Tag Archives: India

Amazing Outcomes from Global PLNs

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One of my special online colleagues, Sebastian Panakal is an educational entrepreneur from Kerala, India, and a tireless worker  who is passionate about his people, their education and their economic future. On many, many occasions he has spoken to students, staff and parents from my school in Australia, using Skype to connect. In turn I have been able to reciprocate and connect with schools, classes, community members etc in Kerala.

Technology enables us to connect in ways never thought previously possible. It’s innovative use is just starting to impact on global education. The ability to learn from others in any country, any time and a variety of ways can help those in lesser developed countries improve their education and expand their learning/knowledge. Nelson Mandela said:

“Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world”.

Last week, Sebastian connected me (over Skype) to Mr Ravindran, of Kerala, India. Initially, I spoke briefly to Sebastian who then introduced me to a retired female Principal who is learning to teach online under Sebastian’s tutelage.

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Next, Mr Ravindran was introduced and he spoke of ways that he may be able to help me and other members of our global network, when visiting India. He spoke of his Commerce degree and background which was of high interest to me as that is my academic background and the area that I teach in. I spoke briefly of what I do but it was only when I had hung up that I realised the importance of this friendly gentleman.

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He is an important community member and his business card reads as follows:-

U. P. Ravandran, M Commerce,  a member of the Prime Minister’s 25 circles (Interaction with the Prime Minister, Indian Defence, Indian Railways, Schwachh Barath Mission, Anti-Corruption, Legal Cell, Women Protection, Consumer Protection, etc).

He has direct access to the Prime Minister’s office to report on what goes on locally here in Kerala. This helps the PM’s office localize and customise their work in Kerala.

Sebastian has a wonderful vision – a project to employ one million people as English Language Coaches – each one teaching one program. Those who are fluent in the language will help those who are not, using Skype for educational purposes, accepting an honorarium, if given.

Sebastian has contact with senior citizens who are eager to use their time productively, empowering people who need a mentor in language learning. Read more at the EldersSole. The idea has been work in progress for two year. See Language Learning Circles   and Speak English for Money. This project is about to be launched to help the people of Kerala learn English. Mr Ravindran is supporting this project.

It would be fabulous if the people of Kerala could offer to teach their native language to others across the world. People in advanced countries could be willing to pay for native speakers to teach them. Courses could be setup, including advanced or basic tourist conversational courses, cultural and heritage lessons. Tools like Skype can used for direct interacting and learning. There are  many options available (and many that have not even been thought of) that innovative entrepreneurs like Sebastian (with a fabulous global professional network) and supportive mentors like Mr Ravindran will be able to use, to advance the learning and financial opportunities for the people of India.

All the best in this innovative adventure in global connection and learning!

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Outside their comfort zone

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A plea from one of my colleagues in India, Anamika Jha, for some of my students to videoconference (skype) with hers came at a time when I had my year 9/10 ICT class. She teaches at SD Public School, Delhi. Many of my students were absent and I was not certain that the students who were in my class would be confident  enough or even willing to talk to her students. It would be well outside their comfort zone.

However, I did have two girls who were looking rather disengaged so I asked whether they would connect. As expected, they were reluctant but finally agreed. The skype call came in and I took them up to one of our small meeting rooms. Fortunately, the students from India were super confident, well prepared and surprisingly my girls appeared to understand them. The first question was asking the girls to share something about Australian culture. This flawed them and there was no response! Not to be deterred the Indian students proceeded to talk about their many religions, days of celebration and important people.

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Next question was whether the girls watched Indian movies or knew any of their famous actors – again negative comments! At this point, I disappeared to find some objects of Australian culture – food, animals, sports equipment etc. When I returned the girls had relaxed and were highly engaged in conversations around favourite books, music, school subjects, sports, hobbies, money and the weather. The looks of boredom that I had seen 20 minutes before had changed into engaged, smiling and animated faces as they chatted away.Video call snapshot 307

It reaffirmed that it is often best for the teacher to step right back and let the students work out the accents, speed and clarity of speech and to let them take control of the direction of learning.

Small groups of students connecting cross countries, cross cultures, different accents, speed of speech can have rich learning outcomes.

Feedback from their teacher

thanks maam
for this nice conversation with your students
my students were really excited to have words with your students
tomm.

Read Bridie’s blog post. and Georgia’s post

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

Technology – an amazing connector

As a member of HLW Skypers, notifications will come through at any time on the skype group chat. One such message appeared 2 hours 30 mins before a special event in India from Sebastian Panakal asking for members to send a video message offering thanks and congratulations to Mr. Hibi Eden, Member of Legislative Assembly of Kerala, Sujathambika, Staff, Students and Parent Teacher Association of S.R.V. School.

