Category Archives: Uncategorized

Hello Little World Skypers Group

One of my favourite memberships is with a group called Hello Little World Skypers (HLW) Group. This group was started in Skype in Education by Katherine Zablatnik from the alps of Austria. Her passion for videoconferencing with others around the world has been joined with many like minded educators. This group has members from many countries – some highly skilled in technology and some not. All have a strong desire to bring the world into their classroom.

Australian time zones are one of the most difficult for connecting and videoconferencing with English speaking countries eg UK and USA, but ideal for communication in real time with Asia. This group includes educators from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, Sth Korea, China etc.

The chat in skype is automatically saved and available for researching back in time. Conversations while I am asleep are accessible in my waking hours. A call will go out to see whether someone is available to videoconference with skype. If anyone is able to skype a class, they will respond in the chat. Videoconferencing with another class can take from 5 mins through to a formal presentation of 30 minutes or more.

Govinda and student from Nepal

Following are some of the elements of the group chat conversations in the last 24 hours :-

  1. From Govinda in Nepal, “Any one love to say Hi to my students now? Waiting” (A teacher in Taiwan helped him out.)
  2. rs-sundern  “anybody else free for a “just to say hello!”- meeting?” I responded to this one.  See more details below.
  3. HLW skypers cook book: Collaborating with the world – one recipe at a time. A recipe book is being compiled from across the countries on google documents. I Love some of the comments on these recipes: eg “ armandovezza: @Theresa- there’s one ingredient in your sugo recipe tht surprised me -vinegar!! Being of Italian origin, I’ve seen my mother make sugo all my life and never seen or heard of her doing that!” and another:- Added a recipe for “Rougail Saucisse” a Creole dish from the Reunion Island. “The Curry Peach soup looks nice, think I’ll try that soon!”
  4. A request from  mariam: hello,every one. If some body knows an address for skypers who r interested in graphic and computer art design .thank u in advance

Global collaborative projects are discussed, technology tips/ resources are shared and there is often sociable chat helping us get to know each other better. Sebastian from India has taught my IT class about vedic maths, using Blackboard Collaborate. I have spoken to students from India about our farm and where I live. Students from Katherine’s class in Austria are intrigued by our Australian farm and its size etc. They were taken aback with our eating habits of eating the biggest meal of the day at night time! British students who were studying the weather asked me what the weather was like where I live and much, much more.

Using screen share in skype

Tonight, and within three minutes of responding to re-sundern that I was available to skype with his class, I was transported to Germany via the web camera to talk to year 7 students about our drinking water on the farm. Water was their topic of study. I had a glass of our fresh rain water, on hand to show via the web camera.

Again the students were intrigued with our farm and the kangaroos. They had many questions, were really well behaved and spoke English with flair. Every now and then the conversation lapsed into German to interpret more closely what I was saying. The connection was not strong, so I had to drop my video at times and make use of the chat for clarification.

Learning really is NOW! Read the press release for HLW Skypers on their first birthday. It explains why such a group is of such high importance for its members.

How have you used teachable moments? Do you use skype for videoconferencing? Have you used groups? What can you share? Are you a member of HLW skypers group? What questions do you have? Email any questions to

FLATs Webinar Presentation – Big Little Classrooms

Today, I am presenting for the FLATs  webinar as part of  the Flat Classroom Projects. It is usual for a student voice to be present in these webinars. As my students have finished their school year, and the year 9 students are out of the school on an excursion, I will share the videos below to show student opinion and what they are learning as part of this presentation. 

Here is the link to the podomatic recording.

The following video is a student reflecting on and discussing the value of the student summit between my class and Julie Lindsay’s class from Beijing China as part of the global education conference in 2010.

Students from Australia linkup with students from Indonesia during their lunch hour using skype. Here is what it looks like!

Cultural eLearning Adventures – Global Education Conference

For global partnerships to be successful and ongoing, rather than just ‘one off’ videoconference linkups, educators have to find another educator(s) with the following characteristics:-

  • a similar passion for taking learning to innovative levels
  • complete confidence in each other
  • trust each other
  • common interests
  • willingness to communicate regularly and constantly when involved in projects
  • forming a friendship that will ‘give and take’ through all issues that may arise – both cultural and technological
  • willingness to risk take together
  • determination to succeed and complete projects, at all costs.
  • if global partners can meet ‘face to face’, it makes that connection so much stronger!

