Tag Archives: skype in the classroom

Microsoft Global Learning Connections

Having used Skype for many years and found that it is still the one webconferencing tool that works well in my school and the area I live as it is not heavy on bandwidth. Microsoft took over Skype several years ago and instigated an annual 24 hour Skypeathon.

This year, they have changed the title to Microsoft Global Learning Connections which will encompass other collaborative tools eg Flipgrid, Teams etc but all the while encouraging classes across the world to become connected.

It is always a great experience to connect. Some classes sleep over at school for the 24 hours. Some of our past experiences included live linkups with schools in India who showed their traditional costumes and dancing, others demonstrated their outcomes in robotics, some played mystery Skype with us and some just called to quickly say hello.

Flipgrid is a trending tool to use in global connections and collaboration and it can be used with great success when time zones make it impossible to connect in real time.

Will you be involved this year? My classes certainly will. The hashtag being used is #MSFTGlobalConnect For more information check out some of the links below from Microsoft.

MSFTGlobalConnect.com

Teacher Toolkit: aka.ms/MSFTGlobalConnectTeacherToolkit

Activity Plan: aka.ms/MSFTGlobalConnectPlan

Educator Tips on how to organise an class/schoo event: aka.ms/MSFTGlobalConnectTips

Social Toolkit (ready-made templates etc.): aka.ms/MSFTGlobalConnectSocial

 

Virtual Tour with an Aquanaut

 

An opportunity arose for the students in our school, to participate in a virtual field trip with an Aquanaut, based in an undersea laboratory near Florida, USA – the Aquarius Reef Base, using Skype. This is one of only 3 undersea laboratories dedicated to education and science in the world. A group Skype call allowed classes and students from Asia, Pacifica and USA to connect. As it was a late afternoon call from Florida, it was our first lesson of the day. Usually Australian time zones are difficult to cater for.  Our years 4 to 7 went to the library to view the linkup.

Some of the group participants from other countries

It was another amazing experience, learning from an Aquanaut, watching his tour in real time, viewing the cramped conditions, facilities and gear, and even seeing sealife swimming outside the window as he took the camera up to the window. We got a ‘real life view’ of what life in the laboratory is like.

We were all given an opportunity to ask questions. At first, we had difficulty seeing his image and tour but despite that students were highly engaged just listening. Then the full image projected on our screens which made it more special.

Read what students have posted to discover some of their learning and opinions. They have written blog posts on the connection.

What a fabulous opportunity this was for us.

We could even see the fish swimming outside their windows

 

 

 

 

Does anyone need a teacher?

sebastian roshan dwight and christian

skype message

The above message popped up in one of my Skype groups as I was preparing for my next class – Year 9/10 Global ICT. What an opportunity! I hope to connect this class to many different teachers, classes in as many countries as possible. Roshan is a Skype Master teacher from Sri Lanka – a country many students do not know of.

As it was only 10 mins to the start of my class, there was little time for formal organisation. Another message popped up from my long time online colleague, Sebastian Panakal, from Kerala, India. He wanted to be part of the same connection.

sebastian and roshan

Unfortunately, there was so much happening in the school that for much of the time, I only had two students in my class. This is what the lesson looked like:-

 

  1. Played Mystery Skype. Students quickly worked out that Sebastian was from India but Roshan’s country was much more difficult to determine.
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  2. Roshan shared his screen and a pictorial presentation on Sri Lanka- the country, the culture, the religions, festivals etc.
    sri lankan culture
  3. Students were given an opportunity to ask questions
    elephants
  4. Sebastian, of India, then spoke briefly of his work and his passion for experiencing a peaceful world. He believes that connecting students world wide will develop empathy and understanding, forming the foundation for a peaceful world, free of terrorism.

The class then took on a completely different atmosphere. Roshan talked about the recent terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka, the emotions that people were feeling, the environment they were now living in etc. It was with mixed emotions that we listened to a teacher in a school of 3000 where only 200 students are coming in each day. Students are too frightened to come to school. Facebook is still blocked by the Sri Lankan government to keep rumours at bay.

