Author Archives: murcha

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

International Friendship Day

Collage of Brendahs class

Collage of Brendahs class

Today is a celebration of International Friendship Day. Such a day becomes more meaningful the more globally connected we get. Having online global friends helps develop empathy for different cultures, ideas, religions, spaces we live in, conditions we live under etc. Misunderstanding leads to racism, friction and conflict.

My good friend, Sebastian Panakal from Kerala India was going to link up his students with mine today to do an international wave. But, the school was unable to connect. As Sebastian stated:

The school has postponed World Friendship Day Celebration ( and the Skype wave to your students) on 30th July due to Ramadan Holidays. Unfortunately MOON on this day came a bit late and the Ramadan prayer had to be rescheduled..

Immediately, my class is getting a sense of a different religion, the importance of this festival to Islamic people etc without connecting formally.

At night, a request came over the HLW skype group from Brendah of Port Elizabeth, East Cape, South Africa, for someone to speak to her grade 4 class about subsistence and commercial farming in their country. As I live on a farm, it was of personal interest to me. 29 students from her class, with names that I could never have pronounced, participated in the skype linkup with me and had to work out what country I was from, then ask questions on farming. They all spoke their native tongue, learnt in English at school but also learnt Afrikaans at school.

To complete the linkup, they sang with great rhythm and passion, a song that nearly brought tears to my eyes. There was a time ….

What does International Friendship Day mean to you? How did you celebrate it?

 

 

What we need to know about trending apps with students?

"Cybersafety" as seen by year 7 students

“Cybersafety” as seen by year 7 students

Primary students, secondary students, teachers and parents were given separate sessions in an opportunity to listen to Greg Gebhart from Cyber Smart. His presentations were filled with information, advice and case studies, tailored to the different audiences and had a powerful impact on all sectors in his quest for us to become cybersmart.

Children and teenagers are forging ahead using apps for social networking that many adults have not heard of. However, it was reassuring to learn that the majority of children and young people are not engaged in risky behaviour.

Exposure doesn’t always mean harm – it is simply part of a learning experience.

Following are my notes taken from several of the presentations.

Apps that students of all ages are using in 2014:-

  1. Facebook: (age 13+) – there is shift away from Facebook by students as grandparents are increasingly using FB.
  2. Instagram (age 13+) an app or site to share photos (like an online photo album) Can customize and choose private and public. If public then google images will add it to their site
  3. Kik (17+) is instant messaging, photo sharing and audio. You don’t have to have a mobile phone as it can put on ipod, iPad etc and send msgs to a mobile phone free of charge. 30-40% of primary kids in primary school use it. Generally 85% of kids in secondary school. Great care required : cannot hide profile, set privacy settings. It is a legal site to trade and share pornography. Cannot block others. Most kids in kik will have a sex offender contact them at some stage. Approx. 40% of primary kids in our school with kik said they had been contacted.
  4. Youtube is still very popular – but as kids like to make their own videos they are moving out to vine.
  5. Vine - Most people watch 30-60 secs of a video and if they don’t like it, get out and don’t add a “like” to the video. But vine is only 6 secs in length – can get thousands more likes than FB on vine. Behaviours of risk is becoming noticeable.
  6. Tumblr (blogging and sharing) was 2nd most popular site last year but is now 50th
  7. ask.fm is question and answer social media networking site where you can ask a question and then get an answer. Cannot increase privacy settings as on facebook and twitter. See 10 facts parents should know about ask.fm
  8. qooh.me is a social site that allows people who find you interesting to ask you anonymous questions so they can know you better. About quooh.me from cybersmart
  9. Snapchat is photo sharing site – go from device to device but self destructs after a short time. Popular because photos are not stored on device. But girls use it for naked photos and selfies Snapchat alerts you a copy has been made with screen capture. But copies can be made with other apps eg snap-hack pro, snapcapture etc
  10. Increase in using apple products – students are making folder called school work and hiding stuff from parents and teachers in the school work folder. Growth in calculators – CI calculator or my calculator. If type up 4 digit code you got when set it up, you can store photos in private folder.
  11. Pen in pocket has high definition camera and used to video teacher. Now internet watches – called iTime, Samsung, pebble. Can do kik, Instagram on phone via watches. New Samsung is third update, has high definition camera as well
  12. Wearable devices – mini computer. Can plug into phone – records steps each day, records sleep pattern

 Customize protection and security settings

  • Stranger – danger enablers – Students often go with default settings and don’t privatise that. Use skype – change settings to automatically receive video and share screens with “only people in my contact list”
  • Hashtags in Instagram – keep settings tight. Take care with hashtags as this makes the images public. Most popular hashtag is #love. It this is used on photo goes to the biggest photo album in the world. It is the type of photos hashtagged that is the issue
  • Location services – turn off GPS tracking in photos (camera), Instagram and FB
  • Lock sites down as much as possible. Customise privacy settings>report and block. Students are good at screen captures. Most modern mobile phones can block individual numbers or random numbers. HTC and Samsung – can disable phones during night time so children do not receive phone calls at night.
  • The ACMA cybersafety website has a support button to a kids helpline . It also has a chat box. Make sure students know the number

Modelling the behaviours

  • Turn ipad off
  • Follow policy relating to parent/student connections. Lock down your photos. Ensure any posts align with high ethical standards – so even if locked down it can become public
  • Avoid taking pics of students on personal devices
  • Seek advice before responding to defamatory material
  • First Australian Twitter case re defamation

Cybersmart Resources

Other Resources:

 

 

 

 

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.