George Lucas Educational Foundation

Innovations on the cheap- skype office hours

Innovations on the cheap- skype office hours

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After having a conversation about the idea of virtual office hours, a seventh grade teacher we know has started to do a few 15 minute study sessions with students who opt in, going over class notes, suggestions for study tips and more. Kids seem to be enjoying it, and grades on recent test show improvement. What kind of other easy and free ways do you use to help your students regardless of level? Are there other things we can do with tech to offer additional support to students who opt in? What do you think of communication tools like skype, texting, chat, etc to help students beyond the class period?

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Hubert V. Yee's picture
Hubert V. Yee
social media and marketing manager of startup

Hi Whitney,

I was wondering how this would impact children who do not have the technology. Will this alter the playing field for the students? Just a thought.

Whitney Hoffman's picture
Whitney Hoffman
Producer LD Podcast, Digital Media Consultant, Author

There are a few kids ( the minority by far) who have problems accessing the sessions, but are doing things like going to the local library or tutoring center and participating there. Of course, our school wants to move to a one to one laptop/tablet per child program in the next few years, so pilot programs like this one showing a positive change in performance for kids will help fuel this becoming a reality.
To be 100% honest, I think we often worry about those who do not have tech but we haven't really asked or polled folks to find out how many do not have access. If you look at the Pew numbers, the access to broadband at home is huge, as is access to cell phones, and on smart phones, people use skype all the time as well. While we have a large immigrant community here, skype actually works as a way these families already use to communicate with relatives back home, so hi-jacking the same tech for connections for the kids for school is easier than you think.

We do always worry and want to plan so folks with less access have opportunities as well, but I think we can't hold back on experiments and pilots because we can't guarantee equal access all the time- sometimes, we have to try and let the success help drive the case for need of the appropriate tech (since most parents don't want their kids being the ones left out, either...)

I'm not trying to say it's not a problem or a concern, but it's less of one than you might expect.

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