Tag Archives: Asian Connections

Asian Connections – Vietnam

Video call snapshot 445.png

People often ask how where I have found educators to connect with. As the network grows, people tend to find me. One such person is Ngo Thanh Nam of Vietnam. Nam is also a Skype Master teacher, Asia’s Educator of the Year and has shares an impressive list of experiences and accomplishments. He has also connected me to a facebook group, connecting classrooms with a global focus on child abuse and safety. This has brought a further number of global connections. Again, I was added to a facebook Skype-a-thon group where a request from Nam was made to connect his class with another Asian class or educator as they were studying Asia.

The time requested suited me but I was on summer holidays, so had no students and I was not really from Asia. Australia is part of Pacifica. However, when I said I was available, Nam asked me to connect.

Video call snapshot 444

A presentation was quickly put together on Australia’s engagement with Asia under the following headings (on a personal involvement scale):-

  • close neighbours
  • trade (we live on a farm and sell our cattle and lamb to Asia.)
  • tourism (my husband and I love to travel Asia, as do other Australians. Bali,  Thailand and Vietnam are the popular destinations for Australians. Our school travels to China every second year)
  • connected classrooms
  • potential to solve global problems together etc

On connecting, I was introduced to the class and then proceeded to share my screen to show photos of our farm and  photos illustrating the above connections with Asia.

Video call snapshot 446

Nam’s students then came up to the web camera on an individual basis, introduced themselves and then asked me questions on my knowledge of Asia – eg what foods are typically Asian etc? The students were well prepared, presented well to the camera, were articulate and spoke excellent English. Thanks Nam for the invitation. It was great to be part of your classroom.



Skype on!

Last Friday, I turned skype on, on Thursday and Friday. Sometimes, I do not logon as there is so much work to be done and it can be a distraction. This semester, my classes are all at senior level, so I don’t quite have the leverage to experiment with spontaneous learning

Chatting to Govinda, Nepal

However, Endang wanted a class to skype in on Friday with a school from Western Java that had not used videoconferencing before. Friday morning is a double session of Information Technology. This can be too long for some of my students. Logging on, we were immediately connected with Govinda from Nepal. The video was stable and Govinda came through clearly. My students were fascinated with the fact they were speaking to someone from Nepal and soon Govinda was joined by his curious  neighbours’ children. School does not start until 10am and it was till early morning.


During the second lesson, Endang and her school connected. They showed us their beautiful shadow puppets, flag and a heavily decorated sword. The students were able to come up to the laptop screen and chat with the Indonesian students. I deliberately left the room for 5 mins to see how they would survive without me there and was thrilled to see them still trying to converse when I returned. I one could not understand or be understood, another student stepped in to help interpret and communicate.  The linkup went through their lunch hour. As my students were eating their sandwiches, the Indonesian students were fascinated with our lunches.

As I packed up my gear at the end of the day, another skype message came through. This time from one of my virtual students who I had taught accounting to that morning, to say he was now in hospital and had been taken by ambulance there.!  The immediacy of learning and knowledge!

Why we do this?

  • pushes my students way outside their comfort zones – it is really difficult to communicate with others from countries where English is the second, third or fourth language.
  • Students need to work out how to communicate when there are massive language barriers – including accents etc They soon work out to type their names in the chat so that the other country can attempt to pronounce their names.
  • an opportunity to learn about other cultures from a ‘living’ textbook!
  • share experiences, cultural objects
  • to break down racism which can exist in our small rural community where there are no other cultures but anglo saxon and some maori people from new Zealand.
  • to extend their learning networks
  • prepare them for the global world that is and increasingly will be theirs.
  • expand their knowledge of geography
  • extend their knowledge of the Islamic faith and other religions.
  • engage them in activities that they love to participate in, once they get over their shyness.
  • there is something exciting about real life linkups
  • the mystery of the unknown outcomes can be captivating.
Have you connected with other countries in real time? What have your experiences been? Do they make your learning messy?

