Asking questions and Skype

I’ve just been analysing some student diary data about question formulation and it was interesting to find out that most of the students saw question formulation as a) not very difficult to do and b) helpful to them when doing an assignment. The data is from student diaries and appear to contradict anecdotal evidence amongst teachers and teacher librarians that many students find question formulation quite difficult. A good source for teacher librarians on question formulation for students is Jamie McKenzie’s journal The Question Mark which raises an excellent array of issues around the topic of getting students to ask questions and getting teachers and teacher librarians to encourage students to ask questions. So I will continue to analyse what the students said about question formulation and then find out what they actually did with their questions. In a previous project, I found that some students were very good at formulating  questions, but less good at using  these questions.

One of the best new software packages to be freely available to people online is Skype which is a tool enabling us to make phone calls to other Skype users at no cost – as long as both parties are connected to the web. The addition of webcams – which have come down in price dramatically- means that the often promised one to one video phone is actually with us. So I can skype my colleagues in Australia at meetings (e.g. at 6am this morning my time) or for a one to one chat (my morning, their evening). I can also talk to colleagues in other countries and to my son in Dubai. The key difference with Skype if both ends have a webcam is that you can see the other person as well as talking to them. Even a few years ago, this type of web activity was seen as being the preserve of businesses or universities with very expensive videoconferencing systems. Now it’s available to anyone with a web connection. This really is beneficial technology.

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3 Responses to “Asking questions and Skype”

  1. Cathy Says:

    Funny you should mention… I’ve just introduced info skills into the primary school where I work and have introduced K-W-L to the students. They are great at it — the generation of questions about their various projects has been truly phenomenal but getting them to refer back to them? Even with the questions written in their books/journals it’s like the children think it’s two completely different activities … we continue to re-refer and discuss …

  2. Dona Says:

    I too, am amazed that this topic has come up here. I am teaching in a high school and am working very hard at getting the students to formulate questions before they start their research. It is like pulling teeth at times! Even though the teachers are telling me they are “teaching” the students to ask questions, by the time the students reach the library they seem to have forgotten this. They arrive, often, without paper/pen/pencil and when asked what are they going to research they say, stuff, Australia, Anzac, etc. I ask them for their questions and they look at me vaguely as if I am the crazy librarian!
    I agree with both of the above comments in that developing appropriate questions is difficult and that even though some students do ask questions, they forget to use them. I am going to a Jamie McKenzie workshop next week. Hopefully I will gain some ways to help my students and teachers. He is my guru and promote his books and website whenever I can!

  3. mannardi1 Says:

    I’m a huge fan of Skype. It’s how my kids get to see their interstate grandparents. My 15 month old, blows kisses and talks to their photo on screen now. I’m sure she’ll be very technology savvy one day but for now she waves, talks and blows kisses to Nan & Papa’s still shots or live Skype cam without discrimination. Very cute to watch. Jen.

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