A networked brain makes for powerful learning!

Over the last 5 years, I have witnessed some amazing connections and projects, but the recent Mystery Skype session with a teacher from the USA was one of the most amazing due predominantly to a ‘networked brain’!

The Scenario

  • at the last moment realised the firewalls of school and a university in Japan would prevent us from collaborating on a moodle as planned that day for the double lesson after morning recess.
  • I had a bad headache! and could not even think of an alternative to this double lesson. (I had 20 mins to plan!)
  • thinking quickly, I turned to the HLW Skypers Group (Hello Little World Skypers group) and asked whether anyone might skype into my class for 10 – 15 mins.  David Karnoscak responded with a ‘yes’, but asked what would I like to talk about with him. A mystery skype session was suggested. However, this was new to me. Living Maths (Steve Cohen) from Cape Town, Sth Africa was also online and suggested we use a google document, for recording the learning, student questions etc and also that students should have google maps open on their computing device. Jose Popoff from Honduras was also there to help support the class planning.
  • Needing a coffee as it was recess time, I left the group and returned 15 mins later to find my whole lesson planned for me with the google doc created complete with rules, a map and a brain teaser!

A google doc is ready to go!

The actual lesson:-

  • students could only ask questions that required a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. I told them that were not to ask ‘are they from a ??? country” eg are you from USA. However it took them 35 mins to work it out, so maybe next time, they should ask that question.
  • the skype linkup was projected onto our high quality polycom conferencing equipment, but students had to come to the web camera of my laptop to ask questions, one at a time.
  • David gave them 3 clues in the end – first he took his webcam to the window (it was night time in USA),  then noticing the collection of country flags on our filing cabinet he gave a clue as to the country’s flag and finally said that Michael Jordan was from there.
  • It was then David’s turn to work out where we were from. He did not take nearly as long as he used google maps effectively (and already knew we were from Australia).

Students ask questions

The Outcomes
  • students were highly engaged  the whole time. 
  • they wrote up their questions on the google doc, until they got so engrossed towards the end that they just forgot.
  • learnt a little of where David lives, once they knew the exact location.
  • three girls took David on a virtual tour of our school, using my laptop,  and introduced him to some of our staff.
  • and then a very magical moment…. Sean, one of my students is self taught on many of the topics that take his interest. One of these is American war history. For a magical 10 minutes, Sean spoke one on one to David about one of the American colonial war history.  Read Sean’s post for questions discussed.  A very adult conversation!
  • students wrote a blog post on the activity and then added their reflections to this google document. See blog posts for Rachael,  SkippyKim, Ivy, Nathan, 

Deep in conversation re USA war history

Conclusion: What could have been the most disastrous of lessons, turned out to be one of the most amazing and gratifying, due to the help of the ‘networked brain’ who put together the lesson plan, the documentation, the resources and made it such a rich learning experience for both me and my year 9/10 ICT students. The collective experiences were built upon to further improve a mystery skype session. Thanks David, Steve and Jose!

Checking out google maps for the location

Have you been involved in a  mystery skype session? Reactions?

One response to “A networked brain makes for powerful learning!

  1. Anne, David and Steve came to rescue a couple of times this year as well. Your story was very inspiring. With global networking and collaboration we never have to feel “stranded” again!

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