Tag Archives: skype

Which tool for virtual tours?

Polly Woodside museum is in Melbourne in the beautiful Docklands are. Polly Woodside is a 1985 Tall Ship and is a reminder of Australia’s rich maritime history and of the importance of such ships to the settlement and development.

Polly Woodside intend to run a staff PD web conference session in October to promote the possible education and learning resources offered at the Polly Woodside.

virtual tours

However, following are the few logistical issues …

  • they prefer an “outside broadcast” – “live” from the deck of the Polly Woodside and to then move around the deck to different locations and activities for the presentation.
  • They would use a laptop computer for this with a good quality video camera (usb).
  • Polly Woodside do not have any wi-fi. They were going to use a mobile wi-fi hotspot or  possibly access/utilise the wi-fi from the Melbourne Convention Centre immediately next door to their location.
  • National (ie Australia wide broadcast) so would need to be an accessible tool for all to participate.
  • Want to demonstrate a class of students working on activities there but may need to be asynchronous ie via shared videos

Questions:

  • Which tool to use for conferencing?
  • How to overcome the logistics etc?
  • How to share pre-recorded  videos of students working on activities

My response:

Tools to be use Blackboard Collaborate (BbC) would be the top suggestion – can be used nationally through DET (Department of Education and Training, Victoria) license, can have up to 250 or more logged in. Allows a backchannel, video conferencing (participants would need to know how to grab the video module and drag it on to the whiteboard to make demonstrations more visible.) Can pull back the bandwidth if internet access is an issue. Best of all it has a recording function.

  • MS Lync could be made to work  as DET has a license, but would be more fiddly with invitations for schools outside DET etc.
  • Maybe zoom but I don’t know how many video logins you can have with this but it is a relatively stable platform.
  • Skype would only allow 5-10 video logins
  • Live streaming through ustream etc but bandwidth heavy and may cause lots of problems.

Polly Woodside’s wifi access –

  • a mobile dongle may also allow them sufficient bandwidth to web conference out.
  • Cabled access is always preferable when working with video etc.
  • Or if they can tap into the Melbourne Convention centre, that would be ideal.

Sharing videos of students involved in activities will be problematic for whichever tool chosen, due to file size, sound, bandwidth. Links to the work online would be better so participants can look later.

Challenges:

Sound, may need a wind sock for the microphone or alternative (would a headset with mic prevent the ‘wind’ type sound often experienced if outside?)

A mobile device logged in would allow a virtual tour by a moderator. Allows them to walk around, use the back camera and take us on a virtual tour, whilst another moderator is on the laptop. This could be smart phone, ipad, surface tablet etc.

Backup Plans: I think back up dates would be the only option. However, could we run BbC and MS Lync or is that too complicated simultaneously. Would need several moderators so if one falls down the other would work? If Polly Woodside are on board they can always record and share the recording link. Testing is essential and maybe several tests prior. A backchannel in Todays Meet or similar would allow communication through most problems. They would need smart phones

Summarising: I think that BbC is the tool to use (MS Lync could be made to work too). Polly Woodside would need to test the set up before hand. (We would be happy to be a ‘test’ class) and work through any of the sound and video issues that might arise.) Ideally they should have a standby tool like ustream but I have seen that fall over many times when used on poor bandwidth or even ideal bandwidth.

What suggestions would you make? What tips could you give?

It’s 30 degrees – global weather contradictions!

summer here
path between snow

It is 30 degrees in Boston, USA according to Lorraine Leo, a teacher there but she showed photos of snow. My students related that it will be 30 and 31 degrees here in southern Australia, but that meant it would quite a hot day for us! How could this be?

It was the first ICT class for year 8 ICT – a group of 23 students. I like how Reinhard Marx in Germany introduces his students to global connections in their very first week of school to set the scene for a year of global collaboration and communication.

A skype chat with a great colleague, Lorraine Leo alerted me to the fact that she had just been notified that there was no school that day due to the heavy snow falls in Boston, USA. This was the second consecutive day this week and students had also missed school last week for 2 days due to snow. A couple of nights ago Australian television news actively highlighted the potential weather extremes on New York City.

Always aware of using up online colleagues’ spare time to connect with my students, I asked whether she might skype us the next morning to share the weather and snow falls with my year 8 class.

cars in the snow at night

Lorraine kindly agreed and we discussed the possible tools. We would start with a mystery skype, using skype, then use the virtual classroom software, Blackboard Collaborate to share images, Lorraine’s audio to present and enable students to use the chat to ask questions, provide feedback on the images and generally share. As a backup I created a backchannel in Todaysmeet Whatweather for conversations and skype would be used for the video projection. (we did not use this during the presentation but in the last 8 mins of class time, students quickly answered some questions that I put in there).

