Endang, a valued online colleague, from Pekalongan, Western Java, Indonesia, wanted to share the amazing impact that skype and videoconferencing could have for learning, with her fellow teaching colleagues – especially those who actually teach English. Endang has developed a powerful network from across the globe through the use of skype. With her astute vision and innovative spirit, she is determined to help move her community forward.
Several months ago, Endang organised three full days of professional development workshops on skype, videoconferencing etc for interested teachers and selected students. The workshop was called Learning English with Native Speaker. On several of those days, my year 11 IT class and I were proud to be involved for direct linkups. Students had their individual skype user name and were connected with another from Endang’s session.
My students were excited to be one of the Australian school groups to be part of this despite the internet connections being poor at times. Several students spent their lunchtime and afternoon working with their Indonesian counterparts. It was wonderful to hear them work through the different accents, methods of speaking etc to actually be able to communicate with each other. See what the students had to say about the connection.
Arriving at school, a week ago, I discovered a box on my desk that was made of materials not usually seen in Australia. Excitedly, I opened it to find some wonderful gifts from Endang, all representing the area she lives in. Several of the products were batik items.
Teachable moments and interrupted learning
Having a busy teaching day, I took my bos along to each class, even to my senior VCE classes, displayed the contents and we discussed each item. Students were fascinated with the contents and it created a lot of discussion. One small box gave the impression of holding a wooden flute and the first class assumed it was a musical instrument. However, when I took it to my year 11 IT savvy students, one boy stated that it was a food! How did he know? He had googled it! I have so much to learn from my students! Students all wanted to know more about this type of food.
What was in the box?
- a thank you certificate from the signed by and stamped with the official stamp of the mayor of Pekalongan
- a beautiful batik dress
- a gorgeous little batik purse
- a beautiful cloth bag
- the ‘little box’ of Brem Suling Gading Asli
A little of what the students learnt!
- What batik is! (None of them had heard of batik!)
- Where Pekalongan is.
- The nature of Brem Suling Gading Asli
- The necessity of fans was dicussed, with surprise that the Indonesian people do not experience the four seasons that we, in southern Australia do.
- The conditions that many of the students from these areas might live and study in.
How fabulous is this that we can learn in ‘real time’ and network our students one to one with students and teachers in other countries, connecting and communicating in powerful and wonderful ways. How can we extend this networking? What outcomes do you see as eventuating from such activities?