Tag Archives: Malaysian Connections

Global Student – the Melbourne Writers Festival

Question to Ms Murnane: “Where is Federation Square?”

Answer from Ms Murnane: “You are standing in it!”

It was then we realised that not all of our 34 students on our bus excursion had been to Melbourne’s famous square.

Taking it Back a Few Steps or kilometres!

A busload of students  had taken the seven hour, one way journey to Melbourne, some having to get up at 4am in order to catch our bus.They were accompanied by the school Principal and two teachers. Some of these students had risen at 4am to be attend the Melbourne Writers Festival.  The majority of these students had created book trailers and placed them on a wiki page  as part of a collaborative global project.

What a proud day it was for Hawkesdale P12 College, Australia, SMJK Poi Lam and SJK(C) Ave Maria Convent Schools, Ipoh, Malaysia. Staff and students from these schools had worked long and hard  to collaborate on a shared wikii, sharing a little about themselves and to embed their book trailers, with the view of encouraging others to read these books and consider similar projects.

Our students attended the first workshop with writers in Federation Square theatres. Ten nervous students were led to the Board Room with their teacher Marg Murnane, who worked with them on their book trailers. There they met the MC, Ed Hoyt, who would lead the proceedings, introduce the special guests and the multimedia segments, and question students from both countries. The remaining students attended a second workshop. Once this finished, it was time to go to the green turf which had been laid down for seating  for interested parties to view the videoconference linkup with Malaysia. It was with great relief that I could hear Veronica’s voice over the PA and skype. The internet at their school had gone down due to a perceived lightning strike, so she was skyping in with mobile internet access.

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How it looked:-

  • Ten bean bags on the stage for our students to sit on, in an attempt to settle their nerves early in the piece.
  • Images, videos and projections of participants appeared on the big screen. Another large monitor or screen had been setup on the stage for the students to view the digital book trailers.
  • A large crowd comprising students from other schools, Melbourne city councillors, representatives from Innovations and Next Practice, Victorian Education Department and other interested community members either sat or stood and watched the session
  • Ed led the crowd through a number of activities to get them energetically involved.
  • On the Malaysian side, many special guests and VIPs, teachers, parents and students were seated watching  the proceedings from their country.
  • Having Melbourne City Councillor Ong welcome everyone after an introduction by one of the Festival managers.
  • Malaysian Perak State Tourism head, YB Dato’ Hamida Othman,  welcomed guests and spoke briefly.
  • The Hawkesdale student book trailers were shown and students who created them, spoke briefly about them and answered Ed’s questions.
  • The Malaysian student book trailers were shown and they were to be questioned, but technical difficulties had set in by this stage.
  • Hawkesdale students proceeded to pose the questions that they would like to ask the Malaysian students.


  • Councillor Ong who initially welcomed all was originally from Malaysia and spoke on the fact that he hoped the two countries would maintain  and further develop connections.
  • The students made paper rockets to throw to the crowd when that segment featured in one of the book trailers. (Loved the innovative, interactive ideas that were introduced during the session.)
  • Watching the students gradually get over their nerves and speak eloquently to the questions asked of them.
  • Having our students on centre stage at Federation Square and knowing that they come from farms and go to school in a small, unknown country town.
  • Sharing the fabulous work that students can create and share with the world.
  • Seeing the products of weeks and months of hard work on behalf of both schools and Jenny Niven and other staff from the Writers Festival and Federation Square
  • ‘Knitting’ students with communities that go beyond the classroom and across the seas. On the local side, our school, the Melbourne Writers Festival,  Education at Federation Square, the Melbourne City Council, Innovations and Next Practice of the Vic Education Department.

Thank you to the Melbourne Writers festival for allowing us to be part of it all, to Jenny Niven who worked tirelessly with us keeping us on task, on  track and  on time, to Veronica Woo (and Yew Yan Koon) from Ipoh who spent countless, countless  hours preparing for this linkup, to Marg Murnane who took on the crucial element of  book trailer creation with students and to Innovations and Next Practice who provided the connection to Jenny Niven  via Listen to Learners, and to Cindy Thomas, Program Manager -Education, Federation Square. And finally to the students themselves who demonstrated creativity and flair in their trailers.  These students pushed themselves way beyond personal comfort zones. This is testimony to the amazing world that we live, teach and learn in.

