Category Archives: Uncategorized

Technology – an amazing connector

As a member of HLW Skypers, notifications will come through at any time on the skype group chat. One such message appeared 2 hours 30 mins before a special event in India from Sebastian Panakal asking for members to send a video message offering thanks and congratulations to Mr. Hibi Eden, Member of Legislative Assembly of Kerala, Sujathambika, Staff, Students and Parent Teacher Association of S.R.V. School.

I am at the inauguration of SMART CLASSROOM at SRV School, today 2 hours 30 minutes from now. A message from my PLN will go a long way in helping the poor students in Public Schools in Kerala, India.

A quick decision had to be made! What should I use to send a video message. Skype video message on my laptop, was one option as was creating a video using my iphone and uploading to youtube. However, the quickest was a skype video message sent through the group chat. However, the internet in Kerala is not always robust so there is always a chance that it will not work at the appointed time. However, the skype video can be downloaded and shown while offline as long as it had fully uploaded by the appointed time in India. I followed a suggested script from Sebastian, made sure the lighting was okay behind me and found a quiet place away from the noise of the grandchildren who were staying. I usually produce an Australian flag when I introduce myself but in my haste could not find one.

Even though the request came through 2.5 hours before the event,  I only read the feed 30 mins before the due time so there was not time to perfect the video msessage. Soon after sending it through, a group call came through from the Kerala location so I was able to share my congratulations in real time with those in Kerala, together with Tracy Hanson in USA (of Next Generation Global Education) and another teacher from India. The teacher in India had prepared some slides to share with us all by using screen share on skype. (Note to myself: I need a short presentation, sharing where I am from and my school!)

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The skype group video call can be seen in the image above. This is rather incredible to think that one of the poorest schools of Kerala, India can connect to so many different educators and classes in Australia.and even more amazing that the Member of their Parliament could witness this.

Watch the following video of one of the other participants.

A message sent by Steve Sherman from Cape Town

The thing that always amazes me is that dedicated educators like Sebastian Panakal can use technology to great effect for poor schools in underdeveloped countries – imagine what all of us could do if we connect further!

New Year – A great lesson in Global Time Zones

As the Western world and parts of the Eastern World enter 2017, its celebration via fireworks and countdown to the New Year is a great way for all to learn of global time zones.

Living in Eastern Australia, we enter the New Year 2 hours behind our counterparts in New Zealand, who are amongst the first in the world to celebrate the New Year. Tonga is the first country to celebrate New Year.  It is fascinating to get up on New Year’s Day and watch the fireworks in other countries and time zones as New Year’s Day arrives. London’s fireworks could be seen at lunchtime on our New Year’s Day and New York’s in our late afternoon of New Year’s Day.

This is a great way to actually ‘see’ time zone differences and gain an understanding of how different countries and cultures celebrate New Year’s Day. Read more about the times in relation to London for global New Year.

How do you celebrate New Year’s Day? When is your New Year’s Day? The Chinese New Year is celebrated on January 28th 2017. This will be the Year of the Chicken.

On New Year’s Eve, we like to go to Port Fairy and watch the annual parade which is part of the Moyneyana Festival. There are a variety of floats and vehicles who take part.

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Christmas around the world – LIVE!

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Reinhard Marx is an innovative connected teacher in Germany and part of the HLW Skypers group. He organised Christmas Around the World and brought the world to his class as well as to those who participated.
I was registered to be a participant in the first class as it was night time in Australia. Unfortunately, I had no class with me. Kim from International Community School of Abidjan from Cote d’Ivoire, West Africa also joined us with her class.

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We shared how we celebrate Christmas in our countries. Reinhard’s class shared and I used screen sharing to show a presentation with pictures of what it is like where I live. Kim’s class showed a video story. Each of the students individually shared where they are from and how they celebrate Christmas. It was fascinating to learn of our similarities but also our differences.

As the session drew to a close, the German students sang “Oh Tannenbaum” for us. The words for this carol were shared on our screens. The next minute, Kim’s class broke out in energetic singing and harmonies. The passion of both songs brought sheer delight.

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The African class had to move, so I stayed on and showed my packet of Christmas cards and bonbons. The German students did not know bonbons. I opened one, and showed the little toy, party hat and riddle that came with it.

Our friend Maria del Colussa from Argentina also joined us for a few minutes but will be part of the next formal class.

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Christmas Around the World will continue through the next few hours with other classes and students joining in. What an amazing experience for Reinhard’s classes and for us!!

How it worked! Reinhard shared

  • a google document with us so that we could add the most suitable times.
  • a google map so we could add our location using pins
  • the google hangout link to connect

We used screen share to show our presentations and the chat to share questions and comments during the presentations.

What surprised me! The African students were so, so confident and had lots of questions. The German students were rather shy as English is their second or third language.

Other countries involved include Hungary, Sweden, India.

Most amazing is that this connection made the German newspaper. See the article online.