Teachable opportunities made easy with skype

Anna and me testing prior to class

On the last lesson of the term I often try and think of a treat for my year 9/10 IT elective group. Often it is a ‘your choice’ lesson with students opting to play their favourite games. The year 10 portion of this class were absent on work experience so I only had a small group of year 9 students. They  had not used the class set of iPads, so I  booked them.

However, on a spur of the moment decision,  I also decided to look at skype and see who was about. Anna a teacher from Indonesia was online. She had wanted to skype me several weeks earlier but it did not suit me at that time. After a quick conversation we decided to link our two classes as part of IT double lesson.

How we met

Anna, from Indonesia had been referred to me by Julie Lindsay. Anna had sought help from a mentor after having enjoyed her virtual attendance at the Global Education conference 2010. Anna is interested in being involved in the Flat Classroom projects, co-organised by Julie Lindsay. Anna and I exchanged emails, skype user names and blog addresses. Anna had tried to join in some of the webinars that I organise in elluminate, but slow bandwidth had prevented her from logging in.

Testing the equipment

First step is always to test the equipment via skype. Anna had problems with her microphone and I had problems with noisy backgrounds. After trying several microphones, I reverted to the headset with attached mic. Anna was able to activate her mic and we were set.

How it looked

Initially it is much easier to work with smaller classes – classroom management is less of a problem.

Students confidently came to the web cam and spoke to each other.Students asked each other questions. We brought objects to the screen eg a piece of fruit, vegemite, students from both sides showed books they are currently reading and discussed their favourite books. One of my students really enjoyed communicating with them, answering further questions and  talking about her pet cats. The Indonesian students appeared to be intrigued with the house training of the cat that spends quite a bit of time indoors. Anna’s students then proceeded to teach mine, good morning in Indonesian.

What it sounded like.

Laughter, excitement and a deliberate  slowing down of our speech.

Why it worked well

Despite there being no planning of this activity, the lesson worked extremely well. Students are curious about each other. Anna and her students spoke excellent conversational English and students listened hard to work through our different accents. We used a mix of objects and questions to fill in 45 minutes of videoconferencing. Students from both countries enjoyed reading similar books.


At the parent teacher interview which occurred later that afternoon, one of my students excitedly declared to her mother and me that that was the best school lesson that she had ever experienced.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Little Big Classroms: When East and West learn together!

Alvin used the whiteboard to draw the following image and asked in the chat “Dear all, please guess what is the animal showing on whiteboard”. The responses quickly fell in and the chat became active at increasingly high speed.  However this was not an ordinary classroom but a foretaste of what education and learning can really be about.

Alvin teaching from the whiteboard

Some of the chat and responses from students

  • Tessa: dragon?, Chloe: dolphin?, Renee 1: turtle?, Lauren: whale, Tessa: seal?
  • Alvin Ng: no it is a kind of animal living in the sea 400Mya
  • Boris from HK Geopark: it’s a fish
  • Boris from HK Geopark: extinct ages ago
  • KM: Placoderm
  • Tessa: oh cool :
  • Boris from HK Geopark: a fish with hard scales covering it’s body.
  • Alvin Ng: fossils of this fish were found in Hong Kong and in Australia
  • KM: Hong Kong and Australia were neighbours 400 millions ago so we have similar fossils
  • margm: i find that fascinating
  • Alvin Ng: we come here and see the fossils in museum
  • Tessa: wow thats really good information
  • Caitlyn: which museum are you going to or gone to
  • Boris from HK Geopark: a small town which is about 300km away from Sydney.
  • Chloe: what does it say on the whiteboard?
  • Lauren: ??
  • Alvin Ng: Geopark Park in Chinese
  • Chloe: oh ok. cool

A little big classroom

Staff, visitors and students in computer lab

The computer lab nearly burst at the seams, with a classroom that  comprised of

  • a mix of year 8 and 11 students (15 in total)
  • five adult guests from Hong Kong
  • two guests from our local GeoPark Kanawinka and
  • 6 school staff, including our Hawkesdale P12  College principal.

