When tragedy bonds global classrooms!

Snapshot of "My favourite things" padlet

Snapshot of “My favourite things” padlet

A txt msg, via whatsapp messenger, on my phone from Veronica Woo, of Ipoh, Malaysia, a friend and teaching colleague of mine, alerted me to the fact that the first 20 bodies from the MH17 disaster were to end their long journey home to Malaysia on August 22nd. (Australia’s first victims arrived home the week before!) A minute’s silence  for those who mourn, will be followed throughout Malaysia on Aug 22nd. A tribute or multi-faith ceremony will be broadcast live on the national TV and radio stations of Malaysia.

As I had my year 7 ICT class in the morning, Veronica asked whether we could  open a google hangout so that she could share with other teachers what an open classroom looks like when two countries are connected and team teach. However, this is how the lesson ended up looking like:-

  1. Veronica issued an invitation to the ghangout, called, “Knowing Me, Knowing You”
  2. set up a photo essay wall at padlet called My favourite things for us to share photos. However as the settings were not public, girls had to register for padlet. Even then, they could not login to Veronica’s wall.
  3. We could not locate the link to the ghangout and therefore share our classroom with video, so we had to fill in our lesson “on the fly”.  I set up another wall where we could get started and they learn how to upload images and add text. See the wall I created and the girls’ favourite things. They were encouraged to use photos that they had taken.
  4. Next a sympathy wall was created for the girls to share their sympathies for all relatives and community members who had been lost in the MH17 disaster.
  5. Gchat was maintained with Veronica during this time, and we noticed her txt inform us that the minute’s silence was starting NOW!
  6. The girls immediately wanted to join in this silence and so we shared that silence simultaneously with our Malaysian colleagues. Words cannot describe how meaningful that was, the empathy and feelings that were experienced during that time. Our two countries have sufferered, shared common experiences, bonded in those losses and now at the classroom level across the oceans have entered into a minute’s silence.

As a follow up, Veronica has sent through links to media articles and presentations.

“Meet The Scientists” Virtually

polycom linkup

This week is National Science Week in Australia. Many events have been organised and suggested for schools and science classes. Most of these great events occur in Melbourne which is an 8 hour return trip from our school – a near impossibility!

When the opportunity arose for our students to be part of a remote polycom video conferencing linkup to Meet the Scientists , we were quick to take up the opportunity. Cameron Hocking of the Melbourne Museum was keen to reach out to as many rural schools in Victoria and target primarily year 8-10 students, introducing them to some amazing careers and opportunities in Science.

Yesterday, we had the linkup with 5 scientists who have the most amazing careers, unusual opportunities and chances to travel. A backchannel was set up which provided remote students, teachers and classes to be given an opportunity to ask questions of the scientists. This worked really well and many interesting questions came forward. It was gratifying to hear them being answered.

Why it worked well:-

  • many hours had been spent in preparation for this event, ensuring the connections, equipment etc all worked as it was a first for Scienceworks and the Melbourne Museum (at least on this scale)
  • promotions had gone out through social media
  • the scientists were well chosen and strong, engaging speakers sharing wonderful images.
  • the backchannel was great and could be used for questions, sharing of knowledge and also to report any audio, video issues etc.
  • the careers were adventurous, unusual and of high interest to students
  • the bandwidth was sound
  • best of all, we could actually attend!

Challenges

  • technology and getting the video displays right
  • ensuring all participants muted their microphones
  • keeping within 1 hour, as beyond that time, students get restless in the virtual space
  • getting all students logged into the backchannel

best we can do

Who we listened to:

  1. Dr Stuart Mills, Geologist
  2. Dr Erich Fitzgerald, Palaeontologist
  3. Dr Karen Rowe, Ornithologist
  4. Dr Kevin Rowe, Mammalogist
  5. Mel Mackenzie, Marine biologist

Britt Gow and her biology students also participated in a Polycom videoconferencing event on Monday for Science Week. Professor Doug Hilton, CEO of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute will be speaking to Secondary students on the topic of “I wish I was a Biology student in 2014″. He spoke about current research in gene technology at the WEHI.

There are so many wonderful opportunites to bring the outside world into our classrooms, why aren’t more teachers/classes taking up these opportunities. Did you celebrate Science Week? If, so how?