There is fear, disappointment, disbelief everywhere. The community no longer supports some of the Muslim traders. There are swords found in some of the religious mosques leading to even greater fear. Some of Roshan’s friends are Muslim and are wonderful people. They feel that the terrorists were a highly educated group organised from outside their country.

It was with great disquiet, that we left the classroom with much to think and reflect on. How can we help these people? How can we reduce terrorism? What is it really like to survive attacks like this? What impact does it have on the local communities?Will life ever be the same for them again? So many questions!

The highlights:-

  • Having two guest educators in our classroom at once, each from a different, but neighbouring country.
  • Learning about the recent terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka from someone who lives there and experienced it.
  • Being able to interact in real time and ask questions.
  • Seeing the props that Roshan used to add engagement – a smiley face when the answer was ‘yes’ to the Mystery Skype questions and the flag when the students calculated the right country.
  • Experiencing the presentation showing different aspects of Sri Lanka
  • Having access to a recording that Sebastian had made.
  • and so so much more….

all of us

 

 

Mystery Skype with South Korea

students selfie1

As Hannah, a teacher in South Korea, had a Parents’ Open Class early in the morning her time, she reached out for teachers in Australia or New Zealand to connect at this time and show the families the power that technology and global connections can bring to learning in the classroom.

Video call snapshot 504

Fortunately, I had a year 7 class at this time, so it was possible for us to collaborate. They were similar ages from both countries, which was great. Discussions were made using chat in Skype as to how the lesson would look. Here is what was planned:-

  1. Start with Mystery Skype so students had to determine where the other class was from, asking questions that could only receive a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer.
  2. We would toss a coin to see who would start the questioning
  3. Once the countries were worked out, we would share items of culture eg money, food, flags, Sth Korean traditional costume, sheep wool from Australia etc
  4. Learn some Sth Korean language
  5. Question time, if time permitted.

more food.jpg

Due to the space restraints in the classroom, most students had a book atlas to look through to determine where in the world they were from. Some had their portable devices. One of my boys tossed a coin over the webcam, Sth Korea called heads but tails was the outcome.

Korean sign.jpg

We started the questions, which included:

  • is it hot there?
  • do you live on an island?
  • do you live near China?

It took about 10 minutes to work out the countries we were from.

national costume2.jpg

By sharing out cultural objects, we learnt about languages, accents, exchange rates, features of their money, value of money in each country, national costumes, how to speak some basic phrases in Sth Korean, some of the food differences etc It was a great learning experience with interested parents in Sth Korea looking on.

ella mykala and vegemite.jpg

money

The power of technology connections in learning


Each year, district schools, open their buildings to interested prospective parents. It almost becomes a competition, with some schools holding their information evenings earlier and earlier in the school year. Of course we all think that we teach in the ‘best school’!

school sign

Although our school, Hawkesdale P12 College is small, it is big on opportunities for students. Technology has enabled us to open up the doors to the world. which includes expert speakers eg authors, scientists, museums; to global classrooms and to some of the best teachers and educationalists there are.IMG_2686.JPG

For the information evening, parents are divided into groups with both a teacher and student leading them around the school. Parents are rotated around Science, Physical Education, Food Technology, Robotics and Information and Communications Technology  areas where they participate in a range of ‘hands on’ activities.

linlin taiwan

Each year I am asked to videoconference (using Skype) in to another classroom or with other teachers to show the magic that technology can bring to learning. My two wonderful colleagues, Steve Sherman (Living Maths), South Africa and Lin-lin Tan from Taiwan agreed to connect with us for each of the groups. Steve was at another school and kindly went out of his way to skype with us. This meant he used his mobile phone to connect and he was seated in his car in the carpark to talk to us. This was a first for me! To have an educator teaching us from within their car.

