Connected Classrooms with Skype

At 9am  Friday 31st October, the inaugual #skype2learn twitter chat will take place in Melbourne, Australia (gmt+11) time. This will be 6pm Eastern Standard or 3pm Pacific, USA on Thursday October 30th. See timeanddate for your day and time.

It takes place on the last day of the official Connected Educator Month and the theme will be “Connected Classrooms with Skype”. The hashtag will be #skype2learn. Skype has been a long term favourite of mine as it is free, user friendly and people across the globe are able to use it readily. The twitter chat will use some of the following questions over the hour of dedicated conversations:-

  1. Please introduce yourself, where you are from and what your interest is in education
  2. Why do you use skype for connecting?
  3. How have you used skype for learning?
  4. Share your favourite stories and learning outcomes
  5. Where do you find connections?
  6. What tips do you have for those who are new to using skype?

If this is your first experience with pariticpating in a twitter chat, see How to participate in a twitter chat

What other questions could we explore with each other. Please join us and learn of the power of videoconferencing and skype in the classroom.

Sovling technical issues on a global scale!

Skype for initial call then keeping contact open

Skype for initial call then keeping contact open

There is a saying that “if your product is good, the market will come to you!” The same saying can be applied to a person who has a strong online presence. If you are interested in global connections, have a strong profile, blog, share what you are doing and push it out there, others will find you and seek connections with you.

I was delighted to get an email from a university lecturer, Mariko Eguchi, in Japan who is working on global competencies with a number of countries including USA, Taiwan and Russia but was seeking interested secondary teachers in Australia. I immediately responded and said yes I would be interested as Mariko offers linkups via both skype and polycom. We get lots of skype contacts but global polycom users are more difficult to find. The visuals can be clearer with dedicated videoconferencing equipment so I was keen to try our school equipment with Asia.

Year 12 dress up day

Year 12 dress up day

Yesterday we used skype to initially connect, and used as a backchannel while we tried dialling each other over polycom. Year 8 girls happened to be in the room as were some year 12 students. It was their final day of school and they had come dressed up! Always a great opportunity to show off their costumes if it is on a global scale!

I could ring Mariko using polycom but she could not ring me. It was decided to test the connection with the school that she wants us collaborate with this Friday.

Skype opens our learning spaces

Skype opens our learning spaces

Polycom videoconference was next

Polycom videoconference was next

Testing is essential and to ensure we covered all possible potential complications, I booked a room for us to meet  through our Education Department just in case. Mariko then used skype chat to tell me that I cannot ring her on her mobile unit when outside the university, I have to ring her! We then tested the room connection immediately through the booked room number, but although Mariko could see me, she appeared as a blue box to me and also to her.

Resolving Mariko's lack of video

Resolving Mariko’s lack of video

Mariko is back on video

Mariko is back on video

Gary Schultz, a virtual learning officer with our Education Department was messaged. He came into the room virtually and immediately to try and resolve the problem. As there was still no solution, the central office digital support technician was contacted who also immediately looked at the back end to find all was well on the Australian side. It was suggested that Mariko’s camera was not working. She contacted her technician who was on site. She came in immediately and resolved the problem. The actual linkup takes place tomorrow so fingers crossed all goes well.

How fortunate were we to have almost immediate virtual and face to face help and that technicians from 2 countries could work together and resolve the problems.

Global Seasons

collagerr

There was a time when I thought all the world enjoyed 4 seasons!

Being a member of several global skype groups means that there are always lots of interesting interactive conversations over the 24 hours of the day. The weather and associated seasons of the year is always a popular post for conversation. As we, in southern Australia enter spring, other countries move into autumn (or fall as some call it). Others only have two seasosn – wet and dry.

Janet Barnstable created a “Seasons” padlet wall for people across the globe to share their current season, tell us about it and share what it looks like in a photo or picture.

Here is my contribution to Janet’s padlet wall, sharing spring time on the farm in south eastern Australia.

Spring is always a busy time on the farm with many young animals being born. It is lambing time and we usually rear a number of pet lambs. Either their mothers died or simply left them. We also feed poddy calves. The chooks lay lots of eggs and we set eggs under a clucky chook hoping to get lots of chickens. The days get longer and warmer and the garden blossoms and blooms. The paddocks are a wonderful shade of green. I love spring best of all!

Which season do you like best and what season is it now for where you live?

Twitter for Senior Student Revision

Today, marks the first day back for term 4 in Victorian schools in Australia. The pressure is on to prepare our senior students for their final VCE exams and set them up with organized revision activities.

