Place Based Learning

julieanne

Place Based Learning was the theme of conference on Friday, organised by Deakin University, Warrnambool. Deakin University is our local university (45 mins drive from my school). It is a smaller uni but maintains a wonderful country style community with beautiful grounds and surroundings. Faculties are active in getting grants and working with local schools.

On Friday, I not only attended this conference  but also presented on the theme “Mobile Learning – Changing Learning Spaces”. I spoke on “how can/do mobile technologies support/promote enhanced place-based learning and the types of positive impacts associated with that.”

Dr Julianne Lynch, a senior lecturer in curriculum and pedagogy at the Faculty of Arts & Education welcomed us and set the scene for the day. Although creators of technology create for a specific use, users of the technology will appropriate what they want and use it in ways that often designers did not envisage eg mashups etc. Learners need to be positioned so that can connect with and care for social and environmental welfare of the place, making them responsible for their learning and where they are living.  Experiences can be layered and students get a sense of place through virtual and phsysical spaces.

Several sessions were led by Will King from Brauer College. He outlined the school’s experiences with the Local Koori Mobile Project.  This exciting and essential work with our local aboriginal community ensures that their dialect and stories will be handed on to our current generation. It is essential that some of the stories are told out on Country so that students can learn about aboriginal history, often in the places where significant cultural actions occurred. Stories need to be connected to place! ARIS, a mobile app, is being experimented with to provide documentary evidence versus physical presence. Guided by Rob Lowe Snr, Peek-Whurrong elder, Year 7 Brauer College students participated in a field based local history program. They collected digital artefacts and created a heritage trail, navigable using the geo-tracking capabilities of hand held mobile devices.

Will and  Paul McLaughlin,  a phys ed teacher at Marion College, Ararat, with an interest in integrating technology in education, including location based games,  showcased their students’ learning and outlined the processes involved in developing a game-based local history trail linked to the Australian curriculum. The mobile app ARIS was used to develop this local history trail.
Oral history is still vitally important and the way that aboriginal knowledge has been transmitted.

Terri Redpath, coordinator for the School of Education at Deakin University, shared her work with the students in using iPads to record learning. Students become producers of information, going from print based learning to multimodal communication. Students put their learning an knowlegde into their own words and came up with powerful rich understanding.

steph hann

Steph Hann outlined her work with geocaching and grade 6 students. Geocaching is a “real world outdoor treasure hunting game” using GPS enabled devices.

Students worked with staff and students at Deakin to produce 6 geocaches. These were hidden at the university. Their theme was based on the careers and courses that uni students could do. The learning included making links with community, sense of ownership, sharing stories and the importances of imagery.

Nadine Frankel, a specialist science teacher at Warrnambool East Primary School together with a fellow science teacher Kerry McCarthy won a Victorian Education Excellence Award for Outstanding Curriculum Innovation. They worked on a project in primary science (WEPS – focused on the Fluker Post environmental monitoring system). Finally, a session on the lane-ways of Warrnambool using some digital augmentation was shared by Karen Richards. She is an award-winning artist working in the medium of embroidery, digital embroidery, animation, lace sculpture etc.

art in laneways

A SWOT analysis in small groups completed the day, which was a wonderful celebration of local, innovative teaching and learning and Place Based Learning.

Making International Friendship Day Authentic

the class cropped

Responses to “What International Friendship Day means to me?” Sample responses from students in Malaysia and Australia demonstrating the wisdom or dreams of our youth!

We are not alone in the world. When talk to people from other counties we realize everyone is the same, with fears, dreams, family issues, school issues and love troubles. When you talk with a group of international students it is amazing how wars could be averted because of the one and one discussions instead of ‘global politics’ I was involved with an international exchange program and the students from around the world created life long friendships and many changed their lives due to this exchange and work to further international relations and politics. International friendship is of the utmost importance, of course! It is to recognise your friends and their contribution to your life. Friendship helps to bring peace and positivity to the globe – a great reason to celebrate! Because it let’s us form new bonds with different people around the globe. It helps us learn how to understand more about people with different cultures. We can make new friends or enhance the bond between friends. Friendship brings happiness to us. This is a chance for us to recognise their contribution to our life. Hence, that is a good reason for us to celebrate International Friendship Day.

