Flat Connections


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‘Break outside your friends list and join a community of internet strangers. You will be surprised at what you will learn from them.’
Imgur founder Alan Schaaf

For the past few months I have been working with a group of educators globally as we fine tune our learning about being connected educators in a global setting. One way of coping as an online learner involved setting up a page on my SandBox Wiki and dumping all the links that flew at me. This included any contact information and all the important pages. This page helped me hugely and allowed me to quickly access anything I needed. There might be a better way of doing this but I coped regularly by reverting back to what I know.
A whole pile of events aligned for me as part of my FlatConnect learning and these have eventuated in the following outcomes:
There have been 5 of us in the Flat connections cohort. @julieswords1 @AnnRooney6 @mblanrun  @BonnieHermawan.  We come from four different countries and have time zones as one of our biggest challenges. To address this Julie Lindsay @julielindsay our mentor uses Timebridge to coordinate an agreed time between us. Between us we have a combined level of expertise that is astounding.
Julie uses Fuze which is a free online video meeting service  to communicate with us synchronously. This works like elluminate but appears to be more stable. However I am unsure if this can be live streamed as I have had a play but need to learn more about this great tool.
For our current assignment we were asked to work collaboratively together on a common theme and create a video artifact. We were asked to use our team wiki to create all our notes and learning.
One huge learning from me this week was that I can copy and paste directly from a google doc straight into the wiki and all my images tables links etc all come across beautifully. The only challenge is the photos need resizing but it is easy in a wiki, because I can just drag across. I should have done that at the start of advertising my google hangout. I was focussed on trying to pull the group together quickly for a hangout and resorted back to what I know which is twitter and google docs. A second learning was coping with the time zones particularly as I was coordinating the hangout and I used World Time Buddy because this is a tool I have used before. I learnt that there was a half hour time difference between my two Australian Colleagues. I sort of had already guessed that there might be. In New Zealand we have no time difference between any city because of our small size.
As I prepare for a collaborative project with our sister school in China I need to take into consideration the Great Firewall of China that blocks twitter, Facebook, Google and recently Instagram. I am aware that several schools and local citizens bypass the wall using a different system. But in China this is an illegal activity. I could have directed the current cohort to the Team wiki and I could have used the Flat Connections Ning for asynchronous communication. There is no way I can use a hangout with our sister school but we can use skype for school as this gives us a similar number of access if I brought in several classes to work with our school. I could screen cast a skype session but that would bring up legalities about capturing images with minors.
After the Google Hangout session was over I realised that I could have had each team member share their learning around our recently completed assignment and I could have had them create a single slide about what they had learnt. I could have then given them the second lesson of sharing their own screens and they could have talked about what they have just completed. I underestimated abilities and I could have covered a lot more in the session. Even though most of my global colleagues were new to a hangout, they are not newbies to collaborative tools.
Instead I wonder if they would be willing to join me again in a follow up session and give a brief reflection of their learning as being part of FlatConnect Global Educator 14-2 group. We could use the same idea I do with TeachMeetNZ project and I would wiillingly cut the video so that they could have a reflective page on our Team’s wiki.
Where am I up to? I need to interview a teacher gamer and complete my part of the collaborative assignment, create my slides about our sister school project in preparation for our final session with Julie and count down to our summer holidays as we only have two weeks left of school but there is still so much to do. 
WOWEE, I have also just learnt that I can copy straight from a Goole Doc into the Ning too. Even better I just spotted the editing tool for corrections and even better the HTML tool for embedding. 

One thought on “Flat Connections

  1. Hi Sonya, thanks for the Hangout it was a great experience. I'd be interested in a follow-up reflective session as I have learnt so much from also being part of the FCGP with my students.

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