An opportunity arose for the students in our school, to participate in a virtual field trip with an Aquanaut, based in an undersea laboratory near Florida, USA – the Aquarius Reef Base, using Skype. This is one of only 3 undersea laboratories dedicated to education and science in the world. A group Skype call allowed classes and students from Asia, Pacifica and USA to connect. As it was a late afternoon call from Florida, it was our first lesson of the day. Usually Australian time zones are difficult to cater for. Our years 4 to 7 went to the library to view the linkup.
Some of the group participants from other countries
It was another amazing experience, learning from an Aquanaut, watching his tour in real time, viewing the cramped conditions, facilities and gear, and even seeing sealife swimming outside the window as he took the camera up to the window. We got a ‘real life view’ of what life in the laboratory is like.
We were all given an opportunity to ask questions. At first, we had difficulty seeing his image and tour but despite that students were highly engaged just listening. Then the full image projected on our screens which made it more special.
Read what students have posted to discover some of their learning and opinions. They have written blog posts on the connection.
What a fabulous opportunity this was for us.
We could even see the fish swimming outside their windows
As I am teaching an elective called Global ICT to year 9 and 10 students, I asked Mariana if she would have time to connect with them. This is a small class of students, so I was delighted when she agreed to speak to them. Year 7 class really enjoyed the previous connection and it was a great chance to learn about and discuss cultural differences a better understanding of the world we live in and to develop empathy for different ways of life
Again Mariana spent time introducing herself and explaining her background including the fact she was born in Lima, Peru. By sharing her screen, she read and showed the pages of her book “(Not) Home for Christmas”. Although it was in English the Spanish text could be seen on some of the pages. Once the book was finished, Mariana talked about some of the cultural differences in celebrating Christmas. Students then shared their ways of spending Christmas. Photos of Peru and Peru were also shared.
I would highly recommend Mariana to any classes around the world. Following are some of the ways in which she makes it engaging for students of all ages.
- Mariana effectively used objects to capture the students interest – a blown up balloon map of the world to show where she lived in the USA (Oklahoma) and where Lima Peru is located. Students then had to guide her to find where Hawkesdale Australia can be found.
- By sharing her screen, and showing the actual pages of the book, students could read the text in case they did not always understand her Spanish/US accent. The Spanish text could be seen as well.
- Students enjoyed seeing the cartoon type images of the book as they were highly engaging and it added depth to the meaning of the book.
- Mariana is a confident and engaging presenter who interacts well with the students.
- Even though the book was written for younger students, these 15-16 year old students enjoyed hearing it and liked learning about the different cultures.
- Mariana connects from her home and it is interesting to see what the space around her looks like, to have some of her family members interact with us and to hear her speak Spanish to her children.
Please read some of the student summaries on their blog posts:-
- Dwight Skype Linkup with Mariana Llanos
- Bayley Skype with an author
- Olivia Skype with Mariana Llanos
- LachlanS Skype with mariana llanos an author
Reinhard Marx is an online colleague from Germany who is always at the cutting edge of using technology for global collaboration. We met through the Hello Little World Skypers Group. Last year, he looked for teachers/classes to be involved in judging a Flash Mob Dancing Spectacular, as part of International Tolerance Day. I readily agreed as it was held during my evening and any projects Reinhard helps organise are always great. A similar event took place this year on November 16th. There is something rather amazing to be down near the southern tip of the world, yet be so intimately part of a school spectacular in the northern hemisphere – a school that is in the middle of Asia – and in a country that I know little about – Kazakhstan which is in the heart of Central Asia.
The 13 global judges came from Germany, Sweden, Bangladesh, Hungary, USA, England, Greece, Taiwan, Kazakhstan, Australia. Chills went down my spine, when the two student comperes acknowledged the judges, their countries and my name was read out over the youtube live streaming. These comperes were young, yet so professional. Judges were introduced using three different languages. 17 different dance groups performed often to a medley of music that included traditional, folk, hip hop, Asian, modern Western style. It was comforting to realise that these students loved similar music to what my students enjoy. The dance routines were fabulous, kept an absolute secret from anyone involved and choreographed by the students themselves.
The online tools used
- Skype: a skype group – the “Shymkent Flash Mob Jury 2018″ – was formed for those educators who were interested in being part of the global judging – either solo or with a class. This gave us a valuable backchannel both before, during and after the actual event. Some teachers were new to the process and were able to work out what they should do and where they should be on the actual online google judging sheet. Begaim, the chief organiser of the event, was able to keep us up to date with which group was performing and translate for us when necessary.
- Youtube – for live streaming of the event with the live audience chatting in the backchannel of youtube – mostly in a language I could not understand.
- Google sheets – for judging each flash mob. Teachers were given an individual sheet with in the group sheet. Each flash mob had a number and a name. Voting took place for each dance group. The following categories were voted individually on a score out of 10 – dance energy, team spirit, musicality (all movements in the dance must correspond to the specific features of the music), dance synchrony, creativity and appearance.
What the event looked like::-
- Testing of the youtube stream took place one hour prior to the event
- Skype group was used as a backchannel
- The two student comperes did a great job introducing the school and contestants, and introducing the global, virtual judges.
- Their national anthem was played
- The 17 different groups performed their flash mob dances (the whole process took approx 2.5 hours)
- As each group finished, the judges scores went up on the google sheet and were collated in real time.
- The winners were announced at the end
- One large skype group call enabled all the judges and classes across the world to see each other and speak – an amazing finale (although my bandwidth was not stong)
The global judges meet at the end over a group Skype call
Kudos and hearty congratulations to the teachers and students of Kazakhstan for such an amazing event. Thanks to Reinhard and Begaim for pulling in some of the global network to be judges and part of it all. A great way to celebrate International Tolerance Day.
It was night time for me!
Excerpt from the youtube chat on live streaming.
The annual Skypeathon gets bigger, better and more global each year. The dates for 2018 are Tuesday, November 13th and Wednesday 14th. The theme this year is “Open Hearts, Open Minds”.
I like the quote from this tweet from Microsoft in Education, Canada re “it is a live-learning marathon”.
The following tweet provides more details about the social goals for this year’s Skypeathon.
You can learn more by visiting the Skypeathon site Follow the steps to request mystery skype calls. There is an activity plan to organize your calls or digital passports, stickers and posters etc to be had. If you follow the #skypeathon hashtag on twitter, there are opportunities for organic or unplanned connections with people who are looking for partners. However, for the miles to be recorded, please request a mystery skype call at the planned time.
Already planned Skype calls for my classes include the following countries
- USA (students are either sleeping over or staying back after school)
Some of these involve live cultural or muscial performances, some are mystery skype calls and some are short sharing session. One is a connection with Microsoft manager talking about digital technology to my year 9/10 computer class. Are you going to be involved and if so, who will you connect with.