Category Archives: videoconferencing

Sea turtle research and conservation at Gnaraloo, Western Australia

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Sometimes it is difficult to get expert speakers into my classrooms, as my Australian time zone means that while we are at school, the USA schools and many businesses, museums etc are closed.  So, it was with delight that I was alerted to a Sea Turtle research and conservation program at Gnaraloo, Western Australia, offering presentations through Skype in the Classroom.

I booked their Skype LessonSea turtle conservation where the outback meets the sea: Gnaraloo, Western Australia“.through the Skype in the Classroom website. Received a prompt reply confirming that they were able to present on the day and time requested.

turtle species

We added each other to our contact in skype. Did a test skype videoconference call, one hour prior, then direct called when the year 7 ICT class was in session.  Alistair Green was the presenter and he did a fabulous job, by introducing himself and effectively displaying his desktop so we could see the images and the video clips that he had added.

He made the lesson interactive by asking questions of the students, his pictures were colourful and engaging and the short video clips enabled us to see the turtles in action. The videos played in real time. Even though students would answer softly at times, it was surprising how well Alistair could hear us.

If you are looking for an expert speaker on conservation Alistair and the Gnaralaoo Research comes highly recommended for students of any age.

images of turtles

 

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Learning from the chill of Yukon, Whitehorse, Canada

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Our second linkup with Kate Leeming was a fascinating one. Students are seeing history being made. Kate videoconferenced in to us from minus 15 degrees in Whitehorse the capital of northwest Canada’s Yukon territory to us where we are experiencing 30 degrees in Victoria. Kate had just arrived in the chilly weather (-10 degree) of Yukon, Canada. Polycom Video conferencing equipment was used to videoconference her in from the home that she was staying in.

This is our last videoconference connection before Kate sets out on her bike riding trek across the Arctic circle. Kate is an Australian adventurer who will be the first to ride her bike across the Arctic. The video and audio was clear. She explained how she actually arrived in Canada before the time that she had left Australia.  Kate talked about her specially built bike.

lined riding boots

She talked about her preparation for the Arctic bike ride, showed us her fat bike, the first of its kind in the world, specially made by an engineer in Pittsburgh to cope with . Kate also talked about the special clothing requirements and need for layers and different fabrics. When she sweats it is important that her sweat does not freeze. It was particularly interesting to see her show objects such as the fat wheels of her bike, the special hat and mittens and boots etc. Three schools across Victoria linked in to the presentation with each school being given an opportunity to ask a question.

bayley question

Bayley, from our school asked:  “What gave you the idea to ride across snow and ice?”Kate’s answer was  that she got the idea when she was cycling through the sand of the Australian outback desert. Always wanted to go to Antarctica so she thought about how she was going to ride – and what sort of bike. Cycling in sand at home, it is really hard – If it slips a bit, it can skid. She needed a system and a bike that would allow her to explore. The snow is a challenge but so beautiful.

You can follow Kate’s journey at http://kateleeming.global2.vic.edu.au

Celebrating #IWD simultaneously across 3 continents

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Three continents, two different time zones,  two classes from different countries and the guest speaker from a third country/continent for International Women’s Day.

March 8th across the world is International Women’s Day. Our school continued to celebrate it on March 9th, when Canada, USA and others on the other side of the world were still in March 8th . A special lunchtime linkup was organised with Arianne Jones, a Luge Olympic Champion for Canada. Due to time zone confusion, the primary school students became part of a later connection rather than the lunchtime linkup that we were expecting. The fascinating part of the linkup was that a school from Delhi, India became  part of our 3 way connection. The connection was organised through Skype in the Classroom and Classroom Champions.

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Arianne was an inspiring speaker who should never have been a Luge champion. She is thin and far too light in weight. Even her coach had no faith in her and gave her little opportunity initially. However, she persevered and is now the Olympic Luge champion for Canada.
When she finished speaking, Arianne encouraged Hawkesdale students to ask 5 questions, then the students from India asked 5 questions – all really interesting and forcing us to cope with the Indian accent.
She encouraged the students to “dream big and chase your dreams!!!” The response from the Indian teacher was ” our kids are so overwhelmed speaking to you.. you have been a true motivation for them” There are many wonderful opportunities on Skype in the Classroom website, many tailored for special celebatory days
@skypeclassroom @@jonesluge #IWD2017 #IWD

from india

Mark Wood – Extreme Adventurer

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It was World Book Day. To celebrate this day schools across the world were given a rare opportunity to Skype with Mark Wood – a Cold Extremes Adventurer. He has trekked across the North Pole and the South Pole and led an expedition to climb Mt Everest, taking millions of students across the world with him, by using Skype webconference in.

boy asking question

I was asked whether our school would be interested in connecting with him as there were still some time slots available.Not to miss any of these wonderful opportunities, I invited the school.  For Mark, it was Thursday night at 10pm and Friday, 9am our time. We were the last school of the day. He had already been to schools in England, India, Croatia and 3 times to the USA.

