Saturday, July 16, 2016

Microsoft Surface Adventures: Skype Translator

I'm very grateful to Microsoft for recently selecting me to be a Surface Expert. When I returned home from the Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert US Forum, a new Surface Pro 4 was waiting for me. I will be writing a series of blog posts this year sharing about my learning experiences with this new device. I can't wait to share what I learn with our learning community at Lakeside. In this post, I want to talk about my first activity with the new Surface this week. I connected with my friend, Àngels Soriano Sanchez, a teacher in Valencia, Spain. We used Skype Translator to communicate despite our language barrier (Spanish to English, etc). We decided to use Word Online to collaborate on this blog article to share our thoughts on this first experience. With tools like this, we can truly move toward the "schools without walls" concept and connect our students anywhere in the world.

First Impressions of the Surface 
It didn't take long for me to feel comfortable using the Surface right out of the box. The portable keyboard makes the device feel like a laptop. I've been a Windows user for many years, and the Windows 10 OS works great on the Surface. The touchscreen brings the functionality of a tablet to the experience. The Surface also comes with a pen for digital inking. I'm going to need more time to practice this feature. I look forward to learning more in the coming months.

Skype Translator 
I first connected with Àngels on Twitter last fall. We have been talking about connecting our students ever since that initial meeting. She told me about Skype Translator and how she used it to connect with others for real time translation. I have wanted to try this tool for nearly a year; and now that I have the new Surface, it was time to give it a go. You can visit the Windows App Store to find the free download link for Skype Translator. 

Our Connection: Stony's Perspective 
I was very impressed with the way Skype Translate performed. There is a bit of a lag in the translation, but it worked quite well. I spoke a bit slower than usual and tried to make sure that I used proper English. Àngels and I were having a conversation in just moments. We did notice a few problems in some of the translation, but overall the tool worked great! It was so good to see the excitement in her facial expressions as she shared plans for the coming school year with me. I also made sure to thank her for sending us her student created book trailers in Spanish this past year. Our students enjoyed watching them very much during library lunch programs. While we were talking, I shot a video clip with my iPhone and published it on Facebook and Twitter. Several colleagues shared their excitement about this technology in comments. I feel certain several of our teachers and students will want to experience Skype Translate in the coming months!

Click on the link above for to view a short video clip of our session. 

Our Connection: Àngels' Perspective 
From my point of view, Skype Translator is a powerful tool so that our students can get to know other cultures without the language barrier. In fact, you can facilitate the learning of them, since the simultaneous translation will help recognize both grammatical structures and vocabulary. This connection with Stony I liked, and it has made me very happy, since Stony is a virtual friend, we knew only through Email, and especially Twitter. The meeting, even in the distance and time difference, makes this world more united and connected.      

Next Steps: Àngels' 
The aim of using Skype Translator is so that our students can share reading experiences with other students of similar ages, as well as carry out exchanges of book trailer, or even small videos about news of the Center and its day to day. With connections can also better your skills in English, since they will have the possibility of having the grammatical structures and vocabulary. Share to grow, ultimately is the goal. 

Next Steps: Stony 
Already we are talking about using Skype Translator to connect  our advanced Spanish students with Àngels' students in Spain during 2016-2017. We are also discussing the possibility of using this to connect with one of our Spanish teacher's colleagues in Costa Rica. I plan to show this tool to teachers and students to inspire them to use it in the classroom to knock down barriers and connect Internationally.  I still feel we have only scratched the surface on what is possible for our learners. It is truly an exciting time to be a connected educator. Thank you, Àngels, for reaching out to us. You have inspired change at Lakeside High School!

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  1. Great post Stony-I liked the way you included the perspective of the other participants from the Skype/Hangout in this blog!

    1. Thank you, Brian! This was a lot of fun- I can't wait to let our students use this technology!

  2. Awesome idea! Can't wait to share with some of my Ts who want to go global! Thank you for sharing. Also, can't wait to read more about your Surface experiences. I'm a Google fanatic, so it will be interesting to see what the Surface offers in comparison to Google products from an educators point of view. :)