Using ACD

In this age of ever increasing communication, it should be evident to all educators, regardless of where they teach, that many of our students will have to be able to communicate with people from other countries. Tele-Communication companies have shrunk the tools of communication to handheld camera phones that will be able to transmit real time visual images via satellite technology. Many of the industries that our students will pursue as their future careers will require global literacy especially when it comes to international communication. Nowadays, even language barriers are breached very easily with the help of online translation services that are usually free. By participating in Across the Cultural Divide, students and teachers will be able to communicate with peers across the world about issues that we all face in this global community. They will also explore some of the most common means of telecommunication and decide which format is the most useful depending on the goals of the exchange. All of these communication options are user-friendly and even teachers and students with minimal computer skills can find an option that will work for them.

The following is a list of the most frequently used methods of communication with some description of how to begin using each method:

  1. E-mail: Participating schools should have access to a computer attached to the Internet. One email account can be used to share emails, but it is better to set up multiple accounts.
  2. Epals.com: This website will facilitate communication well. It has the ability to translate text into English, French, Spanish, German, Chinese, Japanese, and Arabic. Up to 35 free email accounts can be set up. More accounts can be added once an education account is set up. Once a contact with another school is found, be sure to exchange phone numbers to insure continued contact.
  3. Web Cams: These can be purchased relatively cheaply. Yahoo messenger has free software that can be downloaded at http://messenger.yahoo.com. There are some limitations to the program and the technical challenges that must be addressed, but besides the cost of the web cams, schools can establish face-to-face communication rather inexpensively. Scheduling issues can result from time zone differences, but usually these challenges can be overcome with modified schedules for the day set aside for teleconferencing. For information about desktop videoconferencing and examples, please see the website http://gc2000.rutgers.edu/ACD/VIDEO.
  4. Teleconferencing Centers: This form of communication requires a special facility that is probably available at major universities or TV production studios, but field trips can be arranged, and the people at these facilities are usually very accommodating to educators. Rutgers University as a teleconferencing lab that is described at http://www.scc.rutgers.edu/scchome.
  5. Web Logging: There are many services available for purchase that will host pages that allow for chat rooms, email logs, video images, and other options that allow greater flexibility of use. Students and teachers are able to access the means of communication from home and school. The possibilities are limitless for such exchanges. One of these services is located at http://manila.userland.com. An example of how this translates into practice is already located at the ACD website at http://weblogs.hcrhs.k12.nj.us/poland1.