Starting and Sustaining a Blog for Global Understanding

que-es-un-blog-y-para-que-sirve-un-blog

Image source

Starting and Sustaining a Blog for Global Understanding can provide an understanding of your classroom, community, country, culture, ideals, experiences and learning within and beyond the classroom. Before I connect with others, I want to know more about them – are they genuine, who are they, what are they about, do I want to maintain contact etc?  Therefore, I look for their blog or other online space for more information. This becomes important as we become more globally connected.

Blogging is an essential, user friendly, online space that teachers and classrooms should use as it offers a rich learning space and enables ongoing conversations through comments. It enables customized learning. Starting and Sustaining a Blog for Global Understanding was one of my workshops for “Supporting the Challenge” at the recent Flat Connections Conference in Sydney. See the actual presentation below and read further for my notes on this presentation. A resources document has been set up. Please add to it, if you have suggestions.

Some of the popular blogging platforms include edublogs, wordpress, blogger, kidblog. My personal preference is for edublogs (the pro version or a campus) as they provide ready advice, offer some great support materials and online resources and enable the use of multi-media which is essential for global understanding when language differences may be a challenge. Edublogs pro also allow movies and podcasts to be directly uploaded without the need to embed code from eg youtube, vimeo etc.

To get started a blogger will need to understand the nature of posts, pages, links, widgets, hyperlinks, categories tags and the necessity for an “about me or us” page (an essential ‘handshake’ to foster initial interest and encourage ongoing connections and reading)

Comments

Comments enable ongoing conversations, provide a base for discussion and enable ongoing learning. Readers can ask questions, seek clarification and share their own knowledge and resources. A blogger needs to know what ‘good’ comments look like and how to moderate them.

Media

Embed media including sound, images and videos wherever possible to supplement or replace text. Images ‘speak 1000 words’ and where languages may not be the same, will show and share so much to provide for global understanding. Stories can be shared in images, videos, sound stories and animated slideshows. Youtube and vimeo videos can be embedded to reflect where you live and learn or links to videos provided.

Widgets for global understanding

Following are some widgts that could be added to theblog  sidebar

  • Clustrmaps, flagcounters to motivate and show the location of readers. They can be used to also teach statistics, the location of countries and the flags of different countries
  • Clocks – eg clocklink provides learning re time zones, days and dates. A countdown clock eg Countdown  or Create a Countdown will alert to upcoming cultural and religious festivals, school holidays etc. A time convertor eg world time buddy will help with the ever challenging time zone differences.
  • Weather – eg willy weather or weather add gadget provide a  global perspective on weather conditions
  • Translate widgets – google, bing to allow posts to be interpreted across languages. Learn how to translate blogs even when widgets are not present
  • Flickr – eg flickr slidr will show the latest photos shared on flickr on the sidebar showing what it looks like in your classroom, community or country
  • A blogroll can share blogs that your classroom might be connected to or that might be of interest from global classrooms, communities or teachers
  • Twitter – enables a feed of tweets to be shared
  • World news widgets eg reuters

Some advanced features

  • Embed the code from powerpoint presentations that have been uploaded to slideshare.
  • Vokis – can be used to introduce yourself in your native language
  • Embed google maps complete with pins that share global collaborations, images and explanations in text. See Skippy’s blog post (manouvre it till you see her pins)

Consider the following:

  • The use of mobile apps for blogging on the ‘fly’ or quickly sharing images, podcasts and videos
  • Choosing a theme that suits mobile reading
  • Taking part in the student blogging challengeJoining a quadblogging group
  • Some countries may block blogging sites

Tips:

  • Post regularly
  • Read other blogs
  • Comment on others’ blog posts
  • Share new posts on social media eg twitter, facebook etc Use global hashtags eg #globalclassroom #globaled etc
  • Let your blog take direction over time

Useful resources from Edublogs

What suggestions might you have to add to this topic? Please add as a comment below this post.

Global Connectedness

At the recent Flat Connections conference in Sydney, the program included a several “Supporting the Challenge” bootcamps which allowed participants to choose the topics that were of high interest to them. “Global Connectedness” was the theme of one of my offered workshops (bootcamps).

In this session, the following questions and topics were shared and discussed.

