Last week, I “ lost” two students for a whole double ie two lessons of Information Technology, in Malaysia (1000s of kms and another continent away). Renee and Ellie had gone to the meeting room at school, where it was nice and quiet in order to talk to, and videoconference with Veronica Woo, my teaching colleague from Malaysia. They were using my laptop and skype. This followed the succes of our linkup the week before with Lorraine Leo from Boston.
As I would have loved to connect the whole class, I tried to fix up my data projector setup in the computer lab, but as it is time consuming to setup my laptop and speakers, and things werent working easily on Friday, I found that Ellie and Renee were keen to work with Veronica.
The Principal of SMJK Poi Lam School in Ipoh, Malaysia, was about to retire. This is where our cultural differences really show! They had mutliple ceremonies and performances, representing their mutlicultural school – Chinese, Malay and Indian. In our school, we would have whole school assembly, with some speeches from staff and the school captains. As Veronica had her laptop with her, she used skype to videoconference the events for us.
The girls were in for a treat, as Veronica
- showed them around external section of the school,
- introduced the girls to a Malay school principal
- introduced them to three of the Chinese students who were to make up the Lion in the Lion Dance ceremony
- used her laptop to show the girls the actual Lion Dance, Malay Drumming and Indian dancers – all part of the farewell ceremonies
- When the ceremony had finished, Veronica walked the girls through the school canteen where they watched the chefs make Indian roti or flat breads. The girls thought they were pancakes!
As our school bell went, the two girls returned to gather their books etc, after a fabulous virtual ceremony and tour of the school - 100 mins after they had left me. A double can be a ‘long’ lesson, where a variety of activities need to be undertaken to ensure interest, engagement etc. However, the fact that the girls were ‘lost’ or fully immersed in Malaysia must surely show, the engagement that videoconferencing and online learning can provide! Thanks Veronica for being their teacher and host for the day.
What the girls had to achieve:-
- independent work ethic, as I only walked in and out to check on them several times during the double lesson.
- complex communications skills – working online with videoconferencing, understanding different accents, learning how to talk to students/teachers/principals (as all these people came up and talked to the girls). In turn they had to speak articulately in order to be understood.
- Learn quickly their geography – where is Malaysia?
- Acknowledge the range of cultures within the one school – a completely different approach to farewelling a Principal compared to Western Society. (We may have a formal school assembly!)
- Exposure to three different cultures, all within the one school – Chinese, Malay, Indian! (Our school is mono-culture)
- Learnt about different foods, costumes, instruments, dancing styles etc.
- Independent learning that will extend beyond that lesson as the girls’ curiousity makes them explore the internet further for more information.
The Outcomes: The girls want to take Veronica and students on a virtual tour of our school soon.
nb. I wish I would have taken the time to set up my equipment, so that my whole IT class would have benefited!