Approximately 120 students from years 4-11 gathered in the library to hear Mark speak. He shared his stories, especially of his adventures to Mt Everest. His engaging speaking style, sense of humour and easy going manner endeared him to all who listened. Mark was motivating and inspiring. Unfortunately the Mt Everest expedition was called off just as they got to the death zone 200 metres from the top. One of the sherpas fell critically ill and the doctor experienced frozen feet. They made their way down and all survived.

dakota asking question

We see people attempting Mt Everest on the television news, read of it in the magazines or newspapers but here we were listening and interacting with someone who had actually been there. We caught the emotions, excitement, the extra details in stories and felt we experienced the adventure with him. Mark humanized the expeditions.

After 15 mins of story  telling , Mark handed over to the students to ask him questions. This was a wonderful interactivity that satisfied student curiosity and made us think of more questions.The young ones were less shy and asked most of them.

Some of their questions:

  1. What inspired you to be an explorer?
  2. How old were you when you had your first adventure?
  3. What was your favourite thing about climbing Mt Everest?
  4. Have you ever had a life threatening experience?
  5. How do you go and who do you go with?
  6. Was it cold at the North Pole?
  7. Have you ever forgotten anything?
  8. Have you had frostbite?
  9. What food and provisions do you take?

Our literacy teacher wrote new and key words on the whiteboard for discussion later. the older students immediately returned to class and wrote up some of what they learnt. When all the student stories were put together, there is almost  a complete script or picture of Mark’s presentation.

charlotte

His parting sentences reminded students that everything comes from education – if you think differently you will have a better life. The only thing preventing you is yourself. Earth will look after itself, but Mark wants to look after the human race.

Our school will continue to follow Mark on his second venture to conquer Mt Everest and be part of the new emerging stories. If you ever get an opportunity to hear Mark present, do no miss out. He was fantastic.

Kate Leeming -Virtual Stories from an Australian Adventurer

Kate Leeming     is an Australian explorer/adventurer, who has cycled the equivalent distance of twice around the world at the Equator.

Rarely do we get the opportunity to listen to motivational and educational people of Kate’s calibre. It costs too much to bring them into our school face to face and the distance from Melbourne is great. How wonderful it was that my year 9/10 ICT class could listen to her via polycom videoconferencing equipment  in a session set up by Digital Learning, Department of Education and Training.

Prior to the connection:

  • Websites of potential interest to learn more about Kate were emailed out
  • The access number for the session was also shared.
  • A test call was required before the actual day to ensure the equipment worked.
  • Students were given a short time to look at Kates blog set up especially for them.
  • A backchannel was set up for students to add questions, experiences or general sharing as Kate was presenting

The Connection

  • Kate was formally introduced, explained a little what motivated her to do what she does, what she has done and how she hopes to cycle across Antarctica in 2018
  • Kate shared her screen showing some of the amazing photographs that she took on her journey of being the first person to ride from East to West Africa.
  • Students added questions into the backchannel as she spoke

The engagement factor

  • Her presentation style was excellent and the images captivating.
  • Her stories and experiences were interesting and inspiring
  • Some of my most disengaged students weer active in the chat with questions, so she certainly held their interest

After the event

  • The event was recorded Year 6 in our school will watch that as they were absent during this session.
  • We can continue to follow her journey through her blog
  • Students will be encouraged to subscribe to her blog and add comments on her posts.
  • As we had to leave early, Kate kindly answered all our questions from the TodaysMeet backchannel and the document was emailed through to us.
  • Students will write a blog post and add a link to Kate’s blog

Some follow up activities and further research include:-

Learning Resources

  1. Level 5,6,7 Unit of Work – Climate Change and the Environment –   –
  2. Take the Online Quiz – What is your Ecological Footprint?
  3. Taking actionOrganise your own Expedition or Fundraiser
  4. Communicate with Kate – There is a Blog Post from Kate

What wonderful opportunities for students to get involved in? Why werent more schools in attendance for the session?