Students were quick to work out where Lorraine was from. They then logged into Blackboard Collaborate. However, we faced technical hitches as many computers had to download the launcher and experienced a slow bandwidth, took a long time to do so. We perservered and started with the presentation, with some students sharing desktops!

Lorraine expertly talked about the current conditions and had some wonderful photos to share with the students. Students asked some great questions in the chat, were quiet, engaged and listened intently. The subject of 30 degree temperatures was compared and what a great global lesson – different countries have different units of measurement!

Below are the comments from the students sharing what they liked about this synchronous lesson and some of what they learnt!

Kailyn:  I liked that we are talking to someone from another country and learning a bit about the different things that happen. I learnt that it is snowing there at the moment while here it is rather sunny and that over there it is night time, and here it is morning as we have just started school.

Dharma:- liked the part of the pictures of how big the snow is, and telling us about the schools sometimes being closed off.

Lisa: It was good to see the photos so I could see what Lorraine was actually talking about. Mrs Leo explained things really well.

Kyra: choose where the person was from. She said it really clearly and showed the photos of what the snow looked like especially as I have never seen snow.

Chelsea: I liked how we could see the pictures and I have never seen snow before so it was interesting to see it through pictures.

Sophie: I liked seeing the pictures and seeing what it is like in Boston.

Vesna: I liked using BbC as it is easy to connect with someone rather than skype which can glitch easily. I liked the way she presented it as we had pictures to see what it looked like and not just telling us about it which made it more interesting. I liked the flowers representing spring with the icicles in the window.

Isaac: The snow was pretty cool! It looks pretty fun! I liked the church picture with the person skiing in front of.

Kyle: I liked seeing how much snow there was. I liked learning about what happens in Boston from someone who lives there. The people walking on the pathway to their house with snow piled up on both sides.

Jonas: I liked seeing how much snow there was around the houses and seeing how high the snow was. I liked the people walking to their houses with the snow piled hight.

Zac: I liked the pictures of the snow and the one with the man snowboarding on the hill where a church was located.

Terri, I liked all the pictures of the snow. It was really interesting. I wish it would snow here. I learnt that snow can be very heavy and lie in big heaps.

Skyla: I liked seeing all the snow because we do not get it here. It was interesting to see how cold it gets. I learned that it snowed in Boston. I thought it was always hot. As when I visited USA it was really hot.

Teneika: I learnt that there was snow in America because my Dad’s family live in America and they have never mentioned snow. I liked how she had pictures as she was talking so you could see rather than just listen.

Lucy:  That my technology worked and I got into BbC. Mrs Leo took time to speak to us. I liked seeing the snow as it is a novelty to us. I learnt that it is a lot different over there like weatherwise at the minute.

Taylah: I liked every picture that was shown , was explained by Mrs Leo. I learnt that it is snowing over there, so the students cannot go to school and have 2 days off last week and 2 days off this week.

Caitlin: I liked how she taught us about Boston- the weather and what she does in her spare time and that she is a teacher. I found it interesting that it snows over there and that she has 238 students in her school.

Thank you Lorraine for allowing me to use the photos that you took the time to take for us. As you can see, the students frequently commented on seeing what it looked like rather than hearing what it was like! A memorable photo was this one, of roses (a sign of spring) in a florist shop with the tell tale signs of the current weather conditions (icicles) in the window.

roses with icicles

Going back in time!

Video call snapshot 32

Mariko Eguchi took us on a virtual tour of a Japanese classroom belonging to the class she is going to connect us with in early December.  Japan brings images of high technology use in my mind so it came as a bit of a shock to see a blackboard, chalk, no sign of computers or technology except for Mariko’s equipment, chairs in straight lines, desks individually placed allowing one student per desk etc. Certainly a contrast to our classrooms at Hawkesdale! It took me way back in time and reminded me how far we have actually come with technology.

Mariko had brought mobile polycom equipment, but the school firewall did not allow video to be transferred during our test linkup.  Skype was used instead with the video and audio of high quality.

The year ICT class used Mystery Skype, google maps etc to determine where Mariko was from. She then took us on virtual tour of the classroom explaining that we were to meet the actual class in a couple of week’s time. Students were intrigued to find out that this school canteen only serves curried rice compared to our school which has a wide variety of hot foods and cold foods.

Video call snapshot 31

One of my students then took Mariko on a virtual tour of our school, using their microsoft surface tablets device.

 

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

 

“That’s weird! We live in their future!”

I woke up this morning to read a skype in education message from a teacher in the USA looking urgently for a class to ‘mystery skype’ with. Knowing that our time zones rarely work, I nearly declined, but checked out the suggested times for connection and ‘hey presto’, I could say that I could find a class to connect for them to connect with.

request

Students love to connect with the USA as many of the TV shows that they love to watch come from America, many of our fast foods are from there etc etc However, I had to find some students as I thought I was not timetabled with a class. Three year 9 girls gladly came out of their maths class and some of my year 11 IT students took part.

