Connecting Through Skype In The Library

Krystyna visits with Robyn Hrivnatz via Skype

The 2016-2017 school year has been the most powerful for connections using Skype in the library. Several classes have utilized our services to Mystery Skype or just to connect and collaborate. I have noticed a change in our learning community since these connections have become more frequent. First of all, students always seem to want more. They frequently ask, “When will we Skype again?” In addition, teachers are beginning to think beyond our state to connect their classes to far away states or countries.

Presentations and Skype-a-Thon

Earlier this year, I wrote about student makerspace presentations in the library for two education cooperatives that had visited us. Our learners did such a wonderful job, we started arranging for them to share their presentations with schools in other states via Skype. These students even had opportunities to present their innovations to Microsoft. During the Skype-a-Thon, students had the chance to present to Anthony Salcito, Vice President of Worldwide Education at Microsoft. On a separate Skype connection, students visited with Robyn Hrivnatz, Marketing and Educator Programs Manager, US Education at Microsoft. During that session, Krystyna, one of our high school students, asked several questions about the potential career paths to work for a major technology company. I remember she was clearly empowered by these connections during the Skype-a-Thon. She talked about the experiences for weeks following the events.I was curious to hear more about these experiences through the lens of a high school student. I decided to ask Krystyna to write a reflection so I could share it on this blog. She finally completed it this week. It was wonderful to learn about the impact of connecting through her voice. Her narrative follows in the space below:

How Meeting with Microsoft Changed My Life

Krystyna presents her robots to visiting teachers

A few months ago I had a life-changing moment along with other students from Lakeside. The library joined a Skype-a-Thon with Microsoft. I got to present my robots to Anthony Salcito, Vice President of Worldwide Education at Microsoft. He virtually traveled more than 9 million miles around the world to answer questions that students like myself had. I would like to thank everyone that put the Skype-a-Thon together on the other end and my educators who help me find opportunities to expand my experience and share knowledge with others. I was completely amazed by the effort of the whole Microsoft community and I’m excited to see what comes next.

The 2016 Skype-a-Thon with Microsoft blew my mind. I was able to talk to a big time company that has done many amazing things for people. I never thought that I, a 15-year-old girl, would be able to present my robot friends to Mr. Salcito. It made me feel significant and made me realize that distance is no reason not to connect. The Skype-a-Thon event really expressed the idea that connecting schools is important because it lets kids see outside of their own school. There are so many creative events that Microsoft comes up. These events make them a community of inspiring people who are willing to teach kids from around the world. Microsoft is a huge education sponsor that goes way past products. They make programs like Onenote, hold Skype-a-Thons, and sponsor school events for students to be able to be educated. The people at Microsoft come up with amazing ways to show how beautiful the minds of students are.

I love the idea of spreading the message across the world that connection and education is important. They dream big at Microsoft and I love the ideas they have to spread technology and knowledge. A few days after the Skype-a-Thon I Skyped with Robin Hrivnatz who also works at Microsoft. I asked her what the standards are to get a job at Microsoft. Mrs. Hrivnatz told me that there are so many branches in Microsoft that I would be able to get a job there even if I didn’t go to college, though I am still going to college. It gave me a huge confidence boost to know that there are many more dreamers like me in the world and that I could connect with them. I knew for a long time that I wanted to work with innovative technology and program robots to help others, but now I have an idea who I want to work with and where I want to do it.

I hope that I get more amazing opportunities to share my voice. Thanks to amazing educators and opportunities like this, kids have a chance to have a powerful voice in this world, and I hope that never goes away. They really did change the lives of many students and showed them what they are capable of including myself. I, along with many other students, got a confidence boost from talking to such encouraging people who show us the possibilities of working hard and following our passions.Thanks to this event I learned that I love presenting to people about technology and the advantages of innovation. I am so glad that I could share my passion with Microsoft, and I am very thankful that they took time to listen to kids around the world and encouraged kids to continue sharing their works with others.

Next Steps

I have shared many times how connecting with other educators has enriched my practices and changed me professionally. Krystyna’s account gives us all a glimpse into the potential power that awaits our libraries and classrooms. I want to give more learners the opportunity to present and connect to new distant school friends. Perhaps, one of the most important things we can do is invite students to share about the impact of their experiences. How many other students might be willing to write a reflection I could publish here?

Libraries are wonderful places to connect people with information and technology. A new goal for me will be to seek out students that have connected with resources that interest them in the library (technology, books, and more). I want to give students a voice when they connect in the school library. There are so many valuable stories waiting to be told. I can’t wait to share them here.