Mariko Eguchi took us on a virtual tour of a Japanese classroom belonging to the class she is going to connect us with in early December. Japan brings images of high technology use in my mind so it came as a bit of a shock to see a blackboard, chalk, no sign of computers or technology except for Mariko’s equipment, chairs in straight lines, desks individually placed allowing one student per desk etc. Certainly a contrast to our classrooms at Hawkesdale! It took me way back in time and reminded me how far we have actually come with technology.
Mariko had brought mobile polycom equipment, but the school firewall did not allow video to be transferred during our test linkup. Skype was used instead with the video and audio of high quality.
The year ICT class used Mystery Skype, google maps etc to determine where Mariko was from. She then took us on virtual tour of the classroom explaining that we were to meet the actual class in a couple of week’s time. Students were intrigued to find out that this school canteen only serves curried rice compared to our school which has a wide variety of hot foods and cold foods.
One of my students then took Mariko on a virtual tour of our school, using their microsoft surface tablets device.
Out of the first #skype2learn chat came a discussion on sharing breakfasts successful linkups between countries, cultures etc using the web camera in skype.
This gave idea to a simple project using the #skype2learn hashtag together with #breakfastaroundworld hashtag, that would allow classes across the world the ability to access photos from those who live there for use in the normal studies.
About the project:
1. Take a picture of a typical breakfast either for you or others who live in your country. A mobile device is ideal!
2. Login to twitter
3. Write a tweet describing briefly what can be seen for breakfast, country you are from, add the hashtags #skype2learn #breakfastaroundworld upload your photo (by looking for the camera icon, clicking on it and exploring your computer for your photo.) Send the tweet.
4. To find the other photos that have been uploaded, look for the magnifying glass top right of twitter or search bar, type in #skype2learn and look for the breakfast photos (or search for #breakfastaroundworld). Shared, tweeted photos should display.
This could form the basis for a number of learning activities in class:
- Comparing breakfasts across cultures
- Exploring reasons for differences
- Discovering where countries are located
- Ask further questions of some of the tweet
- Add to the conversations
- Find others to connect with across the world
Arrange a skype linkup with others to actually show the breakfast, talk more about it and ask further questions of each other using the web camera.
What other learning outcomes might result? Did you write a blog pst or share online somewhere further details? If so please share the links below. Please join in this simple project.
And as for my breakfast……
Singing the National Anthem
Today is Children’s Day in India. What a wonderful day to celebrate and acknowledge our young and make them feel very special. To mark the occasion, my dear friend, Sebastian Panakal from Kerala, India asked whether I could arrange students to link up with his.
Unfortunately the time was right on our school closing time, so our students were unable to videoconference, but I was happy to be their audience. Teachers and students of varying ages came up, said hello and asked some questions of me. The children were delightful, appeared extremely interested well mannered and spoke clearly. Balloons were evident in the classroom – a sign of the celebrations.
At the end of our 20 minute linkup, the students, teachers and Sebastian sang me their National Anthem with great pride and gusto. And I hate to admit it, it was the first time that I ever remember hearing the National Anthem of India.
I woke up this morning to read a skype in education message from a teacher in the USA looking urgently for a class to ‘mystery skype’ with. Knowing that our time zones rarely work, I nearly declined, but checked out the suggested times for connection and ‘hey presto’, I could say that I could find a class to connect for them to connect with.
Students love to connect with the USA as many of the TV shows that they love to watch come from America, many of our fast foods are from there etc etc However, I had to find some students as I thought I was not timetabled with a class. Three year 9 girls gladly came out of their maths class and some of my year 11 IT students took part.
The notice was late as Brian, the lecturer suddenly thought “Why teach his pre-service teachers about the use of skype in the classroom, why not actually do it!” and so we did.
Here is what it looked like:
- We introduced ourselves individually to each other.
- Next, we played mystery skype. It was easy for us to work out they were from the USA, but then quite difficult to work out exactly where. After several clues, we finally worked it out.
- On the US part, the pre-service teachers used their mobile devices – phones, tablets etc to finally work out exactly where we were from (after some clues).
- Times of each country were shared, then the date and day of the week we were in. As soon as the girls heard they were still in Wed afternoon at 4:00pm, they responded with “That is weird, we live in their future!”
- The US teachers asked what the girls thought made a good teacher. Some of the responses were ‘a sense of humour’, allow students to follow passion projects, take into account different student learning styles, they want to have fun with their learning etc.
Student reaction: They had fun, enjoyed learning with them and sharing their knowledge and particularly liked working with older students”
Questions for the first chat
Thanks to everyone who participated in the first twitter chat for #skype2learn. Special thanks to Bevery Ladd who co-modarted the chat and to the Master Skype teachers for their active involvement.
Participants stayed up late at night (including Siberia and England) or tweeted early before they went to bed (eg Livingstone, a teacher from Havilla Childrens Centre in the biggest slum in Africa, Kenya). There were many conversations, some fantastic resources shared, ideas for using skype for innovative learning and many new connections to make. The chat has been archived at storify Connected Classrooms with #skype2learn
The questions can be found here. question 2 “Why do you use skype?” has some powerful answers. Make sure you look at them.
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:-
- Please introduce yourself, where you are from and what your interest is in education
- Why do you use skype for connecting?
- How have you used skype for learning?
- Share your favourite stories and learning outcomes
- Where do you find connections?
- 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.
Below is the scribd poster for this session
As Australian schools enter the final weeks of term 3 with still another full term to go, our European and USA counterparts (and others) are starting or about to start their school years. Reinhard Marx is an innovative connected colleague from Germany and someone I really enjoy working with asked whether I could teach a grade 4/5 class about the area I live in. It was one of their first classes for the year.
Tools used and resources accessed:
- Skype was used to connect me with his class and to provide a backchannel for reminders and prompts when we were both ready.
- A powerpoint presentation was created to show a little of my school and the farm that I live on.
- It was uploaded to google presentation, should my bandwidth not allow me to share from my screen.
- An Australian flag
- A real pet lamb (as we are in the middle of the busy lambing period on the farm)
- A fresh bunch of flowers (as this is my hobby to garden and work with flowers)
My grandson and me on the farm bike
We started with a mystery skype. The students did not take long to work out where I was from. When they worked out my country, I shared my flag to the web camera. Students then volunteered to ask me a number of questions eg “Was it winter where I lived?”. The last 15-20 mins, I shared my screen through skype and talked through the photos of school and our farm. The bandwith was great for a start and images and audio crystal clear. However, after the fourth slide, the size of the images failed to load quickly in Germany, so I shared the link to the google presentation and we walked through the images remotely. To complet the lesson, I brought in one of our pet, bottle fed lambs – always a sure winner!
I like working with Reinhard because he:
- actively seeks global connections and lessons. He is a science and maths teacher
- gave students the choice of mystery skype and a lesson with me or they could continue with their maths. (There was a mix but most of the time, they were intently watching me and the presentation)
- introduced the class of 26 clearly to me swivelling the camera so I could understand the teaching space I was in
- always repeats what the students say, so that I can both hear and understand the comment or question asked
- always stopped me for a question that a student might have – so their curiousity was satisfied immediatley and not forgotten about
- ensured the students came up to the camera and could be clearly seen by me
- interpreted my talk so that all student members could understand what I was sharing
- bandwidth and sharing images over skype
- working with an interpreter, remembering to keep my sentences short and concise, pausing to be interpreted and then carrying on
- the accents and understanding the comment or question – especially understanding the name of the students