Category Archives: Asian Connections

Kahoot with Asia

code and names

A message came up in one of my Skype groups, to say that a teacher, Sunny, from Vietnam was looking for classes to play a Kahoot game with. The topic was “American Education” – not really a topic that my students would be confident on, but I thought they might have playing with the class from Vietnam.

the three classes

However, I did not have my year 8 class until 2 hours after the requested time. Sunny said that she could work in with my timetable. At the agreed time, we connected using Skype videoconferencing. After some introductory comments and introductions, another class appeared. However, as time was limited, there was no time to intoduce ourselves as we had to login using the code and start playing. Students opened up Kahoot on the desktop computers of their laptops. The code was visible when Sunny shared her screen.

entering the code on the mobile phones

We used visual clues to try and determine what country they were from as we could see their class as we played. Their facial features were Asian in nature and one of the girls who we could see wore a hijab. We assumed it was a private school as the boys wore ties. Our guess was Malaysia and once the game had ended this was verified. They were from Kajang Bandar Jamaludin, Malaysia.

head scarf on girl and mobile phone

As students logged in, we could see the Asian names and English names all dropping in on the screen. Some added emoticons etc. To our amazement, all the other students were using individual mobile phones to play. (Our education department is banning the use of mobile phones in our schools next year. At this stage, students in our school can only use them if a teacher has directed them. They cannot access the school wifi and as there is little mobile phone reception where the school is located, they are unable to effectively use them for online purposes.)

american education

The game started! Initially one of my students was leading but due to our lack of knowledge, were overtaken. However, they all had fun and learned from some of the answers to the questions given.


  1. Students had great fun playing with students from other countries.
  2. They could see what Asian classes look like and sound like.
  3. My students were exposed to different names from Vietnam and Malaysia as they logged on with the Asian names. Too often students from other countries adopt an English name and use that.


Going back in time!

Video call snapshot 32

Mariko Eguchi took us on a virtual tour of a Japanese classroom belonging to the class she is going to connect us with in early December.  Japan brings images of high technology use in my mind so it came as a bit of a shock to see a blackboard, chalk, no sign of computers or technology except for Mariko’s equipment, chairs in straight lines, desks individually placed allowing one student per desk etc. Certainly a contrast to our classrooms at Hawkesdale! It took me way back in time and reminded me how far we have actually come with technology.

Mariko had brought mobile polycom equipment, but the school firewall did not allow video to be transferred during our test linkup.  Skype was used instead with the video and audio of high quality.

The year ICT class used Mystery Skype, google maps etc to determine where Mariko was from. She then took us on virtual tour of the classroom explaining that we were to meet the actual class in a couple of week’s time. Students were intrigued to find out that this school canteen only serves curried rice compared to our school which has a wide variety of hot foods and cold foods.

Video call snapshot 31

One of my students then took Mariko on a virtual tour of our school, using their microsoft surface tablets device.


Global Selfies

A global selfie featuring people from Indonesia, Australia and China

A global selfie featuring people from Indonesia, Australia and China

What can you see in this picture –  sights, feelings, atmosphere??? Selfies are a great way to capture learning, experiences and learning and can now be done on a global scale!

A fun linkup was held last Thursday after school with Endang from Indonesia and some of her helpers to created global classrooms with students in Pekalongan, Indonesia. Unfortunately, our students had just gone home on their school buses so I connected with  three lads who  wanted to know what Mystery Skype was. Instead of telling them, they participated in a mystery skype. Questions that could only have a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer were asked until they worked out where I was from.

Li Min, our Chinese language assistant who is helping with our mandarin Chinese language program at school, came into the room after hearing the laughter, so they had fun working out where she was from. She hails from Wuhan, China. This added another accent to the mix of conversations, so the chat was used, together with audio,  to ensure we all understood each other.

They then asked about the global projects that students in our school have been involved in and what projects we are currently involved in. Year 9 and 10 students have just started a Global Selfies project through Taking IT Global, so I mentioned this. Immediatley, hearing the word selfie Mumtaz Kwizime pulled out his phone as if to clarify that is what we meant.

The second selfie taken!

The second selfie taken!

We asked if he would take a selfie of all of us involved, and above is the result! I love the photo. What do you think? What can you see in the photo? How do you think our connection went?

