Daily Archives: February 16, 2009

Around the World in 80 schools

This is a really interesting project by langwitches, where the goal is to take her students around the world with 80 schools with skype, one of my favourite web2.0 tools. As it is President’s day in America tomorrow, it was an ideal time for her elementary school students and families to come into their school in Florida, on a Sunday evening at 8pm. The time zone that we, in Australia live in, must be one of the most difficult to work with other countries.

This was such an opportune time for me as my year 12 students are currently studying input, output devices and the steps in  processing cycle, including communication. Videoconferencing fell neatly into this category so my VCE students spoke. Some of these had never videoconferenced before.

What we learnt as part of their VCE ITA (Information Technology Applications course)

The 9 information processing steps

  • acquisition – gathering objects eg flag, boomerang, koala
  • input – keyboard for chat, microphone for audio, webcam for video
  • validation: ensured it really was langwitches (Sylvia) on both the skype call and that there was really a class there that we connected to
  • manipulation – increased the size of the video image, minimized the chat window, had to adjust height of webcam etc
  • output – the interactive whiteboard, using the data projector, speakers
  • storage and retrieval – we did not record the session but we could have using skype’s inbuilt recorder – Pamela, then saved it in an appropriate site. Saved the chat.
  • communication – software = skype, hardware = IWB, webcam and speakers, internet connection
  • disposal/archiving The session was logged out of.

We learnt from Sylvia’s students in Florida, about President’s Day, the fact it was the day before ours, timezone wise, that it is winter and cold and we saw the USA flag.

Challenges

  • As usual, time zone interpretation was incorrect (I so often seem to manage that), and my students were ready to talk, whilst Sylvia’s were just coming into her school. Sylvia was very good and put us on first, otherwise it would have been lunch hour for our students, when swimming trials were taking place.
  • The library now has a shelf on the Interactive White Board and although it was thought that the web camera was appropriately positioned there, we soon discovered it was not. So, it was back to finding the tripod and resting the camera on there. Fiddling with this meant I did not work the chat window which is important for communication and understanding, when different accents are involved.

However, it was a really successful activity. I loved Sylvia’s idea of just a short, sharp 5-10 min videoconference, with some of her students having questions and some of mine having objects to show:- a boomerang, a koala and an Australian flag.  Skype behaved well with the video and audio being clear and stable. Thank you Sylvia for this great project and we will also try to go around the world  in 80 schools –  we only have 79  to go!!

School children in tag galaxy

School children in tag galaxy

Tag galaxy was used to produce this image