Mr Young Ng, from Hong Kong, currently in Sydney Australia, was presenting to this classroom mix. Elluminate was the tool used. The adults in the classroom included Mr Alan Wong, the Director of Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation of Hong Kong and his associates  of the Hong Kong Geopark.  Joane McKnight, director of our own GeoPark, Kanawinka was also present.

Technical Difficulties

Just as our class was about to begin, the technical difficulties set in. Having just loaded Camtasia Studio onto my laptop, Young’s powerpoint presentation failed to load. Each slide had to be quickly converted to images and uploaded one at a time. Precious time was lost and I became quite anxious, knowing we were wasting Young’s time and that of our guests. Finally some slides were up but due to their large file size, took a long time to upload. Finally Young was able to commence his talk and surprise our guests with his presentation. (Young was one of the initial movers and shakers ensuring that the Hong Kong geopark became a reality.) His presentation was supported by our guests, using the chat and their own mobile phones, with further details about the images being shown.


  1. It was only when the lesson had finished that I realised what had happened whilst I was anxiously trying to upload the images. Alvin, one of our Asian guests, decided to make a teachable moment, drawing images and Chinese characters on the whiteboard, asking students questions in the chat and then responding to them via the chat. Our other visitors also got involved in the discussions.
  2. As Young was sharing photos of the Hong Kong GeoPark, KM was simultaneously sharing his photos/videos on his phone with one of the year 8 students.
  3. Students were all given toys that represent some aspect of rock formations in the Hong Kong GeoPark. They loved this aspect!
  4. Read skippy’s impressions of the meetup in her blog post Special Visitors from Hong Kong.


  1. Our visitors from Hong Kong were able to experience and witness first hand the power of webinars and blended classrooms. They are extremely keen to continue using such a platform for further educational activities.
  2. Joane commented after the session that she enjoyed Young’s formal presentation but whilst this was happening, all this other activity was happening on the side! (The back channel or chat!)
  3. Students were so excited about this classroom that many of them brought it up when they came with their parents to our parent/teacher interviews.


Both parties are keen to explore the notion of continued communication and connection for learning between the two countries, schools and GeoParks


From Boris, Director of Hong Kong GeoPark:-

We were very much impressed by the elluminate connection section you conducted and are very interested to develop something from it.  As mentioned during our short visit, we have just launched a school programme called “Earth Members” in Hong Kong.  We are glad that your school is interested to join this programme.  Another idea came up from the elluminate connection is a “global geopark E-classroom”.  We can arrange speakers from each side to speak to students of our counterparts through elluminate connections.  Students can then interact with each others including the speakers on a global level through the internet.

From Young Ng

(Elluminate) use such effective tool to share knowledge and feelings.

Personal reflections – What I would do differently next time!

  1. If I would have known how ‘down to earth’, friendly, knowledgeable and willing to share our guests were, elluminate  would have been used for a longer period of time, allowing our guests to introduce themselves, their lifestyles and their work, allowing the back channel of chat/questions etc to further enrich the learning in a classroom where everyone has a ‘voice’. There would be many teachers and many learners!
  2. Save the files as a wbd file  prior to a significant webinar using my personal vRoom

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Just like the boomerang, the game came back!

A confident and brave 13 year old Malaysian student, Sarveesh, who speaks English as his second language, teaches my year 11 IT class how to use MS Kodu (a Microsoft game making software) and  demonstrates how to play the educational, environmental game that he had created. Skype was used for the videoconferencing linkup with skype. My students, in turn, listened attentively, coping with the accent and then proceeded to play the game, with Sarveesh on standby for any questions.

“What is this about boomerangs?” I can hear you say?

Just like the boomerang that returns full circle, a game making software tool that was taught by an Australian educator to Malaysian teachers in Kuala Lumpur has turned full circle back to Australia with a Malaysian student teaching my students how to play and use the game.