Finally, here is the Melbourne Writers Festival program excerpt that promoted our event. It says it all:-

Students from Ipoh,  Malaysia and Hawkesdale, Victoria have been sharing their very own wiki pages and other online tools. Come and see the amazing outcomes of their hard work including movie trailers and photostories of their favourite books, which they have collaborated on from across the seas! Featuring a live video linkup with overseas schools, this event presents some of the possibilities for empowering learning and student development offered by the new technologies.

This session is a must for teachers and students interested in learning more about innovative classrooms and the ways which classrooms can connect, communicate and collaborate acrorsss the globe. By working on authentic projects that utilize project based learning and using cutting edge technology, it showcases the exciting outcomes that students from a variety of cultures can achieve in this flattening world of ours.

From Listen2Learners to the Melbourne Writers Festival

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An excited year 11 student greeted me outside the office one morning at the end of last year and proceeded to tell me all about the fabulous event that he and two others had attended in Melbourne the day before. (Read his post.) It was “Listen to Learners” – an event held to showcase student learning in Melbourne, organised by Innovations and Next Practise, Victorian Education Department. Community members and interested educators attended this meetup. Students were given the chance to talk about their involvement in innovative learning and made to feel important.

To show the importance of their audience, Dhugan produced a business card. It was from Jenny Niven, Program Manager, of the Melbourne Writers Festival. Over the next weeks, the students got on with their studies, but  Jenny soon contacted me. She was interested in bringing a global perspective to the Melbourne Writers Festival in 2011 and wanted to know if we would be part of it. Of course we responded with a “yes”. Thinking caps on! What could we do? Book trailers were a fascination and it was decided that these could form a collaborative project with year 8 and 9 the target group.

Marg Murnane from our school took the project on as part of her teaching load. That left me to find some global partners, setup the wiki and share the organisation.  Veronica Woo and Yew Yan Koon from SMJK Poi Lam School in Ipoh,  Malaysia were interested as were several other contacts. A globalstorytelling wiki was set up with some resources, links, suggestions etc Students were to create a digital book trailer that would promote one of their favourite books, encouraging their audience to read this book. Pages were setup for the schools involved and it was hoped that the influence of different cultures would show.

However, exams, holidays, tests and the general ‘busyness’of school presented challenges. As time crept up on us, Veronica and Yew decided to work with four students from mixed backgrounds – Chinese, Malay, Indian and Chindian and from two schools.   SMJK Poi Lam is a secondary school and SJK (C) Ave Maria Convent is a primary school. The four students set up blogs to document their progress and the discussion tab of the wiki was used, but sparingly.

Here are the Malaysian student blogs (please visit them and leave a comment of encouragement)

Veronica contacted Yusuf Martin, a local writer, who is involved with the Malaysian Writers Festival. The 4 students worked with him for a session and looked at  using books based on the theme of culture. Veronica and Evon worked tirelessly with their students.

“We thought this would be interesting as Malaysia is indeed a melting pot of different races and cultures.” says Veronica.

Several weekends were spent visiting places to source authentic resources for their trailers:- a classical Indian dance session, interviewing a Bharathanatyam dance guru.

Here are the  books they have chose:-

  • Jesmund 16 years – Taman Saujana ( By Mubin Sheppard)
  • Maswin,16 years – The Straits Chinese ( By Khoo Joo Ee )
  • Tisha 8 years old – The Origins of Chinese Culture
  • Eusebia Clement, 8 years old -The Performing Arts ( Indian culture )

Another contact, Rori from 5th Primary School Mityo Stanev Bulgaria who is a co- member of the “little world skypers” group had produced glogs (using glogster) with her students. She agreed to add a page of these to our wiki. Her school is 

Global Student and the Writers Festival

We are proud and excited to have a bus load of students taking a 3 ½ ride to Melbourne for the Writers Festival on Sept 1st at 12:30pm. Selected students will be up on the big stage at Federation Square with Veronica and Yew and their four students videoconferencing in to the crowd at Federation Square from Ipoh in Malaysia. Our host or MC is Ed Hoyt.  Students from both countries will share their love of reading, their cultures and involvement in a 45 minute time slot. Four book trailers from each country will be displayed on the big screen.

