Tag Archives: skype

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.

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Outside their comfort zone

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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

Tel Aviv Virtual PD

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The use of technology tools allows us to connect with others in ways that would not normally be possible. I live on a farm, in a relatively remote part of Victoria. The distance, cost and effort of attending professional development prevents me from attending many professional development programs that may be readily accessible by my peers and also prevents me from presenting and sharing my work.

However, tools like skype, ghangouts, zoom, blackboard collaborate etc break down those barriers. One of my colleagues, Hili Zavaro who I recently met on twitter, invited me to present to teachers in Tel Aviv, Israel for a short time on “what the teachers can do to open their lessons to the world through global projects”?

It is interesting that the teachers from a variety of schools and year levels were meeting on a Sunday at 6pm my time and Sunday morning for them. A recent  presentation given at EduTECH was shortened  and a link to the document that was set up for ISTE 2017 was given so they could get some ideas on where to find people/classes to connect with, hashtags to follow on twitter etc.

We used skype to connect. I was in my warm winter clothes, they were dressed in cool summer clothers. After playing a brief “mystery skype” so the teachers could work out where I was from, I shared my screen and the presentation. Time was given for questions – one of which was “how do I use twitter for global connections?”. At the close of the session, I clicked the + button on skype, sent through the powerpoint presentation and the photos I had taken when I clicked the + button on skype and chose ‘take a picture’.

This did take 30 minutes but was a rather amazing experience for me, as in the past Tel Aviv has featured strongly on our news as being and area of conflict etc, yet here I am presenting to them as though there were no walls, barriers or oceans between us.

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An in-classroom interpreter!

Our school was culturally and geographically isolated. However, the cultural isolation is diminishing over the last few years, as many of the large local farms that are owned by corporations employ people from overseas. These different cultures come into Australia via a variety of visas.

The result is that we have a number of students of Philippine, Sri Lankan, African and Thai origins. Some have been Australia for a very short time so that very little English may be spoken. Our Education Department have a language school in Melbourne to help students, such as these, with their understanding and effective speaking of English. As we are 3.5 hours from Melbourne, technology has enabled students to learn English via videoconferencing with the Language School.

However, the tables were turned on a recent Mystery Skype session with a school in Thailand. Questions were asked of each other, that required only a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. The students in Thailand worked out we were from  Australia well before we worked out their country. The teacher, Thitaree Chanthawat, stated that her students were shy as English is not their first language. My students are also shy and English is their first language.

As there was time left, we started to show each other  cultural objects – our country flags, money, the time (on our mobile phones) and my students showed some sheep’s wool. One of their students showed a toy buffalo to the webcamera. In amongst the sharing, I asked Rapeeporn (or Cheer as we call her) to come forward and share her native Thai language with the Thai class. It was wonderful to see her immediately become confident, her obvious delight in being able to converse in her native tongue and to hear another language spoken fluently. However, before introducing herself, Rapeeporn, pressed her palms together and bowed to the Thai class. We later learned that this is wai.

If either class did not quite understand the other, then Rapeeporn interpreted. There was discussion about the use of buffalo on their farms. There were similarities – both schools were set in rural settings and small towns. However, there were 40-50 students in their class compared to our class of 22. There were no walls or oceans between us. It was if we were in the same classroom sharing conversations.

When my students were asked to reflect on the class, they stated that one of the highlights was hearing the Thai  language being spoken.

Some teachers ask me how I make the global connections. The teacher from Thailand found me on Skype in the Classroom and requested a Mystery Skype connection with me and my class.

 

Open Night – Open Classrooms

It was ‘Open Night’ at Hawkesdale P12 College . Families with students who are in year 6 are invited to come to our school, experience our friendly and welcoming community, take part in some classes and listen to stories from our students. These stories share what it is like for them to be at our school and it is hoped that the grade 6 students will come to us in year 7 – our first year of formal secondary schooling.

The science lab is converted into a wonderland of experiments, robotics are on display, cupcakes are decorated in the home economics centre, ceramic pots are quickly moulded and in the computer lab there are interactive connections to Russia and South Africa using skype.

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Parents and students were split into two groups. The first group were to play mystery skype with Tatyana Chernova from Moscow, Russia. First, Tatyana gave some clues as to where she lived. She had stacker or Matryoshka dolls to share over the web camera. She then showed us two wooden dolls in traditional costume. One parent immediately identified where Tatyana was from, based on her name!

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The amazing veiws from Tatyana’s home (as seen through the webcameera)

We hung up on the skype call. Tatyana swapped from her home computer to her mobile phone, walked outside and showed us the amazing views from her home. We could see the expansive artificial lake, with the River Moksva to the right, the tall buildings of Moscow centre in the distance and even more fascinating the football stadium where the world cup will be played next year. What  amazing sights to see. Thanks Tatyana! If time permitted, Tatyana was going to share a presentation with us. If the call failed, I would have been able to share this with the group.

belinda rentsch daughter

The second group had a different mystery skype educator – Steve Sherman who was at a Science Fair near Durban, South Africa. He had found a quiet spot with wifi to connect with us. Students asked many questions (only with a yes/no answer) and finally worked out where he was from. He then proceeded to give them some maths brain teasers, by sharing his screen and the prepared slides. Students had to think of  a number between 1 and 63.

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By following a number of slides, stating whether the number could be seen, Steve worked out the number that Layla had thought of. As we applauded Steve, the pictures he took of us started to come through in the skype chat.

dede sister

It was wonderful to work with these two educators and parents were amazed with the connections that are possible. It is easy to take for granted the wonderful outcomes that technology can bring to learning!

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Group photo that Steve Sherman took of us from Sth Africa!

Sea turtle research and conservation at Gnaraloo, Western Australia

class

Sometimes it is difficult to get expert speakers into my classrooms, as my Australian time zone means that while we are at school, the USA schools and many businesses, museums etc are closed.  So, it was with delight that I was alerted to a Sea Turtle research and conservation program at Gnaraloo, Western Australia, offering presentations through Skype in the Classroom.

I booked their Skype LessonSea turtle conservation where the outback meets the sea: Gnaraloo, Western Australia“.through the Skype in the Classroom website. Received a prompt reply confirming that they were able to present on the day and time requested.

turtle species

We added each other to our contact in skype. Did a test skype videoconference call, one hour prior, then direct called when the year 7 ICT class was in session.  Alistair Green was the presenter and he did a fabulous job, by introducing himself and effectively displaying his desktop so we could see the images and the video clips that he had added.

He made the lesson interactive by asking questions of the students, his pictures were colourful and engaging and the short video clips enabled us to see the turtles in action. The videos played in real time. Even though students would answer softly at times, it was surprising how well Alistair could hear us.

If you are looking for an expert speaker on conservation Alistair and the Gnaralaoo Research comes highly recommended for students of any age.

images of turtles

 

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.

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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?