International Friendship Day took place on August 2nd. Veronica Woo, from SMK Poi Lam School, Ipoh, Malaysia and I decided at the last minute to do something together with our classes to mark this significant day. We liked the idea of putting them into small virtual groups to discuss questions on friendship using google documents and also having a hangout open throughout the class so we could formally introduce ourselves and give each class a visual perspective of each other. However, technology challenged us and audio and video and the hangout links did not work well until the very end. Here is what it looked like:_

  1. Created 10 google documents. As I only had 10 students in my class, each student was put in a separate group.
  2. Set questions were added eg “How would you formally introduce yourself  in your culture?” “Why is International Friendship day important?” “What do you look for in a friend?” “What questions would you ask of a new friend?”
  3. The documents were shared on a ” public for editing” basis and also with Veronica by invitation email.
  4. The links were then pasted on my class blog for student access and for Veronica to grab if need be.
  5. Veroncia’s class was much bigger so she added three of her students to each group
  6. The google hangout was to start the class off with formal introductions to each group.
  7. Students would proceed to discuss and answer the questions on the virtual document

But………………………the Challenges!

  1. We had big problems with audio and video at the Malaysian end and could not start the hangout
  2. I had forgotten to make three documents public
  3. It took a few minutes to explain to the girls what to do and then had to be repeated for some

Whilst Veronica and I battled with the technology and problems, the students just got going on their documents and used them like a chat room. Many introduced themselves formally and off they went asking each other questions. Some of the surprises came from learning what ‘chewing fats’ was to knowing that our love of horse riding as a pastime outside of school hours, was of high interest to the Malaysian students who only see horses in zoos! The students were highly engaged whilst Veronica and I finally go the hangout to work just as the bell had gone in Ipoh, Malaysia My biggest takeaway:- My students liked not seeing each other initially as they felt there were no preconceived ideas about the students from visual introductions. They really liked getting to know each other in the chat. Why it worked so well

  1. The students were in small groups mixed across the countries
  2. They had a proforma to follow
  3. They also had the opportunities to create their own learning about each other. Their curiousity could be satisfied by the questions they asked
  4. When the video worked on the hangout, students were happy to wave to each other to show what they looked like

 

Spring is in the air!

daffodils

It is finally spring in Australia! Today marks its official arrival but the last week of winter was lovely and warm giving us a real taste of what is to come. The daffodils are out and the blossom trees commencing 

Janet Barnstable of  the HLW Skypers group and Global Virtual Classroom, sent those of us in the Southern Hemisphere a little “Spring” by sharing with us this website – the Flower Garden. It starts up as a black screen, but here are Janet’s instructions for making it come alive!

Click your mouse anywhere (& everywhere) on the page & see what happens!
Better yet, click (hold down) & drag your mouse over the black page…
Enjoy!!

I wonder how this was done. Is there a similar tool that students might be able to use to create similar outcomes? How could something similar be used as outcomes for classwork?

Happy season of Spring if you are about to enjoy it like me! How many seasons do you enjoy? What is your favourite season?

blossom on the trees

 

When is a webinar an unwebinar?

Ben Gallagher was to present for last week’s Tech Talk Tuesday on the amazing accomplishments of his grade 1/2 class who love building with lego. They had this dream of making an animated movie. With Ben’s help it became a reality! Harvey Crumpet an Australian Academy Award winner encouraged them and the movie premiered on the big screen in a 700 seat cinema.

Unfortunately, at the last moment (ie 30 mins before the start of the webinar) other pressing commitments arose as Ben is acting Principal in his school. I often have to teach on the fly and my classrooms can often be messy, but what to do next when this was a webinar of high interest for adults. Should I cancel, quickly find something else or ???? At the very least I would stay in the room for the first 30 mins and tell any participants that the publicised presentation would not occur that day. If there were enough, we could see what questions they had re technology and hopefully answer them or explore the answers together.

A number of participants entered all from different educational backgrounds and some from different countries. We started to chat, share our learning spaces and I then asked what questions any had re technology. Ben, a graduate teacher expressed interest in learning more about connected learning and was an experienced web page designer before taking up teaching. Peggy George, one of my regular attendees from the USA and moderator of Classroom 2.0 wanted to know how to edit out some clips from an existing movie.

Ben suggested using iMovie, but Peggy wanted to see how to do it. Whilst they looked for a movie to share over application sharing allowing Ben to screen share and show exactly how to remove the unwanted material, I showed the use of padlet (an online sticky wall) with my year 7 ICT students. They had started to build a sympathy wall for those who were suffering from the loss of relatives, friends and community in the recent flight MH17 disaster.

Ben loaded a movie for us, app shared his desktop and proceeded to show how to edit and cut sections of the movie. However, Peggy had a different version of iMovie. She shared her movie and then working as a collaborative brain, participants and Ben helped Peggy edit the movie.

