A cluster of small, rural Prep – year 12 schools has received a Country Education Project grant to research individualised learning. As part of this project, representatives from each of the schools, visited our school to view a presentation on how Hawkesdale P12 College connects, communicates and collaborates to and with other classrooms and students, within Victoria and across the globe.
To give realistic experiences I had organised for my dear efriend Lorraine Leo to speak to the group for 5-10 mins from Boston, USA. Lorraine showed the group some photos of Boston and her classroom, using discoverE, the virtual classroom software. Some staff members came up to the library interactive white board to experiment with speaking live with the audio tools and using the whiteboard tools. It was soon our morning tea break.
After morning tea, I had organized for Andrew Rogers from Beeac PS, a small rural school to linkup with us on MS Communicator. Unfortunately, we got as far as several text comments in the chat and then the server went down. However, as I spoke about skype and its use, I noticed that Endang from Indonesia was actually online. A quick message, revealed that she was prepared to talk to us. The video call linkup worked, and to our surprise, she was not at school, but at the batik markets in Pekalongan. It was the first day of the ramadan, so there was no school.
So, we spent a pleasant 5 mins or so looking at the batik markets, the batik sellers, the activity on the street etc. That was rather special as it showed how teachable moments can occur. The rest of the morning was spent at looking at the other tools that can be used in both synchronous or asynchronous time for connecting, communicating and creating.
- Test, test and always test before going live with a group. (The group arrived 45 mins early, so I did not have time to test, and Lorraine’s photos did now display properly but ended up looking like a jigsaw puzzle, which could have been due to our connection)
- Make use of teachable moments, wherever possible. (eg Endang and her laptop)
- Ask my twitter colleagues, at the beginning to get them to say ‘hello, where they are from and what they see as benefits of twitter”. I asked at the end and of course, the long list that replied was not noted as it takes a while for people on twitter to respond.
- Know the software before you demonstrate. I have not used MS Communicator for some time, the new format is quite different and we had issues with the server.