How did this happen? Zainuddin Zakariah in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, emailed me and alerted me to the fact that Zainuddin had met someone in KL who knew me from Melbourne, Australia.  The trainer was “Richard Olsen” from the Ideas lab in Melbourne. Richard had spent some days teaching the Microsoft Game Making software, Kodu to a select group of Malaysian teachers.

How I met Zainuddin: After meeting Zainuddin at the MS Innovative Teachers conference in Kuala Lumpur several years ago, we had continued to work our classes together online.  Our most powerful learning exchange taking place in elluminate where our two classes met in a virtual classroom over a 5 week period in 2010. Zainuddin and Nurul (another teacher at Taman Burkitt Maluri School) introduced game making to the students. These students designed educational games for English, Science, Mathematics etc. One of these students went on to win a Microsoft competition for his game “Reserved”.

Sarveesh demonstrates

After Sarveesh explained MS kodu and how to play his game, my students then played his game, wrote up their reflections and offered him supportive feedback and reflections via email.

The steps involved:-

  1. My students download the gamemaking kodu software onto their netbooks.
  2. Sarveesh’s game was emailed to us and downloaded.
  3. Zainuddin and I test the videoconference linkup using skype
  4. Sarveesh comes to the webcamera, talks about his game and demonstrates how to play it.
  5. My students play the game
  6. They emailed Sarveesh with their learning from playing the game and other feedback.
  7. Inspired, one of my students independently experimented with Kodu at home, to make his own.

Some of the student comments/feedback

Hi Sarvesh! thanks for letting me play the game!Saving the environment in the game was a big learning step.  Destroying the factory was meant to be reducing the carbon footprint and that too stop our trees from being wasted and eradicating thousands of animals who live in them.  The learning experience I had was good, the graphics were excellent and you who created it, has a very good understanding of what is wrong with the earth today.Thanks a lot!


Hello Sarvesh, how are you going, thank-you for letting me play your game you
I think it is  good game, it was so easy to follow your instructions and yeah
it is a well made game .
I really enjoyed playing this game, it was so easy to play and it was also good
fun :). I learnt how to help save the environment and gave us tips on how to
try and do our bit to save our environment.
We learnt that trees are good for our environment.

From Flick

Zainuddin's slide of our connection

Introducing Malay Customs and Cultures – An e-Intercultural Learning Adventure!

Veronica Woo, a great teaching colleague to have, organized an extravaganza for us last Friday. The library was booked so that we could videoconference with skype using the Interactive White Board to project the web  conference. A number of classes from year 6 to 11 were present – a total of more than 45 students and 6 staff members.

Year 11 students from  SMJK Poi Lam School in Ipoh, Malaysia, demonstrated to and treated us with the following:-

  1. Malay dance performance
  2. Demonstration on how to play ‘congkak’
  3. Demonstration on how to beat the Malay drum ‘kompang’
  4. Brief introduction of a Malay wedding
  5. Demonstration on paper money-folding ( folded items are given as Bridal gifts to families concerned )
  6. Ended the web conference with a song!

Three of our year 6/7 students learnt how to dance the Malay Dance by following the Malay girl’s movements on screen. Most students had an Australian paper note to practise folding the paper money.

In turn, our students and staff demonstrated the following:-

  1. a bearded dragon lizard
  2. a pet colourful baby bird
  3. how to play Australian Rules Football (footy)
  4. vegemite and how to spread it on a dry biscuit

It always intrigues me that the sharing of objects over the web cam, makes students overcome their shyness, as their curiousity drives them to naturally ask questions about the object without  really thinking.

Meeting/TeachingTaman Burkitt Maluri School students face to face!

After waiting patiently for a driver to collect me from our hotel in Kuala Lumpur and enjoying a drive from China Town to the edge of KL, I could not contain my delight at meeting the  Taman Burkitt Maluri School  students face to face when I first walked into their classroom. Nurul and Zainuddin accompanied and another staff member whose role it was to take photos.  This is a Malay school and in true Asian tradition,  the welcome and greetings were warm, friendly and hospitable. The IT class had worked in real time with my IT class, so I felt as though I knew them.

