Tag Archives: skype

When Learning is Evident outside the Classroom

vesna-and-the-virtual-tour-of-shangha1One of the joys of teaching is when student learning from one classroom becomes evident in other subjects or classrooms or better still beyond the classroom.

It has given some self fulfillment to have students return to me to double check how to use moviemaking software for an English class or some other tools/apps that have been taught in the ICT classroom to be transferred to other classes, but when on a recent school trip to China, I was so proud to see one of my ICT students use the skills learnt from videoconferencing in skype with both global and local classrooms, to using skype with her family back home, taking them on virtual tours of the places and attractions that we were visiting and the places we were staying. Although many sites are blocked, including google, skype was not.

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Fortunately, there was free wifi at many of the tourist attractions eg our restaurant at the base of the Great Wall of China, our hotels and much more. But, the most memorable use of Vesna’s use of skype with her family was with her family all gathered around in Hawkesdale as she capably used skype to walk her family around the lookout on the 90th floor of the World Financial Centre (Bottle Opener) in Shanghai.

vesna and the virtual tour of Shanghai.jpg

Her family included primary students, secondary students through to university students and her parents. They were able to ask her questions on what we all could see and she could share the Bund and other wonderful sights of Shanghai.

Where have you seen evidence of classroom learning in your students outside of the classrom?

Skypeathon

skypeathon_certificate-completed

The recent 2016 Skypeathon was fun. There was a lot of learning completed during this time. Some of the connections made will be ongoing.

We travelled 35545 miles. Our first connection was with Japan. This was a direct connection. The next connection could not be completed in synchronous time, so a group of girls produced a skype video message to send to Kerala, India for International Aids Day.

At night time, a connection was made with a class in Nigeria and another young class from Scotland. Overall, those involved in the Skypeathon travelled nearly 10 million miles. Just imagine the learning!

 

 

 

Collaboratively “Inking the Thinking”

In December, 2015, year 8 students from Hawkesdale P12 College, Victoria Australia connected with a rural school in Japan using Skype. Students at Hawkesdale are isolated geographically and culturally but were fortunate to be part of a research project on “Inking the Thinking” with the Victorian Department of Education and Microsoft. This meant that each student in year 7 and 8 had a windows surface device with a digital pen.

Months had been spent planning this connection with Japan. A virtual visit to the classroom with our Japanese contact Mariko was provided using skype. My students could see inside the Japanese classroom, learn a little of school life and ask her questions so that they had some knowledge before seeing the Japanese students – it was simply a “taster”. A fully structured lesson plan, complete with timed tasks was put in place by Mariko prior to the live connection. Students in my class were surveyed about their existing knowledge of Japan. To my horror many knew nothing or very little!

Our formal connection was just prior to Christmas time in Australia. Our primary classrooms were decked out with Christmas decorations, the staff had a special morning tea with lots of Christmas baking and goodies, staff and students were in festive spirits and the students had organized a Kriskringle for the second part of the double lesson. (Names had been drawn out of a hat a week before and $5 presents purchased for their Krisringle). Skype was used to connect the two classrooms. 5 mins prior to the video conference 5 minutes prior to the videoconference,  a quick skype message to Mariko, asked if the Japanese students might like to see our Kriskringle in action, to which she replied ‘yes’.

That ended any formality and structure to our fastidiously planned lesson. The whole lesson became learning on ‘the fly’ with students using the 50 mins with complete ownership of the learning. One girl had disappeared at the beginning and returned dressed up as Santa, complete with a sack of Kriskringle gifts. Japanese students viewed the gifts up close via the web camera. Their curiousity was aroused and an interpreter had to be used to ensure understanding of questions and answers. Some of the staff morning tea came in for show – Christmas fruit cake, a Christmas pudding in muslin cloth, Christmas biscuits etc. My students were curious about the masks that the Japanese were wearing in the classroom and the kitty blankets that donned their knees. It was hot summer time here but snowing over there.

santa-and-pics-good-one

In order to collaboratively document our learning by connecting with this rural school in Japan, students logged into their surface devices, created a shared OneNote and used a mix of pen and text to synchronously build the learning that took place. Our principal was able to login from his office and pose questions, add content etc. The full story and results can be found below. The stylus was used for highlighting, writing, adding colour and generating new ideas. Students chose the medium they preferred.

