I just spent over 2 hours chatting with a 16 year old student in Poland who found me on Skype and wanted to practice his English skills. We talked about popular culture, politics, school, and anything else he could think up. He had only been learning English for two years, but he was good enough to get by in most English speaking countries, I think.
The cool part is that this was a kid who decided on his own that he wanted some practice, so he found a teacher on Skype on his own time who might be able to help him.
When I was 16, if you had suggested to me that I should contact someone in a country a quarter of the way around the world in order to improve my skill at anything, I would have said you were nuts. Now, I’m sure it’s much more common.
This is the future of education – students deciding they want knowledge, then going out and finding it for themselves. I think of all the skills we pass on to the next generation, teaching them where to find what they want is one of the most important.