Videoconferencing with the Early Years in Hong Kong

conferencing with Hong Kong

The conference:  Perfecting the Blend Conference, Dec 2012 at Mt Clear, near Ballarat,

The session:  “Video Conferencing – Early Years focus: Hong Kong” with Chun Fung Bong (an early childhood educator at York English Kindergarten and Primary School in Hong Kong).

The space: Polycom Videoconferencing

Here are my notes from this session.

Getting started

  • Used videoconferencing for professional development and workshops
  • Started videoconferencing with the younger students. First contact was Rowena Gerber, USA, who was a keynote presenter at the conference.

How it is used:-

  • No zoo in Hong Kong – huge effort even to go to museum or zoo in China. National Interests – NASA programs from USA are free for US. Impossible to link up with a space program in China as space program is part of the military. It is easier to get US astronaut than Chinese astronaut in Hong Kong.
  • Visit authors, museums, Museum of Modern Arts, music programs. Cash strapped schools cannot afford to go out too much.
  • Drawings by students – exhibition flew to Japan. Shared drawings over Videoconferecing. Rowena’s students shared animals – lizards and snakes were being seen by children – fundamentally shocked to the core – as it is inconceivable in Hong Kong or China to touch reptiles. Yet, reptiles make great pets.
  • Learn how to play golf – Students in HK and China only know how to study. They are trying to start sports program and learn how to play golf but in HK golf is considered a sport of the wealthy or aristocratic.  Land is scarce. It teaches patience, sportsmanship but no teachers knew how to play golf. In HK people learned 1 on 1 or 1 on 5. But teaching children would be 1 to 20. They went to libraries to look for ways to teach golf. Emailed all friends in the world. A school in Wales came back and said they were teaching golf to primary secondary students.  Offered a VC workshop. Got a PGA pro from Wales to teach teachers in HK how to teach golf and how to teach students as a group. Then went on to develop a tennis program.  Discovered things that not even youtube has.
  • Tennis: First year teachers – come out with theories but no practical knowledge of how to teach tennis to 30 students. They can sit in on another academic’s lesson and watch this teacher teach.
  • Virtual tours/experiences 99.9% of students have never seen snow but it appears in many children’s books. VC with another school who showed them a snowman, it became concrete for children.
  • Learn Astonomy: Multi point VC – had researchers at Cambridge teaching students about astronomy – Pakistan, England, HK etc  can change the way you teach but also how you look at learning.

Further notes-

  • Connect 3 mins beforehand to test, control camera and see how different schools use space.
  • Problems with VC – maintain mutual view
  • VC units are not cheap – huge cost. Maintaining the line is very costly.
  • Resolution –  projector and VCC units. When the project is on a big screen resolution is lost.
  • Use VC to a TV – bright, don’t need to turn off the lights. TV is engaging.

Tips/observations for videoconferencing with the early years

  • Early years – students <6 years old – lack of concentration, they do not speak loudly, language barrier.
  • Most Video conferences are an hour long. Introductions, teaching activity and then finsh with a game
  • Introductions – a very scripted part due to difference in language ability. Some children come up and introduce Hong Kong to other side, then other side introduces. Main reason that VC may fail is lack of preparation. He therefore insists that other side gives a verbatim script of what children would say with actual names of students who are speaking.
  • Need script on middle bit ie teaching activitiy. This means that children can come to the VC prepared. The teacher can share background information to enable better interaction once conferencing. Little ones speak very softly. If mic does not pick up what they are saying, the MC or hosting teacher should repeat what they say and repeat on the other side.
  • Teaching an activity – Some examples are tai che, waltz, bucket drumming, Chinese calligraphy, how to make gingerbread house, no bake cookies. Need to modify content and know exactly how it might play out.

Martial arts (Tai che) Tai che is great as it is slow. Learnt how to teach to own children and then teach the other side. Use imagery, “Imagine a big watermelon, push right side to left side”  Impose a narrative or story it becomes much more powerful. Language barriers and age gaps can be challenges – overcome age differences and language differences.

Games include: Simon Says, Guess Who?


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