Category Archives: webcasts

Digital Literacy

Tonight, I presented for Eduwebinar in an online session on the topic of Digital Literacy, Skill Development and Curriculum Connections. This is a huge area for discussion, but demonstrates some of the literacies that I think are important.

See the presentation


What does the world’s largest classroom look like?

map across vic
What would the world’s classroom look like at any point in time? I feel that I experienced that this morning. Why? There was/were

    • 1 classroom (virtual in Blackboard Collaborate)
    • up to 17,000 students
    • 170 physical classes
    • A class of deaf students from Furlong Park School
    • 1 teacher (or presenter)

It is Safer Internet Use Day today and the Topic is “Let’s Build a Safer Internet Together”.  Our Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development organised a webinar for all interested Victorian classrooms. The presenter was Greg Gebhart from Cybersmart ACMA who spoke on “Let’s Build a Safer Internet Together”.  The session went for 45 mins and was highly interactive which is essential to student engagement in a virtual environment.

Year 5 and 6 are engaged

Year 5 and 6 are engaged

Questions and polls were posed at varying intervals. Class answers were placed in the chat. The presentation included lots of graphics and images and Greg’s presentation style was also engaging. When a round of applause was called for at the end, many used the virtual clapping hand but it was also exciting to hear real applause and cheers from classes who turned on their microphones.

Isn’t technology exciting? This is  a wonderful use of technology that has engaged and embraced many students across Victoria simultaneously. To keep the conversations going, innovative Sandy Phillips has created a blog where students will actually be able to “Build a Safer Internet” and share their ideas, experiences and opinions. It is rich in resources so check out each of the pages as well as the posts and interact where possible. Below are the questions that Sandy uses to get discussions going with students and others.


What are you doing for Safer Internet Day?

Some great art and global education webinars this week!

There are some fabulous free online webinars this week for those people interested in global education and art – especially the work of Monet and its application into the classroom. These webinars will take place in blackboard collaborate software. Simply click on the link and enter the room once java downloads. The details about these webinars are below:

Monet Comes To School Online – Monet for years 3-4

When: Tuesday, August 6th 4-5:30pm, Melbourne Australia time (gmt+10)

Join National Gallery Victoria (NGV) Educators for an introduction to the exhibition ‘Monet’s Garden: ‘The Musee Marmottan Monet, Paris’ (National Gallery of Victoria, 11 May – 8 September 2013, NGV International) and an interactive discussion of art and cross-curricular projects for the Year 3 and 4 classroom inspired by Monet.

 Here is the link to join this session

Monet Comes to School Online for Years 5 and 6

When: August 7th, 4:00-5:30pm, Melbourne, Australia time (gmt+10)

Join NGV Educators for an introduction to the exhibition Monet’s Garden: ‘The Musee Marmottan Monet, Paris’ (National Gallery of Victoria, 11 May – 8 September 2013, NGV International) and an interactive discussion of art and cross-curricular projects for the Years 5 and 6 classroom inspired by Monet.

GTAV International Year of Water Co-operation 

Tuesday August 6th, 3:45 – 5:515pm

In the International Year of Water Cooperation, join us to discover resources and ideas to teach about this finite, yet vital, commodity. We’ll look at water connections to poverty, education, sustainable futures and disease and what  global partnerships are doing to enable access to clean, safe water for all.

The workshop will provide teachers with a range of engaging activities and links to resources that can be implemented in the classroom immediately.

Here is the link to join this session

Global Perspectives in the Primary Classroom: Building Global Citizens

Wednesday August 7th, 3:45-5:15 pm, Melbourne, Australia (gmt+10)

This session will introduce primary teachers to the concept of ‘building global citizens’. Using the Global Perspectives: A  framework for global education in Australian schools teachers will have an opportunity to explore important themes such as identity and cultural diversity, interdependence and  globalisation, social justice and human rights, peace building and conflict resolution and sustainable futures.

Click on this link to join the session.


Playing in a Google Hangout

Several weekends ago, I was privileged to play with google hangouts, under the direction of Jo Hart, who is a master at online learning. The invitation was put out through the Australia Series facebook group. Jo, Penny Bentley, Tatyana Chernaya (from Russia) and Heather Peterson were part of this group.

A great way to learn is to have an informal hangout with others and test the options with each other, share experiences and discoveries and take the learning from there. It is great to learn with a small group, especially when they are willing to explore all the elements, push all the buttons and share what was discovered. There is mentoring, teaching, learning, group networking etc.

When at home, I am on limited bandwidth and have often found that using the video, pulls me out, so I have not tried to attend too many. However, during this session, Jo taught me how to pull back the linkup speed. See screenshot below

Here is what we did:-

  1. Jo demonstrated screen sharing
  2. Worked out how to add and share files
  3. Add dressups
  4. Use the video camera for a virtual tour
  5. Toggle on and off the microphone, video cam option etc
  6. Used the chat and associated elements

How to create a hangout: 

  1. Login into google+
  2. Search for hangouts, create hangouts, share link provided with people you wish to be part of the hangout. (Can have up to 10 video participants)

Jo demonstrates screen share

The pluses:-

  • free for those wih google mail registration
  • Allows file sharing including text documents, ppt presentations, images
  • Allows ‘dress ups’ for a bit of fun or role playing
  • Can be recorded through airpla and saved on youtube (Can you privatize the resultant viedeo)
  • Could be useful for videoconferencing and video chats in classrooms, but care would need to be taken with recording of session that appropriate permissions are there.
  • Potential for ‘remote’ classes or teachers
  • Invitations can be quickly generated through google circles
  • Can pull back to a slower bandwidth setting

Learning about Russian mushrooms

The Challenges

  • easier if all participants have their own gmail account and are part of your google+circles
  • heavy on bandwidth
  • potential privacy and security issues

Virtual tour of Jo’s backyard

In class, we have played with the google hangout, but it was close to bell time, our bandwidth was not strong that day but it did work sufficiently but time for full exploration was against us.