Revision started in earnest and in a very traditional manner through reading and writing but then an aha moment reminded me that twitter might be useful, especially as the Business Management students need to look at the Management of Change. We stopped what we are doing and:

    1. Registered for twitter: Only 2 students were registered for twitter, so the rest registered. We discussed usernames, passwords and the nature of random follows and followers
    2. Used twitter as a search engine: Then searched for their chosen organisations to study in depth eg Australia Post  and found this link  Post Office faces Changes two tweets down on the timeline (very valuable for their Management of Change understanding)
  • Searched for people or organisations to follow.
  • I commenced a list for VCE Business Management based on their research and mine.
  • Students followed me and subscribed to my list VCE Business Management (They can always unsubscribe and unfollow me when their study is completed)

From the Australia Post tweetfeed, we found more more great links for those who are using Australia Post as their organisation of choice. These appeared at the top of the timeline feed for today and give students a feel for the organisation so much more than they would get through static webpages and gives a deeper understanding of how large organisations work, especially with the advent of technology.

— Australia Post (@auspost) October 5, 2014

This tweet is great for their study of social responsibility

What else did we find? Other teachers of the subject sharing resources, advice etc Newspaper articles that have hints and tips for successful exam preparation and completion and this is just the beginning……. Do you think it will help them with exam revision and improved study score in exams?

All Things Twitter!

The Australian Computer Educators Conference is currently underway. The first of my presentations was “All Things Twitter”.

As an active member of twitter for the last 6 years, I have found it to be one of the best ways to build both a personal and global professional learning network to keep up with the current trends in education and to enable conversations about learning and technology. My session was aimed at all users of twitter from beginner to advanced but will tend to be skewed towards the regular and advanced users. After attending this session participants will be able to

  • Recognize strong profiles
  • Understand the use of hashtags and how to find them
  • Participate in twitter chats for professional development
  • Schedule tweets using hootsuite or buffer
  • Understand the effective use of lists in twitter
  • Recognize the tools and platforms that can enhance their twitter experience eg tweetchat, hootsuite, tweetdeck, tweetgrid etc
  • Appreciate the advanced functionality of link shorteners
  • learn of popular mobile apps
  • Know how to use quality searches to find quality people to follow

A backchannel was set up, in Todays Meet   for participants to connect/converse and an online document All Things Twitter of resources was compiled. Below is the actual presentation:-

What else could you add?

International Day of Older Persons

As my good friend, Sebastian Panakalof Kerala, India has reminded me, it is International Day of Senior Persons tomorrow, October 1st. He is has asked me to “wave to friends at the “Senior Citizens Forum Alangad” and wish them well!” Here is my response (but unfortunately, I forgot to actually wave.)

Sebastian asked me to share this with him in asynchronous time in case I am not online when he is ready with the Senior Friends. I considered

  • dropbox
  • email (file is rather large to send through to India)
  • adding media to my blog (reduced the size of the movie through Moviemaker)

I think the easiest will be the blog as Sebastian can right click on the video and save it to his desktop.

The significance of images in globally connected classrooms

My word is very poor so I make pictures  Xu (Bob from Beijing)

As we become more globally connected, the importance of images to tell stories for learning ir to share conversations, takes on an increasingly important role (together with media other than text).

Our school teaches Mandarin Chinese as a second language. Our sister school is Beijing no.27 in China. Over many years we have exchanged visits with small groups of students and teachers from this school but then there is little connection or communication until the next visit.

school group in China

Over the last 3 years we have had a visiting Chinese language assistant live and teach with us for 12 months at a time. From them, we learnt about qq and wechat which are both popular networking tools with the Chinese. As one of our school groups is over there now, teachers, parents and students downloaded the app wechat on their phones, formed a group and added key staff from Beijing no. 27. The chat has been updated constantly and pictures shared immediately. Bob, one of their senior teachers speaks some English and visited our school last year. As he joined our “china group” on wechat, he made that profound quote shared at the beginning of this post.

What can we take way from this?

  • images are of increasing importance in global communication especially when a common language may be a problem.
  • students need to be taught how to take them for best effect especially to reflect local culture
  • how can we thread them into a story comprising only images
  • the significance of copyright/creative commons
  • how to resize and digitally enhance
  • be aware of the range of apps, networking sites that are best to share these images, remembering that countries like China block google, facebook, many blogging platforms etc
  • the nature of the cloud for storage