Tag Archives: skype

A glimpse into a Chinese seaside resort – from the classroom!

Being part of the China Connections global project with Julie Lindsay and Katie Grubby has provided students in our remote rural school with some amazing opportunities to develop their understanding of the Chinese culture, language, history and geography etc. (Students in our school learn mandarin Chinese.)

One such live connection involved a group of year 9/10 girls using a skype videoconference call with Blair Li, a young girl who is passionate about developing the sport of surfing in China. She came from Xinjiang  far away from sea to a Hainan, discovered the  Baysurf club and obtained work at one of the resorts.

Blair Li

As our school is located approximately 25 mins from the sea in a highly popular tourist area and as surfing is a popular sport there, this was of high interest to us. There is something surreal about taking a virtual tour of the resort, seeing the bar where the tourists are sitting and capturing an insight into the outdoor setting that Blair was part of.

Skype was used for the vidoeconference. Blair talked a little about her work, what life was like, the fact that this current resort area used to be a Chinese village etc. The girls had pre-written questions to ask her. Unfortunately our connection lagged as we started this process and it was difficult to catch the answers.
Their questions included:

  • What do you like about surfing?
  • How did you learn about surfing?
  •  How did she discover that she likes surfing?
  • Was it a hard decision to make – to leave your stable job?
  • Why did you give up your job to teach surfing?
  • How many people know how to swim? Children?
  • How do they learn to swim?
  • Are there any other surfers like you living next to the surf?
  • How do Chinese people look upon women surfing?
  • Does the sea scare you at all?
  • How good and reliable is the surf where you are? Can people swim there? How big are the swells?
  • How hard is it to get people interested in surfing? What do you do to encourage them to surf?
  • Do you have to teach people how to swim first?
  • Do you surf in competitions?
  • How does rural China differ to the city China?

Thanks Blair for a fascinating connection.

Read more about Surfing Hainan

Talk of the School!

china todayTalk of the School …. but, no, not our school, Hawkesdale P12 College in Australia,  but Yeh Wah International Education School of Yantai, Shandong. Following is a comment within an email from David Deeds, a teacher at this school,  after an exciting Skype linkup.

Paul (Chinese computer teacher) and students had a great face-to-face Monday.  It’s the talk of the school. ;)

Two classes are combined

Two classes are combined

After several test linkups between teachers, using skype, and finding that it was not always stable and bandwidth not always reliable, it was decided to connect our year 7 students with a combined year 7 class in Yeh Wah International Education School. Their students are predominantly Chinese with some Korean, Japanese and other Asian students.

some of the girls in the class

some of the girls in the class

In the past, China has been one of the most difficult of countries to directly connect with, so it was with some nervousness that the video call was made. Problems with my laptop, the need to restart it etc meant that all the pre-setup of audio and video was lost. This took some minutes to rectify but once the Chinese students could see us, there were  the sounds of great excitement and interest amongst the Chinese students. This excitement was a little difficult to contain at times and made hearing and listening challenging at times.

How the 45 minute connection looked:-

  • our students  introduced themselves with both their Chinese and English names using printouts to display to the webcam.
  • several Chinese students introduced themselves. Much to the delight of Jess in my class, there was a Jessica in the Chinese class.
  • We showed a lamington (cake), vegemite, aussie rules footy, cricket and basketball. Emerson showed a picture of a horse as she loves horse riding.
    phone use showing vegemite
  • They showed us some of their current magazines, including their games magazines
  • Immediately, one of my boys went to the staff room, grabbed a newspaper and showed it.
  • After Emerson showed her picture of the horse, one of the Chinese girls brought her phone to the camera and showed us her pet dog. We asked how many in their class had dogs and only she had one. Everyone in my class had a pet dog. However many on both sides had a cat for a pet. Immediately, one of the Chinese girls shared a pic of her dog using her mobile phone.

    Showing a pet dog

    Showing a pet dog

  • They wanted to know what we do in our spare time.
  • We wanted to know how many students were in their class – 16 boys and 19 girls.

the time

To finish the class, we took a selfie for the records.

Three class selfie

Three class selfie

No formal structure had been planned for the connection, but each country had some objects to share and show and my students had printed their names on an A4 sheet of paper in both English and Pinyin. However it worked remarkably well. There was lively chatter at times due to the excitement. Students made the most of spontaneous learning by showing pics on their mobile phones to share over the webcamera.

Following are some of the responses from students re “Why they enjoyed the skype linkup!”

Tim: I think that it is a good way to learn about China because they live in China and they can also speak English so we can ask them questions. It was cool to talk to people from far away in a different time zone.

Abbey: I enjoy it because we get to talk to the country (and language) that we learn about at school.

Clem: i enjoyed the skype with china it was some times hard to understand them but it was fun

Emmerson:I enjoyed this session because we got to link up with kids the same age as us and they lived in a different country. I think this is a good way to learn about China because we get to learn new facts about the country from people that live in china.

Georja: I really enjoyed our link up and hope to do it again because it was good as we also learn Chinese at our school.

