Australia Day falls on January 26th, the same day that India celebrates its Republic Day. Although the date is becoming contentious in Australia, it is still a day to celebrate our wonderful country and its freedom, to enjoy the public holiday, to get together with family and friends and share a barbecue.
It is fun to be camping in Port Fairy for Australia Day. It starts with a free Lions Club breakfast on the Fiddlers Green. The breakfast consists of sausages, bacon and egg sandwiches, tea and coffee and muesli bars. This is followed by a special Australia Day ceremony. Australian flags abound in the caravan parks – on cars, caravans and tents.
Lamingtons – an Australian sweet cake treat coated in chocolate icing and coconut are readily available in the bakeries. They were bought as a treat to have with our coffee.
At 7:30pm, some of the campers set up 18 Australian flags in all shapes and sizes. Others gather around and we proudly sing our Australian anthem.
It was also an opportunity to connect, using Skype, with Sebastian Panakal and his Women of the Wiki (WOW)and share the special days for the two countries – India and Australia and to wish each other well.
Sebastian is doing some amazing work with his fellow community members. He explains what he is organising in the following quote.
WOW is an NGO launching their very first eLearning Centre at Calicut, Kerala on 26 Jan.
We have named it WOW CLT 001. We hope to set up WOW Franchisees, profit to be used for cultural exchanges for learners.
Launch is scheduled on 26 Jan, Republic Day India and Australia Day.
See the video produced by Sebastian
Although I have been involved in many special and almost unbelievable global projects and events for many years now, and feel that nothing would surprise me anymore, last night’s experience, organised by Reinhard Marx and online teaching colleague from Germany, did amaze me.
It was the start of Mardi Gras in Germany and students were encouraged to attend school in costume. In the weeks prior to this event, Reinhard sought global support for teachers and classes across the world to join three classes, view the German students in costume, watch them act out what they were wearing and vote on a shared google sheet. Teachers and classes registered on another shared google sheet and at least 5 or 6 registered as judges for each group.
I helped judge the third group together with students and teachers from France, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Russia and Hungary. It was 8pm my time so I was without students.
How it looked:
- Participants were given a link to a google document with the rules and procedures clearly explained and links to the voting sheets in google sheet
- One day prior we were given the option to test the connections, audio and video
- Google hangouts was chosen to connect us all
- The same link was used for each of the three German classes.
- Even though the class may not have been in the room, the webcam was on the empty classroom, so that we could see when the students walked in and know that we were in the right place. The back of the room featured flags from across the world.
- I entered 20 mins early to make sure I could logon and was surprised to see so many other judges/classes in the room already. Some were a little confused over the times and when it was going to star (one of my biggest challenges is time zones). We were able to introduce ourselves and get to know each other through the chat.
- Reinhard and his class entered at the appointed time. Students were obviously dressed in costumes, some hired, some made at home.
- Students came up one at a time to the webcam, showed their costume, tried to act out in costume and answer any questions. There was a wide variety of costumes – a police girl, Snow White, a zebra, a Unicorn, a martial arts person etc Some were too shy to come up to the webcamera.
- As they finished, the global judges would add their votes to the online voting sheet.
What a wonderful innovative global event. We all had a great time and the chat was to support those when they did not understand. Great work, Reinhard and thanks for organising the event.
A network is vital for global collaboration but when an established network is in place and collaborators are live with each other, the most amazing connections can occur.
As skype message popped up on my HLW Skypers groupfrom Lin-lin a teacher in Taiwan asking if anyone was available to listen to one of her students
speaking about the differences between a migrant and a refugee
Unfortunately I was about to go to on recess yard duty, but quickly found two year 7 girls who were willing to linkup with Bill, the student sharing the difference. This was such an opportune topic as Australia is about to accept 120000 refuges from Syria and there is much debate on the pros and cons of doing so. Skype was used for this connection.
This is a great example of a simple connection from an established global network, demonstrating how it can lead to ongoing learning across cultures and world boundaries.
- trying to understand the distinct Asian accent
What the girls liked:
- getting Bill to work out where we were from in the first place. We showed him pictures of Australia
- liked hearing the accent even though it was hard to understand.
- just liked linking up with different countries. Can find out different things like what they are learning about.
- I am learning about countries and where people are from by their accents. We can learn their culture from it – tells us where they are from and their history from people who actually live there.
Further questions we now have:-
- Is Taiwan accepting refugees from Syria? Why or why not?
- What countries do they accept refugees from?
- Where do most of their immigrants come from?
- Where do most of their refugees come from?
- and so much more?
And the reaction from the class in Taiwan:
However, I just gave a lesson about this issue to my Grade 6 students.
My class and I pay highest respect to all the nations which will give great help to the refugees and my G6 classes will make peace cranes to exchange with an American class.
Anne, thank you so much. My class read your message (re the fact Australia is taking in Syrian refugees) and they just started to know how serious the situation is and what your country has contributed to those people in urgent need.
and continuing conversations brought this message:
There were another 2 classes of mine also went on discussing and getting to know that there are great amount of people suffering and facing the threatening of losing lives in order to live in a safer place… And there are generous nations to receive those people. News reports here are full of coming presidential elections next year and entertainment news….We are not connecting to the world most of time.
