Now that I’ve had time to reflect on the Korean trip, I find that the experience has had a deeper impact than I initially thought. Sure, it was a good trip and we managed to have fun as well as immerse ourselves in the Korean culture, but there’s more to it than ‘just a trip abroad’.
Firstly, the Korean culture has shown me what we seem to have lost in Britain – respect for each other as well as an innate friendliness and openness to other people and cultures. Although this wasn’t part of the brief, I found that it permeated through everything that we experienced, both in and out of schools.
Within the schools there seemed to be a desire to learn and the pupils seemed eager to further their education, technology helped immensely. E-textbooks, webcam links with other countries and to pupils in hospital, plasma touchscreen TVs, visualisers, were all seen as everyday tools to fulfil this quest for knowledge. Watching children interact with Lizzie in Wyoming as she taught them about Halloween in the USA was a great sight. The fact that she was thousands of miles away in a different time zone, as well as a different cultural zone, didn’t seem to matter. To the pupils she was just ‘Lizzie the English teacher’. How far have we come in such a short time? When I was their age, a transatlantic phone call was a thing of mystery, only afforded by the well-off who had their own phones ( my household was still on a party-line with the house over the road!). Now, here are children speaking and watching live from their classroom as well as seeing their ideas pop up on screen as soon as they say them out loud.
What else has stuck in my mind? Well I can’t leave out Peter’s fanaticism for Ustream producer. Having used Ustream previously, I was intrigued to see what else this particular version offered – for free. I have to say that I can now see why he rates it so highly, as it is simple but effective. I’ll certainly be using it as an embedded web part in our school VLE. Hopefully our pupils will become producers of their own programmes.
Having spoken to various members of my staff, they are keen to find out more about my trip (obviously I let them try the Kimchi) and so I will be leading part of a staff meeting as well as a presentation to governors. There has also been brief feedback on a recent BLT day. However, I find that it is parents and pupils that asking the most questions, especially those that took time to log onto our daily broadcasts. We have already established links with 2 schools in Incheon and their staff have access to our school VLE, via guest logons created by LP+. They have already written on our South Korean wiki page, as well as emailing photos of their class and are keen to answer questions from our pupils. I’m also encouraging the Korean pupils to ask questions about life in the UK in order to develop a dialogue. Hopefully our pupils will learn from this exchange.
It was a real privilege to share the hospitality of the South Korean people, if only for a short time. They seem to have done something that we haven’t managed – adopted modern technology without losing the essence of what makes their country such a special place.