I am at the inauguration of SMART CLASSROOM at SRV School, today 2 hours 30 minutes from now. A message from my PLN will go a long way in helping the poor students in Public Schools in Kerala, India.

A quick decision had to be made! What should I use to send a video message. Skype video message on my laptop, was one option as was creating a video using my iphone and uploading to youtube. However, the quickest was a skype video message sent through the group chat. However, the internet in Kerala is not always robust so there is always a chance that it will not work at the appointed time. However, the skype video can be downloaded and shown while offline as long as it had fully uploaded by the appointed time in India. I followed a suggested script from Sebastian, made sure the lighting was okay behind me and found a quiet place away from the noise of the grandchildren who were staying. I usually produce an Australian flag when I introduce myself but in my haste could not find one.

Even though the request came through 2.5 hours before the event,  I only read the feed 30 mins before the due time so there was not time to perfect the video msessage. Soon after sending it through, a group call came through from the Kerala location so I was able to share my congratulations in real time with those in Kerala, together with Tracy Hanson in USA (of Next Generation Global Education) and another teacher from India. The teacher in India had prepared some slides to share with us all by using screen share on skype. (Note to myself: I need a short presentation, sharing where I am from and my school!)

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The skype group video call can be seen in the image above. This is rather incredible to think that one of the poorest schools of Kerala, India can connect to so many different educators and classes in Australia.and even more amazing that the Member of their Parliament could witness this.

Watch the following video of one of the other participants.

A message sent by Steve Sherman from Cape Town

The thing that always amazes me is that dedicated educators like Sebastian Panakal can use technology to great effect for poor schools in underdeveloped countries – imagine what all of us could do if we connect further!

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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Behind Closed Doors: Sebastian guest educator from Kerala, India

cropped selfieThis week is Education Week in Victoria, Australia. To celebrate teaching and learning, our school opened its doors today on the theme: “Behind Closed Doors”. Grandparents and parents were invited in to the classrooms between 11:30am and 2:30pm.

Year 7 ICT class demonstrated the power that technology can bring in opening up the doors globally. Sebastian Panakal kindly accepted the invitation to play “Mystery Skype” with the students, then show his wife’s Seena’s wonderful samples of origami and and answer any further questions.

whole class with Sebastian

Students had to think of one question to ask Sebastian, that required only a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer, whilst I solved the many problems I was facing with my laptop. Sebastian waited extremely patiently whilst my laptop rebooted. Students gradually worked out where Sebastian was from, using visuals and accents as ancilliary clues. Hamish actually worked out the name of the city – Kerala! Students had previously asked if he lived in the northern hemisphere, near a tropical forest, near the Pacific Ocean etc. Once they knew it was India, the next questions were

  • Do you live in southern India?
  • Do you live in a big city?
  • Do you live in Kerala?

showing origami

Sebastian proceeded to share the wonderful origami that his wife Seena creates. I hope he could hear the ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from the students as the webcam beamed them back to us. She shares her work over youtube.

As it was breakfast time for Sebastian he told us he was having Chappati & Daal – further learning as to what this actually looks like. Appam (made of rice) and curry was also part of it. Our students had had toast, toasties or cornflakes with banana!

Then he  invited us to Skype with “Sandesh – Be the Change” learners as part of training of a team of social entrereneurs ready to empower poor at the bottom of the pyramid in Kerala. The Prime Minister is eagerly promoting “Make in India” – Kerala Government is keen on digital democracy, empowering the marginalized. What a fabulous event for us to be involved in.

another origami

Read some of the student blog posts and what they thought about it all:

  1. Kiara’s post
  2. Dominic’s post
  3. Emmerson’s post
  4. Tim’s post
  5. Megan’s post

Children’s Day: The first time I heard the National Anthem of India

Singing the National Anthem

Singing the National Anthem

Today is Children’s Day in India. What a wonderful day to celebrate and acknowledge our young and make them feel very special. To mark the occasion, my dear friend, Sebastian Panakal from Kerala, India asked whether I could arrange students to link up with his.
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Sebastian and children

Unfortunately the time was right on our school closing time, so our students were unable to videoconference, but I was happy to be their audience. Teachers and students of varying ages came up, said hello and asked some questions of me. The children were delightful, appeared extremely interested well mannered and spoke clearly.  Balloons were evident in the classroom – a sign of the celebrations.

girl and children

At the end of our 20 minute linkup, the students, teachers and Sebastian sang me their National Anthem with great pride and gusto. And I hate to admit it, it was the first time that I ever remember hearing the National Anthem of India.

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