International Aids Day

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December 1st was World Aids Day. World AIDS Day is held on the 1st December each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died.
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My dear colleague in Kerala, India, Sebastian Panakal continues his social leadership, through involvement in further events such “Learners Teach Learners”. CLASS (Connected Learning Activities through Social Service). Participants across the world were encouraged to  send a 3 minutes or less video message delivered by teachers/students/children commemorating people who have died of AIDs.
Students, Parents and Teachers of Lady of Mount Carmel Boys Lower Primary School AND Sri Rama Varma Upper Primary School, in India, are commemorating the people who have died of AIDs. The messages will be shown to Academic Leaders, Media and Participants at this meet. Both schools will create their School Wiki showcasing the connected learning event.
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The grandmother of one of my students passed away due to AIDs. She wears her grandmothers brooch on International Aids Day each year. As our school day times do not coincide, the students sent a video message via skype to Sebastian to be shared.

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However, I was able to connect synchronously, once home with the teacher and students involved in Kerala India. I could see the Christmas cake that Sebastian shared with them and meet the students from very poor background.s

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Student Learning – MS Skypeathon with Anthony Salcito

Many people ask why they should bother using skype or videoconferencing in the classroom. What do students actually learn?

Some year 7 and 8 students were involved in the recent 24 hour skypeathon with Anthony Salcito. As part of this skype, each class was asked to pose a question of the next global class that Anthony was to connect with. Sri Lanka was straight after us, so students asked them “what was their favourite food and pastime?” The response came back in a tweet from Anthony:-

Immediately, we were learning about different foods and hobbies as singing is not high on our list. Below are some of the responses from the girls, when queried about what:-

  •  they enjoyed in the skype linkup
  •  they learnt.

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Sophie: The best part was telling Anthony about what we have in Australia. I liked being able to interact with another country. I liked the whole thing and learning everything about it. I like being able to talk to the person far away from here which is much better than reading a textbook. They don’t know about Australia and I can teach them something.

Santa pays a visit

Santa pays a visit

Brooke (who played the role of Santa complete with costume and gift): I loved being Santa because I wanted to show different people what Santa does and how he looks as people are normally asleep when he is at work. I also liked Anthony talking about his hobbies – rugby. I liked him describing the US flag – like all the stars. I didn’t know what the US flag looked like till then. I like meeting new people around the globe and seeing their faces and best of all it helps me build confidence around other people.

Abbey: My favourite part was when Anthony talked about the different types of farm animals that they had to us – wineries, apples, grapes, chicken farms. We have sheep, cattle and dairy in our area. We got to talk about our country and find about their country – the similarities and differences. I liked it when Terri showed him the vegemite, Anthony hadn’t tried it. They cant find Cadbury Marvellous Creations in USA. We have it everywhere here.

Wool from the sheep farm

Wool from the sheep farm

Kiara: I enjoyed the skype linkup as it is fun seeing people from other countries and what they have to show us. It tells us more about other countries and what life is like there. It helps me make up my mind whether I want to go there. It also helps me to talk better in front of other people.

the blue tongued lizards on the kinder girls

Sophie:  My  favourite part was me being able to speak to Anthony. I liked the lizards best as they kept showing their blue tongues. I liked learning that lollies are not called that, they are called candy.  I could see what Anthony was like, how he looked and how he spoke and could work out whether I liked him. I liked him because he was so nice and interested in what we had to say
from aus to usa

 

Terri: It was really fun because we got to speak to people who live in the USA and ask them all kinds of questions. We got to show them all sorts of things from Australia so they get to know us as well. I learnt that lots of people grow up in completely environments to us, they don’t see animals everyday like we do eg blue tongue lizards, farm animals etc

Vesna:- “I enjoyed it because we were able to connect very clearly  and speak and understand the audio. It was good to be able to setup the gifts and interact with other people so we could make it eventful and engaging for both Anthony, Leigh and for us. We could change it on ‘the fly’ for Anthony so it wasn’t boring hearing the same questions, playing the same role.  He thought it would be normal questioning and answering from us but we had pre-organised props so he could learn more about us and make it interesting for him. I learn to speak clearly and slowly and can add another country to the  list of virtual visits I have made.”

Jess: I enjoyed it because I liked being a part of their challenge to try to reach a million miles. I like a challenge. I learnt to help people out and how to do that.

A gift of Tim Tams

A gift of Tim Tams

Bethany:  I liked it because I loved Anthony’s accent like “Wow look at those candies (lollies), getting spoilt!” I was impressed talking to someone from another country.

Megan: My favourite part was knowing how many miles we have gone, (we talk kms). I liked Anthony opening up the presents and telling us about the US flag.


the class with santa