Please note that this post is cross-posted at SmartBlog on Education
A virtual classroom of engaged students
As it is connected educator month, it is interesting to take note of what life can be like in 24 hours as a connected educator! Following are the sequence of events one 24 hour period last week!
6:30am Perused my emails – mostly content sent whilst the rest of the world was awake. Responded to the most pressing emails. Checked twitter for any interesting updates, especially those tweets directed to me. Checked for any comments to moderate on my blog posts and respond to them, enabling further conversations and connections. Looked at the day’s statistics. (It is always motivating to know that people may have read posts or that keyword searches have found my blog posts. The search terms added give an idea for further posts that may be of interest to many.)
7:30am Last minute preparations for the day’s classes
8:15am Depart for school, turn on laptop proxy settings and check for any skype group updates
9am Coach a potential moderator online, in the use of Blackboard Collaborate (virtual classroom software. Our Education Department provides teachers with a statewide license for PD, meeting and classroom use.)
11am Activated the school polycom videoconferencing equipment to connect with a teaching colleague in Melbourne who was with the executive committee of Parents Victoria. We demonstrated the potential it has for effective and easy connections via high quality videoconferencing. Discussed various uses of this equipment and other tools may have for connecting eg bringing statewide parents in to virtual meetings from their homes, virtual parent/teacher/school information evenings, virtual school assemblies
1pm Noted the emailed link to the virtual room for my year 8 ICT class linkup with Gio and Port Phillip EcoCentre. Gio, a year 11 student in Melbourne, is to share his work on the Nest Box Forum with my students. My class is to be a champion class for Gio to learn how to make effective use of blackboard collaborate as a teaching/learning tool. My students will have the chance to interact with Gio, learning netiquette and appropriate online behaviour and finding answers to their curiosity.
2pm Year 8 students individually logon and enter the virtual room. Surprisingly, Gio was not there yet. An email alerted us to the problems they were having with their technology back in Melbourne. While we waited, students drew pictures on the whiteboard to share something of where we live. Wondering how long this would keep them engaged, I tried to think of a plan B. However, a skype pop-up window, alerted me to a request from Lin-lin in Taiwan, looking for a class to do a mystery skype with her students now! Thinking this could be a life saver, I immediately said we would – at least until Gio was able to connect with us. Just as I set up skype to display on a bigger monitor, Gio appeared. Not wanting to offend either party, I got two girls to take my laptop in to the backroom to do the mystery skype with the Taiwanese school, allowing me to work with the majority of students. I fleetingly and periodically checked on the two girls, but they seemed to be able to make themselves understood, looked like they were having fun as they communicated and connected, using the chat when there was misunderstanding with the spoken language. At one stage the Taiwanese class could be heard singing a song to the girls. Meanwhile my main class was highly engaged listening to and learning of the bats, possums and birds that used the nesting boxes. Gio shared some delightful images with them on the whiteboard.
Two countries,two cultures, two languages learn over skype
3:45pm Staff meeting. Got a viber alert on my ipad – a new healthy granddaughter, was just born in Johannesburg, Sth Africa!
8pm Checked emails, skype updates, viber messages, twitter feed and wrote a blog post An Unpredictable Class to share the impact of connectedness!
What does your typical ‘connected’ day involve? How important is it for educators to be connected? What impact has being connected had on your teaching/learning?