This event will demonstrate innovative classrooms and ways in which classrooms can connect, communicate and collaborate across the world, using cutting edge technology, authentic projects and project based learning. It will showcase the exciting outcomes that students from a variety of cultures can achieve in this flattening world of ours.

Significance to the schools in Malaysia

At the Malaysian end, there will be the local press, students’ parents, teachers, friends, school principals, the State Tourism Chairperson, YB Dato’ Hamida Othman, the State Director of Education and a local politician.

Some of the learning

  • What book trailers are
  • The nature of other cultures
  • A deeper understanding of our culture
  • Exploring a number of movie making options
  • Using copyright free images and music
  • The pressure of time commitment
  • The Malaysian students have learnt to blog
  • How to add content to a wiki
  • The use of a variety of communication methods between us all
  • Connecting as a group in skype – Melbourne, Hawkesdale and Ipoh
  • the constant need for communication from all parties
  • learning about reading habits of students: – likes/dislikes


  • Set up a wiki with pages for schools involved, resources, a survey, student pages
  • Students and staff ‘joined’ the wiki
  • Students added an ‘about me’ section to their wiki page
  • Trailers were brainstormed
  • Discussion around copyright and appropriate use of images
  • Trailers were completed, published into wmv format and uploaded to youtube. The code was grabbed and embedded on each student’s wiki page.
  • Our school had to choose four of the trailers to be featured and three students to be up on the stage.
  • Veronica’s school got some parts of the electrical connection in the school hall rewired ready for the technical test.
Here are the book trailers  that we chose from our student cohort. The book titles and authors are as follows, but please view them as we are proud of student efforts:-
  1. Tomorrow When the War Began by John Marsden put together by a group of 6 girls
  2. A Waltz for Matilda by Jacqui French
  3. A Rose for the Anzac Boys authored by 
  4. Hatchet by Gary Paulson

The Vision

It is hoped that other schools will be motivated to get involved in global projects and/or join our wiki to create and add book trailers.

Do you have a similar story to share?

Adding movies to a wiki

Tisha is a young student from Malaysia who is participating in the globalstorytelling project . In this project students from Malaysia and Australia are creating book trailers. Tisha is having problems adding the movie to the wiki as it says it is too large,  but has successfully added it to her blog meiyangyang. This post is a bid to help her solve the problem, but if you have time please look at her new blog and support her with comments.

Playing with the html code. Tisha, if you follow these instructions, can you add a comment below and let me know if it was successful.

  1. Login to your blogger blog.
  2. Edit your post that shows the book trailer.
  3. Click on the html edit tab.

Click on the html tab

  • Highlight the code for the movie and copy this code.
  • Open your wiki page>edit

Look for widget

  • Find the link for html and click on it. A white window appears

find html link

  • Paste the html code from your blog post in here and see if that will allow your book trailer display.
If anyone reading this blog post has further ideas, please let us know via a comment. How have you added movies to wikispaces?

Malaysian students in a real time performance for the Innovations Showcase

37 excited and highly skilled students performed to a captive audience of 100 or so educators and adults interested in education at the The Innovations ShowcaseMelbourne Entertainment and Convention Centre in Melbourne. Immediate feedback was provided via twitter.

However, these students were not actually in the room but came from SMJK Poi Lam School in Ipoh, Malaysia and performed for us over skype (videoconferencing) on the big screen.

Students from SMJK Poi Lam School in Ipoh, Malaysia

“Little Big Classrooms” was the topic of my presentation for the Showcase. As I wanted the participants to see, hear and feel what global cultural connections can bring to the classroom, my dear e-colleague Veronica Woo  might be able to link up for a short video conference during the  presentation. To my delight, Veronica and another English teacher, Yew Yan Koon agreed and offered to provide a student performance. The 37 students were from SMJK Poi Lam School in Ipoh, Malaysia and professionally provided an inspiring, entertaining, visually stimulating Capella of ‘The Circle of Life’. The costumes and sets were beautifully put together and both amazed and delighted their virtual audience. They also included an effective and innovative short choral reading of extracts of the dialogue between the Lion King and his son, Simba.

