In my Social Studies 9 class I have really been trying to focus on engaging my students (sometimes it works, sometimes I learn from it and try again). We are just beginning a new unit on societies of the past and we thought it would be cool if we could talk to someone who actual studies these societies as a living. Que the drum roll…….. Enter Doctor Chris Foley from the University of Saskatchewan.
Okay, well I don’t think he looks the same as Indiana Jones however his job sounded just as exciting as in the movies. Dr. Foley shared with us what it is that he does, where in the world he has been, and some of the spectacular discoveries his teams have made. It was an unique experience being able to hear from someone who not only does the stuff we are studying for a living but is immensely passionate about it as well. Dr.Foley was an amazing storyteller and had so many interesting anecdotes along the way. I asked some students afterwards what they thought and they all agreed that this was a great experience for us. Meeting with Dr.Foley allowed us to put a face and voice to the content we were studying as well as offering us an unique perspective from someone that we would not normally meet. I would definitely do this again in the future!
In order to make this meeting possible we used Adobe Connect. Adobe Connect is the web-conferencing software that our division uses however I think it is very similar to Elluminate, a (possibly less expensive) program we used to meet in my ECMP 355 class. The program allowed us to set up an online meeting place where both Dr.Foley and I met using a URL we were given when
@jeffwalters27 created the space
for us. There were some issues that I think extended from our unfamiliarity with the Adobe platform however the overall experience with Adobe was good. A tool like Adobe or Elluminate give presenters more versatility however I think you do give up some of the intuitiveness you would have with Skype or Hangouts. I think in the future I would look for a platform that would be more comfortable for our expert to use or I would make sure I knew the capabilities of the networks and hardware that either of us were working with.
This was a great learning experience, not only for my students who got to meet an actual archaeologist, but for me as well. I think connecting with an expert is such an important step whenever it is possible (something I took away from my visit at the Calgary Science School). With the technology available to us all it takes is an email to set meetings like this into motion. Looking back on our meeting with Dr.Foley there is no way that I could compare with both the knowledge and passion that he has for his field. Meeting Dr.Foley and being able to ask him questions has helped my students and I become more engaged and excited for our new unit. Yay internet!