Monday, March 16, 2009

Virtual School Visits: The Next Trend?

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of visiting Resurrection Catholic Secondary School in Kitchener, Ontario, to share some insight into my life as a writer. The group was made up of Grade 12’s, many of them present or past Writers’ Craft students, and they asked some great questions about the writing process, my experiences getting published, finding literary agents and – of course – how much writers make.

It was a short drive to the school, and only took a few hours of my time. Driving home, it occurred to me that students all over the country would benefit from more face time with a writer. But distance and time constraints, not to mention the costs involved, sometimes prohibit teachers from putting those requests out there.

As I pursued my recent blog discussions with a class of Grade 7 students in Alberta, I thought how easy it would be to turn on Skype, dial up the teacher’s computer, which could then be projected on screen through a DVP in the classroom, and talk to these students. They could take turns sitting at the computer asking me questions, face to face. We could have a real-time, virtual visit. This is something that YA writer Art Slade recently tried, and you can read about it here: Virtual Visits I: Carman Collegiate Gets To See My Floating Head ( (And if you keep reading Art’s blog, you can learn about his cool treadmill desk, too!)

The down side – had I decided to go virtual – is that I wouldn’t have received my lovely Resurrection mug full of Werther’s Originals as a thank-you gift or met some very tuned-in, enthusiastic young writers. But the up side is the convenience of using technology to connect with readers and writers without spending money or resources on getting there and home again.

Face-to-face school visits are still a wonderful experience for both sides of the equation. But I wonder: are virtual school visits the next trend?

1 comment:

  1. I'm certainly a fan of them. Being out in Saskatchewan it is often quite expensive for schools to fly me all the way to Ontario or Nova Scotia, or wherever. So this is a much easier way to get me there (and cheaper).

    Glad your visit went well!