As my friend and online colleague, Veronica Woo says:-

“ultimately, it’s the human relationship and trust that matters most to ensure successful online connection, collaboration and communication.”

As such, Veronica and Yew Yan Koon or known as Evon) from Malaysia have formed successful partnersips and connections with my classes. Below is our presentation that was made for the Global Education Conference 2011, setting out how we met, how we have worked together, what it has meant to us and possible future connections and directions.
Thanks Veronica and Evon for being there for us and learning with us together.

Have you been involved in highly successful global projects?

The World is My Classroom – Presentation for the K12 Online Conference

This post has been written to complement my presentation for the K12 Online Conference. It includes links to resources and stories shared in this video. Following is a summary of the presentation.

Learn how a virtual, global, and culturally-blended classroom is not just a dream, it’s a reality. Listen to stories from classrooms in a small rural P12 school that is isolated culturally and geographically where innovative technology is used to engage students allowing them to connect, communicate and collaborate with students/classrooms across the globe.  This is a big classroom where:-

  • blended classrooms may be  global in nature
  • learning is 24/7/365
  • experts and  students of all ages learn together – learning is vertical and horizontal
  • learning goes beyond physical walls
  • learning is NOW!
  • global projects are regularly in evidence
  • learning can be ‘messy’ but the outcomes amazing!
  • Listen to classroom stories, learn of favourite online tools to use and ways to use them. Explore different ways to get connected to others, join projects and how to have your students take initiative

Tools used to connect and communicate

Where to find connections

Online webinars/conferences

Tools used for connecting and communicating

Our collaborative projects and other connections

Our Community Connections

Classroom Stories

Tech Talk Tuesdays/eT@lking: This week’s webinars

Tech Talk Tuesdays:  Favourite Open Source Tools

When: Tue 8th November, 4-5pm, Melbourne, Australia time (gmt+10)

This week’s guest presenter will be Lenka Boorer, the Blended Learning Advisor Griffith University Business School, Qld, Australia. She is currently completing a Doctorate in Learning Skills for Anatomy students.

Lenka, who has broad experience in a range of teaching areas, will share with participants, the great tools she likes to work with that are open source and easy to use. What are your favourite open source tools? We would love you to share them in a comment on this post.

Here is the link to the recording

eT@lking: Using Twitter with Students

When: Wednesday, 9th November, 8 to 9pm, Melbourne, Australia time (gmt+11)

About this session: This week’s session will be an informal discussion amongst participants about the existing use and potential use of twitter with students. As @courosa stated at a recent conference,” if your students are not using twitter, they are missing out on history in the making”. If you use twitter with students please come along and share your experiences or if you know of some, please bring along examples. Looking forward to a lively discussion.

Here is the link to the recording

From Listen2Learners to the Melbourne Writers Festival

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An excited year 11 student greeted me outside the office one morning at the end of last year and proceeded to tell me all about the fabulous event that he and two others had attended in Melbourne the day before. (Read his post.) It was “Listen to Learners” – an event held to showcase student learning in Melbourne, organised by Innovations and Next Practise, Victorian Education Department. Community members and interested educators attended this meetup. Students were given the chance to talk about their involvement in innovative learning and made to feel important.

To show the importance of their audience, Dhugan produced a business card. It was from Jenny Niven, Program Manager, of the Melbourne Writers Festival. Over the next weeks, the students got on with their studies, but  Jenny soon contacted me. She was interested in bringing a global perspective to the Melbourne Writers Festival in 2011 and wanted to know if we would be part of it. Of course we responded with a “yes”. Thinking caps on! What could we do? Book trailers were a fascination and it was decided that these could form a collaborative project with year 8 and 9 the target group.