It was a fantastic effort by all and a really interesting session that worked completely unconference style but with so much learning gained where it was needed.

 

A new school year begins and global classrooms connect!

Video call snapshot 1

As Australian schools enter the final weeks of term 3 with still another full term to go, our European and USA counterparts (and others) are starting or about to start their school years. Reinhard Marx is an innovative connected colleague from Germany and someone I really enjoy working with asked whether I could teach a grade 4/5 class about the area I live in. It was one of their first classes for the year.

Tools used and resources accessed:

  1. Skype was used to connect me with his class and to provide a backchannel for reminders and prompts when we were both ready.
  2. A powerpoint presentation was created to show a little of my school and the farm that I live on.
  3. It was uploaded to google presentation, should my bandwidth not allow me to share from my screen.
  4. An Australian flag
  5. A real pet lamb (as we are in the middle of the busy lambing period on the farm)
  6. A fresh bunch of flowers (as this is my hobby to garden and work with flowers)
My grandson and me on the farm bike

My grandson and me on the farm bike

We started with a mystery skype. The students did not take long to work out where I was from. When they worked out my country, I shared my flag to the web camera. Students then volunteered to ask me a number of questions eg “Was it winter where I lived?”. The last 15-20 mins, I shared my screen through skype and talked through the photos of school and our farm. The bandwith was great for a start and images and audio crystal clear. However, after the fourth slide, the size of the images failed to load quickly in Germany, so I shared the link to the google presentation and we walked through the images remotely. To complet the lesson, I brought in one of our pet, bottle fed lambs – always a sure winner!

I like working with Reinhard because he:

  •  actively seeks global connections and lessons. He is a science and maths teacher
  • gave students the choice of mystery skype and a lesson with me or they could continue with their maths. (There was a mix but most of the time, they were intently watching me and the presentation)
  •  introduced the class of 26 clearly to me swivelling the camera so I could understand the teaching space I was in
  • always repeats what the students say, so that I can both hear and understand the comment or question asked
  • always stopped me for a question that a student might have – so their curiousity was satisfied immediatley and not forgotten about
  • ensured the students came up to the camera and could be clearly seen by me
  • interpreted my talk so that all student members could understand what I was sharing

Challenges:

  • bandwidth and sharing images over skype
  • working with an interpreter, remembering to keep my sentences short and concise, pausing to be interpreted and then carrying on
  • the accents and understanding the comment or question – especially understanding the name of the students

 

The role of questions in learning!

“What did you learn, Terri?” I asked a student.question mark

“I didn’t learn anything, I just asked lots of questions” was the response.

I was surprised by this comment from one of my year 7 ICT girls following a linkup with students from another school in Melbourne. They had been placed in pairs and used Onenote to learn about each other. I know that she would have learnt a lot as she had asked questions, received responses and discovered the answers to what she wanted to know.

My secondary students also do not think that they are learning when they txt each other on their phones, add updates to their favourite social media sites or share images and videos. They have a ‘set’ view on what is ‘formal’ learning but do not pull that across to this wonderful informal learning.

A recent linkup with Melbourne Museum where students could Meet the Scientists virtually using polycom equipment, meant that they did not have the same opportunity as the f2f audience of students. However, Cameron Hocking had provided them with a backchannel, which some of our students used. There were many questions placed in that backchannel and many of them were also posed to the physical panel of scientists. Following is a sample of some of the questions asked of Dr Erich Fitzgerald, Palaeontologist, in the backchannel:-

  • Are whales your favourite?
  • Did whales once have legs?
  • did you help get that whale back into the water a few weeks agoless than a minute ago by jeremy ring
  • How do you name the animals or find out the names of the animals if you’ve never seen the animal or fossil before?
  • How big is the biggest fossil you’ve ever found? Emily year 6about a minute ago by The King David School
  • how many fossils have you find this year

Wherever possible, students should be given the opportunity to participate in a backchannel, whether it be one set up in eg todaysmeet or backchannelchat or in a virtual classroom eg blackboard collaborate, skype, MS Lync etc. It will provide a teacher with further teaching and learning opportunities, areas for research,  and greater knowledge of student interests and involvement in topics.

Do you get many questions from students? How important do you think that questions are? What role do questions play in learning?

How To Bring in Virtual Participants Effectively

This tweet sparked a conversation on twitter with many teachers offering advice. Before answering the question, further questions were asked:-

  1. was the staff member housebound and able
  2. what software would be best to use and which is easiest
  3. sound could be tricky so need a microphone. Question on what sort of microphone and how to set up
  4. what physical space was being used and how many f2f participants
  5. what does the program look like – presentations, workshops, group work etc?

