There are so many potential uses for Skype and other web conferencing software. In addition to the technological affordances, Skype has also put together a community that lends itself to supporting teachers. One of the neatest feature of this community has to offer are Mystery Skype sessions. As you may have experienced, Mystery Skype is a game in which two classes have to guess the location of the other through a series of inquiries, problem solving, and critical thinking. To participate, teachers can message each other via Skype in the Classroom or make connections using #MysterySkype on Twitter.
As you can see, Twitter isn’t just a place where teachers are seeking out for others with similar interests. In fact, many classes tweet about their experiences.
How can I start planning for one?
Be sure to allow yourself plenty of time to plan for Mystery Skype, as it can take a fair bit of time to find a teacher with similar interests as yours. Start by creating a Skype account if you don’t have already. Then, you can build your profile from there. If you have a Twitter account, you can search for other teachers using #MysterySkype. One site in particular that was essential to my planning process is Blogging Through the Fourth Dimension.
My personal experience of planning one
This was my first time planning a Mystery Skype session, and it was quite a good experience. The most challenging aspect of this was finding a teacher and class with similar interests. Because we had a group of Teacher Candidates and not elementary/middle/high school students, it definitely took me a lot more time than expected to work something out. With a “normal” class, I don’t foresee that it would be difficult to find someone you’re interested in working with.
The other challenging aspect of this was the working out the time of the session. As Teacher Candidates have a very tight schedule, I had to find a class that wasn’t in a time zone more than 2-3 hours ahead of us. Another thing that posed as a challenge is that I had to schedule something in between the two hour lunch break, which further limits who I am able to work with. Of course, there are the interests and needs of the other teacher and class, too. With that in mind, be as flexible as your situation allows for.
- On your Skype profile, be sure to remove or not put the location of where you are located. Better safe than sorry! Similarly, ensure that nobody in the class is wearing any article of clothing that may give away your location to the other class!
- Do a test run with your equipment and the other teacher a week in advance. If you run into any issues, this gives you enough time to resolve any problems.
- Read some articles and watch a few videos on YouTube. They are a great place to start, especially if you are unsure of how a Mystery Skype session should look like.
- Prior to the session, encourage students to think about what they know about their city, province/state, country, local geography, etc. The collective knowledge of the class will prove to be of value.
If you have any questions about Mystery Skype, feel free to leave them in the comments section or shoot me an email. Thanks for making the session successful- I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did! If you missed out, stay tuned: another one for next term is in the works!