Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Google Hangouts with Experts

Recently I have been trying to connect my classrooms more with other students as well as experts, through both Google Hangouts and Skype. I did this in my old school, by connecting with another school, in a different country, and having students in both schools compete on an interactive quiz using Kahoots and we also took part in a live session with the author Robert Muchamore through a Google Hangout!

Recently I have connected my Game 9 Game Design class (ICT and Robotics Option) with experts in the field. This is because they can give them a much more meaningful and relevant answers to questions like 'what is it like to work in game design' and "how has coding helped you in your tech career." I am sure the students also find it a lot more interesting to speak to someone working in an interesting job...instead of just talking to me, the teacher they see every day!

Usually when I have these video calls with experts my students brainstorm questions the lesson before, which we send to the person in advance. We connect through Google Hangouts or Skype and I introduce the experts, who then talk about themselves. We then take questions from the audience - but I usually have the pre-written questions printed out, so that there is no gap in conversation if the students are being shy. We were lucky enough to connect with people who work at both TellTale Games and GlassLabGames. Students asked questions about their careers, what it is like working in the tech field, why coding is important, what games they enjoyed playing and more.

Grade 9 talk with Game Designer Emily Garrison from TellTale Games. 
She is currently the lead game designer on Michonne, The Walking Dead.

Grade 9 and 10 having a Google Hangout with staff from Glass Lab Games during Computer Science Week. Jerry Fu works on Game Development, and has previously worked on Plants Vs Zombies at Pop Cap Games. Evan Rushton, former teacher, works on the education side.

This was incredibly easy to organize and I was so happy with how flexible, approachable and easy to work with all the experts were. If anything, my business was the only thing which caused delays! Using Google Hangouts was also super easy too and we connected a hangout to our Google Calendar Events. You can even add the questions as an attachment!

This was an extremely rewarding experience, which I could not replicate myself. I am extremely grateful for these experts who offered their time and thoughts to my students. I encourage other teachers and librarians to reach out to experts to do the same thing. If anyone wants any help or advice, please contact me.