 

Tech Talk Tuesday: Trending Social Media Apps with our Students

Due to technical issues, this webinar is again rescheduled and will take place as follows:-

What year 7 girls 'see' when they hear 'cybersafety'

What year 7 girls ‘see’ when they hear ‘cybersafety’

When: Tuesday, August 19th from 4-5pm Melbourne, Victoria time (gmt+10) See your timezone in

Where: Click on this link to listen to the recording of this session

About this session: What social media apps do you use? How secure are they? As the young, start to increasingly leave FaceBook, what social media apps are increasingly trending with our students? Why are many of these of high concern? What can be done to customize security and privacy settings to ensure that our students are kept as cybersafe as possible? What role should education take in all of this? Can we ever keep up? If not, what can be done? A recent talk by Greg Gebhart of Cybersmart has provided inspiration for this session.

Discussions from the chat included:

  • how to deal with the face book page of a person who is now deceased. Suggested to create a memorial page.
  • All photos are public by default which means they are visible to anyone using Instagram
  • Peggy George:  “you can’t control social media so you really have to teach the students online safety!”
  • Dotty: “Whole new set of rules need to be written for safe use of social media.”
  • How can I keep my KIK account private
  • Cybersmart page on KIK
  • Veronica:”Learning outside the classroom seems to be more powerful than learning in the classroom with the use of apps in society.”
  • Gogooligans is a search engine for students
  • flipagram for making short videos

Some links shared by Peggy George based on a webinar she attended with Stephen Anderson this same day on Digital Citizenship

Independence Day India – Friday August 15th

A skype message alerted me to the fact that it was Independence Day in India.

sebastian

It came from my good online friend, Sebastian Panakal and he asked:-

When may I call you? Today is Indian Independence Day and I would like to celebrate it together with you and your students, share my happiness with you

sebastian and quill earingsWishing that I had a class of middle school students whom I could connect him with, I in fact had a VCE accounting at that time (which is a subject not so easy to interrupt, due to the tight curriculum timeline). Wanting to make the most of this opportunity, I  asked whether he might wait until the last 5 mins of that class for us to connect. The students were rather shy about greeting Sebastian, but they soon rallied around and wished him a “Happy Independence Day”. In turn, Sebastian showed us the beautiful paper quill earings that his wife had made in the tri-colours of their national flag. They were to be distributed to local school girls.

 We learnt that India celebrated it as s a public holiday. Schools, clubs and associations celebrate by hosting the National Flag  (flag:in) and distribute sweets. Thereafter they sing, dance, party etc. Schools have the same fun and frolic, but a march past in the morning.

Sebastian was hoping to connect with as many of his virtual global friends to share this Independence Day. You can see his linkup with another online colleague, Katherine Zablatnik from Austria.From this linkup, Sebastian shared the following statement:-

As I shared my happiness on Indian Independence Day, an opportunity for promoting Health Tourism evolved.

As I hung up on skype, one of Sebastian’s friends also called me. As I was speaking to him, his mobile phone rang. Fascinated, I was party to a conversation in an Indian dialect as he quickly dealt with the phone call.. Not understanding a word of it, I still felt part of the connection!

Sebastian's friend

Does it matter that we interrupt senior classes for short connections like this, running the risk of falling behind the curriculum. Not at all in my opinion. Students are highly interested in what happens in other countries, they develop confidence in themselves and their communication ability and left my class in a happy frame of mind. Thank you Sebastian for saying hello to us on this day and sharing your celebrations!

Amazing eClassrooms

sydney opera house

I was proud to present for 30 minutes on the topic of “Amazing eClassrooms” at the recent #ITEC14 conference in Sydney at one of the most beautiful conference venues possible, The Sydney Opera House. See my presentation below or read the summary of it below that.

Hawkesdale P12 College, where I teach is a small, rural school, where innovative teachers have reached out to connect, communicate, collaborate and learn collectively, both locally and across the globe. Learning extends beyond the textbook and brings to life different cultures, religions, geography, ideas, ways of thinking.

This presentation will share classroom stories and personal experiences and illustrate how learning is becoming increasingly organic, collaborative, networked and beyond the classroom walls. These  stories will share:-

  • The benefits and value of virtual conferencing and its essential place in transforming the classroom as we know it.
  • The innovative ways in which outside experts, classes and community can be virtually brought into the classroom. This includes authors, illustrators, virtual parades, learning share ‘n tell, student forums, virtual concerts etc using a range of tools and hardware including polycom videoconferencing equipment.
  • Examples of amazing, ongoing connections and student outcomes including the extension to learning
  • Some global projects
  • The exciting use of videoconferencing eg skype, google hangouts and virtual classroom software such as blackboard collaborate to connect classrooms statewide, nationally and globally.
  • Using virtual classrooms to connect Asian and Australian classes in real time.
  • Uses for professional development and online meetings
  • Hints and tips for effective and engaged learning and for overcoming challenges
  • Where to find partners, resources etc

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: