It’s no doubt that technology has changed the world in profound ways. For the past several years we’ve been able to connect students in the U.S. with students in Uganda through Skype visits. For kids on both continents this has been an amazing experience.
Using an Iphone as a hotspot to connect an Ipad to the Internet, we’ve been able to have a virtual field trip that connects students from remote villages in Uganda with students in schools in Vermont. They are both able to have a window into another culture. Most importantly they get to ask each other questions, see each others schools and surroundings, and connect on a personal level. Students in Uganda learn to speak English from the 4th grade on which allows for this conversation to happen.
We started doing Skype visits about 8 years ago using a laptop computer in Uganda. The kids would all sit in rows in front of the computer and the connection was very choppy to say the least. The picture would freeze and the signal would drop frequently. We made do, and kids on both sides certainly benefited from the experience. When we were able to take an Ipad a few years ago it became a game-changer! We’ve taken the Ipad up and down the streets of Kamuli, Uganda. Kids in the U.S. get to see in real time people talking, traveling, selling, cooking, and getting water.
On our most recent visit, we connected students from Buwanume School in Uganda to Charlotte Central School in Vermont. This experience was a first for the Buwanume students. They asked questions about life and culture in the U.S., including politics! They were able to have a virtual tour of Charlotte Central and to see the outdoors and playground. The kids in Buwanume were beyond excited to see the kids in the U.S. and this was their first experience seeing an Ipad and this type of technology. We ended with each group singing a song to the other! You can check out the video on our Facebook page!
As a teacher this experience has been profound for me. Being able to make this connection for my students gives me hope that they will have a broader world view, see beyond our borders, be motivated to learn about other cultures, and have empathy for others.
Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, had a mission statement for Apple in 1980 that was:
“To make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind.”
I think he would be proud to see how the Apple technology is continuing to fulfill his mission.
If you are a teacher who would like to connect your students to students in Uganda, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.