UNE connects school students to classrooms in Korea

Published 09 November 2010

laurenThrough a project based at the University of New England, Australian school students are using the Internet to visit the classrooms of their counterparts in South Korea.

Led by UNE’s Dr Myung-sook Auh, the “Australia-Korea ConneXion Project” is funded by the University itself and the Australia-Korea Foundation within the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The project links students at five Australian schools with students at five Korean schools using video-conferencing and online discussions. After beginning in September this year, the project will be linking each of the Australian schools with its Korean “partner” school five times before the end of November, and will continue from the beginning of March till the end of June next year.

Four of the Australian schools are in Armidale. They are: Ben Venue Public School (linked with Gyeongin Primary School in Korea), Duval High School (Imae Middle School), PLC Armidale (Sungduk Middle School), and O’Connor Catholic College (Bomun High School). The fifth Australian school is Temora High School (near Wagga Wagga), which is linked to Daechung Middle School.

Last month, the Year 8 class at O’Connor Catholic College involved in the project entered its first 30-minute video-conference session with enthusiasm. One of the O’Connor students, Lauren Barrett (pictured here), who presented the Korean students with what she called “a snapshot of Australia”, said it had been exciting “to see who you’re actually talking to”. “Their classrooms are a lot different,” she commented after watching a live video tour of the English language classroom at Bomun High School. She said she had been interested to learn, during the exchange of information with the Korean students, that “kids in Korea are one year old as soon as they’re born”.

Dr Auh explained that the students’ cross-cultural discussions were based on topics from the NSW curriculum for the subject Human Society and Its Environment (HSIE) and their Korean equivalents. Cheryl Leggatt, the O’Connor students’ history teacher, said that their involvement in the project was designed to “motivate their learning” (through their direct exposure to Korean culture, and their presentation of Australian culture to the Korean students), and to “increase their use of technology skills”. “They’ll find a world they can access at the push of a button,” she said.

“Becoming Korea-literate is important,” Dr Auh said, “as the Melbourne Declaration on Education Goals for Young Australians (2008) and the National Statement for Engaging Young Australians with Asia in Australian Schools (2005) both emphasise that Australians should develop the knowledge, skills, values and understanding to be ‘Asia Literate’. In pursuit of this policy, the Australian Government has been investing in school studies of four Asian cultures: Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Indonesian.”

Dr Auh, together with her colleagues Dr Chris Reading and Kay Noble, comprise the UNE project team. The project receives in-kind support from the NSW Department of Education and Training; the Catholic Schools Office; the Korean Consulate General in Sydney; the Australian Embassy in Seoul; the Korea-Australasia Research Centre at the University of NSW; Samyang Data System, Seoul; Korea Tandberg, Seoul; Daewoon Tech. Ltd, Daejeon.

THE PHOTOGRAPH of Lauren Barrett displayed here expands to show her with Dr Myung-sook Auh at O’Connor Catholic College.