinal students. CHAT (Care and Hope through Adoption and Technology) to the Future houses and educates around 20 orphaned Ugandan children in Kampala, the country's capital.
"I was the technology coach the last two years ... and this is my first year teaching second grade," said second-grade teacher Jessie Greiner. "I've been looking for tech stuff [for the students]."
Her class has Skyped with around 15 different people, classes and organizations, including authors, elementary classes from across the nation, a fire safety dog and the Blank Park Zoo.
Greiner happened upon CHAT to the Future while on Twitter. Social media is a great way to find new and different teaching tools that incorporate technology into the classroom, she said.
The students especially enjoy "mystery Skypes," where they Skype with another class somewhere in the U.S., not knowing where they're from. Question by question, each class has to narrow down which state the class they're Skyping with lives in.
Not only are the Skype sessions educationally beneficial, Greiner said the social impact is huge.
"They have to get up in front of everyone and talk to a complete stranger," she said. "They have to see themselves on the screen."