Bellingham

The notice was late as Brian, the lecturer suddenly thought “Why teach his pre-service teachers about the use of skype in the classroom, why not actually do it!” and so we did.

group of girls and Bellinghamr

Here is what it looked like:

  1. We introduced ourselves individually to each other.
  2. Next, we played mystery skype. It was easy for us to work out they were from the USA, but then quite difficult to work out exactly where. After several clues, we finally worked it out.
  3. On the US part, the pre-service teachers used their mobile devices – phones, tablets etc to finally work out exactly where we were from (after some clues).
  4. Times of each country were shared, then the date and day of the week we were in. As soon as the girls heard they were still in Wed afternoon at 4:00pm, they responded with “That is weird, we live in their future!”
  5. The US teachers asked what the girls thought made a good teacher. Some of the responses were ‘a sense of humour’, allow students to follow passion projects, take into account different student learning styles, they want to have fun with their learning etc.

monitorr

Student reaction: They had fun, enjoyed learning with them and sharing their knowledge and particularly liked working with older students”

Global Selfies

A global selfie featuring people from Indonesia, Australia and China

A global selfie featuring people from Indonesia, Australia and China

What can you see in this picture –  sights, feelings, atmosphere??? Selfies are a great way to capture learning, experiences and learning and can now be done on a global scale!

A fun linkup was held last Thursday after school with Endang from Indonesia and some of her helpers to created global classrooms with students in Pekalongan, Indonesia. Unfortunately, our students had just gone home on their school buses so I connected with  three lads who  wanted to know what Mystery Skype was. Instead of telling them, they participated in a mystery skype. Questions that could only have a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer were asked until they worked out where I was from.

Li Min, our Chinese language assistant who is helping with our mandarin Chinese language program at school, came into the room after hearing the laughter, so they had fun working out where she was from. She hails from Wuhan, China. This added another accent to the mix of conversations, so the chat was used, together with audio,  to ensure we all understood each other.

They then asked about the global projects that students in our school have been involved in and what projects we are currently involved in. Year 9 and 10 students have just started a Global Selfies project through Taking IT Global, so I mentioned this. Immediatley, hearing the word selfie Mumtaz Kwizime pulled out his phone as if to clarify that is what we meant.

The second selfie taken!

The second selfie taken!

We asked if he would take a selfie of all of us involved, and above is the result! I love the photo. What do you think? What can you see in the photo? How do you think our connection went?

A new school year begins and global classrooms connect!

Video call snapshot 1

As Australian schools enter the final weeks of term 3 with still another full term to go, our European and USA counterparts (and others) are starting or about to start their school years. Reinhard Marx is an innovative connected colleague from Germany and someone I really enjoy working with asked whether I could teach a grade 4/5 class about the area I live in. It was one of their first classes for the year.

Tools used and resources accessed:

  1. Skype was used to connect me with his class and to provide a backchannel for reminders and prompts when we were both ready.
  2. A powerpoint presentation was created to show a little of my school and the farm that I live on.
  3. It was uploaded to google presentation, should my bandwidth not allow me to share from my screen.
  4. An Australian flag
  5. A real pet lamb (as we are in the middle of the busy lambing period on the farm)
  6. A fresh bunch of flowers (as this is my hobby to garden and work with flowers)
My grandson and me on the farm bike

My grandson and me on the farm bike

We started with a mystery skype. The students did not take long to work out where I was from. When they worked out my country, I shared my flag to the web camera. Students then volunteered to ask me a number of questions eg “Was it winter where I lived?”. The last 15-20 mins, I shared my screen through skype and talked through the photos of school and our farm. The bandwith was great for a start and images and audio crystal clear. However, after the fourth slide, the size of the images failed to load quickly in Germany, so I shared the link to the google presentation and we walked through the images remotely. To complet the lesson, I brought in one of our pet, bottle fed lambs – always a sure winner!

I like working with Reinhard because he:

  •  actively seeks global connections and lessons. He is a science and maths teacher
  • gave students the choice of mystery skype and a lesson with me or they could continue with their maths. (There was a mix but most of the time, they were intently watching me and the presentation)
  •  introduced the class of 26 clearly to me swivelling the camera so I could understand the teaching space I was in
  • always repeats what the students say, so that I can both hear and understand the comment or question asked
  • always stopped me for a question that a student might have – so their curiousity was satisfied immediatley and not forgotten about
  • ensured the students came up to the camera and could be clearly seen by me
  • interpreted my talk so that all student members could understand what I was sharing

Challenges:

  • bandwidth and sharing images over skype
  • working with an interpreter, remembering to keep my sentences short and concise, pausing to be interpreted and then carrying on
  • the accents and understanding the comment or question – especially understanding the name of the students