If you were one of the 111 million people who watched the Super Bowl last Sunday, you probably saw Microsoft's ad which portrayed the company's role in helping a deaf woman to hear, a surgeon to operate successfully, and students to learn by enabling them to connect with other students from across the country.
While Scott Bedley's fifth-graders from Plaza Vista School in Irvine, CA were only featured in the ad long enough for them to scream, "Hi!", the brief clip actually comes from a longer online advertisement that focuses solely on the students playing one of their several classroom games: Mystery Skype. Through Mystery Skype, the students are able to use the program to meet classrooms from other areas; however, neither classroom knows where the other is located and they must guess the other's state by asking about geography, climate, and culture.
Mystery Skype isn't the only way the students use technology in the classroom - Bedley's fifth graders have also video chatted with the lead paleontologist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, recreated famous buildings and landmarks through the block-building computer game Minecraft, and have used Google Docs to tutor younger students.
Not only were his students able to learn by connecting with others through technology, but Bedley was as well. "[Mystery Skype] is a game that I learned about from different educators that I connected with on Twitter," he said. His quest to Skype with all 50 states caught Microsoft's attention, who then asked if he would like to be a part of their campaign which focuses on how the company's products can change lives. "I saw it as an opportunity to highlight some things that are innovative in education and share those with other teachers," he said.
Bedley was recently named the 2014 Orange County Teacher of the Year and was the recipient of the 2013 Project Tomorrow's High Impact Teacher in Science, Math & Technology Award, which acknowledged his influence in preparing his students to compete and thrive in the 21st century. He hopes that his highly-watched Super Bowl ad will inspire teachers to use technology in order to change the way they teach and ultimately teach their students "to excel beyond what is just traditional learning."