“The world has become my classroom! Skype has become my window to the world!” – Kristine Holloway, Canada
Middle School Teacher
Peel District School Board
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
For MIE Expert Kristine Holloway, some of the most fun and exciting days in her classroom involve problems. Namely, solving them. This year, her classroom has focused on finding solutions to the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. And the tool that has become invaluable to their work? Skype in the Classroom.
“Through Skype in the Classroom I can connect my class to other students and experts from around the world,” Holloway shares with us. “We also use Skype for sharing ideas and to collaborate on global projects. Skype in the Classroom is my favorite tech tool to empower my students to achieve more.”
This year, students in Holloway’s sixth grade class participated in the global collaborative project tackling UN Sustainable Development Goal #13, the Climate Action project, which was spearheaded by MIE Expert Koen Timmers from Belgium. The Climate Action Project involved 250 schools in 69 countries around the world and was supported by world leaders such as the Dalai Lama, Jane Goodall and Celine Cousteau.
Holloway’s class undertook research and participated in the five-week-long project using 21st century skills. “My class collaborated on Skype with grade 3 and 6 classes in Ontario, by together exploring ways to help solve and repair the effects of climate change as global citizens,” she tells us. “Students brainstormed, conducted research, discussed ideas, and finally presented and shared their findings with a global audience using Sway. The classes collaborated on a Sway of the ‘Top 10’ ways they could help reduce their global carbon footprints. Students thoroughly enjoyed listening to the ideas of the younger students and together they came up with some ways they could help the planet.”
As part of their research, students investigated the potential for using 3D printing to save coral from bleaching and shared their ideas on Twitter with oceanographer Jamie Buchanan Dunlop, the expedition leader and director of digitalexplorer.com. Students investigated the properties of various materials and recommended limestone as the material to use for 3D printing the reefs.
In addition, students investigated the plastic-munching potential of the mealworm as a potential solution to Earth’s garbage problem. “My students’ project work culminated in the creation of a video, ‘Mealworms on the Loose,’ which Koen shared at a Belgian Education Conference and was even featured on the Belgian news,” Holloway says. “I also recently shared this project work at the E2 Education Exchange in Singapore as part of my presentation on Taking Teaching Global with the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.”
And while her class is accustomed to solving problems, Holloway acknowledges there is still room for improvement in tackling access to technology.
“Technological inequality is a problem for education and we must find ways to bridge the digital divide that currently exists in our schools,” she explains. “Technology is widening the opportunity gap at the same time as the digital divide. The gap between those who have access to computers and the internet and those who do not is simultaneously creating a technology disparity for low income families. Inadequate access to technology can hinder students from learning the necessary skills to become successful in tomorrow’s economy.”
True to form, Holloway has been working on solutions to this issue, including joining other Ontario educators — Joe Archer and Lee Miller – on a project called #Connect2Inspire.
“The goals of the project are to connect Northern communities with classrooms in urban centers to share ideas to provide quality education using 21st century technologies and tools,” Holloway says. “We plan to utilize our collective knowledge and skills in coding and programming to provide quality education and reduce inequalities for indigenous students while developing long lasting partnerships for the Sustainable Development Goals. While using Scratch/Scratch Jr., and Micro:bits on MakeCode, our goal is to create narratives and programs with indigenous students to celebrate Canada’s 150th by creating sustainable partnerships in education now and leading a new pathway into the future.”
About Kristine Holloway
- Favorite Microsoft product, tool, technology: Skype in the Classroom, OneNote, Sway, Minecraft
- What is the best advice you have ever received? Don’t ask for permission. Ask for forgiveness, if your heart is in the right place.
- Website I check every day: Phys.Org, Engadget, Gizmodo, SpaceX, NASA
- Favorite book: The Great Gatsby
- Favorite Childhood Memory: Computers and technology have always been a part of my life. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been passionate about technology. Ever since I was a little girl I can recall playing Cabbage Patch on ColecoVision, E.T. on Atari (although I never could figure out how to get him to phone home) and I was one of a few from my generation that was able to play on a Commodore 64 and had access to HAM radio operator equipment. When the Nintendo came out, the whole family got into the car for Christmas vacation in Buffalo, New York. I can recall the excitement of un-boxing Mario and Duck Hunt! In school, I loved to play Oregon Trail, Number Cruncher, Reader Rabbit and Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?Design and technology class was also a favorite of mine. I recall designing a pin hole camera and then processing the black and white film in the dark room. I also made a clock, puzzle and train during middle school. In Family Studies, I learned how to sew on a machine and by hand. At home, I enjoyed learning sign language, drawing blueprints, designing new fashions and inventing new things, such as the world’s largest globe, made out of hula-hoops and a hand drawn map taped together and wings cut out of cardboard and tied onto the arms for human flight.