Category Archives: videoconferencing

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
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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.


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Join the global Skypeathon Dec 3 and 4

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Skype has always been one of my favourite tools as it is user friendly, capable of being used across all cultures and countries, is free and it just works! It works both at school and at home on our often poorer bandwidth.

Skype are encouraging educators across the world to get involved in a 2 day skypeathon to celebrate learning across borders on Dec 3rd and 4th. They hope to travel 1 million virtual miles in that time and encourage classrooms to get connected and enjoy the learning that can come by being connected.

Our first connection will be with Anthony Salcito, vice president of World Wide Education at Microsoft in Washington, USA. This will be at our lunchtime tomorrow Dec 3rd but Anthony will still be enjoying Dec 2nd. We hope to share objects and images that reflect the Australian culture and the place where we live. This will add 10,180 miles to the 1 million miles tally!

@SkypeClassroom tweeted:

 

Are you taking part in this? Who are you connecting with? Simply tweet your connections with the hashtag #skypeathon and the miles will be added.

A glimpse into a Chinese seaside resort – from the classroom!

Being part of the China Connections global project with Julie Lindsay and Katie Grubby has provided students in our remote rural school with some amazing opportunities to develop their understanding of the Chinese culture, language, history and geography etc. (Students in our school learn mandarin Chinese.)

One such live connection involved a group of year 9/10 girls using a skype videoconference call with Blair Li, a young girl who is passionate about developing the sport of surfing in China. She came from Xinjiang  far away from sea to a Hainan, discovered the  Baysurf club and obtained work at one of the resorts.

Blair Li

As our school is located approximately 25 mins from the sea in a highly popular tourist area and as surfing is a popular sport there, this was of high interest to us. There is something surreal about taking a virtual tour of the resort, seeing the bar where the tourists are sitting and capturing an insight into the outdoor setting that Blair was part of.

Skype was used for the vidoeconference. Blair talked a little about her work, what life was like, the fact that this current resort area used to be a Chinese village etc. The girls had pre-written questions to ask her. Unfortunately our connection lagged as we started this process and it was difficult to catch the answers.
Their questions included:

  • What do you like about surfing?
  • How did you learn about surfing?
  •  How did she discover that she likes surfing?
  • Was it a hard decision to make – to leave your stable job?
  • Why did you give up your job to teach surfing?
  • How many people know how to swim? Children?
  • How do they learn to swim?
  • Are there any other surfers like you living next to the surf?
  • How do Chinese people look upon women surfing?
  • Does the sea scare you at all?
  • How good and reliable is the surf where you are? Can people swim there? How big are the swells?
  • How hard is it to get people interested in surfing? What do you do to encourage them to surf?
  • Do you have to teach people how to swim first?
  • Do you surf in competitions?
  • How does rural China differ to the city China?

Thanks Blair for a fascinating connection.

Read more about Surfing Hainan

A snip of Vijaydashami Celebration in Kerala India

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A skype text message was sent by my esteemed colleague, Sebastian Panakal from Kerala, India asking whether I had time to connect over skype. On answering the video call, I was transported into a room where I could hear women singing.

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Sebastian turned the webcam so that I could watch Women of the Wiki taking part in an initiation into the world of music as part of Vijaydashami, an important Hindu event  and an auspicious occasion for the Indian people.

Upon hanging up on the skype call, I checked my group messages to read a post on using Sway and Skype in the classroom involving another special friend, Stacey Ryan. This article mentioned the new snip. The snipping tool for windows machines has been one of my most used tools but now it has got better and allows recordings and screencastings, embedding and other ways of sharing. See my first attempt at a snip by clicking on this link,  using one of the pics I took when virtually in India.

When students become the experts and teachers!

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A recent mystery skype linkup, connected year 7 ICT class with a YouthSpark initiative event in  Seattle, on Puget Sound in the Pacific Northwest.The  events connect educators and administrators to resources, programs, and tools to support their students in STEM (USA) and a round of mystery skype is often played to share the incredible digital communication skills students have built by playing it.

An email had come through with the following request:

It would be incredible wonderful if you could have a Mystery Skype session with our group our teachers at 6:15 PM in Seattle, Washington on Wednesday, 05/20.

We hope to meet at 11:15 AM your time on Thursday, 05/21. We would be grateful to have your students join the call. The typical way we play Mystery Skype would include a speaker and camera on both sides.  We also have classes take turns asking Yes or No questions. This game would be your Australian students vs. our American teachers (who have never played before).We like to demonstrate the Skype in the Classroom program to educators through playing a round of Mystery Skype with students.

Year 7 ICT students agreed to play Mystery Skype with them. We gathered up some Australiana, set up my laptop, connected it to a monitor and video called in

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As US classes had finished for the day, our school day was just beginning. Participants had to ask questions that required a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer and our students became the experts and teachers!

Comparing money

Comparing money

The highlights

  1. The facilitating leaders in Seattle were experienced players and our students loved their dynamic, animated and enthausiastic approach.
  2. It was an engaging and highly motivating session for all involved.
  3. The Seattle leaders had produced signage eg “Yes”, “No”, “Thinking time”, “Great response” etc which was placed up to the webcam fo
  4. The microphones were left on at all times, so that each side of the world could hear any responses, the general chat and gauge the atsmosphere etc
  5. A quick sharing session of objects that we had on us eg money, school uniform
  6. Sharing of pictures to show what our schools looked like
The school in Puget Soundb

The school in Puget Sound

A wave to say goodbye

A wave to say goodbye

please note that the pics featured were taken within skype.

The Australian Flag flew high above Sparkles Fire House

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Australian flag above Sparkles’ Fire House

 The Australian flag flew proudly high above Sparkles’ Clubhouse  but  this Fire House was not in Australia but in  Arkansas, USA. Dayna Hilton  and Molly, one of her Dalmation Fire Dogs visited us  from Arkansas, using skype, to talk about their work in  the Keep Kids Fire Safe™ Foundation‘s “Learning about Fire Safety can be FUN!” program. This program is sponsored by First Alert and State Farm.

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Dayna had worked out the distance between us as 9,402 miles! She talked about fahrenheit temperatures and brushfiresn- quite foreign to our students who are into celsius, kilometres and bushfires! We asked what the distance would be in kilometres and techno savvy Dayna said she would quickly work it out. She inmediately pulled out her iphone and quickly asked Siri who calculated it efficiently We could see and hear Siri’s response immediately.

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With great expertise, Dayna shared images and videos using her iPad up against the web camera for us to see.

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Sharing pics on ipad with us

Dayna was teaching my year 8 ICT class which is a challenging one with a number of highly disengaged students. However, she engaged them fully with her appealing manner,  interacting with the students, asking questions and showing us Molly her beautiful dalmation. Animals are always winners! The background set was just delightful – lots of colour, bright red set giving a real theme around fire. Molly kindly obliged us with some of her tricks at the end of the connection!

Dayna and Molly

Two years ago, Dayna and Tango (another Dalmation fire dog) skyped with us. See the video. Next we would love to connect our CFA (Country Fire Authority) elective students with Dayna to share experiences and what we do in Australia.

Thanks Dayna, Lorraine Leo (who introduced us) and Skype in the Classroom where Dayna offers to connect to anyone around the world.