Performing a Capella from the Lion King

Feedback from Veronica 

Thanks Anne for giving us the opportunity to be part of your presentation.  I could see right after the performance how motivated our students were.  I suppose that’s the reality and impact of having performed in real time to a real audience in another part of the world.  And all this despite the fact that they could not see them, the real audience in the hall!

Short choral reading

Feedback via twitter from the audience:-

  • @suewaters Attending @murcha session at #deecdisc watching Skype connecting with class in another country
  • @kmroyds Experiencing #globaled: @murcha just linked us with Malaysian school group performing the Lion King live on skype #deecdisc
  • @kmroyds: Brilliant ‘Circle of Life’ performance by Malay students for @murcha session #deecdisc
  • @lucybarrow:- Just witnessed gorgeous Lion King performance by students in Malaysia, live on skype with @murcha at #deecdisc
  • @ptoosh #deecdisc loving the Lion King … Connecting, sharing and learning globally – surely this is 21st C learning in practise! Well done @murcha
  • @mr_mitch_hughes: Seriously need to get skype unblocked at my school. @murcha great prezo #deecdisc”

The audience - some tweeting feedback

This outlines some of the amazing capabilities of technology:-

  • the chance to connect and communicate across countries/cultures in real time
  • immediate feedback of a performance via eg twitter, where normally the audience will clap and that is the only response.
  • providing students with a real audience
  • students able to perform to a camera without knowing who their audience is.
Potential impact of similar performance in my classroom
  • inspiring and motivating students to aspire to similar outcomes and push them outside their own comfort zones
  • allows my students who rarely attend cultural/musical performances due to rural isolation to see it from peers of their own age grouping
  • exposes them to Chinese culture and artistry – delightful and beautifully crafted sets, costumes and props
  • imparts a sense of bonding and a sense of admiration for other cultures when often racism exists in small, rural, isolated communities.
The setup from my end was:-
  •  ‘skype’ installed on the laptop for VC (from a USB)
  • a borrowed laptop with inbuilt mic and webcam
  • the laptop was plugged into the conference centre digital setup.
The challenges
  • My laptop ‘died’ during the week and I was left without internet access just as  I was away from home, presenting at a seminar and the Showcase. This made communications with Veronica difficult and prevented us from having an ‘e-dress rehearsal’ two days before to test audio and the webcam.
  • the Malaysian students could not see their audience
What worked well:-
  • the fact that Veronica and I have worked together many times before and have built a confidence and trust in each other to “be there” and know that ‘it will work’!
  • knowing that Veronica is highly skilled in the use of video conferencing
  • the responsiveness of the audience
  • the highly skilled performance of the students
  • the full support of the organisers of the Showcase in helping out when my laptop could not make it!
Thanks Veronica and Yew Yan Koon for demonstrating with us what can be done with the  use of technology to break down cultural barriers and share cultures, experiences, skills and learning. Thanks to the audience for being with us. 
  1. What further benefits do you think that videoconferencing across cultures can have?
  2. How do you use videoconferencing?
  3. How could similar links apply or be used in your classroom?

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

eT@lking – final celebratory session for 2010 – Malaysian style

Obviously this was a busy time of year for all, as we had only a couple of participants turn up and then, Adrian had to leave 20 mins into the session. Unfortunatley, the damp, wet weather at home, meant that I bounced in and out for the start, but as my dear colleague, Veronica Woo had prepared 10 slides for presentation on highlights of the school year in Ipoh, Malaysia and how Malaysia acknowledges/celebrates Christmas, Veronica was able to share her experiences for the whole session. Thanks Veronica and would love to get you back next year, when more participants should come online.

Here is the link to the recording

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!

Teaching students at SMJK Poi Lam Malaysia

The classroom setting:-

  1. Two rooms:- computer room/multimedia room at SMJK Poi Lam (one above the other)
  2. 80 students altogether – 40 in each room
  3. a video camera to project each room to the other
  4. laptops for one room, desktops in the other
  5. Two hours for teaching time
  6. Two different classes – form 4 (15/16 year olds) and form 1 (13 year olds)

This tested my thinking and teaching skills. What could I teach them that was engaging, useful across all their  subject areas, user friendly, required little setup time  and could be completed in this time.

