Connect to learn

"for free. forever." cc by malthe on flickr

On the evening of February 2nd, my 8 year old son Donovan, my husband, a family friend and I sat around a laptop at the kitchen table and chatted via Skype with Mo, a chiropractor living in Mansoura, Egypt.  Through catching snippets of news stories and adult conversations, Dono had been aware of something big happening in Egypt and, naturally curious, had questions.  Over the course of our 20 minute call, Mo gave a level-headed insider account of the situation occurring in Egypt in terms that Dono could understand.

Having connected adults in his life meant that Donovan had access to this first-person account of events taking place across the globe.  During the conversation, we googled a map of Egypt so that Donovan could see where Mansoura was in relation to Cairo.  A few days following our Skype conversation, Mo emailed links to short video clips of marches taking place in Mansoura.  At the time, I marveled at how easy it was to facilitate this unique learning experience for Donovan.

Fast forward a couple of weeks and Donovan, recovering from a late winter cold, has missed some valuable class time to work on his upcoming speech on the Tyrannosaurus Rex.  Now, Dono is quite well-versed in the T-Rex (I think he owns about 40 books on dinosaurs).  However, I saw another opportunity for him to make a connection and perhaps learn something unique when I noticed that a member of my PLN (personal learning network) on twitter, Nick Riemann, is not only a science teacher in Edmonton, but also a self-described “closet paleontologist”.  A couple of tweets later, we had a Skype session set up for the following afternoon.

Donovan’s impressions following his skype interview with Nick:  ”That was awesome.  It was really fun to ask Nick about paleontology.  That claw was HUGE!  Imagine finding THAT somewhere!”  He asked me to google Dinosaur Provincial Park and the Royal Tyrell Museum afterwards and would love to visit both places some day.  The Museum website is chock full of information and will provide Donovan with some wonderful extensions to the learning that took place during the Skype chat.  Thanks so much to Nick for taking time out to chat with Donovan about their shared passion – dinosaurs :)

Both Skype sessions provided Dono with opportunities for very personalized learning experiences and I don’t doubt that he will recall both for a long time.  Imagine reaching around the world or across the country to connect with individuals who have rich experiences and knowledge to share.  A virtual network of experts – accessible via Skype… for free ;-)

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13 Responses to Connect to learn

  1. “Connect to learn” – post about connecting with a network of experts via @skype @scimann #cpchat #edchat #ocdsb

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention Connect to learn | Shannon in Ottawa --

  3. barbaramworks says:

    What a great opportunity to sit down as a family, with experts in their fields! Donovan's learning experiences through these connections are amazing. I would posit that your learning experiences, were equally rewarding. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Rob says:


    Congratulations, Donovan! It's so nice to see the application of connected learning!

  5. trishinottawa says:

    Amazing! The possibilities are endless- it needs to become a habit of mind for us as parents to facilitate those connections for our children!! Definitely not at the point where I think along those terms naturally- but through the connections I am making, it will certainly become natural!

    Thanks for sharing!!

  6. Mo. says:

    Wow! Congratulations, Shannon! Isn't it amazing to see how technology can be that effective in achieving specific learning goals for our children? I believe Donovan is a very talented 8-year old kid, and it was my privilege being part of his learning experience. I look forward to chatting with you both again.

    • Hey Mo,

      So glad you stopped by my blog – that conversation really opened my mind to how we can connect our kids to global events via tools like Skype. Thank you again for doing such a wonderful job of explaining things in terms he could understand. I hope you are doing well and we look forward to chatting with you again very soon too.


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