This time last year I was involved with organising the UK Digital Citizenship Summit. This was facilitated by having a Skype call with someone who had been a member of my PLN for a while.
This year I'm doing what I can to assist Skype Master Teacher Andrew Minshall (@A_Minshall) with the "Three Nations Skypeathon Challenge" to see who can rack up the most Skype miles between Scotland, England and Wales... and where there has been a little bit of friendly banter regarding who'll have the bragging rights on the 1st December ;).
The reason for getting involved with the UK Digital Citizenship Summit and the Skypeathon are the same... to do what I can to help educators to connect and share their experiences.
Not only has Skype allowed me to connect and collaborate with people and in ways that would have been really difficult (Have you seen the cost of international calls Vs Skype?!), but I also have an appreciation of the importance of being able collaborate effectively remotely... and this is definitely a skill that needs to be taught.
Gaming was dismissed as a waste of time when I was growing up, this is not a view that we take in our house. I hear my oldest son chatting with his friends on his XBox and appreciate how valuable a skill he is developing by communicating so naturally with people online.
My own personal experience is one thing, and might see one or two educators check it out... but nothing beats word of mouth and peer recommendations. Check out what the data has to say:
Microsoft Education Community Stats
I've been checking in on the various education ambassador programmes from time to time over the last few years and over the past few weeks I've been exploring the world of Microsoft Innovative Educators (MIEs) and the stats on the Microsoft Education Community (MEC) pages.
Each MIE profile includes a map with the number of Skype calls, miles traveled and countries visited. I found that 139 MIEs had racked up 26,066,155 miles after having 9,816 skype calls.
I'm sure that this number would not be quite as big if these educators didn't get value out of these calls for themselves and their students.
Scotland, England and Wales
While my focus in other countries has been with MIEs, I took a bit of a deeper dive into the MEC community in the UK and looked at the profiles of people who were either looking to have Mystery Skype Sessions and/or included their Skype username on their profile.
There appeared to be 22 UK based MIEs who had 424 Skype calls and traveled 577,622 miles.
Almost 100 other educators on the MEC forum have chalked up 2,400 Skype calls and 6,448,387 miles.
Making that First Call
I know from experience that sending that first Tweet, publishing that first blog post and making that first Skype call can be a nerve wracking experience (Esp that first job interview via Skype... That was horrendously nerve wracking!)
Based on the number of people who have requests for Mystery Skypes on their profile pages, but have no miles on the board... I don't think I'm alone.
I've created a Twitter list of Skype Master Teachers, who I'm sure would be happy to address any queries that people may have. We've also created this Skypeathon MEC Contacts spreadsheet which includes the same information as this map:
|...And I would Skype 26 Million Miles for the Three Nations Challange and 26 Million More. Lol|
For people who would like to find out more #MsftEduChat will take place tomorrow (15th Nov) at 10am and 4pm PST (6pm & 12am GMT) and will be discussing the Skypeathon, why not join the chat?
PLN Request... Three Nations Challenge & Team Scotland
On the map above I have included Scottish educators who are part of the MEC community and includes a few who are still to rack up some miles.
It would be great if people in my PLN could drop them a note, Tweet out to them, send an email, dispatch a courier pigeon or send a message in a bottle to see if they'd like to connect via Skype... ideally on the 29th or 30th November for the Three Nations Challenge... but the most important thing is to connect, share and collaborate, so schedule a call for another time if that doesn't suit.
...You never know where that call might take you! Check what happened with one of my Skype calls