December 9, 2012

Through Skype, Wisconsin School Trades Teachers with Thailand


Through Skype, Lodi school trades teachers with Thailand
By Erin Richards and Jennifer Zahn
November 20, 3012

"Sawadee ka!" announced with palms together and a slight bow, was the most common greeting heard Monday morning in Lodi High School's Southeast Asia studies class.

The lead teacher in Thailand - where for her it was late Monday night - surveyed the room from an oversize Mac monitor on a rolling cart. Her floating visage and voice beaming to Lodi over Skype had, by this point in the semester, lost its novelty.

What's still unusual is this small rural high school's flourishing relationship with Sa-nguan Ying School, a public seven-12 school halfway around the world in Suphanburi, Thailand.

The partnership started as a student/teacher exchange and evolved into dual distance-learning classes that feature Wisconsin students taking an accredited Asian cultural studies course from a Thai teacher, and Thai students learning U.S. history from a retired Lodi teacher.

The Lodi-Thailand program is not the only example of innovative global learning projects in Wisconsin's schools, many of which use technology that makes it easier than ever to connect to other parts of the world. But it exemplifies how schools can fundamentally deepen and enrich the traditional American learning experience, with little financial cost, if educators persist in thinking beyond the boundaries of their community and country.

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