eLearning = authentic

One of the huge benefits of eLearning is providing authentic contexts for students to work in.

This year, for the first time, I have students clamoring to share their mihi with others. Sometimes the Te Reo we learn becomes a rote kind of thing, especially if we’re not visiting a marae any time soon. This means that learning their mihi becomes just another thing to do.

So why the difference this year?

I had spoken with my friend Myles @ Melville Intermediate, Hamilton via Twitter and arranged to skype with a class at his school to share our mihi. Another friend, Claire, from a school in Dunedin got in on the act too. (We skype with them this week.) Suddenly there was an authentic reason to learn their mihi.

We used our school’s learning journey as the basis of our mihi and did lots of practise. My Maori students also were able to find out which iwi they belonged to with one discovering that she was a descendant of Te Rauparaha and then discovering that she and another student shared a connection with the Tainui waka. That was very exciting especially as we live in the area that Te Rauparaha lived. (Our mihi relates to Kapiti Island which was Te Rauparaha’s tribal stronghold.)

As our skype appointment drew close I asked for volunteers to share their mihi with the Hamilton class. Nearly 1/2 the students wanted to share so I had to divide them into two groups one for sharing with each school. Our skype session was fantastic and all those who shared are very proud of themselves.

Screen shot 2010-03-08 at 6.40.47 PM
Luke sharing his mihi (in the corner) with Melville students watching

We finished with a waiata – Ka Mate – appropriately written by Te Rauparaha! I used my RearSight gadget to quickly change the webcam view from front to back so the whole class could be seen while they sang/danced the waiata.

you can just see the RearSight attached to the macbook lid
you can just see the RearSight attached to the macbook lid

We hope to skype with St Clair’s School in Dunedin this week and all those who shared last week want to share again along with those scheduled to share.

One side effect that I’ve noticed is that the students pronunciation has improved rapidly over the last couple of weeks – knowing you have an audience that’s not just your class really raises the standard for students (and teachers).