Happy New Year to my Chinese friends!

gong xi fa cai 恭喜发财

May You Be Prosperous! May You Earn A Lot Of Money! May you Obtain A Fortune! (used as a greeting at Chinese Spring Festival or Chinese new year)

year of the horse1

Chinese New Year is a special time of year as our school teaches mandarin Chinese as its second language. It is also special to me as I have some very close online and face to face colleagues who are Chinese. One such colleague is Veronica Woo who I have e-worked with over the last 5 years or so. (See cultural eLearning adventures). Veronica teaches in a Chinese school in Malaysia – SMJK Poi Lam School in Ipoh.

So much of a culture, language, geography and backgrounds can be learned in real time using technology to connect with those who live in other countries….. but nothing beats travel, actually visiting the country and meeting face to face online colleagues. As such my husband and I have visited Malaysia and met Veronica and travelled with her around Ipoh and Penang. To our delight, Veronica and her niece came to visit us, stayed on our farm and vistied my school in December last year.

xhiao wen and veronica

A large parcel  was discovered in our roadside mailbox yesterday. It was full of gifts, cards and red packets or ‘ang pau’ for family and students at school to celebrate  the Chinese New Year – the Year of the Horse in 2014. There were decorations, photos, Tshirts,  cushion covers, a  horse and much more!


With pride, I took the cards and gifts to school, distributed them to students and  adorned our front office proudly with the decorations acknowledging our association with the Chinese people!  Students were excited to open up their cards and find their laminated photos and of course my grandchildren loved the gifts and cards too.

A snap decision was made to decorate our office window and foyer with Chinese decorations to share this festival with staff, students and community members.


office and lanterns

Festivals are a time for celebrating with families. Thanks Veronica for making the new year special to us at Hawkesdale and Happy New Year to you and all my Chinese friends.

Do you celebrate the Chinese New Year? If so how? Melbourne (my state capital city) celebrates Chinese New Year. Veronica has suggested that the following movie is viewed:-

The Reunion Dinner (回家過年) is a 15 minute short movie written and
directed by Anthony Chen (導演: 陳哲藝) who just won the Golden Horse 2013
Best New Director (第五十屆金馬獎最佳新導演).A simple yet superb film that will surely touch your heart:
The Reunion Dinner 回家過年by Anthony Chen 陳哲藝@

Two other youtube videos suggested by Veronica Woo for the staff and students to watch:-

A site for Chinese phrases

An unpredictable class!

majority of class
Today was day 1, term 4. Period 5,  my year 8 ICT class were to link up with Port Phillip EcoCentre, St Kilda Botanical Gardens and Gio to learn about the nesting boxes that are being placed around St Kilda ensuring the survival of a number of birds and animals. Blackboard Collaborate was the software to be used. My class all successfully logged in. We talked about appropriate online behaviour and netiquette whilst we waited.

However technical issues in Melbourne prevented Gio and Jill from coming online at the appointed time. Whilst they were solving their problems, an online colleague from Taiwan – Lin-lin was asking over our HLW skype group for someone to connect with her students so that they could do a mystery skype linkup and then sing a song to another teacher or class.

rachel grace and taiwan students

Thinking this would be good filler and stop my students ‘hanging from the rafters’, I offered my class. However, just as we connected over skype, Gio entered the virtual classroom. How could we be part of both activities? I did not want to offend either of our virtual connections.

Two of my girls said that they would videoconference with Taiwan, whilst the rest of the class learnt about the nesting boxes.  I was a little nervous about this as those two same students would not ask questions over mystery skype a couple of weeks prior – due to shyness. The girls retired to the small store room adjacent to the computer lab, with no instruction from me, whilst I then had to give full attention to the rest of the class.

rach and grace from linlin

Periodically I checked on the two girls but they appeared to be going well, took some photos for me and asked questions of Lin-lin by microphone and used the chat to ensure understanding. This could have been very messy as there was no backup plan for the class. But all students were engaged in either of the two activities. The photos display this engagement.

What I learnt

  • splitting students into groups can work well – each group having their own virtual learning activity with a different tool
  • images such as those that Gio shared can be powerful for learning and engagement. He shared a number of pics of the nesting boxes and the tiny animals who inhabited them.
  • the backchannel is great! Every students can ask questions, share experiences and feelings
  • it is often better for me, the teacher, to get right out of the way and just leave a small group of students to themselves when videoconferencing over eg skype so that they are forced to learn how to communicate with others who may not speak English as their first language.

This could have been a very messy class but instead turned out to be highly successful for all students.

class engaged

Technology and the Future of Education

The PGL Panel

As part of the keynote sessions at the Partnerships for Global Learning conference, a panel of guest speakers was invited to share their opinions on “Technology and the Future of Education” from a global perspective. The panel consisted of Steve Hargadon, Lucy Gray, Julie Lindsay, Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano and me (Anne Mirtschin). Steve ably led the discussions and spent much time preparing the forum questions. Approximately 600 conference participants listened to the panel.

