The future is here!  Forget your flying cars and robot secretaries – this week, I’ve been teaching in a school 270 miles away, via computer!

Instead of driving from my home in Lancashire to Kent and back to run my creative writing classes, I’ve been linking up with year 8 pupils at Holmesdale Technology College over the Internet each day.

Using Skype (a free Internet telephony and video conference program), I’ve been teaching pupils at the opposite end of the country how to come up with unique story ideas, develop three-dimensional characters and plan a three-act plot.  And I haven’t had to charge a penny in travel expenses!

As you can see in the image below, grabbed from screen during today’s session, I get to see the class in front of me and – at their end – I’m projected on a screen on the wall (very Big Brother!)  This is the view I get – the pupils filling the window and me in a box in the corner.  They, of course, see the opposite.

The whole thing is still a learning process and, as with any new endeavour, there are pros and cons:

On the plus side…

  • I get to work from home, so I can get some writing done instead of driving to and from the school
  • The school only pays for my time and not travel and/or accommodation expenses
  • I’m working on ways to show screen elements, such as graphs, illustrations and writing examples

On the minus side…

  • There are occasional technical glitches – but nothing, so far, that’s stopped us from linking up
  • I can’t point to individual members of the class to ask questions
  • I have to make my own cups of tea!

It is, however, HUGELY EXCITING, and I intend to set up many more of these sessions.  If any other schools are interested in linking up with me in this way – from wherever you are in the world – please drop me a line.

There’s no end to where we could go with this kind of event – in fact, the Skype’s the limit!


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