steve from south africa

Initially, the parents and students played Mystery Skype, asking questions that required a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to determine their location. Lin-lin had to tell them where she was from as they did not work it out in the allocated time. She also shared a poster and map of where she was from, some Chinese culture (as she is Chinese), her evening meal and some of the foods she enjoys. (Note, our school teaches mandarin Chinese.)

linlin and soup

After a number of questions by students, one of the parents determined Steve’s location with the question: “Did the Australian Cricket Team recently play in your country.”

nathan and steve south africa

People will often ask well “What did you learn?” from doing these connections. Here is just a little bit of learning in the 15-20 minutes that Lin-lin and Steve had.

From Lin-lin

  • Where in the world, Taiwan is. Some students may not have even heard of Taiwan!
  • What the Taiwanese language sounds like! (She was home about to eat her evening meal and her mother had called her to come and eat. She responded in her language to say that she was working with a class in Australia)!
  • It was very hot where she lived. (It is nearly winter here!)
  • We saw the soup she was about to eat – it was vegetarian with many healthy greens etc and heard about her fried rice for tea. She also showed us their pickles.
  • The landmark that Taiwan is famous for – the Tapei Tower
  • Chinese lucky envelopes and how they are used.

Steve Sherman

  • witnessed the true ability of being able to teach anywhere and anytime using technology. Steve taught us from his car in the school carpark.
  • exchange rates – students showed Steve our $5 note and he immediately turned into a learning moment. Parents and students had to search for the exchange rate between AUD and the Rand. The Australian dollar buys nearly 10 rands.
  • Different cultural phrases: South Africans say ‘tins of coke’, Australians say ‘cans of coke’
  • Students/parents had to work out how much a can of coke would cost in AUD, if Australians were in South Africa.

Day 2 Skypeathon: in the morning

Video call snapshot 378

Video call snapshot 376

This was a hectic day with many requests having come in from India. As we are in daylight saving, it pushed our times 5.5 hours apart. With only 1.5 of actual synchronous school time with India, it meant the connections were only 15 to 20 minutes in length which was not enough time. This post will describe the morning events.

Video call snapshot 374

First call was with Shiva, from India, who put together some amazing options for people to connect with his school – a cultural extravaganza,  a virtual field visit or mystery skype.  We chose the cultural extravaganza where we were treated to cultural dances, drumming and flute playing. The stage was set beautifully and once we got through the technical issues of not being able to hear the music, my students were treated to an extravaganza or Indian culture. Shiva had paid great attention to detail with colourful cards introducing the connection and a great online site and posters set up to promote it.

class watching

Next stop – Sri Lanka

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flag and class with aussie flag

This was a game of mystery skype with Roshan Kumar. Roshan’s student worked out our country well before we determine his. We eventually asked for clues as students immediately thought India (judging by appearances). One of the clues was that they live on an island, so Taiwan was mentioned but the second clue was that it was to the east of India.

Video call snapshot 382

There was a few minutes for sharing of cultural objects and information. My students were really interested in the description of their flag and the reason for the lion and all its features appear as it did. Roshan’s student asked “What is something unique about Australia” and we responded our animals ie koalas, kangaroos, emus, platypus etc. They responded that hospitality was one of their unique features.

Video call snapshot 380.png

tim with roshan

Next Up – a busy, busy afternoon

 

Skypeathon 2017

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The two day annual Skypeathon Nov 28-29, is a great event encouraging all educators and classes to connect beyond their classrooms. Friendships can be formed that can lead onto ongoing projects and collaborative problem solving. The theme this year is Open Hearts Open Minds. This year’s theme encourages students to open their hearts and their mind to what’s possible and inspire them to dream big.

