37 excited and highly skilled students performed to a captive audience of 100 or so educators and adults interested in education at the The Innovations Showcase, Melbourne Entertainment and Convention Centre in Melbourne. Immediate feedback was provided via twitter.
However, these students were not actually in the room but came from SMJK Poi Lam School in Ipoh, Malaysia and performed for us over skype (videoconferencing) on the big screen.
“Little Big Classrooms” was the topic of my presentation for the Showcase. As I wanted the participants to see, hear and feel what global cultural connections can bring to the classroom, my dear e-colleague Veronica Woo might be able to link up for a short video conference during the presentation. To my delight, Veronica and another English teacher, Yew Yan Koon agreed and offered to provide a student performance. The 37 students were from SMJK Poi Lam School in Ipoh, Malaysia and professionally provided an inspiring, entertaining, visually stimulating Capella of ‘The Circle of Life’. The costumes and sets were beautifully put together and both amazed and delighted their virtual audience. They also included an effective and innovative short choral reading of extracts of the dialogue between the Lion King and his son, Simba.
Feedback from Veronica
Thanks Anne for giving us the opportunity to be part of your presentation. I could see right after the performance how motivated our students were. I suppose that’s the reality and impact of having performed in real time to a real audience in another part of the world. And all this despite the fact that they could not see them, the real audience in the hall!
Feedback via twitter from the audience:-
- @suewaters Attending @murcha session at #deecdisc watching Skype connecting with class in another country
- @kmroyds Experiencing #globaled: @murcha just linked us with Malaysian school group performing the Lion King live on skype #deecdisc
- @kmroyds: Brilliant ‘Circle of Life’ performance by Malay students for @murcha session #deecdisc
- @lucybarrow:- Just witnessed gorgeous Lion King performance by students in Malaysia, live on skype with @murcha at #deecdisc
- @ptoosh #deecdisc loving the Lion King … Connecting, sharing and learning globally – surely this is 21st C learning in practise! Well done @murcha
- @mr_mitch_hughes: Seriously need to get skype unblocked at my school. @murcha great prezo #deecdisc”
This outlines some of the amazing capabilities of technology:-
- the chance to connect and communicate across countries/cultures in real time
- immediate feedback of a performance via eg twitter, where normally the audience will clap and that is the only response.
- providing students with a real audience
- students able to perform to a camera without knowing who their audience is.
- inspiring and motivating students to aspire to similar outcomes and push them outside their own comfort zones
- allows my students who rarely attend cultural/musical performances due to rural isolation to see it from peers of their own age grouping
- exposes them to Chinese culture and artistry – delightful and beautifully crafted sets, costumes and props
- imparts a sense of bonding and a sense of admiration for other cultures when often racism exists in small, rural, isolated communities.
- ‘skype’ installed on the laptop for VC (from a USB)
- a borrowed laptop with inbuilt mic and webcam
- the laptop was plugged into the conference centre digital setup.
- My laptop ‘died’ during the week and I was left without internet access just as I was away from home, presenting at a seminar and the Showcase. This made communications with Veronica difficult and prevented us from having an ‘e-dress rehearsal’ two days before to test audio and the webcam.
- the Malaysian students could not see their audience
- the fact that Veronica and I have worked together many times before and have built a confidence and trust in each other to “be there” and know that ‘it will work’!
- knowing that Veronica is highly skilled in the use of video conferencing
- the responsiveness of the audience
- the highly skilled performance of the students
- the full support of the organisers of the Showcase in helping out when my laptop could not make it!
- What further benefits do you think that videoconferencing across cultures can have?
- How do you use videoconferencing?
- How could similar links apply or be used in your classroom?