Panel discussion audienc

Here are some of the questions directed at the panel members:-

  • Please give a favorite example of a use of technology in global education/collaboration
  • Have our definitions of global education changed because of the internet and web/collaborative technologies, and how do we begin to identify (store) best practices we’re seeing with technology and global education?  That is, what do successful global projects [using technology] look like?
  • How do we measure the outcomes of global education, and how is the technology involved?
  • In an increasingly test-driven education environment, how do you find leadership support for global activities?
  • Students and teachers increasingly lead parallel lives:  they are learning from and with new technologies, they are being measured in inadequate ways…  Lets’ talk about technology from the educator side
  • Are there ways of overcoming technology gaps between participating schools? How do you connect with a school that has low, limited, or no access to technology or connectivity?
  • Is global education our end goal?  What is your prediction for where we are headed?

Thanks Steve, Julie, Lucy and Silvia and a big thank you to the organisers of this great conference for inviting me to participate. It was such an exciting and proud moment. The conversations continue on our mighty bell space. Please join us.

Julie, Sylvia and me

Steve and Lucy ensure discussion questions go smoothly

What the…..? and other classrooms sounds!

Students followed the link given on my classroom blog, but as the first student opened it, all I could hear was “What the…..?” Wondering what was wrong, I glanced at the computer screen and saw the following:-

Next comment from another student “It’s all in Japanese!” I just laughed and thought “let the learning begin”!

Several weeks ago, I was contacted by an educator from Japan, who taught English at Hokusei Gakuen University in Japan. As Interpretation was one of the upcoming topics for study, Nakao wondered whether we could create some videos on Family  or School for her students. Wondering how I could build this into my VCE IT subject where the current topic is databases, I realised that I could actually tweak things and use data from the linkup, student names etc to build a database that would be far more engaging than textbook exercises.

The procedures:-

  1. Naoko’s professor built a space for my students in their moodle learning management system.
  2. Two spaces have been setup – a forum area for discussion and another space to upload the videos.
  3. My students will upload their videos to youtube – the university professor  suggested that we make them private and has told us how. However, I think it is better to make them public as many others may also be interested in our way of life, family life, school, culture etc. Due to our isolated rural community, we are so different to many! The youtube videos will then be embedded into the moodle.
The students from Japan each added a conversation starter to the forum. Once my students worked out the English translator, they were away!
There were periods of absolute silence as they read with fascination, the comments made about life in Japan and questions asked of my students.
At other times there was lively chatter as they discussed pronunciation of names, topics shared and who was going to respond to whom.
Here are some comments that caused keen interest:-
180 million people lives in Sapporo city. What does your town look like?
Response: We have 150 people live in our town of Hawkesdale
I soppose that ski is one of the most popular sport.
Response: The closest snow fields are 6-8 hours drive away from where we live. (Most of my students have not seen snow)
I love vegetables which my grandfather makes. Especially, White Pumpkin is delicious満面の笑顔
Reaction: Australian students are intrigued about white pumpkin. We have never seen one 
  1. the engagement of my students
  2. their eagerness to participate and respond as best they could
  3. students  completely focused on task at hand (other times they are easily distracted with youtube, playing games etc)
  4. the discussion amongst my students that was triggered by some of the questions and comments
  5. having an expert set up the system for us in moodle – a university professor! Thank you! Using moodle and the forum is an excellent way of collaborating. Students took to it like ‘water off a duck’s back’.
  6. the learning that takes place – we are different, live in completely different environments, learn at different levels of education and yet students are so curious about each other.
  7. our mandarin Chinese teacher walked in at the stage where the screen was in Japanese text and identified many Chinese characters amongst them. He shared with the students, why they were the same.

  • language barriers, different terms used, completely different names!
  • using a new tool and system although they students embraced it quickly. They quickly worked out how to add images etc
  • the cultural differences and avoiding offending each other
  • I am afraid that I will mess up the moodle space if I change details etc.

So proud and honoured to be a part of SMJK Poi Lam, Ipoh!

