Tag Archives: virtual learning

GamesNET 2017

girls best at acmi

Over the last 3 years, our school has been a member of this exciting, cutting edge and innovative project. It is possibly a world first. The project is being sponsored by ACMI – The Australian Centre for the Moving Image and the Victorian Department of Education (DET).

A number of schools across Victoria have been accepted into the program. The students involved come from a mix of city/country and primary/secondary, with a maximum of four students from each school. They are grouped in pairs from their own school but then matched with another pair of students from another school.

making games

At the beginning of the project schools, teachers and parents have to fill in appropriate permission forms. The first formal day involves students and teacher coming to ACMI at Federation Square in Melbourne for a face to face meeting. This allows staff and students to get to know each other face to face, commence work in their small groups and go away feeling confident in the overall requirements of the project. Vincent Trundle, the manager of the project, outlines the tools to be used, the value of learning with games, its impact for the future and covers basic digital citizenship.

screen in zoom.PNG

Unfortunately a number of schools could not be there physically but came in virtually through zoom. Two of the students in my girls’ groups worked in zoom with De De during the small group discussions. One of them competently shared her screen, pulled up her graphics pad and commenced sketching ideas for games sprites. It was though they were in the same room.

zoom online meeting

Students looked at using Scratch for coding the games, whilst teachers formulated the groups of 4 students. Each group has a teacher allocated and a games industry mentor.  One students is a coder, another a leader, another a musical producer and the fourth student is  in charge of the art work.

Initial discussions took place as to the name of the group, the type of game they wanted to create, the characters in the game etc. The tools to be used are:

  1. Google documents for sharing, archiving, collaborating and mapping the learning.
  2. Slack for communicating, connecting and collaborating. There is a chat area for each team and an overall chat for the whole community
  3. Zoom is used for videoconferencing
  4. Email is used only where necessary.

Once back at school, students are expected to use slack to communicate regularly, stating what they have been up to, share questions and general conversations etc. They are asked to meet with their groups, using zoom, at least once a week at a mutually agreeable time (during school or after school). Art work, music and other files are shared on the google documents.

This is an exciting project that embraces so many of the 21st century workforce skills both the present and the future. Effective collaboration is a skill to be taught and this makes a great platform to learn how.

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Learning journey in Introduction to the Arabic Language

My year 11 Business Management students primarily come from farms. The produce from their farms – lamb and beef can be sold for export to the Middle East. When dealing commerically it is essential to understand the culture, so when we were given the opportunity to learn some Arabic language and more about the culture, I thought this was a fantastic opportunity for them.

Year 11 students learnt Arabic, initially with a fluent speaker from the USA, Sophia Aron of Critical Language Service who has devised a series of flipped learning activities where students can learn vocabulary at home using apps at home which provides a fun and engaging way to learn. Then students practise during face to face time with Sophia using videoconferencing tools like skype.

video-call-snapshot-253

In our second class with Sophia, she setup a 3 way skype call, where a couple of young American children spoke to us in Arabic and showed us how they would greet each other if they were in Egypt. This was a great demonstration showing my older students what should be done.

Students enjoyed using the apps either individually, in pairs or in small groups. There was mixed reaction as to which they preferred – Quizlet, Memrise. or Flashcards by NKO.

Some of my Business Management class had learnt mandarin Chinese last year and queried why they would want to learn Arabic. However, I reminded them that they lived on farms and some of their beef and lamb would be exported to the Middle East. In fact when I travelled to Qatar many years ago, I saw Midfields vacuum packed lamb in the freezers in a local supermarket. Midfields is our local abattoir.

To supplement the language development, Sophie had added videos into the Memrise app. Students watched some of these to gain a better cultural understanding of the people – another important skill when dealing with global markets.

What a wonderful opportunity my students were given!

Lessons learnt:

  • the importance of hearing accents prior to dealing with them when connecting virtually
  • class room setup. My computer lab is a great setup for normal classes but when connecting online with videoconferencing, it is not ideal. Straight rows in front of the webcamera would ensure better engagement for both sides.
  • how effective videoconferencing can be for learning – and the abolute need for chat, video, audio, screen sharing and recording possibilites etc
  • greater impact of  a charismatic engaging teacher for learning
  • importance of getting to know each other on a simple basis before getting into the nitty gritty of learning.