IMG_0344

This year’s goal is to reach 10 million virtual miles. This event has been organised for the last two years and my classes will be part of it again this year. Despite the busy time of year as it is close to the end of our school year, it is always exciting to open up the classroom to the world and connect with others. The connections can be short or long. Some classes are sleeping over and skyping for 36 hours. There are teachers from many many countries all actively seeking partners to connect with. A good spot to find partners is on:

  • Skype in the Classroom website – Mystery Skype  (use the filter options to find the country/subject/age group of choice)
  • Twitter – using the hashtag #skypeathon in the search bar
  • See the images below

skypeathon poster

Ideas for connecting

  • just say hello, share flags, time, weather etc
  • students share their big dreams with each other
  • share some objects reflecting culture
  • play mystery skype or one of the other mystery type games
  • find an expert to connect with
  • take a virtual tour etc

Resources

Mystery Skype OneNote Book – full of resources for teachers

Twitter #skypeathon Follow @skypeclassroom

Are you going to be part of this wonderful adventure? What countries will you link up with? What do you have planned for the connection?

Do you have any questions, need help or advice or? Please add as a comment as I am one of the Skype Master Teachers and would love to help you.

 

The global collaborator: Discussions on #SDG11 – India/Australia

The United Nations have adopted a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG goals) in a bid to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all.

One of the new ISTE Student Standards is the Global CollaboratorStudents use digital tools to broaden their perspectives and enrich their learning by collaborating with others and working effectively in teams locally and globally.

Sustainable Development Goal no. 11  of the United Nations SDG goals is to  “Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.”

Both these goals were put into practice by communicating and connecting over skype  with Anu Sharma a teacher in New Delhi, India and year 8 her students. Her students were studying SDG goals, in particular the Sustainable Cities aspect. They wanted to discuss problems relating to traffic – pollution etc in our countries. The first connection was a mystery skype ( to work out what country each of us were from).

The second  involved discussions about traffic rules, how they work in each of our cities and the road signs that we use. Anu’s students would do some research work and find possible solutions to the prevalent problems, which would then be discussed in the second skype connection. Her students made display boards, PowerPoint presentations and prepared speeches.

hawkesdale sign

The main road through Hawkesdale

Dirt tracks around Hawkesdale

At first, I was reluctant. Our school is in a town with a population of 220. There is not much traffic and little or no pollution. Some of our roads are dirt, and the majority of vehicles comprise trucks, buses and through traffic. Their city in contrast has a population of more than 21 million, pollution is of high concern and there is high traffic usage.  However, we do have some problems with the health of our roads, slow moving vehicles eg tractors and animals such as kangaroos on the roads and although it is in stark contrast to Delhi could make good learning comparisons.  Australia ranks 20th on SDG index and India ranks 116th.

However, I agreed to connect. As most of my classes are in the morning, this did not match with the Indian times. The ideal connection would have been my year 8 ICT class communicating virtually.  Instead, I asked some students if they would come in at lunchtimes to connect. It was 1pm our time and 8:30am Indian time.

 

The three sessions that we connected were fascinating. My students had to listen intently to the accents of the Indian participants to ensure we could understand their speaking. It was much easier when they shared their screen and showed the powerpoint presentations, with imagery and some text. There were some similarities but many, many differences, some of which shocked us.

Similarities:-

  • many of our road rules were the same.
  • the majority of our road signs were similar
  • each country suffered from major potholes, but ours were caused by trucks, milk tankers, rain, poorly sealed roads, some of theirs were caused by earthquakes.

Differences:

  • sheer population numbers
  • traffic jams of gigantic proportions (their are no traffic jams in our local area)
  • Our traffic is light, theirs was incredibly heavy and busy
  • Pollution was heavy in Delhi, light in Hawkesdale
  • Another gaping difference was the method in which the potholes are repaired. They  showed pictures of 20 – 30 people working on the roads compared with us in Australia, using advance machinery and equipment.

Outside their comfort zone

Video call snapshot 308

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

Connected Classrooms: Global Classrooms

This was the theme for my presentation at the EduTECH conference in Sydney on Friday June 10th. It was a presentation given as part of the Library Congress. An online document was given to share resources and links. Following is my presentation, with a focus on stories for libraries.