Some of the students

First, using a powerpoint presentation, they showed me what they learnt in their subject and this correlated very closely with the course that I follow with my students. Next, they showed me images of their school and activities. I found this really interesting. Each student then came up to me, one at a time, welcomed me with the Malay welcome (two hands, I think, as I am still unsure of protocol) and introduced themselves, told me their favourite sport, foods etc and each student asked me a question. At the conclusion of the introduction, I received a small gift.

It was then my turn to speak to them about cyber safety. I had created a blog post that they could go to, and then complete the activities give. A cybersafe in Kuala Lumpur wall had also been created and the students approached this task in a very mature manner and gave some very thoughtful and different responses. As I left them to visit the year 7 Kodu class, they were making their avatars. Thank you students for your wonderful gifts. They will be much treasured.

Making an avatar

The year 7 group of boys who are using Kodu –  a MS game making program are part of a global trial. They demonstrated their knowledge with pride and showed me the wonderful games they had created – ranging through a number of themes, including some impressive educational games! I was fascinated as they discussed their games. The boys usually attend the afternoon school, but had come in especially, in the morning to demonstrate to and share with me. Thank you boys – I was most impressed and my students will be quite jealous! It is hoped that we can linkup online and have these boys teach my students how to make a game with kodu.

Learning about kodu

At the conclusion of my visit, the principal met with the staff concerned and we had another wonderful meal – I love the food in Kuala Lumpur!

School, staff and food

A special thank you to my special and innovative colleague, Zainuddin who took time off from the conference that he was convening, to spend time with me and to organise the students. Thank you to the principal, staff and students for your warm welcome!

Meeting an online class – face to face!

It will be really exciting to meet the class from Taman Burkitt Maluri School, Kuala Lumpur, that I and  my year 11 students worked with online  in the virtual classroom, using elluminate. I will spend some time with them and discuss cyber safety.When working with the internet there are three important lessons to be learnt:-

  1. cybersafety
  2. copyright
  3. digital citizenship and netiquette
  4. maintaining a good ‘digital footprint’

I would like to introduce you to some tools that will help you with your school work using cybersafety as our topic.  These are:-

  1. Make a wishing wall – Give some tips/hints for staying cyber safe? Click on this wallwisher link and tell me. Group 2 should click on this link and tell me the best things about Kuala Lumpur.
  2.  creating an avatar – choose from a lego avatar or a portrait avatar.
  3. creating a voki – an animated, talking avatar
  4.  mind mapping using bubbl.us and
  5. creating word clouds using wordle.

Instructions for making your wordle:-

  1. Click on the “create” link
  2. Type cyber safety three times with a space between each word
  3. Type in at least 10 words aboutcybersafety (If you use two or more words, eg “no last names”, you need to put a tilda between them ie no~last~names so that the words stay together.
  4. Click ” go”. A word cloud will be created.
  5. Click  randomize (down the bottom of your typed words) until you find a cloud that you like (You can manually change the cloud with the toolbar given.)
  6. Press PrtScr (a key at the top of your keyboard) to take a photo of your computer screen.
  7. Goto MS Paint, goto edit and Paste. Your screen photo appears. Find the dotted rectangle on the tool bar and draw a rectangle around the word cloud.
  8. Goto edit, choose copy
  9. Now get a new MS Paint File, do not save changes and goto edit>paste (You should just have your words.)
  10. Save as a jpg image or choose copy and got MS Word or MS Powerpoint and paste.

Learning Adventures in Blackboard Collaborate

Over the last semester, my classes and school have continued to witness the exciting possibilities of using virtual classroom software. Some of the wonderful adventures that we have experienced are:

  1. Malaysian Connections Connecting in real time with a school in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia.
  2. Digital Accounting Linking up my virtual accounting student with my face to face class, once a week, in an elluminate session
  3. Techno Parents Connecting staff and students with our school parent body on a weekly basis, at night time, over a trial period of three weeks.
  4. Student 2.0 Student A university student from the University of Ballarat ran an online session with my year 12 students, giving them encouragement to apply for university, tips/hints pre attending uni, what to expect at uni and generally answering questions from the students.