Potential for the classroom

  • use as a screencasting tool – do not invite anyone to the hangout, simply record the lesson using airplay and add to youtube
  • record classes for students who are absent
  • invite in other remote classes
  • use for videoconferencing
  • Professional Development potential for small groups

Thanks Jo for making the time available to share your knowledge and expertise and letting us play to learn. Have you used google hangout? If so, how? What could you share with us? Please add your comment below this post.

From Snow to Bushfires!

Demonstrating the windows phone

Year 9/10 students were today treated to a live linkup using discoverE with two of Lorraine Leo’s students who were to share their school. Yesterday, it was snowing in Boston, (See it’s snowing outside) when another of her students, taught my grade 4/5 IT class to program with Scratch. Today, it was our turn for extremes. A bushfire was in progress south of our school. The CFA students (who train to become junior firefighters) were on the bus to Warrnambool to work with the Station in there. Unfortunately, they were turned back as the fire was out of control at that stage.

This made a great conversation piece to start our session with Boston. We could share the online link to the  CFA fire map where the fire was clearly marked. Fortunately, it was under control at that stage.

Again the engagement of students was evident. They like to be logged on to their own computers and be able to interact in the chat and ask questions. After receiving a pictorial presentation of their school, students asked questions of each other either in the chat or live on the microphone. One of the boys from Boston, quickly went downstairs to get his windows mobile phone to show us. One of my girls mentioned that we were now into autumn. The response back was “Oh, are you now in Fall!”.

The final minutes were spent drawing on the whiteboard where students from across the globe drew their own pics of favourite technology in real time. Amazing! Thanks again Lorraine for your wonderful effort.

A virtual school becomes evident

Jean Pennycook amongst her beloved penguins

Jean Pennycook amongst her beloved penguins

A penguin egg hatching

A penguin egg hatching

Today bore witness to the start of a virtual or web2.0 school. Jess McCulloch and I had teacher professional leave this year to lay the eplanks in web2.0 or virtual school. This would have to be one of the highlights of this project.

My valuable contact from Boston, Lorraine Leo connected us to Jean Pennycook, living in a tent, in Antarctica for a webcast. To ensure all went well, a backup date and time had been pre-arranged. Our primary teachers, (now there was a real purpose to use virtual classroom software, discoverE)  rather nervously entered the virtual classroom yesterday to test the sound and gain confidence in the use of the classroom. Three year 9 girls acted as the technicians (students became experts) and supported the staff. This procedure went well and full credit to the staff for their quick acceptance of this software as they had not been exposed to it before. It was agreed for management purposes that most classes remain in their own rooms and log on as their class name. However, prep/one/two were combined and the secondary students were combined in the library (years7-9)

This morning we held an early recess and logged everyone on to their discoverE  classrooms. One staff member who was absent yesterday was required to respond to Lorraine in Boston but came to me and said she had no idea how to talk or chat to her. Imagaine my surprise when at recess we were testing the sound with Lorraine and this teacher took over with utter confidence and performed the tests. After some internal gliches, we were so pleased to hear Jean Pennycook  online with perfect audio transmission. Jean talked about the penguins and her research with them. Lorraine and Jean had prepared a presentation of slides with some wonderful photos.

Reflecting back, the eplanks of a virtual school were in evidence by the following factors:-

  • students as experts (year 9 girls became the experts on sound checks, software management etc and worked with Lorraine in Boston)
  • teachers from Taiwan, Adelaide, Sth America, USA were in the classroom (global teachers)
  • several students were in their homes in the USA listening and particpating (global students)
  • Geoff the software developer from Perth was in there (virtual team involving all aspects of the linkup)
  • every class and student at Hawkesdale P12 College from 5 year olds through to 15 year olds – a broad age group whom Jean managed to keep captivated for more than 1 hour (virtual school)
  • the vast majority of our staff (including those who were not timetabled for this timeslot) were in one of the virtual classrooms.
  • each class was a virtual classroom with teachers confidently managing audio and chat questions.
  • The chat moved furiously and fast with lots of questions from all year levels. Time was allowed for our students and the global students to ask questions using the microphone.
  • Jean allowed self directed student learning to occur, in that she paused to answer the student questions, rather than always speak to the slides. The students had some great questions that not only related to the penguins but to her life and experiences in Antarctica etc (student directed learning)
  • Parents came in to our classrooms and also listened to the webcast (parents as partnerships).

A huge thank you to all concerned for this wonderful 21st century educational experience.

Listen to the recording of the webcast and read some of our other staff’ posts