Today, 28 of my year 9 ICT students Skyped with 30 French students. This happened in my ICT lesson, instead of doing their GCSE ICT coursework, (much more fun!). I had planned a Skyping session with a French Teacher with a school in Northern France.
We each had 16 webcams connected, microphones and headphones to share. Two English students sat facing two French students and each group had 1 hour, (15 minutes each student) to ask their pre-planned questions, and to write down their answers to help them learn the spelling of words and grammar. There were a few technical problems, as expected, the Internet connection was slow, and some students could not get their headphones working very well, despite being tested beforehand, but this did not spoil their experience because they messaged each other instead! Quite a few students swapped email addresses and Facebook details, and are probably chatting again this evening!
I had two colleagues assist me with the session and also help some students with their French questions/answers. There was a lot of excitement in the room, and all students were very focussed and very well behaved. There was such a buzz and everyone really enjoyed it. After a successful 1 hour lesson, the French teacher and I plan a follow-up session after Christmas. I would like to do more of this in my classroom, and not just use it as a language tool. There is so much opportunity to create rich real-time learning environments for students to become totally engaged in, and create a memorable moment.