The options for interactivity and engagement, make elluminate and other virtual classroom software a powerful tool in the learning and teaching process.

First, a little about my school – Hawkesdale P12 College. We are a small rural school in country Victoria, Australia – a school that is prep to year 12, culturally and geographically isolated. This year, I teach year 11 and 12 accounting in one classroom and in amongst that I have an accounting student from another school, 1 ½ hours distant from mine. To give him a more intimate learning environment, I book an elluminate room each week through my Department of Education. Although, we have had many technical issues, most not related to the software tool, when it works, it gives a chance to interact, connect and communicate as ‘one class’.

The Malaysian Connections

For me and my students, this has been the most exciting of all our adventures in elluminate. Having met Zainuddin at a Pacific/Asia MS Innovative Teachers conference in 2008, we were determined to work together and see how we could connect our classes.  His school is Taman Burkitt Maluri School, Kuala Lumpur. For 5 exciting sessions we were able to link up in real time and share our classes in the elluminate environment. Technical issues abounded on their end as the internet access suffers from a lower bandwidth. Skype was used as the back channel. However as the weeks progressed, they overcame their problems and we settled into our class together, sharing our likes, passions, ideas on education, cultures, different foods etc. In fact, in one of our sessions, we were fortunate to have Lindy Stirling, the state advisor for Asia Studies with us. These sessions provide a glimpse into the powerful future, possibilities and direction that education can take. They were the highlight of both schools’ students’ week and utter engagement, excitement and pure concentration were evident as they chatted, shared the whiteboard and attempted to use the microphone. (An evaluation post will be written in the near future) But this blog post from one of the students, immediately after our first session says so much about it. See blog post – dhugsy

For more details see the following:-

Techno Parents was another amazing linkup. Despite fears that most would not be able to connect (due to our rurality and often lack of mobile phone network), each week we had parents, mostly with the students beside them,staff, including our Principal and members of our Leadership Team in the ‘room’ sharing stories about our week in the school and the classroom, and even hobbies/personal pursuits of teachers, connecting in the virtual room. Parents often valiantly used the microphone to ask questions and were happy using the chat feature for questions or feedback. On our first night, a teacher from Darwin, (the top end of Australia and we are the bottom end) came online with us, talking about the teddy bear exchange with us. Many ideas were put forward as to how this might continue and the direction it might take. Further reflective posts will be written but here are links to some blog posts on the previous sessions.

Student2.0 Student   Link to the recording with Hein a final year Education student shares with my year 12 class  – University Life

Malaysian Connections #5

Our 5th linkup with Taman Burkit Maluri School and their teacher Zainuddin Zakaria.

This was another fun and exciting lesson.  Listen to the recording.

The lesson plan

  • started with an ice breaker. A image of  snowman in pieces was added to the whiteboard, and students were asked to put it together. However, the snowman took on many shapes as their was no logic to the manner in which students madly scrambled to put it together from both countries.
  • Intervention was required. Students put their hands up, and as their number was called out, they moved one piece of the snowman at any one time, until it looked like a snowman. The pipe ended up in its nose, and the mouth on its stomach, but that simply added to the humour!
  • Flick brought a photo and shared it with the class. Although George brought one, we did not get a chance to look at it.
  • Zainuddin asked a question of the class: “Why do you love blogging?” Responses went on the whiteboard. (see below)
  • One of my students wanted to ask a question, so Danielle proceeded with “What is your favourite song?” Responses came thick and fast on the whiteboard to this question, and to the delight of my class some of their responses were also some of their popular songs.
  • Zainuddin asked the next question: “If you were to travel, which country would you go to and who would you take with you?” Students were required to choose a friend from the other country!! This led to much mirth and laughter
  • Then the bell went!

Screen dumps of the collaborative whiteboard:-