  • What is a global community?
  • Some examples of global communities.
  • Where can educators start to connect with the world?
  • What are some of the most popular networking tools to build a community?
  • How can a global community be successfully maintained.
  • Tips for sustaining a global community.
  • Challenges

View the presentation:-

Skype in the Classroom – #ISTE2014 presentation

Last minute preparations

Last minute preparations

At the suggestion of Toni Oliveri-Barton, I submitted  a proposal to present on “Skype in the Classoom” for ISTE2014. It was accepted and special online friends and members of HLW Skypers and Global Classroom group offered to be part of the presentation. They were Toni Oliveri Barton,Theresa Allen, Louise Morgan and David Karsoncak. We asked Steve Sherman (Living Maths) from South Africa and Janet Barnstable, of USA, to be our special e-guests so that conference participants could experience the nature of skype and multi video participants Prior to the session

  • A skype group was formed initially for the face-to-face participants so that we could collaborate and chat 24/7. The chat remains and will be there for up to 12 months or more. Living on the other side of the world still meant that I could read the discussions in my waking hours. (See 7 tips for successful skype groups)
  • several skype videoconference calls were made to finalize the presentation
  • google presentation Skype in the Classroom was used for our collaborative session – add slides, comments, images
  • a google document Skype in the Classroom Resources and a collaborative live binder were setup to add resources. Conference participants and others were encouraged to help crowd source the google document.
  • decided on an iste skype hashtag #iste14skype See the twitter feed

collage Immediately prior to the session

  • @murcha @dkarnoscak @toniobarton @tdallen5 @mrsmorgansclass met in the bloggers cafe to finalize our presentation
  • labelled the slides with our initials
  • tested the connection 30 mins earlier from our allocated room. Brought in Steve and Janet via video
  • positioned a webcam on the audience so that Steve and Janet could see who they were talking too.
  • enlisted Sue Wyatt aka @tasteach to be our chief tweeter and administrator. Thanks Sue!
  • Preston Morgan to be our general liaison person, photographer etc

nearly ready The challenges

  • ensuring sufficient bandwidth for two simultaneous video linkups as the 1000s of conference attendees were using the internet often with 2 or 3l devices.
  • keeping the 5 presenters all keen to talk about their exciting work, to a time limit.
  • ensuring that both Janet and Steve could feel part of it by facing laptop webcam on the audience
  • ensuring we were ready to talk to our slides so that time was not wasted. Theresa setup her laptop with the presentation advanced one slide in front of the session laptop.
  • enabling Steve to demonstrate the more complex features of skype remotely from Sth Africa.
Participants start to arrive

Participants start to arrive

After the session

  • Louise Morgan created a storify listing the twitter conversations
  • Session and document links were uploaded to the ISTE site
  • Tweeted out the links to documents and presentation

Do you have ideas, resources etc to add to our crowd sourced document:- Skype in the Classroom Resources. Please add them. Were you at our session? If so, we would love some feedback.

The Fun of ISTE

 A fun night out at edtech karaoke

A fun night out at edtech karaoke

A gathering of Flat Connections Educators

A gathering of Flat Connections Educators

There are many opportunities to have fun and socialize at ISTE. Here are some of the activities/places where I had fun:-

  • meeting online friends face to face
  • deliberate meetings with the PLN – going to Martin Luther King Centre with blogging and other friends before ISTE officially began
  • impromptu meetings with friends
  • meeting up with others at the bloggers cafe
  • organised dinner meals with special interest groups eg Julie Lindsay and the Flat Connections Project participants and HLW Skypers groups
  • edtech karaoke – see image above
  • special receptions eg the Australian reception which was held in conjunction with Alberta in Canada
  • being immersed in another country with its cultures, accents, different foods and ways of life that can be different to mine!
  • struggling to be understood on many occasions with my ‘thick’ Aussie accent
Thanks Toni Oliveri-Barton for this pic!

Thanks Toni Oliveri-Barton for this pic!

Kevin Honeycutt, me and Sue Waters who was #notatiste14

Kevin Honeycutt, me and Sue Waters who was #notatiste14

Special friends - Karen Lierenman, Louise Morgan, me and Peggy George

Special friends – Karen Lierenman, Louise Morgan, me and Peggy George

Bloggers Cafe - Angela Maiers tries on Kevin Honeycutt's wearable technology

Bloggers Cafe – Angela Maiers tries on Kevin Honeycutt’s wearable technology

Enjoying time with Theresa Allen

Enjoying time with Theresa Allen

Impromputu dinner meetings with Toni Oliveri-Barton and friend

Impromputu dinner meetings with Toni Oliveri-Barton and friend

#iste2014 in full swing

the iste crowd

ISTE is one of the biggest edtech teachers’ conferences in the world. This year it is downtown Atlanta, Georgia, USA #iste2014. As it is my third time at ISTE, I am feeling quite comfortable with the huge crowds, the vast array of sessions that participants can attend and seeking out many of my online network as well as making new contacts. However, it is still a challenge to share regularly on the social media including twitter, instagram, FB, skype and even this blog.

Flying in just in time for the start of the conference brings the challenges of jetlag, time zone changes, climate differences (from the depths of Australian winter to the height of the northern hemisphere summer.) etc. There is always some angst as to ‘not wanting to miss out on anything’, what should I attend and how much time should be spent seeking out the PLN, meeting new people and looking around the city that ISTE is held in.

Saturday morning was spent with some friends at the Martin Luther King Centre, checking out many of the displays, viewing the eternal flame, entering his church, walking through his boyhood home and looking at the museum.

ebeneezer church

As day 1 tends to have a global theme, the globaled summit was the first official session attended. A number of ignite sessions and round table discussions took place during this 3 hour time slot. I was proud to lead the discussion on Bridging Cultural Differences. 

