Tag Archives: international students in a virtual classroom

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.

Lost in Malaysia!

Last week, I ” lost” two students for a whole double ie two lessons of Information Technology, in Malaysia (1000s of kms and another continent away). Renee and Ellie  had gone to the meeting room at school, where it was nice and quiet in order to  talk to, and videoconference with Veronica Woo, my teaching colleague from Malaysia. They were using my laptop and skype. This followed the succes of our linkup the week before with Lorraine Leo from Boston.

Lost in Malaysia

As I would have loved to connect the whole class,  I tried to fix up my data projector setup in the computer lab, but as it is time consuming to setup my laptop and speakers, and things werent working easily on Friday, I found that  Ellie and Renee were keen to work with Veronica.

The Principal of SMJK Poi Lam School in Ipoh,  Malaysia, was about to retire. This is where our cultural differences really show!  They had mutliple  ceremonies and performances, representing their mutlicultural school – Chinese, Malay and Indian. In our school, we would have whole school assembly, with some speeches from staff and the school captains. As Veronica had her laptop with her, she used skype to videoconference the events for us.

The girls were in for a treat, as Veronica

  • showed them around external section of the school,
  • introduced the girls to a Malay school principal
  • introduced them to three of the Chinese students who were to make up the Lion in the Lion Dance ceremony
  • used her laptop to show the girls the actual Lion Dance, Malay Drumming and Indian dancers – all part of the farewell ceremonies
  • When the ceremony had finished, Veronica walked the girls through the school canteen where they watched the chefs make Indian roti or flat breads. The girls thought they were pancakes!

As our school bell went, the two girls returned to gather their books etc,  after a fabulous virtual ceremony and tour of the school  –  100 mins  after they had left me.  A double can be a ‘long’ lesson, where a variety of activities need to be undertaken to ensure interest, engagement etc. However, the fact that the girls were ‘lost’ or fully immersed in Malaysia  must surely show, the engagement that videoconferencing and online learning can provide! Thanks Veronica for being their teacher and host for the day.

What the girls had to achieve:-

  • independent work ethic, as I only walked in and out to check on them several times during the double lesson.
  • complex communications skills – working online with videoconferencing, understanding different accents, learning how to talk to students/teachers/principals (as all these people came up and talked to the girls). In turn they had to speak articulately in order to be understood.
  • Learn quickly their geography – where is Malaysia?
  • Acknowledge the range of cultures within the one school – a completely different approach to farewelling a Principal compared to Western Society. (We may have a formal school assembly!)
  • Exposure to three different cultures, all within the one school – Chinese, Malay, Indian! (Our school is mono-culture)
  • Learnt about different foods, costumes, instruments, dancing styles etc.
  • Independent learning that will extend beyond that lesson as the girls’ curiousity makes them explore the internet further for more information.

The Outcomes: The girls want to take Veronica and students on a virtual tour of our school soon.

nb. I wish I would have taken the time to set up my equipment, so that my whole IT class would have benefited!

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:-