Marg Murnane from our school took the project on as part of her teaching load. That left me to find some global partners, setup the wiki and share the organisation.  Veronica Woo and Yew Yan Koon from SMJK Poi Lam School in Ipoh,  Malaysia were interested as were several other contacts. A globalstorytelling wiki was set up with some resources, links, suggestions etc Students were to create a digital book trailer that would promote one of their favourite books, encouraging their audience to read this book. Pages were setup for the schools involved and it was hoped that the influence of different cultures would show.

However, exams, holidays, tests and the general ‘busyness’of school presented challenges. As time crept up on us, Veronica and Yew decided to work with four students from mixed backgrounds – Chinese, Malay, Indian and Chindian and from two schools.   SMJK Poi Lam is a secondary school and SJK (C) Ave Maria Convent is a primary school. The four students set up blogs to document their progress and the discussion tab of the wiki was used, but sparingly.

Here are the Malaysian student blogs (please visit them and leave a comment of encouragement)

Veronica contacted Yusuf Martin, a local writer, who is involved with the Malaysian Writers Festival. The 4 students worked with him for a session and looked at  using books based on the theme of culture. Veronica and Evon worked tirelessly with their students.

“We thought this would be interesting as Malaysia is indeed a melting pot of different races and cultures.” says Veronica.

Several weekends were spent visiting places to source authentic resources for their trailers:- a classical Indian dance session, interviewing a Bharathanatyam dance guru.

Here are the  books they have chose:-

  • Jesmund 16 years – Taman Saujana ( By Mubin Sheppard)
  • Maswin,16 years – The Straits Chinese ( By Khoo Joo Ee )
  • Tisha 8 years old – The Origins of Chinese Culture
  • Eusebia Clement, 8 years old -The Performing Arts ( Indian culture )

Another contact, Rori from 5th Primary School Mityo Stanev Bulgaria who is a co- member of the “little world skypers” group had produced glogs (using glogster) with her students. She agreed to add a page of these to our wiki. Her school is 

Global Student and the Writers Festival

We are proud and excited to have a bus load of students taking a 3 ½ ride to Melbourne for the Writers Festival on Sept 1st at 12:30pm. Selected students will be up on the big stage at Federation Square with Veronica and Yew and their four students videoconferencing in to the crowd at Federation Square from Ipoh in Malaysia. Our host or MC is Ed Hoyt.  Students from both countries will share their love of reading, their cultures and involvement in a 45 minute time slot. Four book trailers from each country will be displayed on the big screen.

This event will demonstrate innovative classrooms and ways in which classrooms can connect, communicate and collaborate across the world, using cutting edge technology, authentic projects and project based learning. It will showcase the exciting outcomes that students from a variety of cultures can achieve in this flattening world of ours.

Significance to the schools in Malaysia

At the Malaysian end, there will be the local press, students’ parents, teachers, friends, school principals, the State Tourism Chairperson, YB Dato’ Hamida Othman, the State Director of Education and a local politician.

Some of the learning

  • What book trailers are
  • The nature of other cultures
  • A deeper understanding of our culture
  • Exploring a number of movie making options
  • Using copyright free images and music
  • The pressure of time commitment
  • The Malaysian students have learnt to blog
  • How to add content to a wiki
  • The use of a variety of communication methods between us all
  • Connecting as a group in skype – Melbourne, Hawkesdale and Ipoh
  • the constant need for communication from all parties
  • learning about reading habits of students: – likes/dislikes


  • Set up a wiki with pages for schools involved, resources, a survey, student pages
  • Students and staff ‘joined’ the wiki
  • Students added an ‘about me’ section to their wiki page
  • Trailers were brainstormed
  • Discussion around copyright and appropriate use of images
  • Trailers were completed, published into wmv format and uploaded to youtube. The code was grabbed and embedded on each student’s wiki page.
  • Our school had to choose four of the trailers to be featured and three students to be up on the stage.
  • Veronica’s school got some parts of the electrical connection in the school hall rewired ready for the technical test.
Here are the book trailers  that we chose from our student cohort. The book titles and authors are as follows, but please view them as we are proud of student efforts:-
  1. Tomorrow When the War Began by John Marsden put together by a group of 6 girls
  2. A Waltz for Matilda by Jacqui French
  3. A Rose for the Anzac Boys authored by 
  4. Hatchet by Gary Paulson

The Vision

It is hoped that other schools will be motivated to get involved in global projects and/or join our wiki to create and add book trailers.