summary-of-brainstorming

Students used a mix of keyboard and stylus. The stylus was often used to explore, annotate, highlight and draw attention to questions or their thoughts, to express their thinking, focus on areas that required responses and produce a multimodal and colourful, visual and engaging outcome. As student thinking and brainstorming evolved as a group, they added images, shapes, structured blocks of text, diagrams, shading, colour etc The stylus helped  create a more effective, beneficial and engaging product, pushing their learning reflections further.  They were not constrained by their speed and skill on a keyboard and mouse. If students had used a keyboard alone, then the result would not have been as rich. It would have taken too long to draw diagrams and lines for highlighting, text comments would not have not aligned well and it would have been too hard to add text or shapes over any existing text etc. Imagine the outcome if the Japanese students could also have collaborated on that document.

brainstorming

Following on from the documentation, the students decided to create a collaborative Christmas calendar for the month of December to share with the Japanese students. A snapshot of their  synchronously built calendar can be seen in the imageabove. Students drew their own images using the stylus. It encouraged originality, creativity, imagination and resourcefulness. The calendar was rendered digital immediately for online sharing.

christmas-calendar

When students have a stylus, they can explore, think, express, collaborate and record their newfound knowledge and experiences in new and meaningful ways. They don’t waste time using a keyboard and mouse to effectively brainstorm, highlight and reflect on their learning. This means more thinking time and best of all more learning time.

Mystery Animal

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As our school teaches mandarin Chinese, any connection with a school in China is of special interest. The assistant principal of an Bozhouu International School in China found me on the Skype in the Classroom website.

As we had already completed a mystery skype connection, Richard suggested that we do a mystery animal game this time, using skype as the videoconferencing tool. He had prepared a wonderful sheet to share with the students bearing images of African animals complete with the names in both English and Chinese.
mystery animal1

Following is how it looked:-

  • Each class had previously chosen an animal from the sheet.
  • My students  had printed off their names on an A4 sheet for clearer understanding.
  • Boxhou rang us on skype. There were technical difficulties on their end but all was resolved within 10 mins.
  • Students played paper rock scissors over the camera to see who was to start first. Hawkesdale, Australia won.
  • Students had to ask questions only with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. eg Is your animal grey? Is your animal a carnivore?, does it have a long nose or trunk?  etc.
  • They took it in turns to ask questions and each student would introduce themselves one at a time.

There was much laughter in the classroom on both sides as we tried to understand each other’s accents, names etc. It took approximately 20 mins for each side to actually determine the other’s animals. All the Chinese students stayed in over their recess period to complete the  a second mystery animal.

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Student reflections on their individual blogs:-

 

 

 

Teaching, learning and “Presenting on the fly!”

Shannon from Taiwan

My presentation at #EdutechAU ran for 1 hour and 15 mins and was to be a combination of a presentation, interactive learning and some hands-on. I allowed 30-45mins for the interactivity. Some participants used the backchannel to ask questions, which I duly answered. When I asked for suggestions as to what people would like to learn or see demonstrated, I was surprise to hear one attendee ask me to demonstrate skype.

Rather taken aback as I assumed that nearly everyone knew what it was like, I had to think on the fly! I showed them my HLW Skypers group where people are usually about 24/7 but as it was 1:30pm most of the US, Europe and Africa would be asleep, leaving possibilities of Asian colleagues who were probably teaching. I put in a quick plea for help

my plea for help

In my haste I wasn’t very clear with the message, told the audience they may have to wait a while and we went on to play kahoot. Within 10 minutes, Shannon Huang from Taiwan responded. A real connection was made, the bandwidth was perfect and many of the advanced features of skype demonstrated. Shannon talked about her students’ work which we could see just behind her. Then I asked a favour to see whether we could trial the skype language translator. We had to hang up, I set the translator on, rang back and much to our amusement watched it try and interpret our conversation.

What an amazing and perfect demonstration, on the fly, in real time to show how well we can engage with Asia. Thanks a heap, Shannon!

 

 

Join the global Skypeathon Dec 3 and 4

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Skype has always been one of my favourite tools as it is user friendly, capable of being used across all cultures and countries, is free and it just works! It works both at school and at home on our often poorer bandwidth.

Skype are encouraging educators across the world to get involved in a 2 day skypeathon to celebrate learning across borders on Dec 3rd and 4th. They hope to travel 1 million virtual miles in that time and encourage classrooms to get connected and enjoy the learning that can come by being connected.

Our first connection will be with Anthony Salcito, vice president of World Wide Education at Microsoft in Washington, USA. This will be at our lunchtime tomorrow Dec 3rd but Anthony will still be enjoying Dec 2nd. We hope to share objects and images that reflect the Australian culture and the place where we live. This will add 10,180 miles to the 1 million miles tally!

@SkypeClassroom tweeted:

 

Are you taking part in this? Who are you connecting with? Simply tweet your connections with the hashtag #skypeathon and the miles will be added.

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