Jess: My favourite part of the link up was learning that there was another Jess in that year seven class.

Jack: the session was fun because we got to learn about their school and their lifestyle. it is a good way to learn about china because they can tell us in person if it is right or wrong.

I learned that all of the class have phones and not very many of them have pets which I find odd bacause everybody in my class have at least one pet.

Milla: I really enjoyed the link up because it was really interesting to see the difference between them and us eg the technology. They had macbooks and  everyone had a mobile phone. Some had iPads. Yet, we also had similarities eg magazines, pets, liked playing video games.

Read student blog posts summarizing the learning

Tim Skype with China

EmmersonThe linkup with China

Jess Link Up in China

Georja Linkup

Mystery Skype -ISTE session with MIE

Please note that these are rough notes taken during the ISTE15 conference

Wendy Norman started the morning introducing Mystery Skype

The amazing capacity of Skype and videoconferencing (in the words of students)

  • gives emotional attachment to connections and learning.
  • Ultimate field trip – can travel to the other side of the world
  • Live learning – not textbook
  • Allows access to different viewpoints’
  • Get all kids especially girls in school
  • Social learning
  • Learning through conversations
  • Can do something about bettering the world
  • Making a difference in the world
  • Make for better global citizens

Mark Wood

mark wood

Mystery skype to find out where Mark Wood is going on his next expedition

Questions asked

  • In the northern hemisphere? -no
  • Is the ecosytem tundra – yes
  • Is there ocean on any part of the country – yes
  • Does the name of the country have 2 syllabus – no but are we really talking about country
  • Will you be visiting one of the US? – no
  • Will you need cold weather gear? – yes
  • Does the country belong to no-one? – second part of that is right but the first part of country?
  • Do you need a boat – no, but we might need a boatd
  • Are you going to where Santa lives? Santa lives in Lapland, so no, not going to Lapland

Answer – Russia across the Arctic Ocean to the North Pole

What I see and what I smell inspires me and I want to inspire others through technology, students can relate to us. Get students to look at what we are doing – think about our planet in a new way. Re -look at our planet.

http://www.markwoodexplorer.com/ and like it on facebook


Join skype in education to take learning into the future

Skype Translator

Mystery Skype OneNote Book – full of resources for teachers

Hashtags:  #msftedu, #MIEEpert15, #edtech, #@NCCEchat, #ISTE2015, #edu

Teacherslifeforme: Mike Soskil, Kenya schools update

KEGODE  #Livingstone@ISTE  Twitter or FB

Shannon Miller:  Connect–examples of connecting with authors, Rainbow lo


LKEGODE  #Livingstone@ISTE  Twitter or FB

Shannon Miller:  Connect–examples of connecting with authors, Rainbow loom

Hashtags:  #msftedu, #MIEEpert15, #edtech, #@NCCEchat, #ISTE2015, #edu

Teacherslifeforme: Mike Soskil, Kenya schools update

The Potential Power of Social Media

One of our school’s exciting connections this year was with Livingstone Kegode in Kenya, Africa. We met and spoke with some of his students as part of our parent information evening session for potential year 7 students in 2016. Michael Soskil from the USA was also visiting him.

Video call snapshot 61

Livingstone is a truly inspirational teacher who has connected his students from the biggest slum in Africa to the world with his laptop. In recognition of his amazing work, he was awarded a Microsoft Innovative Educator but was denied a visa to enter the USA for the conference earlier this year. Further ground work was made this year to ensure as far as humanly possible his visa would be accepted to attend ISTE 2015 – the big Technology Teachers Conference.  He would only know the success of this application today….. and again it was denied! He informed us of this circumstance via our skype group chat.

letting us know

To show the incredible spirit displayed by Livingstone, here is a follow up comment from him.

what doesnt kill hi

He received many messages of disappointment and sympathy from other members of the group. But then, the potential of proactiveness set in. Mike Soskil suggested that:-


but note that the twitter handle should be @rec54. Several of us tweeted out and almost immediately we got a response tweet back.

Richard Culatta is the head of the US Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology.

Although we can only hope that there is still some hope in getting Livingstone to ISTE, this scenario shows that power of a global community in supporting its own. Let’s hope that the visa can be reversed! If not we will use other means of ensuring Livingstone is part of the conference.

Mystery Career!

Out mystery career guest!

Our “mystery career” guest!

This is an alternative theme to the popular ‘mystery skype’ game. Year 8 students connected with a career person made possible through Skype in the Classroom.  Students had to determine what their career was through a series of questions that could only have a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. As this was quite a challenging task, students prepared questions prior to the connection so that they had a foundation to work with.

They knew that they were connecting to one of the TED speakers at the TED conference in Vancouver but that was all.