I settled on the following:

  1. cybersafety – wallwisher and online avatar creation
  2. brainstorming or mindmapping with bubbl.us and wallwisher (See my post for further details and approaches)

It was apparent with the first class that the 80 odd students were all going to have to fit into the lab ( which was a good sized room, but ended up being crowded). For me, this was preferable, but  meant that two or three students had to share a desktop but at least they were all within ‘face to face’ sight so that I could measure body language, behaviour, engagement etc. Evon and Veronica (two teachers) helped with the form 4 class and Anne from Poi Lam and two or three older student monitors helped with the younger form 1 class in the afternoon.

What worked well:

  1. wallwisher – easy, quick to get to, allowed the 80 students all to work on it at once, simple task, all had something to say etc. I had asked for them to give me tips on cybersafety, but some started to ask questions on it, add other comments and to my surprise whilst waiting, used it like a chat room. This is an aspect of wallwisher that I had not considered, but will use in future as it could be used as a back channel or chat type area. The younger students were asked to add a sticky note to their wall on their favourite food, sport and subject.  See form 4 wall. See form 1 wall.
  2. The students, once used to my accent, seemed to follow instructions and most completed the tasks or were near to completion.
  3. bubblus was popular to work with and most completed a number of tiers in the 15 mins given to them. Using the topic of Ipoh was easy, something they could all talk about eg cultures, foods, tourist attractions etc They all seemed to have registered for the use bubblus.
  4. Some were able to email me screen dumps of their bubbl and avatar so that I could see the outcomes.
  5. As many students had to work in small groups, this created noise and discussion, it did seem to work okay, as they could learn from each other and work their way through tasks as a team.
  6. Students seemed to understand my accent, and those who did not worked  out what I had asked from their team members.
  7. From my point of view, students were well behaved and focused – especially with the number involved. They love to use technology!


  1. Cyber safety is always a key issue and topic. Am still uncertain as to how sound their knowledge is of how to use the internet safely, but when asked most put up good responses on the wallwisher.
  2. Cultural issues came into play. In Australia, I teach my students not to use their last names. My problem was that I was not very aware of the format of last names in Chinese, Indian and Malay cultures. The Chinese state their last names first, the Malays inherit their father’s names so they change with generations and the Indians use a system like ours (I hope someone can verify this for me via a comment)
  3. Several teachable moments arose. As in any class, some students failed to fully appreciate digital citizenship. Some usernames I would have deemed inappropriate, but is that my cultural perception? I discussed my opinion with the students.  One sticky note had a ‘put down’ of another student and I deleted it after discussing it with the students.
  4. Number of students and inability to individually go around them all to double check on their attention to the tasks given.
  5. Some students had to work in pairs or groups of three. Would have been great to have individual access to computers.

The unpredicted outcomes

  1. Students’ use of wallwisher – their use has given me another use for it.
  2. At the end of the lesson, I had requests from some to befriend them on facebook – where they love to continue to share conversations!

Thank you students, for your co-operation,  wonderful card, the gifts and for working patiently with me! Loved working with you and hope I can do so again, some time.


Staff and Students


ren sun ren hai – ‘people mountain people sea’

It was with great curiousity, I heard Evon (my Chinese hostess in Ipoh) tell me about her student use of the Chinese phrase “ren sun ren hai” (Mandarin) which means “a crowded place”. I was intrigued to learn that Evon and Veronica Woo had learnt this phrase  from reading their student essays.

However, I experienced the full meaning and impact  of this saying during my time at  SMJK Poi Lam in late September 2010. How?

  1. I came from a farm in SE Australia, where the nearest town has 150 residents, to  Ipoh, Malaysia where the populations is 2 million!
  2. I teach at Hawkesdale P12 College  where class sizes of 26 students is the maximum, (but on average, my classes number 15) to SMJK Poi Lam where classes average 40+!
  3. Whilst in Ipoh, I presented to 120 teachers spread across two rooms
  4. … and had two classes of 80+students!