The Big Classroom - SMJK Poi Lam What a proud, uplifting and memorable morning I spent (together with my husband) at SMJK Poi Lam school in Ipoh, Malaysia on Monday, October 3rd.   A full cultural welcome was given to us at a  special assembly held at 7:30am as part of a presentation for certificates for the DEECD Innovations Showcase 2011, where my two Chinese friends had videoconferenced in two special cultural performances as part of my presentation there. See Malaysian Students in Real Time Performance for Innovations Showcase As we arrived at the school we were ushered into the Principal’s office. The principal, Mr Lau Swee Mun,  is one of excellence ranking in Malaysia. There we had a very informative chat discussing many educational issues some relating to technology. Next we were ushered to the assembly area to the beat of the kompang (Malay drums),  through a  student  guard of honour, including the Chinese dragons, joker and flag bearers. The students were  dressed in National Costume representing the three cultures of Malaysia – the Chinese, the Malay and the Indian. To our delight one student was dressed as an Australian! This was a very emotional moment for me, especially as I am sure that events like this are normally set aside for people or events of high importance. Once seated on the stage and facing the student assembly, the national anthem of Malaysia and the Perak anthem were sung. The treats continued with a traditional   Chinese dragon dance welcome, complete with a joker.

the Chinese dragon with Joker

This was followed by:-

  • a Wushu demonstration  by 4 expert  students
  • a very creative, innovative choral speaking performance “Jom! Let’s Visit Perak!”
  • Choral reading and Acapella “One moment in time with the Lion King”

Choral speaking "Jom! Let's Visit Perak1"

Choral Reading

We were amazed by the confidence and professionalism of the two  MC/s who happened to also be the two students who created book trailers as part of our Globalstorytelling project for the Melbourne Writers Festival. But mostly, I loved seeing the creativity of my friend Veronica Woo and also of Yew Yan Koon and their fantastic work using  performing arts with the students.

The assembly was entitled ” Little Big Classrooms 2011 Innovations Showcase” and it was held to honour the students who took part in the Videoconference linkup as part of  the Victorian Education Innovations and Next Practise Showcase in May 2011. These students would be  issued with their certificates which had been signed by our Victorian Minister for Education.
After a speech by Veronica, myself and the Principal, I was able to give each student their signed certificate. (Veronica had withheld the issuance of the certificates until I came to Malaysia). Veronica had told me that:-
These students will  in Malaysia, students will be awarded maximum bonus points of 20 marks for their involvement in any form of extra curricular activities at the international level.
In return, Innovation and Next Practise and a number of staff, including me received a certificate signed by the Perak Director of Education. This wonderful assembly concluded with the crossing of the two country’s flags – Malaysian and Australian.
A traditional meal of Malaysian Nasi Lemak – Malaysia’s national dish was offered to invited  guests, parents and a number of staff. It was great to be able to continue conversations with the Principal, to meet face to face members of the Malaysian Writers Festival committee, the reporter from the local newspaper, parents and a principal from another school.  Special times were also spent with some of the performing students, getting to know them and learning of their ambitions. Shyness was overcome and we were able to work through our different accents and way of speaking.

Many cultures represented

What a wonderful, honourable, exciting, emotional treat and event to be actually part of. Thank you to my two special friends and colleagues – Veronica and Yew Yan Koon. Thank you for connecting, communicating and collaborating with us, taking on risks,  sharing, pioneering and innovating what technology to experience what it can do for learning on a global level.
As Veronica said:
“The classroom is my world and the world is my classroom!”
Thank you for being part of our little big classroom!
Terima Kasih
Xie Xie
I need to find the Indian word for thank you

Veronica, Evon and me

Lights, camera, action!

An excited but rather nervous audience gathered together sharing conversations whilst waiting for the TV camera team to enter the classroom and commence filming. A newspaper reporter waited in the wings to catch the news in print. One team member made sure his hair was done neatly. Others completed tasks on their computer while they waited. I was introduced to the key teachers and students involved whilst we waited for the camera crew to arrive.

This was no normal audience as it was not local but global in nature. Katherine from Austria had put a skype text into the group chat looking for people to be online with her for her first class of the day. A TV camera team was coming in to film her class using skype to  videoconference with other countries. In the wings waiting, were educators from England, New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Lithuania, Peru and me from Australia online ready to be part of the action.

The newspaper reporter with Veronica in Malaysia

Veronica and Evon of Malaysia had a news reporter from Ipoh with them.  While we waited they interveiwed me and shared their plans for promoting their local region, called Perak in 2012. Using the webcam, they shared brochures and promotional material using the webcam and talked of the exciting places to visit in Perak.

The Austrian students

Soon it was time for me to come online with the students in Austria. Skype started to falter, so the Austrian classroom switched off their video. This meant that I could not see or feel what was going on the other end of the world but the connection was then stable enough to allow my webcam to project my image.

