As a teacher there often few proud moments ,but last Friday was a very proud day for me. Removed from my year 7 class by a 3 ½ drive, I watched them logon to the computers in the lab at school and noted one of my challenging year 11 boys, patiently fixing the audio problems. That class of mine was in video capture from elluminate on a big screen at the Crown Casino Palladium in Melbourne. Back home, Marg Murnane and our principal bravely supervised the class whilst, I, for a change was with their normal instructor Ajax, from the Ping project. Jason, a Melbourne Symphony Orchestra member, was waiting to play the saxophone and clarinet, teaching the students about this instrument.
My class was to be presented to the Minister for Education, the hon Bronwyn Pike, as a forerunner to Education Week and the Innovations Showcase, held at the Crown Casino, Melbourne. Nerves were running rather strong as there were technical issues but they were soon overcome. So, as if by remote control I watched 13 of my year 7 students set up, logon and test elluminate. The class began, as the Minister entered and I was so proud to see my students interacting, working the chat and asking questions of the musician. The Minister, in turn, was watching the chat and ensured that questions were answered. After 15 minutes or so, a photo shoot was set up with the Minister against the screen projecting my class at work with pictures taken of Ajax, Jason and me.
Later in the morning it was my turn to present to an interested audience on my “Flat classroom walls”. either of two scheduled “Tell Me”sessions or to one of the 10 “Show Me” sessions. This presentation involved working with an online and a face to face audience simultaneously – an innovative addition to the Innovations Showcase. Carole McCulloch, from Mildura, was my moderator and again I had some of my year 11 and 7 students in the chat, plus a parent and fellow staff members, adding rich content and answering questions from the online audience.
Here is how it worked:-
- Organised 9 students and a parent to be in the school computer lab, logged on to answer the questions in the chat for the virtual audience.
- Prepare 55 MS Powerpoint slides to engage the two audiences, so that they both could catch a glimpse of what a 21st century classroom looks like.
- My voice had to reflect as much emotion as possible for the online audience who could not see my body language.
- It was important to keep informing by microphone, my moderator, Carole McCulloch, who was in Mildura co-ordinating it all.
- Stopped for questions half way through and at the end. These came from both the f2f and the online audience. Had to repeat questions for the online audience.
- An onscreen timer reminded me of how much time I had left.
Reflections:- There were several choices for the presentation. I wanted a movie playing in the background but that could not be worked, despite the presence of three screens. I had too many slides and went over time. The slides will be uploaded up onto the innovations ning. Carol downloaded a copy of my MS Powerpoint slides and sent them to my online participants. Presenter needs to multi task with elluminate and I had to remember to switch on my microphone in the elluminate room before talking.
Ajax conducted the session after mine. I had offered to have the year 7 students on with him so that they could add rich content and give an idea of how elluminate works in the classroom. Ajax had asked me to speak as well with him, so I logged onto a computer set up in the pod area and joined the chat alongside my students (who were 300kms away!) Again, how proud I was to see them following the appropriate code of conduct in a chat room, yet adding to comments, asking questions and responsibly working in an online classroom. (I am convinced that this is the classroom of the future.)
The venue was magnificent with views across the Yara river from the River room. Food kept being constantly replenished when it came to lunchtime. All presenters had participants supporting them. Technical help was quickly at hand. Well organised – like the postcard handouts reflecting some othe emerging technology grants Well attended with approximately 500 in attendance. Computer hub was good idea and the RILO staff did a great job, helping participants to sign up for the ning. It would be great to have wireless internet access available for future conferences.
My pride continued as I attended the magnificent dinner for the Excellence Awards, Department of Education and Early Childhood Development.
Although I did not win the Innovative Curriculum award, I was proud to be one of three finalists up on the stage.
And to my dear friends on twitter, thank you for your shoutouts and joining me in the online session.