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International Education Week – day 3 November 15, 2007

Posted by davidit in Education 2.0, ICT Integration, International Education Week, mission, Skrbl, Skype, thinking skills, Web 2.0.
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Well I have done my planned input for International Education Week.  Last night I did my second lesson with another class from Woodford Primary School.  And as on Monday, there were a whole load of others watching the proceedings, there were representatives from the local education authority and the head of international liaison for the Plymouth LEA.  To a man they were all impressed, even awed, by the use of technology to remotely teach students.  One even noted that:

They (the students)  seem to just accept there is someone teaching them that is half way around the world and 13 hours ahead – I find it absolutely amazing – must be my age!!

This sentiment epitomises the dichotomy at the heart of the wholesale integration of ICT into our classrooms.  The kids are ready and waiting, the adults of a certain age don’t believe it is possible.  Now look at the average age of teachers in education and you start to see the scale of the problem. 

For the record, from my point of view, the session was a dog!  Skype was playing up really badly, my call kept being dropped or if I was connected then my voice was intermittently not being transmitted or sound from the classroom was not getting back to me.  However, through all of this, the kids sailed on, they achieved more than the previous class on Monday.  The students were asking me questions, but were not quite brave enough to come up to the web cam and ask 1:1, they will though.  So, even though I knew that my virtual classroom would be clunky and it was just electronic ‘chalk and talk’ the project has proved that it can be done.  It has worked so well that Woodford want more and I will be back next Monday and Wednesday nights to continue with the module until it is completed.  Helen has just informed me that the Headteacher of her school is considering using me and this method to teach her staff how to use blogs, wikis and all manner of web 2.0 tools. Once demonstrated, people start to see the benefit, it is all good!  Timing will be an issue for me, staff meetings in the UK would mean an early start for me, but maybe sleep is over rated!  The press article as a result of Monday night’s lesson can be read here.

Another sleepless night ensued as I chewed over the technical glitches, how to resolve them?  How to improve on what we already have?  I know that my virtual classroom is built on technological sand and one of my solutions added another layer of complexity, that would work, but add another clunk to the project.  Using CamStudio you can either elect to record from the microphone or from the speakers, but not both.  What this means is that the completed video will have either me speaking and no feed back from Plymouth, or the other way around.  Not exactly elegant, but workable.  So my additional layer of clunk is to have Audacity running to record the incoming audio and have CamStudio record the outgoing audio and then when I edit the movie, I will splice the two together.  Clunky in the extreme!

So this has set me thinking and I have the kernel of an idea that needs exploring, developing and financing (probably).  However, if it does work it will offer a genuine synchronous virtual classroom to any teacher that wishes to peer tutor other colleagues or take classes like I have been doing this week.  If you are a programmer, financier, teacher and are interested in knowing more and exploring the possibilities, let me know.  Oh, by the way this service would be free in true web 2.0 style!



1. Helen Hardie - November 15, 2007

I’m truly interested (but then you know that!) It’s been an amazing week. Staff, Governors (parents) and LA reps have all witnessed the power of technology in breaking open our classrooms. The future looks bright and challenging. I’m right there. Let’s keep it going! Thank you David for your inspiration and enthusiam. Children (and staff) at Woodford are richer for it.

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