This week marks the first week ofvirtual teaching rounds.Three student teachers, soon to graduate have taken up this innovative but challenging trial project. This is a partnership between the Country Education Project, University of Ballarat and Hawkesdale P12 College. It is running on a shoe string budget.
Bianca, is going to be with us for three weeks and over in China for four weeks. From China, Bianca hopes to teach virtually her grade 4 class from China. The other two teachers will be off campus for one week, teaching virtually. She will work with grade 4 at our school and Carly Vize. Abby is working in the humanities area and Michelle in maths/humanities – both are in the middle years. Due to Bianca’s almost immediate departure to China next week, she was a priority to set up with some online teaching skills – Bianca will use skpye (the chat, audio, video and screen sharing ability), a class blog, wallwisher and other tools for her virtual interaction. Biance will purchase a dongle once in China to give her 24/7 access to the internet. The challenge will be blocked sites.
As we can find no experience to work upon, we are ‘playing this by ear’, ‘winging it and’ learning on the fly’!! The three girls are ideal candidates – willing to learn, enthusiastic,optimistic, have a sense of humour, are confiden, willing to work hard, eager to learn and best of all are keen to make this work! Bianca is working in the primary section with grade 4 and their teacher. Each of the supervising teachers have differing levels of expertise with technology, ranging from highly experienced to still mastering some of the tools. Here is the setup for them!
- Our technician worked on their laptops so they can access our school network and wireless internet. It was too much to reghost their laptops as they would have to be wiped at the end of the round, so our school lent them a netbook each which has the Edustar image found on all our netbooks and a wonderful suite of software tools
- Two lesson times were set aside, to work with the girls on tools that they might use for teaching online – voicethread, wallwisher and wordle.
- worked with their classes and shadowed their supervising teachers.
- emailed Julie Lindsay to see which online tools are blocked in China.
- Abby and Bianca joined my accounting class to see how the virtual student from Balmoral is accommodated.
- Britt Gow and I worked with the girls after school in our usual WIWOW time.
- Commenced a class blog for each – learnt how to edit and add an image using irfanview See Bianca’s class blog, Michelle’s class blog and Abby’s class blog
- Recorded Bianca with her impressions of her first class – introducing them to the fact she was going to China
- Abby registered for and started a voki (animated avatar)
- The girls enjoyed one of our staff functions at the TAFE Endeavours restaurant in Warrnambool at night.
- worked with Bianca to ensure she knew how to work her class blog
- Online linkup with a teacher, Lorraine Leo, from Boston, USA, listening to her share her class, classroom and the city she lives in. Lorraine is an experienced and effective online teacher and uses inteactivity with students wherever possible. However, data transmission was slow this time and her video image cut in and out for a start. Abby and Michelle sat in on this.
- worked with Bianca again and discussed her approach whilst in China
- The dongles, allowing mobile internet access, did not come with the girls. This has been a real constraint as they need internet access at night time to complete their journals, online lesson plans etc. (they will be picked up this weekend from Ballarat)
- The lack of a budget. Means that all work has to be done in spares etc with no promise of CRT replacement
- Lack of netbooks that can be dedicated to this round so our school had to allow the girsl one from our library sets. These are in high demand from classes and senior students who do not have their own netbooks
- Time – time to write this all up, blog about it, share in discussions etc Time to keep in online contact with Lesley MacGregor, our great support from Country Education Project who liaises with us and the University of Ballarat.
- Their lack of knowledge of many of the potential tools that can be used for eLearning. This needs to be taught in the Education faculties of Universities and become part of teacher training.
- Need to take care of our stress levels as this is extremely demanding and time consuming.
The unexpected factors:-
- We have laughter, excitement and the influence of youth in our staffroom
- Three young innovative youth are working with innovative teachers within our school and pushing innovation at a faster pace. They are sharing their ideas, approaches and experiences with digital technology and I love it! It is worth all the hard work!