However, it was my great pleasure to be able to work in this ‘ crowded place’,  with the secondary teachers from this school and from a nearby Chinese primary school. The numbers involved and the setting across two rooms presented a challenge. Before, further explanation and reflection, I would like to sincerely thank Veronica Woo for her fantastic, conscientious and diligent work in ensuring that I could come to her school and that all flowed smoothly. Her commitment to organising the finest detail was amazing and I personally, learnt so much from working with her. I would also like to thank my hostess, Yew Yan Koon and to her wonderful family for all their hospitality in accommodating myself and my husband Bruce and ensuring that we had the best possible time whilst in Ipoh. T o the  school administrators of SMJK Poi Lam and the  PTA Chairman and Treasurer of  for being so supportive of Veronica’s plan to bring me to Ipoh and taking the risk of allowing me to show you some of the fabulous online tools that can be used to connect students and enable them to communicate in amazing ways. For the wonderful lunch given as a farewell gesture and the memorable gifts given, again thank you.

Further challenges:-

  • I was the only native English speaker. My audience spoke English as their second, third or fourth language.
  • Mine was a white caucasian culture, theirs was Chinese, Malay, Indian etc
  • I was the oldest person there! (not sure what effect that produced though!)
  • teachers had mixed abilities when using technology
  • I was uncertain as to whether each had an email address
  • needed a backup plan should the internet fail

Yet we all a common purpose – we love to teach and we love to learn!

As I had two hours to work with the staff, I spent the first hour or so, sharing stories, online tools and resources from my classroom with a formal powerpoint presentation. As it is always more interesting to participate in a ‘hands on’ session, I had also organised activities based on wordle, google doc, voicethread and MS photostory. However, there were 120 teachers involved and as they needed access to a computer each, they were spread between two rooms – some on laptops and on desktops.

Veronica, my Malaysian colleague and PD Co-ordinator had hooked up a video camera to film my presentation in real time to those in the room above. When it came to the ‘hands on’, the google doc would not work (fear this may have had something to do with number of people involved and their internet speed). Instead, we worked with creating a wordle on Ipoh, where staff were asked to tell me what I would see, hear or taste in Ipoh. I like wordle- a word cloud creator-  as it can be used in all levels of education, with all technological ability levels and all subject areas – 

  • supports visual analyis
  • creates attractive flyers
  • brainstorm
  •  introduce new terms
  •  summarise topics
  •  even as puzzles (‘spot the odd ones out”!) etc

It does not require any user names, passwords, email contacts etc and best of all is a free online tool.  The more complex part was saving it as a jpg, by getting a ‘print screen’ and pasting it into MS Paint and then saving it as a jpg image for use in a presentation, on flyers or in an online space eg blog.

Reflections on the session:-

What worked well:-

  1. Setting up the links and some instructions on my blog – they have a present and  future point of reference to try and go back to. (those who are quick to complete, can go on to the next tool and try it)
  2. My initial presentation with lots of images and samples of student work.
  3. Most teachers were able to create a wordle and many made it into an image.

What did not work so well!

  • 2 hours is a long session
  • The language barrier – I need to speak slowly and succintly and know that at times, I started to talk too quickly again. 
  • participants split between two classes (although the video camera could beam to me the class above, so I could see their concentration levels.
  • The fact that I only got one hands on tool demonstrated
  • Next time, I would start with a wallwisher wall. This would be  setup with a link on my blog (as they all seemed to find my blog)  to get each participant to comment eg how I use technology in the classroom, why I should use technology in the classroom or what I want to know about using technology in the classroom. This is  an easy activity, makes participants use another free online tool that seems to cope with unlimited simultaneous users and is one that any level and subject could find a use for.
  • The default in MS Paint to save images appeared to be a bmp, not jpg as required for online use.
  • Using the crop feature in MS Paint to crop the pic was a little complex for some.
  • Test out fully the use of a google doc as a back channel or perhaps use wallwisher as the backchannel and I could go back later and answer questions there. (Wallwisher copes with 80 users on it at once and possibly more)

However, I loved the experience, have benefitted enormously from it, been challenged  by language and cultural differences and have learnt to improve upon it all. My grateful thanks to the wonderful staff at SMJK Poi Lam School and to my fantastic hosts Veronica and Evon and their respective families.