Global Classroom Project educators

Global Classroom Project educators

Immediately after this session it was time to head to the Bloggers Cafe and avoid the queues and crowds lining up for the opening Keynote speaker, Ashley Judd, an actress and a producer. However, we ended up in the poster session area as the cafe was crowded and several of us were helping  Louise Morgan with the Globalclassroom poster session. It was great to work with David, Theresa, Preston, Robyn and Karen. The two hours flew by as many, many people walked past and showed interest in the these wonderful global opportunities.

And that ended a long, but wonderful day!

Bridging cultural differences

Toni Oliveri-Barton and Lisa Parisi at globaled summit

Toni Oliveri-Barton and Lisa Parisi at globaled summit

This afternoon I will be attending the Global Education summit and leading a round table discussion on Bridging Cultural Differences. Here is the link to the crowdsourced document or http://bit.ly/1lAnYxT Please add  your ideas and resources here

When the North Star meets the Southern Cross!

Wisteria, our engaging presenter

Wisteria, our engaging presenter

This morning reminded me how anxious and nervous teachers can get when they face the unknown! Although I have used our polycom videoconferencing equipment extensively with educators, classes and community organisations within Australia, I had never dialled an overseas polycom unit. The IP address had been given to us to dial rather than they dial us! Eek! A practice run was rather difficult due to our time zone differences so at 9am my time this morning, I dialled the number 15 mins before the students were due in for lesson one, having shared Skype contact details should we face technical problems.

Almost immediately, Wisteria answered the call and we were transported into Marriner’s Museum, Virginia, USA, a different day, a different time zone, different hemsipherse, different culture, history and a different accent.  Students from year 1/2, year 7 and 9 then enjoyed an engaging and interactive session with Wisteria as she revealed life at sea centuries ago. It was fascinating to hear from someone in our ‘yesterday’, who talked about the Northern Star and their famous explorers eg Christopher Columbus cf Captain Cook for us.

wisteria and boatsc

What worked well

  • a crystal clear videoconference on both sides, with no hint of lag
  • our microphone that was able to pick up the answers from our students who often spoke quietly and were at the back of the room.
  • an engaging and interactive presenter, in Wisteria, who varied the session with a mix of using images, objects from the museum, getting the students involved, using the webcam effectively  and even sharing a youtube video that did not lag either!
  • having the broad mix of age groups. The young students added a dynamic, unreserved and spontaneous addition

some of the students

At the end of the 60 minute session, students were asked to relate three things they learned and one thing they enjoyed. Following are some of the year 7 ICT student comments. Year 1/2 repsonses will be added as soon as they have had their responses go through the editing stage.  By the time year 7 related what they learnt and due to most remembering different elements of the presentation, their total compilation almost gives the overall presentation on Life at Sea.

wisteria and the little ones

3 things I learnt:

  • When at sea,  they worked for 4 hours and rested 4 hours,  about the different parts of ship

  • What people at sea eat, lots about compasses, learnt all about parts of ship

  • The youngest pirate executed was 9 years old. Captain Cook was first captain to give his crew fresh vegetables, in their spare time, crew members would carve pics on whale teeth

  • Only males were allowed to go on a ship, and as young as 6 or 7; they would eat crackers made of flour and water, dominoes were made from parts of whale’s mouth

  • Children started work at age of 6 and 7 – eg scrub the deck, peel the vegies; because they didn’t eat fresh veg and fruit, they lost their teeth and their skin would change colour; older kids would have to work for hours, $12 per month pay

  • Pirates take valuable things, you need vitamin C otherwise you get black gums and your teeth will fall out; little boys started work on ships between the age of 6 and 7

  • Kids went on ships at such young ages; women work on ships disguised as boys; pirates don’t really kill captives unless they have to – put them on an island if they did not comply. Walking the plank was only done once in history. It is not a common practise.

  • It was night in USA, 7pm, our today was there yesterday; pirates don’t make you walk a plank, only one person was ever made to do that; Time differences, didn’t know USA were so far away from us,

Showing museum objects

Showing museum objects

What I liked

  • Much better learning from someone like Wisteria than through a textbook
  • How she showed the actual objects
  • Hearing about the female pirates
  • All of it was really good – Wysteria was a really good presenter, asked questions and got everyone involved.
  • Different time and it was interesting to know that she was in my yesterday and there was a night time concert outside while she spoke to us.
  • Lady pirate Chin commanded 500 pirate ships, made me interested in old history
  • The problem with hearing clearly eg the girl was actually a boy who answered a question, misunderstanding accents
  • Liked how she was actually at the museum, and showed us the actual objects from the ship
  • To see the things they used – photos and objects

watches

If I could ask a question

  • why did kids start work so young
  • Did they eat canned food?

  • What kind of food do they have in America?

Question time

Question time