Changemaker Series: To see Skype’s impact on students, a head of state visits the classroom virtually

Skype in the Classroom is changing the way today’s students access knowledge. Teachers are using it to expand their classroom walls and bring the world within reach of their students. One such teacher is Natajlia Budinski, who uses Skype in her class in Serbia almost daily.

Having seen the power of Skype connections and its impact on her students’ learning first hand, she decided to organize a unique call for them. It turned out to be an unforgettable experience.

We met with Budinski, a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert and Skype Master Teacher, to discuss her students’ memorable moment.

 

Tell us about your experience connecting with the Serbian Prime Minister

Last year, I attended an education conference organized by the Serbian government. The conference was intended to start a dialogue between the government and educators as to how the current education system could be improved. Digitization and education are two of the main priorities of the present government, so I decided to do a presentation on Skype in the Classroom.

Skype in the Classroom connects my students with experts from around the world virtually. The opportunity to hear from these experts directly, to ask them questions and see where the shared conversations takes us as a group, brings the material to life for my students. It makes the coursework feel more real and relevant, and it subtly inspires a sense of compassion and cultural understanding within them.

 

 

Following my presentation, Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić shared her enthusiasm on the educational potential of Skype in the Classroom and promised to virtually visit my classroom to experience the power of the connection for herself.

Brnabić followed through on her promise in late November, talking to my students via Skype about about the role government generally plays in a democratic civil society as well as her specific responsibilities as Serbian Prime Minister. The student response was warm and vocal, with a number of them sharing their personal plans and dreams for the future. She advised them not to be afraid, to compete and to face challenges head on. As creative young thinkers, she emphasized, it was up to them to find innovative new solutions to old problems and to build a better future for their country.

Following the Skype Lesson—the Prime Minister’s first—she expressed interest in continuing to collaborate with Serbian schools virtually, noting that Skype was an excellent tool to help students share their voices.

 

 

What impact did the Skype call have on your students?

Bringing experts and guest speakers into the classroom is always a compelling way to expand upon what we are learning, and this Skype call was one of the best my students have ever had.

“I am very happy that, thanks to Skype in the Classroom, we managed to connect, learn and share our views and ideas with a person whose position has a great impact on our lives,” said high school senior Marina Roman.

Preparing this next generation to become tomorrow’s leaders is among the most important aspects of my job as an educator. By opening the classroom to a world of ideas and perspectives that can inspire them, I get a little closer to doing exactly that. My students light up when they talk with experts and hear about their career journeys—they feel motivated and engaged. Talking with our Prime Minister was a truly life-changing experience for them!

 

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