Tag Archives: virtual teams

Racism – an e-discussion between Australia and India

Introducing ourselves

The Event: American School of Bombay, Mumbai, India and Hawkesdale P12 College, Victoria Australia discuss racism especially in relation to whether “Should Australia go to India to play sport?”

Date: Tuesday May 19th

Who was involved: 12  excited volunteer students from grades 5/6 Humanities class, Hawkesdale P12 College, 14 year 6 phys. ed students from American School of Mumbai. Alex Gustad and the phys ed teacher, three ASB technicians, myself and Graeme Poynton, the Humanities teacher.

Resources: Skype for videoconferencing, Google docs  for the collaborative online discussion, Interactive Whiteboard in the library

Setup: Students applied for a gmail account, then were divided up into groups of 4 or 5 by the teachers involved, 5 groups in all. Alex Gustad, the Community Projects Co-ordinator for ASB, setup the questions and google docs. Thanks Alex.

Preparedness: two practise skype linkups with the ASB technicians and Alex to discuss the software to be used and procedures, regular use of email

The lesson

Students came up individually to the webcam and introduced themselves. Our students are geographically and culturally isolated, although we had one New Zealander in the lineup. As ASB is an International School, their students are third culture students, in the main, and came from India, Australia, Dubai, Korea, USA, Scotland, China, Canada etc

Once the introductions were complete, Alex explained the routine. The students were to use the text or chat feature of the document to discuss their questions. Each group appointed a leader who was the scribe and wrote the discussion points into the google doc. There was a mix of Australian and Indian leaders. After 15-20 mins of discussion, each group leader came to the camera and summarised their reflections. Skype was kept open throughout the session, so that we could talk to each other and ensure that both sides knew what was happening. What an amazing experience, it was as though we were one class!

Students worked well into their lunchtime and still wanted it to continue! Here are some of the questions that each group discussed. They all discussed the first question but the second question changed for each group.

Please write some bullet points about what has been happening to Indians in Australia in the past year.  Include the response from Indians as well as the impact of these events on the upcoming Commonwealth Games 2010 in New Delhi.

  • Why do you think these incidents of violence have been occurring against Indians?  Is it happening against other ethnic groups in Australia?
  • How could these violent acts been handled by the Australian and Indian governments in a way that would keep it from happening over and over again?
  • Do you think there is a sense of racism towards certain groups in your own communities?  How is it expressed (through stereotypes, in the media, through violence, etc.)?
  • What would or could you do if you felt racist attitudes against certain people in your own community?
  • How have these acts and threats of violence affected the spirit of the Commonwealth Games?  What can the teams do to encourage camaraderie during the Games so that they are not overshadowed by these unfortunate events?

Thanks Alex for putting together these great questions and for the opportunity to work with your school. We look forward to further association with you and your classes! It felt like we were one class, with one project and one passion – to wipe out racism! See  movie on the linkup.

Our teacher, Alex Gustad

See a movie on this amazing acitivity

Should Australians go to India to play sport?

This was a discussion topic that arose out of a recent Behind the News segment (and search for India sport).  Castlemaine North PS invited us to discuss with them the above topic “Should Australians go to India to play sport?”. Our grade 6/7 students watched the program on Behind the News and discussed the issue as a class, brainstorming their ideas onto a whiteboard.
The Castlemaine teacher, Dr Bob Sbaglia, had setup mixed groups of students across the two schools.
An initial 5 min video skype linkup allowed students in each group to visibly introduce themselves to each other.
Students then went to the Castelmaine North PS website, found their group and the etherpad link for their group.
Once inside the etherpad page, discussion flowed and conversations were shared on the topic.
All students were engaged for approximately 30 minutes chatting in etherpad, sharing their viewpoints and ideas. They were on task and engrossed. So, a big thank you to Castlemaine North PS for including us in this activity. The final 5 mins was another skype linkup with selected students sharing their reflections on the session.Reflection on the use of etherpad.

Students would sometimes overwrite another’s conversation. They need to work on a line that is clearly vacant.
Students would often write their viewpoint without following and fully reading the conversations that were taking place.
Etherpad would drop out at times and we found that it was quicker to reconnect by refreshing the page.
Some of our students went to the chat window and talked in there. They need to be on the main section or page.
What next?

Will look at discussing the same issues with one of our contact schools in India.

Results of Brainstorming

Potential Uses for etherpad

  • brainstorming
  • reflections
  • discussions between schools locally or globally in real time

Advantages of etherpad

  • user friendly. Students require little or no instruction on using the space.
  • simple to set up, especially the public spaces
  • easy to log into for all age groups. Simply provide students with the link for their group to etherpad.
  • Students can be identified using different colours.
  • the discussion can be exported back into a word processing document eg MS Word
  • Students are learning appropriate digital citizenship skills and netiquette.


  • If a large number of groups require their own page, it will take some time to set up pages in etherpad and record the links online in eg a blog or wiki for students to find.
  • It can drop out, and may take a while to reconnect. We found ‘refreshing the page’ was the quickest way of getting back in.
  • Still a Public space still but students can be relatively anonymous.
  • There may be a limit to the size of the group working on one etherpad page