Tag Archives: sebastian panakal

Skypethon – without students!

Australia is not an easy country to connect due to our time zone. Australia, after New Zealand, is one of the first countries to greet a new date and day across the world.

There were a number of times, when I was able to connect with other classes of students. The first was with Masterwide 10, Kavali near Nellore in South India and it must have been 2am in the morning for them, 7:30am my time. After brief  introductions, we shared conversations, but they had technical issues so the connection was cut short.

Video call snapshot 370

Another visit to India was with Sebastian Panakal at St Mary’s public school, a 5 hour train journey from Kerala. It was interesting to speak with one of the head teachers, Ashik and another younger teacher and compare our education systems. It was fascinating to see one of the women deliver them their morning tea, whilst we spoke.

One of my network, created a Skyeathon group in Messenger. Many impromptu requests were made. One was from Dondi in Hungary where her students were eagerly waiting to share their folk songs with others. One was played on the flute and the other was sung to me.

Video call snapshot 427

Steve Auslander’s class were fascinated with the fact that I lived in their tomorrow. They had 10 minutes to connect before their school day finished and mine was about to start. One of his girls was really keen to come to Australia, so I sent a picture of a koala that had been in our driveway several days earlier.

 

Despite the dates for the Skypeathon having finished in Australia, the USA schools were still in November 29th, so  two calls were made to them  just before my school started and their school day finished.

One was a spontaneous request from Kyle Calderwood and his class who had 10 minutes before their next call. The second call was from Andrea Friend – a call that had been organised via Skype in the Classroom website. Both times I was able to share my screen with them and quickly show them some of our farm and wildlife.

Kyle Calderwood and his class.

Andrea Friend and her class

I love to travel and I love to learn. The Skypeathon provided both opportunities – one day I will try and work out how many miles we covered in total!!

Advertisements

Amazing Outcomes from Global PLNs

Video call snapshot 365

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.

Video call snapshot 366

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.

Video call snapshot 367

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!

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!)

snip_20170112175747

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

video-call-snapshot-229

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.
video-call-snapshot-232

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.
img_8019

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.

video-msg-for-sebastian

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

video-call-snapshot-231

video-call-snapshot-230

Open Night at Hawkesdale College

in the library
Each year, our school holds an Open Night inviting interested  families of year 7 students in 2017, to come and visit, see and hear what is offered and be immersed in a number of activities including science, wood technology, sport, technology and cookery.

science room

I was asked to provide a virtual connection with teachers and/or students from other countries so that parents and students could experience the wonderful learning that can occur. Two special colleagues, Sebastian Panakal, from Kerala India and Lin-lin Tan from Taiwan kindly agreed to connect with the groups at the appointed time. As the families were held up, the five students who were helping me, had a special time with Sebastian and Lin-lin asking questions and interacting in conversations. Vesna is studying mandarin Chinese and practiced her Chinese with Lin-lin. The other students also conversed in simple phrases. Skype was the tool used to connect.

vesna and linlin

boys and sebastian

It started with mystery skype. The students had helped set up online maps in the computer room and families were grouped around them, trying to determine the country they were from. Sebastian went on to show his wife, Sheena’s beautiful origami which she had learnt to do from youtube. Families found it more difficult to determine where Lin-lin was from, despite her showing puppets, chopsticks and a video as clues. It was a great experience and many thanks go to the Sebastian and Lin-lin for giving up their time to show the learning that technology can bring.

puppet

puppet1

sebastian and swan

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.
childrens day

 

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.

children at desks