One of the biggest learnings from global collaboration is that of knowing and understanding your own culture. I am so grateful to live in Australia, the lucky country!
When I first started teaching international penpals was a popular way of learning about others and forging global friendships. Then came email, then epals and communication became faster. Katherine Zablatnik, (of Austria) founder of the HLW Skypers group (a global skype group of educators across the world) wanted her students to develop a global learning network.
She created a HLW Skypers group for students on skype and then a facebook group for hers and other global students to join but neither really took off. After discussing the apps that we are now using on mobile devices on the skype group, Katherine sought interest from others to see whether any of our students would like to use whatsapp with her students. After asking my students, a number indicated interest. My interested students ranged from year 8 (14 year olds) to year 11 (17 year olds).
What we did:
- students shared phone numbers through their teachers
- downloaded the free whatsapp on their mobile phones
- students were given the list of phone numbers to add to their phone contacts and then could add them to their whatsapp.
- left it to the students to communiate and connect with each other and learn from and with each other.
Whatsapp is a free app that works on wifi and allows text chat, image and video sharing, recorded voice, group chats, shared locations etc
The initial outcomes – this actually worked successfully!:-
- excited students came up to me to share how they had talked to a number of the Austrian students.
- asked what they learnt and talked about – school hours (which are different to ours), muscial instruments played (again some different to ours), languages spoken (Austrian students may lear German, Italian, French and English), ours only learn mandarin Chinese (and then not very well) etc
- students actually thanked me very much for connecting them. If only all classes were like this! Read Kailyn’s blog post
Imagine the possibilites
- students develop their own global learning networks that they can call upon when studying different countries, cultures, geography, history etc.
- can discuss global events and get the full perspective of view points.
- develop empathy
- support each other etc etc
The German Science Class
On Thursday evening, my online colleague Reinhard Marx invited me to his first day with a year 7 Science class at Staedtische Realschule Sundern, to say hello for the new school year in Germany. What a great idea! Giving students a global introduction from day one and providing them with a glimpse that this is to be no ordinary classroom.
It was a brief skype videoconference call, where those students who wished to, came up and introduced themselves to me and shared conversations. My question generally required a simple answer, as English is not their first language. It was “Where did you go for the holidays?”. The answers really interested me as I love travelling and two students had actually been to Greece from where I have just come.
Why do this?
- immediately introduces them to the global classroom where learning can take place and be shared, beyond classroom walls.
- introduces students to new ways of communication in this 21st century – videoconferencing using tools such as skype – a popular communication and connection tool and increasingly used in the workplace.
- exposes students to different accents and ways of talking
- pushes them beyond their comfort zone – it is never easy initially speaking to someone from another country and place
- encourages them to communicate effectively and articulately
- shows them that they may need to use both text chat and audio to ensure names are understood and the actual conversation
- exposes them to different countries, cultures and time zones
- provides me with an opportunity to introduce myself and encourage ongoing connections for further teaching and learning.
- accentuates the differing nature of the world – my classes are nearly finished term 3 of four terms of the current school year compared to their new school year.
A student introduces herself to me
Thanks Reinhard for allowing me the opportunity to welcome them to their new school year. All the best! Have you had the opportunity to welcome students to their school year? Do you think that this is a good idea?
You know there is something great and exciting going on when
- the twitterverse starts pumping out tweets in a continuous wave using the #tag #globaled12 If you do not already follow hashtags, try going to tweetchat and entering globaled12 in the search window and watch the tweets fall. See the globaled12 hashtag analytics
- 1000 people apply for membership to the Global Education ning over two weeks
- here is much animated chat going on in the Global Education Conference social networking site,
- people say hi in their language in the chat
- you can see conversations going on in a number of languages in the chat window
- a multitude of people email to seek advice and answers to questions re a conference,
- presenters are collaborating and working together and when the world is involved there are amazing conversations.
- opportunities for training take place on an increasing scale
With over 330 sessions, a five days of conference and a potential audience drawn from across the world, the Global Education Conference is potentially the World’s Biggest Conference for Educators and people interested in promoting global education. This amazing feat for a conference is online, virtual and best of all free. It does not sleep for 5 days with presentations around the clock! Presenters at this conference include educators, students and various community bodies interested in global education.
The hard work of Lucy Gray and Steve Hargadon together with a global committee have been instrumental in its organisation. Do not miss this exciting opportunity to :-
- learn about the world from the world rather than a textbook
- learn with the world
- enjoy the comfort of your home or office space or classroom to be part of some amazing keynotes, spotlighted sessions and many presentations from people who are connecting globally and pushing education beyond our classroom walls.
Check out the schedules and sessions, scroll down find your time zone, click on the link to your timezone and you will be sent to the schedule for where you live. Choose the session(s) you want to attend, look for the link to the room, click on that prior to the session and you will enter the room where that presentation takes place.
Following are links to either lists of some of my favourite projects and connections and some suggestions for those people who are new to global education of presentations that might be of interest to them.
- Hello Little World Skypers presentations
- Flat Classoom Project presenters and Stories from the Flat Classroom with Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis
- Sessions that might interest those who are new to global education.
See also Julie Lindsay’s great post on How to attend the global education conference.
Are you presenting? What sessions would you suggest? What do you think of an amazing conference like this? What excites you about this conference? Have you attended any of the past global education conferences?
Hope to see you there!