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VidConR.jpgOver the school holidays, Abbotsleigh was delighted to learn that it had gained second place in the second annual AARNet Excellence Awards that were announced at QUESTnet 2014.

The awards recognise the innovative leadership and expertise of the Australian research and education community for using AARNet’s high speed network and services in new ways to support collaboration, online learning or interactive teaching environments.

Chris Hancock, AARNet CEO said, The scope and quality of projects entered was impressive, making the outcome of the judging a close call. It is very rewarding to see our network and services supporting innovation within our community.

Abbotsleigh was recognised as a pioneer in the use of videoconferencing in the classroom since connecting to AARNet  several years ago, and more particularly for their Virtual Composer in Residence Program.

This program is unique because the relationship between Abbotsleigh and the Cleveland School of Music is ongoing. Through the program students have access to a level of expertise unconstrained by geographical boundaries, expertise that is not usually available to students at a secondary level, said Warwick Noble, Director of Technology at Abbotsleigh. Click here to read more.

 

​Y20140613_111548.jpgear 7 History students are starting a range of new topics as part of the new curriculum. This has included new video conferences relevant to the curriculum such as the one the students participated in with The Cleveland Museum of Art on tomb culture of Ancient China. The teachers were interested in covering the significant beliefs, values and practices of ancient society with particular emphasis on death and funerary customs. The museum did this with constant reference to their collection of artefacts, which were green screened behind the presenter.

During the session the students were introduced to selected objects found in ancient Chinese tombs as a way of surveying history from the late Neolithic era (3000 BC) to the Tang dynasty (618-907). These objects revealed the contents of ancient tombs and shed light on similar types of items used for daily life. The girls also discussed what the artefacts were made from with the presenter – jade, bronze, and ceramics – and what it showed about the times. Artefacts included ritual vessels, figurines and musical instruments such as an amazing collections of bells. The girls even saw a musician playing the ancient bells made of bronze at the museum.

At the end the students said they enjoyed the experience of being able to ask questions from across the world and had learnt a lot in the session to complement their class work.

There have been a number of media articles recently about the work Abbotsleigh has been doing in the video conferencing education space.

Warwick Noble, the Director of IT at Abbotsleigh, was interviewed by the Canberra Times for their itpro section earlier this year. The article covers a range of ways that schools are jumping ‘online taking parents with them’. The article discusses the change to online booking for parent teacher interviews and canteen orders. It also discusses how video conferencing technology has allowed girls at Abbotsleigh to connect with an array of experts including researchers at the Great Barrier Reef and Scott Base in Antarctica and Holocaust survivors in New York. Click here to read the article.

Abbotsleigh was also featured on AARNet’s website and in their newsletter. AARNet, Australia's Academic and Research Network, is the not-for-profit company that operates Australia's National Research and Education Network (NREN). The article looks at how video conferencing enriches the curriculum for students from the Early Learning Centre through Year 12. You can view the video and read the article below.

AARNET video picture.jpg
Watch for the upcoming post about articles that will come out in the June issue of the Australian Teacher Magazine and The Australian.

Mrs Naomi Manning
Senior School ICT Integrator

david almond.jpgVideo conferencing has brought a lot of guests to Abbotsleigh from all around the world. People who would not otherwise be able to talk with our students are brought into the students classrooms. This year David Almond is speaking at the festival via video conferencing on Monday 2 June. David Almond is a British author who has written several novels for children or young adults from 1998, each one to critical acclaim, including Skellig, a novel currently being studied by Abbotsleigh students.

To view the Literary Festival Program, click here.

lake mungo.jpegInstead of sitting in the playground at lunch on Wednesday this week, Mrs Hurwitz and a representative group of Year 7 History students, crossed via video conference to Lake Mungo. The discussion, also attended by multiple other schools around Australia, allowed them to chat with an archaeologist and two Aboriginal elders from the area.

The girls heard that the desert landscape of Lake Mungo is a meeting place for three traditional tribal groups and ‘Mungo’ is also an archaeological site of world importance. The dunes and dry lake beds of the Mungo area have offered up evidence of human ceremonial burials dating back 42,000 years.

The girls discussed and asked questions about skeletal remains of Mungo Man and Mungo Woman as well as of mega fauna such as the Genyornis (a giant flightless bird). They also learned about shell fragments from the (now extinct) Genyornis eggs (that looked like a giant emu but was actually a goose) that litter the dunes today. For the students, the interactivity of the questions was most enjoyable, as one student said, ‘It was a very interesting experience and I am so glad that I gave up some of my lunchtime to listen to the fascinating questions that school children asked’.

The discoveries changed our understanding of how long Australia had been inhabited as they proved that Aboriginal people had lived there 60,000 years ago, as opposed to 12,000 years as previously thought. The session also provided a real world link to the studies Year 7 have been doing about archaeology and digs and what we can learn from the evidence.