Skypeathon

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The recent 2016 Skypeathon was fun. There was a lot of learning completed during this time. Some of the connections made will be ongoing.

We travelled 35545 miles. Our first connection was with Japan. This was a direct connection. The next connection could not be completed in synchronous time, so a group of girls produced a skype video message to send to Kerala, India for International Aids Day.

At night time, a connection was made with a class in Nigeria and another young class from Scotland. Overall, those involved in the Skypeathon travelled nearly 10 million miles. Just imagine the learning!

 

 

 

Today I met a girl…..

Today, I met a young girl who wants to be an obstetrician.

But she was no ordinary girl because she :-

  • was only 10 years old
  • lived in one of the most poverty stricken countries in the world
  • was from Nigeria and part of a large classroom of students

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She spoke articulately and when asked what career she hoped to follow, came back with the response that she wanted to be an obstetrician. I wished her all the best with her studies and ambitions. She was one of the students in HAMMED ABDULAZEEZ’ class.

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We had connected as part of the worldwide 2 day skypeathon. It was late at night for me and early afternoon for them. I shared a little about our “Farm in Australia” sharing my screen and showing pictures of the farm. Students from the class shared information about their country and culture and asked me questions about the culture of Australia, who was our president (we have a Prime Minister) and any major festivals that we celebrate. Their knowledge of the world was quite sound (and that surprised me as I am not sure how much my students would know in comparison.)

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Expert Games Developer speaks to remote classroom with skype

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This year, my teaching load involves secondary students from years 7-12. One of the year 9/10 electives that I run this semester is called “Gaming”.

In my other ICT classes we often connect to other global classrooms or teachers using skype. These contacts have been found on twitter, Skype in the Classroom website or through other professional learning networks.  It is not  easy finding expert speakers for my senior classes, as many are directed at the younger age groups. Upon searching the Skype in the Classroom site, I came across Bharathwaj Nandakumar, a video game developer working with Activision in Santa Monica, CA. He is one of the core members of the Call of Duty team for the last 8 years.

Knowing that Call of Duty is a favourite video game being played by the students, I was thrilled to know that, despite being in California, he was available at the very time that I have my students. A quick request to connect, came up with confirmation that he was available. My prime concern was that they are a shy group and reluctant to engage in conversations readily on a public scale.

The students were excited when they found out who they were to connect with, and listened with interest as Bharathwaj spoke and shared his screen with us over skype, showing mystery screen grabs of the games that he has found influential in designing  games he is involved in. Students had to tell him the names of the games. Some they knew, some they did not. This broke the ice with them and helped them overcome their shyness and reticence to talk to him.

He continued on and talked about the work he is involved in, what a typical day’s work looked like, how he and fellow workers are encouraged to play games and how important maths is if any of the students wished to pursue a similar career.

His presentation was well set out, with lots of images. Bharathwaj was at home with Call of Duty posters visible everywhere behind him. (Students liked this feature). They were intrigued with the fact that 200 people worked on developing Call of Duty and that it took 2-3 years to develop each game. He encouraged them to create their own games with programs like GameMaker using video tutorials to help them. After the session he shared links with us and offered to stay in touch and continue to answer any questions for them. The following were resources suggested by him:

  1.  yoyogamesfor great video tutorials to get started.
  2. Make your first game
  3. Make a platformer game  

How amazing that students in our rural remote school in south eastern Australia, could link up with a games developer in California and learn in real time with him about one of their favourite video games. Technology certainly breaks down the barriers of cost, distance and borders!

I am off to explore the site again for further speakers. Have you used any experts to come in virtually to your classroom?

Temple of Heaven/Summer Palace

Day 8 of our school trip to China involved a visit to both the Temple of Heaven and the Summer Palace.

A large park is adjacent to the Temple of Heaven. As it was still early morning, the older Chinese people were using the exercise park, singing in groups and generally enjoying the outdoors. Students joined them on the exercise equipment.

In another part of the park, we were fascinated to see what appeared to be a dating service. Parents were patiently filling in the morning with a photograph, the age and other details of their son or daughter. The details were on paper laid in front of them. The crowd would walk through perusing the information with parents hoping that one of them would be a future match for their child.

A short walk took us to the entry of the Temple of Heaven – another fascinating site of historical significance. Ming and Qing Emporers would worship their god and pray for a good harvest. This is an interesting site that should be on any itinerary if visiting Beijing.

The Summer Palace is another beautiful historical site and one of my personal favourites. As the Empress would spend summer here, it is more ornate and colourful than the Forbidden City. The lake, the beautiful gardens, ornate buildings, marble boat and the ornate long corridor mean that its beauty leaves a lasting impression in visitors’ minds.

Prior to the visit to the Summer Palace, it is the usual custom of tour guides to try to get tourists to visit a silk factory. First an explanation and demonstration of where silk comes from, then on to the factory floor to tempt us to purchase silk quilts or other silk apparel.

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