Some things simplify our lives as teachers, others tend to make it more and more complicated. I have yet to meet a teacher who appreciates the latter. So please allow me to share with you an app that is so simple you will have difficulties believing it.
Most of us are familiar with Skype, Facebook and other applications that allow us to talk together “face to face”. Therefore, it is to be expected that people will ask: ‘Why get familiar with another app that allows you just that?’ And here is the brief reply: ‘It is more handy, just more convenient.’ You don’t have to register, you don’t have to log in – in fact, the only question you need to answer is whether you allow the use of your camera and microphone. After that, all you have to do is enter and invite up to eight people to share a video conversation with you.
They call it “creating a room” and offer you the possibility to give your room a specific name. You then invite participants and that’s it. If you intend to use it again with the same group members it is very easy to keep the room but it does not get stored automatically, the choice is yours.
Friends who were invited to join up for a photo session couldn’t believe how straightforward it was and their faces are supposed to radiate their unexpected joy. So easy to have a quick visual talk with colleagues in different places!
But what about classroom use? I teach long-distance courses and although our web environment offers web chat, I certainly prefer this approach. Moreover, in daily classroom practice I have been experimenting with chats between classrooms: a few of my students engaging in a conversation with my colleague’s students about different films they are supposed to be reviewing (in this case Abderrahmane Sissako’s Timbuktu and Kevin Macdonald’s The Last King of Scotland). Next week I will have an archaeologist visiting my class via appear.in to explain a particular archaeological find – I still have to decide if a group of students will have a special meeting with her afterwards to complete an assignment.
Plans for the future include the use of appear.in between schools – my class collaborating with that of a colleague in another school – on themes that are being covered at the same time. Better still, my class collaborating with pupils abroad … As I said at the start, meeting online has never been easier!