Do you have a similar story to share?

Voice Recognition – a new perspective on Learning Networks

Dear reader: Please note: this  post is written for my own records due its amazing occurrence but has no real significance for learning except that ‘take care, you can be recognised anywhere, anyway and anyhow’. (or is there significance for learning networks? I would love your comments)

Having caught the Warrnambool-Melbourne train for a 7 hour return journey, in order to attend the Education Show at the Caulfield Race Course, I had to catch another train out to Caufield. As I was presenting on the topic of “Effective Technology in the Classroom“, I took my laptop, now 3 years old, looking like a brick and weighing a ton, together with my netbook for ‘just in case’  needs. My dilapidated backpack housed this gear, but the zip no longer works. This means my laptop is strapped in, but exposed.

As I returned to the city proper at 3:30pm and still had 3 hours to fill in before my departing night train, I toyed with whether I should go to Southern Cross Station, hire a locker and be rid of my heavy backpack or stop at Melbourne Central and go shopping. The shopping notion won. As I proceeded through the exit gates among the milling, teaming throng of train passengers, I stepped onto the escalator. Next minute I felt a tap on my shoulder, and a friendly woman told me that my backpack was open and exposed to ‘pick pockets.’ Thanking her very much and explaining that I knew that I was soon to get an upgrade, she immediately responded with “You are Anne Mirtschin, aren’t you!”. I asked how she knew me, and she said she recognized my voice from one of my weekly webinars “Tech Talk Tuesdays” and “eT@lking.” If my backpack had not been so heavy, I would have dropped it and me in surprise. Lucky, as I had to quickly step off the escalators before they gobbled me up.

Isn’t that amazing! We talk about the use of avatars and human recognition, but now the voice element can also come in to play.

Tech Talk Tuesdays & eT@lking Webinars this week


Tech Talk Tuesdays: Using technology to engage students in mathematics

When: Tuesday, August 9th 4 to 5pm Melbourne Australia time (gmt+10)

About the session: Learn how edmodo, wikis and web tools are used to engage students from years 5 to 9. Meet Penny Bentley, our presenter, who has been experimenting with the use of web 2.0 tools in maths and numeracy to engage students and improve learning outcomes. Penny will explain how she uses games for skills practice, audioboo and an ipad app ShowMe for kids to talk about/reflect on what they are doing. Penny has created a wiki for each of her private tutorial students where they embed their work. Her use of Edmodo will also be shared.

Please join us, bring along your favourite tools/resources to share  and join in the conversations.

Here is the link to listen to the recording

eT@lking: Scoop- it!

When:- Wednesday August 10th, 8-9pm, Melbourne, Australia time (gmt+10)

About this session:- allows users to create attractively laid out online magazines. In this session, Nellie Deutsch will discuss the use  and potential  of in education.

Learn how to create a scoopit and why it is an increasingly popular topic centred media.

About our presenter: Nellie is a Canadian educator who specializes in leadership, curriculum, and instruction, social networking, and blended learning.

Global Collaboration – great teachable moments and learning

Endang, a valued online colleague, from Pekalongan, Western Java, Indonesia, wanted to share the amazing impact that skype and videoconferencing could have for learning,  with her fellow teaching colleagues – especially those who actually teach English. Endang has developed a powerful network from across the globe through the use of skype. With her astute vision and innovative spirit, she  is determined to help move her community forward.

Videoconferencing with one of the workshop participants

Several months ago, Endang organised three full days of professional development workshops on skype, videoconferencing etc for interested teachers and selected students. The workshop was called Learning English with Native Speaker.  On several of those days, my year 11 IT class and I  were proud to be involved for direct linkups. Students had their individual skype user name and were connected with another from Endang’s session.

My students were excited to be one of the Australian school groups to be part of this despite the internet connections being poor at times. Several students spent their lunchtime and afternoon working with their Indonesian counterparts. It was wonderful to hear them work through the different accents, methods of speaking etc to actually be able to  communicate with each other. See what the students had to say about the connection.