Getting ready with questions, tablets etc

Getting ready with questions, tablets etc

Following are some of the prepared questions:

    1. Do you work in a team?
    2. Does your job involve a lot of mathematics?
    3. Does your job involve a lot of IT?
    4. Does your job involve a lot of science?
    5. Do you wear a uniform at work?
    6. Does your job involve international travel?
    7. Did you attend university to qualify for your present job?
    8. Will we find you and your job on face book?
    9. Does your job involve travel within your country?
    10. Do you earn more than $150,000 per year?
    11. Will we find out about your achievements on social media?
    12. If you are part of a team, does your team consist of more than 50 people?
    13. Is your working day longer than 8 hours per day?
    14. Do you drive to work?
    15. Do you catch public transport to work?
    16. Do you complete most of your work using a computer or some other electronic devise?
    17. Are there more females than males involved in your job classification?
    18. Do you plan to be in your same career in 5 years time?
    19. Have you ever appeared on TV as part of your job?
    20. Did your current job exist 15 years ago?

girls and alisa

Students took it in turns to ask either the prepared or their own impromptu questions. To my surprise one of the girls eventually asked whether our speaker was a CEO and the response was ‘yes’. Our mystery guest was Alisa Miller, CEO of Public Radio International. Alisa then proceeded to speak to the students about the journey she has taken to get to this prominent role, encouraging them to aspire to and reach their full potential.

Feedback from the students:

Sophie: I was very lucky to participate in the TED Conference. I found it very inspiring to listen to Alisa Miller I learnt that “anything is possible” and you have to work hard to get the career you want. She told us a few things about herself such as she is the CEO of an American Radio Company even though she wanted to be the speaker for a radio station.

Terri: We  had to guess  her career.  We guessed until someone asked if she was in radio. When she answered yes I remembered that CEOs work in radio, it turned out that she was the first female CEO.   

Kyra: I learnt that Alisa miller is the CEO of a American radio company and I learnt that if you put your mind to it might happen but in a different way and I also learnt that the technology doesn’t always work when you want it to.    

Kailyn:I was a part of the skype call with Ted Talks. It was really interesting and I learnt that Alisa Miller is the CEO for the American public radio. I really enjoyed listening to the story of how she went to university to learn how to be the speaker on radio but instead ended up being a CEO, which in my opinion is much better than being a speaker. I really enjoyed talking to Alisa and hope we can do more skype calls like it in the future.

Amazing! Students who are isolated geographically and culturally were able to connect and have conversations with a leading international female CEO whose work impacts on the world. Thanks to Skype in the Classroom.

Ensuring the ‘Mystery in ‘Mystery Skype

Mystery Skype is a great way to connect with others. It covers many ‘C’s for  learning -connecting, communication, conversations, collaboration and possibly creation. It is problem based – “we dont know where this other class or guest speaker is from” and covers many other elements of engaged learning. However, it is important to ensure that the ‘mystery’ remains for as long as possible to encourage students to push their thinking and learning. Here are some tips to ensure this:-

  1. Hide the town/country from your skype ID profile. hide profile
  2. Check backgroundspaces surrounding the students or class eg posters that might state or identify where you are from and remove or cover them.
  3. As students come up to the webcamera, make sure any school logo on their uniform is covered. (They can simply cover this with their hands.)

    Hiding the school name/logo

    Hiding the school name/logo

  4. Accents and appearances cannot be disguised but do provide possible tips and hints as to where they are from should it take too long for them to work it out and they may then become restless.

What tips do you have? This mystery idea can be used with other tools as well and made into a mystery location.

The Australian Flag flew high above Sparkles Fire House

Australian flag
Australian flag above Sparkles’ Fire House

 The Australian flag flew proudly high above Sparkles’ Clubhouse  but  this Fire House was not in Australia but in  Arkansas, USA. Dayna Hilton  and Molly, one of her Dalmation Fire Dogs visited us  from Arkansas, using skype, to talk about their work in  the Keep Kids Fire Safe™ Foundation‘s “Learning about Fire Safety can be FUN!” program. This program is sponsored by First Alert and State Farm.


Dayna had worked out the distance between us as 9,402 miles! She talked about fahrenheit temperatures and brushfiresn- quite foreign to our students who are into celsius, kilometres and bushfires! We asked what the distance would be in kilometres and techno savvy Dayna said she would quickly work it out. She inmediately pulled out her iphone and quickly asked Siri who calculated it efficiently We could see and hear Siri’s response immediately.


With great expertise, Dayna shared images and videos using her iPad up against the web camera for us to see.

sharing pics on ipad with uis

Sharing pics on ipad with us

Dayna was teaching my year 8 ICT class which is a challenging one with a number of highly disengaged students. However, she engaged them fully with her appealing manner,  interacting with the students, asking questions and showing us Molly her beautiful dalmation. Animals are always winners! The background set was just delightful – lots of colour, bright red set giving a real theme around fire. Molly kindly obliged us with some of her tricks at the end of the connection!

Dayna and Molly

Two years ago, Dayna and Tango (another Dalmation fire dog) skyped with us. See the video. Next we would love to connect our CFA (Country Fire Authority) elective students with Dayna to share experiences and what we do in Australia.

Thanks Dayna, Lorraine Leo (who introduced us) and Skype in the Classroom where Dayna offers to connect to anyone around the world.