Saturday, 3 October 2009

K-12 Online Conference 2009

My proposal for presenting at the next K-12 Online Conference has been accepted. I will present about 'Living History – Authentic Learning Empowered by Digital Technology'. This is about a unit of work that was done by Grade 5 last academic year and again repeated by the new class this academic year. Firstly, let me explain, I teach in Indonesia and it is a requirement to teach local history. The focus of this unit was quite daunting 'The Dutch Colonialism and Japanese Imperialism of Indonesia'.

Ok, we have a 1:1 laptop program which had only been in operation for 3 months prior to the time of that unit of work. My students were all beginners in regards to using technology. So how can we use the tools in our hands? Like all good inquirers we started with some tuning in activities.

My partner teacher Hugo Gunawan downloaded many old films of 'Dutch Indonesia'. These silent movies were interesting but lacked details and were a bit hard to watch as they were a little blurry and in black and white with no sound.

Next we searched for images. Again - lots of pictures but not a lot of information. Wikipedia had some information but only general stuff. The students made presentations with the pictures and tried to understand life during that time by reading online articles and looking up facts. But it wasn't deep enough ...

I had lived in Indonesia as a child and I remembered my parents telling me that Indonesia used to be known as the ''Dutch East Indies". I tried a Google search with those very words and stuck gold!

This site was written by Elizabeth van Kampen, a Dutch woman who had lived in Indonesia during the Dutch Colonialism and later Japanese Imperialism of the country. WOW! Her website was a personal account of her life. Most importantly for us she wrote about living in Indonesia between 1935 - 1945, a time of great change as Indonesia fought for Independence.

Naturally reading from this website became our daily routine. The kids kept notes using digital Stickies on their Macbooks and began to see life in the Dutch East Indies through the eyes of a child their own age.

We tried emailing the address on the site and were most surprised to receive a reply on a few days later! Elizabeth is now living in Holland and is 83 years old. She was most welcoming and told us that she would answer any questions our students may have.

How wonderful for our students to be able to ask about life in the Dutch East Indies from an eye witness!

My presentation will focus on the learning journey of this unit of work. We used technology as our tool to inquire deeply into this period of time in Indonesia's history. Along the way the students used many tools such as:

Web Searches
You Tube
Wikimedia Commons
Digital Stickies
Slide Presentations
Phone cameras/digital cameras
Translator widget
Sequence (screen cast)
School LCD Screens for publishing
Conference Call (telephone)
Field Trips
Watch this video to see a sample of a student reflection about the field trip to the Dutch museum in Jakarta.

A Virtual Museum from Jane on Vimeo.

Some powerful reflections were made via Voicethread at the end of the unit. Here are two examples:

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