Arriving at school, a week ago, I discovered a box on my desk that was made of materials not usually seen in Australia. Excitedly, I opened it to find some wonderful gifts from Endang, all representing the area she lives in. Several of the products were batik items.

Teachable moments and interrupted learning

Having a busy teaching day, I took my bos along to each class, even to my senior VCE classes, displayed the contents and we discussed  each item. Students were fascinated with the contents and it created a lot of discussion. One small box gave the impression of holding a wooden flute and the first class assumed it was a musical instrument. However, when I took it to my year 11 IT savvy students, one boy stated that it was a food! How did he know? He had googled it! I have so much to learn from my students! Students all wanted to know more about this type of food.

Contents of the box proudly displayed

What was in the box?

  • a thank you certificate from the signed by and  stamped with the official stamp of the mayor of Pekalongan
  • a beautiful batik dress
  • placemats
  • a gorgeous little batik purse
  • a beautiful cloth bag
  • handkerchiefs
  • fan
  • bookmark
  • the ‘little box’ of Brem Suling Gading Asli

A little of what the students learnt!

  1. What batik is! (None of them had heard of batik!)
  2. Where Pekalongan is.
  3. The nature of Brem Suling Gading Asli
  4. The necessity of fans was dicussed, with surprise that the Indonesian people do not experience the four seasons that we, in southern Australia do.
  5. The conditions that many of the students from these areas might live and study in.
Thank you Endang for such a rich treasure box. The contents will proudly go on display in our library as part of our display for Book Week, the theme of which is One World, many stories in 2011. The box disrupted our normal class learning but provided an even richer, engaged learning that will not be forgotten for a long time.  Looking forward to working with you again, learning with you and from you.

Some of the students involved in the skype linkup

How fabulous is this that we can learn in ‘real time’ and network our students one to one with students and teachers in other countries, connecting and communicating in powerful and wonderful ways. How can we extend this networking? What outcomes do you see as eventuating from such activities?

Certificate of Appreciation

Tracking me down!

Some memories of the classroom remain forever! One is the squeals of excitement (a sound rarely heard in the secondary classroom) from students as they found a dot on their clustrmap in their early stages of blogging. Many times, I will see the students intent upon investigating those dots further, to glean more information from those who were visiting their space.

Again, I can remember the sounds of disappointment, when students found their precious clustrmap reset. Since those early days of blogging,  many tracking widgets are now available eg feedjit, revolvermaps, geovisite, flagcounter. Each of these sites provide a piece of html code (usually upon registration) that can be copied and  pasted in a  text widget onto  the  blog sidebar. Most of these are free.

A question has been asked of me by the producer of clustrmaps:-

“What would I like to see to make my life better/simpler/more informative/more fun with respect to visitor tracking? “

My first tracking widget of choice remains with one of the originals - clustrmaps. Why?

  • I can see at a glance whether people have visited my blog (bearing in mind that few comment). This is highly motivating and inspires regular and realistic blogging.
  • The registration process is simple and user friendly
  • It is provided free with the option to pay for extra features.
  •   not filtered by our school internet service provider.
  • It is simple but effective. As life is busy, the clustrmap quickly provides a quick picture as to the blog’s visitors.
  • Engages students in blogging
  • Provides excitement in the classroom (see above)
  • Zoom in on a  larger map to give quite greater detail
  • This teaches my curious students about many countries of the world as they are keen to know where they have come from. Students investigate far more thoroughly than I do – the number of countries and how many visitors from each. Those who have busy blogs, feature some unknown countries  – a great learning outcome.
  • clustrmaps has a blog
  • supports the ‘vanity’ in us

"Zoomed in" thumbnail

    • no animation – which students love (I guess I do too as it adds character to the blog)
    • few customization options (students love to choose colour co-ordinations)
    • Have to zoom in on the widget to grab the extra stats. Geovisite displays some of these immediately, but then requires the embedding of several globes). I like to see the daily hits and the total number of visits on the actual thumbnail.
  1. What do the students think? See skippy’s blog post on Tracking Widgets.
  2. What do you think?
  3.  Do you have tracking widgets? Why? What would you like to see in regard to making your life better/simpler/more informative/more fun?  Do you use clustrmaps? Why and what could be improved?