3 Ideas for International Learning Using Skype

Three Americans are connecting in to rural Africa every month, from Ohio, Florida and New York.

Using Skype, these trans-Atlantic pioneers are using their resources and skills to bring new and relevant learning opportunities to our Good Work Foundation (GWF) Digital Learning Centres.

GWF is not just about access to education in the rural space. It is also about leveraging opportunities to expose its facilitators and students to real personal development and the global stage.

In the last 12 months GWF has been able to stabilise its communication lines, and install a new classroom with a big screen and projector for virtual classroom collaborations and partnerships.

Here’s a brief introduction to each of our pioneers:

1.     Denise Sharp and Professor Maureen Brustkern from Central State University (Ohio)

After a visit to Londolozi Digital Learning Centre late last year, Denise Sharp (Director of Accreditation at the Professional College of Education at Central State University) identified an opportunity to support our digital facilitators by curating an online course to support leadership, lesson planning, English second-language, early childhood education and classroom management. Together with Professor Maureen Brustkern, Denise and her team present an online two-hour workshop to the team at Hazyview Digital Learning Centre (HDLC) twice every month.

20150217-SKype lecture (4)

Hazyview Digital Learning Centre’s online, connected and high-tech trans-Atlantic collaboration classroom. Denise Sharp from Central State University in Ohio presents her first lecture on English second language (ESL) training.

2.     Terri Fedonczak and Girl Power For Good (Florida)

Terri Fedonczak is a critically acclaimed mentor and author for mothers and daughters. After visiting South Africa in 2013 and seeing the incredible dynamic of lion prides (in particular the strong bonds between lionesses), Terri created Girl Power for Good, an organisation that supports human female relationships, advocating “prides” that work together effectively in today’s modern world. Terri is also a certified life coach and, in 2015, set up a programme for GWF in which she coaches the organisation’s female staff and facilitators. GWF breaks rural (and probably urban) stereotypes by having a team made up 75 percent of women. Using structured Skype sessions, Terri has committed to harnessing the potential of this team so that they become one of Africa strongest forces for good in community development.


Gay Sibuyi (left) is one of Good Work Foundation’s IT veterans. Gay heads up the International Computer Driving Licence program and is part of Hazyview Digital Learning Centre’s management team. Gay receives one-on-one Girl Power for Good coaching from US life-coach and mentor, Terri Fedonczak (right) every month.

3.     Vivian Bohm and Fostertown Elementary School (New York)

After learning about GWF’s Open Learning Academy for rural Grade 4 schoolchildren, Vivian Bohm – a teacher at an elementary school in New York that focuses on art – suggested that we setup a virtual classroom connecting her young students to ours in South Africa. Using a big screen and Skype, the bi-monthly sessions will focus on cultural exchange. In the first eight weeks, the Fostertown kids are teaching kids from the Ntotsaka Vulnerable Children programme how to create 3D art – they are even sending over some 3D glasses!


GWF Head of Open Learning – Crispen Bvumbghe (left) – leads the introductions between the kids from Ntotsaka in rural South Africa, and Fostertown Elementary in New York. This was the first time that the Ntotsaka children had seen Skype, and the first time that they had spoken to children in the USA. On the right, the Digital Tree of Knowledge sums up the essence of connected learning.

If you are interested in helping us to extend the learning opportunities and international connections at Good Work Foundation, you can contact the GWF Volunteers and Special Programmes Coordinator, Val Ross, val@goodworkfoundation.org.