Valuable advice from Brette Lockyer

As one of my passions is using technology to break down all barriers. From my experience, my response would be as follows:-

Potential tools to be used:

Software options available to Victorian School Teachers:- Skype, Blackboard Collaborate (through DEECD license), MS Lync, Google Hangouts or Polycom videoconferencing equipment. The easiest tool to use would be Skype as it extremely user friendly but may be blocked in some schools. It would allow chat, video and audio options plus some more difficult features such as screen sharing etc. Recording sessions is more difficult and bandwidth may be an issue. A mobile device can be used for access from home.

Using skype

Using skype

MS Lync is available to Victorian teachers but the software would need to be installed and activated on devices. If it is a two way link, it is user friendly and has many advanced features, including chat, whiteboard and the ability to send large files. It can easily be recorded and presents itself as wmv file once finished which can be shared privately or online. All participants could log in and the chat area could be used as a valuable backchannel, giving everyone a voice. Multi participants would take more time to create email invitations.

MS Lync whiteboard

MS Lync whiteboard

Blackboard Collaborate is still one of my favourite tools for bringing in virtual participants to events. It has many advanced features, including that valuable backchannel, an interactive whiteboard, the ability to create breakout rooms for group work and can be recorded easily. One link or booking could run all day or different links created for different sessions logins. The housebound teacher would need to have trialled it first to make sure it all works from home, especially if on a Mac. There is a mobile app which does not allow participants full interactivity eg cannot write on the whiteboard, but can chat, view and talk. At least one staff member will need moderator rights in order to book a room(s).

Interactive whiteboard in Blackboard Collaborate

Interactive whiteboard in Blackboard Collaborate

Google Hangouts Offers many of the above features and is very google based. Sessions can be recorded and uploaded simultaneously to youtube. However only 10 video participants can be involved and it is very bandwidth heavy. If multi participants, takes time to learn how to set up the hangout and share out the link. It would be preferable to provide a different hangout link for each session.

Google hangouts used for PD

Google hangouts used for PD

Polycom Videoconferencing Equipment All rural secondary schools and smaller rural primary schools have access to Polycom equipment. The housebound teacher would need to log in with a mobile device and the video will not be as clear. A separate back channel would need to be created eg with todaysmeet.

Polycom used for PD to several schools

Polycom used for PD to several schools

Brette Lockyers suggestion was such valuable advice as the one of the biggest challenges is to make virtual participants feel part of the professional development.

Other considerations

Requirements:

Equipment: microphone, web camera, ideal location for the recording devices to capture sound, video etc and above all – determination to make it work! Preferably an on-site buddy and a back channel separate to the chosen tool.

The simplest and easiest to use option would be for “an (confident) on-site buddy” to use skype on their laptop or mobile device, sit up the front, directly in line with the presenter and videoconference presentations.  The housebound staff member would be taken with them to be part of their smaller group discussions. It takes pressure off the organisers and presenters to be using the formal equipment and worry about sound, microphones etc. The buddy’s device would need a built in webcam and microphone. However external ones could also be used.  Alternatively any of the above tools could be used by the buddies. The buddy would need to watch the txt chat for any messages from the virtual participant.

If there is no buddy, careful consideration would need to be given to position of webcam and microphone. The webcam will need to capture the presenter, and/or the presentation and will need to be adjusted each time unless using Lync, Blackboard Collaborate or Hangouts.

If the whole staff are to participate in the virtual link up simultaneously, then blackboard collaborate and MS Lync would be the tools of choice. Physical participants will need to turn down their speakers and listen to the actual voice rather than the virtual. They can be active in the chat or on an interactive whiteboard should the occasion present. Other external participants could be invited in to create an even richer environment.

Complementary Tools

A backchannel in todaysmeet could bring in all participants if they have their own device allowing questions, shared resources, information sharing and a space for follow up conversations.

A backchannel should also be agreed upon and tested with the housebound staff member so that they can communicate should the normal channels not work in making connection- could be any of the above tools that they are familiar with.

The buddy

Needs to be comfortable with using technology, networking and a person who can work well, actively, interactively and collaboratively with the housebound staff member.

Recording of the Event

In the event of misfortune, the event/sessions should at least be recorded so that it can be viewed again and again!

What have I missed? What would you suggest? There are many many tools out there now for web conferencing but these are my favourite ones! It is learning in progress and using technology effectively to ensure that no-one is restricted from learning!