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Going Global with Online GEC 2017 - Part 1

Going Global with Online GEC 2017 - Part 1

Date: 16th Nov 2017/Thursday

The blog is simply inspired by the amazing sessions of GEC Global Education Conference 2017. We are into Day 4 today with endless opportunities of learning, engagement with experts, meeting professionals from all around the globe, listening & sharing experiences, building connections, enhancing our resource cache and much more. Last year when I had attended the session as an attendee, it had never occurred I would be attending, presenting and moderating in the coming conference. The conference has simply open doors to new learning experiences which otherwise seemed impossible. The blog below is a glimpse of my awesome journey  into the online world of GEC #globaled17.

To begin with my own presentation titled "Kids @SOS going global with iEARN and Mathletics". I had to review the presentation to ensure there is a global aspect or dimension attached to it. Usually the emphasis in my presentations has remained on use of technology to enhance learning in classrooms and provide enriching learning experiences. This time it was different, I had to think and figure out the global connections hidden in my presentation. Though I have been working on iEARN projects with my kids at SOS Children Village , Peshawar since a few months, I felt global competence element needs to be explored a little more. One of the best things about working with iEARN projects is that each project is connected to a UN Sustainable Development Goal. International Book Club project, Global Food and Tell, Talking Kites etc have actually enabled kids to see beyond their classroom windows and doors, have help build and create awareness about global challenges, and helped develop various 21st century skills among kids. 

We are currently working on the Cinderella Around the World project with a school in New York which will definitely enable kids to not only explore different cultures but engage in meaningful communication and collaboration with kids in a different part of the world. Through the Talking Kites project, kids for the first time begin to think about their dreams for a better future, they got a chance to think beyond their own lives, and to think whats needed to ensure everyone has a safe, healthy and secure future. They jotted down their dreams, wrote them on kites and these were flown later. Through the Global Food and Tell project kids have had the opportunity to explore how noodles are served and eaten in different countries, explored different recipes with noodles around the world etc. The whole process has been a great learning experience for me personally too because I never thought of making global connections through food, through books, through kites etc.

Even the Blackboard training by the admin for the sessions has been a learning experience, from uploading slides, converting to JPEG, testing audio and video connections, enabling permissions, using the white board tools, exploring polling options, moderating sessions, presenting , smooth transitioning between sessions, being part of the GEC Connect Game all has proved to be a very useful experience. For people who don't know, BBC (Blackboard Collaborate) is a virtual classroom for collaborative learning and training. It comes up loaded with audio and visual tools that ensure communication between participants and presenter is smooth. The forum could be used for online virtual conferences, webinars, training sessions or even online classes for students.

One thing that I have really like is the integration of Alludo Learning with GEC. The game lets you connect with a Google account, you get to choose from a list of activities, those are linked to conference sessions, connections and explorations, once completed the participants get scores and badges for completion.With each activity the participant is required to submit an evidence, that can be in the form of a presentation, session or an idea shared in the session. Why this is helpful is because it lets you stay connected with the conference events and activities, lets you think and ponder over the sessions, what one has learned, how can it be implemented and used later, it does ask you to share a post conference plan too which otherwise is not possible. People usually attend conferences and then they forget. But I am sure with Alludo (which means play in Latin) this wont happen. The tool could be used for developing engaging and interactive games for all levels. The companies could use it for branding too.

Another interesting experience during the preparation and presentation for GEC has been exploring and creating my You Tube channel. During practice sessions I tried sharing videos from my computer but due to slow internet and heavy video files, it was taking a lot of time. The trainer had suggested I upload them on You Tube. So, I tried to upload videos on You Tube, change settings, add titles, explored adding music and sound effects, subscribing to channels etc. I was able to make video tutorials using the Screencast tool and upload on You Tube and share links with the participants in the presentation.

Another interesting tool explored during this whole process has been the bubbl.us tool. Bubbl.us is an online mind mapping tool with some amazing features.  I had the opportunity to explore how this tool could be useful for global education projects. It lets you create mind maps online, nothing to download, you could easily share with peers, its platform independent, colorful and engaging, lets you add files and images and most important it lets you collaborate in real time. Different people from different parts of the world could be working together on an idea, adding and editing at the same time. It also lets you choose the layout of the mind map (grid, circle etc).

Lastly, another great experience has been making my website using the new google sites. I had to share a few activities, videos of kids, pictures etc from the project Facebook page but due to connectivity issues it seemed a little difficult. While working on an online course I came across the idea of making a website using google sites, so I tried to make the website, explored various options, inserting pages, inserting textboxes, images, videos, title etc. The best part google sites lets you insert google forms, sheets, drawing etc  which otherwise is not possible. You could insert a google form in the end and collect feedback from participants or suggestions for suture sessions.You could share your website using the shared link and change sharing settings as required. Such websites could be very helpful for training purposes.

Dr Seuss says "The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you will go". Glenna Gustafsor inspiring and thought provoking session titled, "Children literature, Math & global connections" has simply opened doors to imagination and innovation. We usually read a book and then its put aside. It never occurred  there are hidden global connections in every book we read, they just need to be explored. Glenna's session actually was an eye opener, sharing ideas on how to find those global connections. This was a very useful session for teachers who find it difficult to engage kids in math or even literature lessons. Kids find them boring and tend to lose interest, with activities based on global connections teachers would be surely able to keep them intrigued and engaged till the end. Such an exercise would definitely lead to more meaningful learning in classrooms.People who missed it must view the recordings.

George Bernard Shaw once said, "You see things; and you say, ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say, ‘Why not?’” Linda Staheli's session "Teens dreams: a global video contest for teens to express their dreams as they relate to one of the SDGs" is that one great opportunity for teens all around the globe to believe in the power of their dreams and give it meaning by sharing with the world. Their dreams need to be linked to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. It is a great initiative for kids to play an active part in building safer and sustainable societies.

Pablo Picasso said, "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up." Opportunities like One world Classrooms will ensure the artist in kids remain alive and cheerful throughout their lives. This idea was shared during an amazing session about global art exchanges between schools around the globe. Schools share their art work, in return they receive art work from another school. I think the project could be very useful for schools in engaging kids in meaningful collaboration. Details in link below.

A number of other sessions and key note address that I need to share and talk about but will continue in next blog post Online GEC part -2.

Till then enjoy reading :)

Sheeba Ajmal

References:

1. Global Competence

Accessed on 16th Nov 2017 

2. Global Education Conference

3. iEARN

Weblink: iearn.org

Weblink: iearnpk.org

4.  Alludo

Accesssed on 15th Nov 2017

5. Blackboard Collaborate

Accessed on 15th Nov 2017

7.bubbl.us

Weblink: bubbl.us

8. Teens Dream Collaborative

Weblink: teensdreamcolab.org

9. One world classrooms

Weblink: oneworldclassrooms.org

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