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International guest speakers on a budget using Skype
In these times of reduced funding, taking students overseas or bringing in guest speakers from other locales is not always possible.
But there is an easy and cheap way to extend your classroom across the world -- "Skype" is an application that allows you to make a telephone-like call to someone using your computer and an internet connection. If both computers at either end have a camera, you have a teleconference, perfect for guest lecturers or interviews.
Professor Reinhard Mayer wanted his Intermediate German class to meet German students and have the opportunity to converse and talk about Germany. Jullian Hall, a Wheaton graduate, was teaching English in Germany; she saw an opportunity for her students to practice their English and learn about American students.
Reinhard approached technologists Jeanne Farrell and Gary Ahrendts, who helped him set up a Skype account. The in-class videoconference went without a hitch, and was even recorded for future reference.
Students in Professor Mayer's class will write about their first-hand impressions of German students and culture based on their conversations - all at no cost and reasonably little effort.
If you are interested in doing this for your class, contact your technologist.