Technology has the power to go a long way, and students of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Ellicott City were able to see just how far this spring, when they communicated with a former student now residing in Africa.
Through the use of Skype, a software application that allows users to make telephone calls over the Internet, former OLPH kindergartner Juliette Adams was able to communicate with her former classmates.
“I go to church every Sunday and we sing,” she told Our Lady of Perpetual Help pastor Father Erik J. Arnold.
According to an e-mail from Zulma Whiteford, director of academic technology for OLPH, Juliette moved with her family to Kenya in central Africa, “but was still on the minds of her former classmates.” The kindergarten class communicated with her via e-mail, but on May 19, they took the next step.
“With the help of the school’s technology coordinator and the two kindergarten teachers, the 5-year-olds participated in an interactive video conference that instantly connected Ellicott City with Kenya,” Whiteford wrote.
To prepare students for the experience, Whiteford said she introduced students to the concept of Skype and showed them a map displaying the distance between Ellicott City and Kenya. The children then prepared questions for Juliette with the help of kindergarten teachers Laura Errera and Liz Brasauskas.
When the Skype computer rang signaling the incoming call from Kenya, and students saw Juliette’s face appear on the overhead projector, they spontaneously burst into applause.
The school hopes to continue using the technology.
“This form of Internet communication tears down barriers for physical location and time,” Whiteford said. “We hope to continue to broaden our children’s view of the world through tools like this.”