We chatted about:-

  • the weather and seasons
  • school
  • holidays
  • food and meals
  • Australian culture and icons – I showed vegemite, the Australian flag and some of the beautiful Australian native flowers that are currently flowering in our spring season. They talked about eidelweiss.

Sharing Australian spring flowers

How amazing is this!  A global group all waiting in the wings to share the exciting learning and sharing that technology can bring to the classroom. My local media rarely feature the fantastic work that can be done with technology and yet we can be featured on TV on the other side of the world and be part of a newspaper report in Malaysia, both events occurring within 30 mins of each other.
What experiences have you had with media? What can you share about videoconferencing with skype?

The real life participants in this drama:-

  • the teacher combing his hair was from the UK, waiting with his class.

Reflections on Learning2.011 Asia Conference

What a great conference this was! The Learning 2.011 conference is innovative and unique, in that participants can have complete choice over sessions, workshops and the direction of their cohort groups. There were more than 400 people in attendance, most of whom were from schools in Asia.
This is how it looked:-

  • When participants first registered, they chose cohort groups based on subject areas or other areas of interest.
  • Cohort leaders were then chosen on the basis of interest shown by registered participants. (Jabiz (@intrepidteacher) and I worked with the English/Social Studies cohort.)
  • There were five cohort sessions – one on the first night of the conference and two on each of the full days.

  • Each day started with a keynote session – these included cohort group leaders  eg @kimcofino, @kevinhoneycutt, @gcouros, @courosa, @thecleversheep, @jessmcculloch, @libraryanne, @intrepidteacher, @wesfryer and myself. Each of these sessions demonstrated an interest or passion, yet all focused on  the power that technology and networking can bring to learning. Students also provided keynote sessions – these were amazing with confident students sharing their knowledge, their learning and their outcomes. Some fabulous student video creations were shared.
  • Between cohort sessions, there were workshops and unconference sessions. Conference participants would put up a suggestion for an unconference session based on a topic or need that arose out of the conference. I attended unconference sessions on podcasting, the flipped classroom, making a mobile app,  virtual worlds and Wonderland etc. These were fabulous and the often small group sizes led to intimate discussions and sharing.

    Sample unconference sessions

There was no need to sign up for workshops or unconference sessions, simply find the allocated room. I loved this flexibility.  Experts within the conference can run workshops or unconference sessions on an fantastic range of topics and  workshops and unconferences are selected at the time. There were cohort groups for all educators including leaders, assessors, PE teachers, the Arts, Digital Storytelling etc. (See the scheduled cohort groups and  workshops.)


  • Meeting face to face many of the people who I follow on twitter and have admired for a long time.
  • Meeting many new contacts who are just as passionate about immersing technolgy in learning
  • Working closely with all cohort leaders in the two days prior to they conference. This gave us a chance to feel comfortable with each other, to learn from each other, share our passions and gain confidence in the direction we would take .
  • Working with Jabiz (@intrepid teacher) on the English/Social Studies cohort. A wiki, Connect, Communicate, Collobarte, Create was set up and on the Thursday evening, it was decided to split them into two groups. The wiki was our framework, place to share resources etc and gave us direction, should the group need guidance in what they wanted to know.
  • Networking with so many wonderful educators, including two others from Victoria @jessmcculloch and@mr_robbo
  • Ability to connect with 450 educators mostly from Asia, all of which can fit into schools’ time zones.
  • Sharing conversations around educational and technological passions.
  • The flexbility of the conference to cater for all needs
  • Meeting the committee members who worked tirelessly  and who looked after the cohort leaders so well.


  • Ensuring the needs and desires of the cohort group were met. Did we really cater for what they wanted to know? Did they know what they wanted to know?
  • Working with
  • Preparing a 5-7 minute keynote presentation and keeping to the time line.
  • Working without many of the great tools that I use for learning as so many sites are blocked in China eg twitter, my blog (could not edit it), youtube and facebook.
  • Watching the cohort group tackle the use of technology each session.
What would I do differently next time?
  • make more use of the student who was assigned to our cohort and get him to share his learning.
  • give the group more time to share with each other using informal discussions.
  • setup an ongoing networking system when back at school, before the conference finished. (Have since created a group in skype for ongoing conversations.)
Have you been to a conference similar to this, where differentiated learning is encouraged all the way? Were you at Learning2.011? What were your takeaways and reflections on the conference?
Thanks to all involved, I have come away a richer, more empowered educator with many more in my network. Looking forward to Learning 2.012. If you want to attend a conference where you have almost full control over your learning, this is the one for you. Hope to see you there!