eTutoring from Australia in 2012 – 2013

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A collaborative project involving pre-service teachers from RMIT University interacting with school students from Nepal, Australia, India and Malaysia through our online Samuday platform.

Project details

  • Location : Astam, Dhital VDC (GPS: 28.292931, 83.907624)
  • Institution : Shree Bhumeshwor Lower Secondary School (grade 1 to 8 + pre-primary)
  • Date : Sep - Nov 2012 & Sep - Nov 2013
  • Project : Online tutoring from Australia + development of an online tutoring and collaboration platform.
  • Category : Teaching,

In September 2012, students at the Shree Bhumeshwor Seconday School, in collaboration with Logged On, were the first in Nepal to join RMIT University’s eTutor program.

eTutor is a collaborative project between RMIT and schools in Australia, Malaysia, India and Nepal. The program involved education students from RMIT interacting with school students through an online collaborative platform. The program was aimed at assisting school students with their English language skills and was a creative approach by RMIT to building Australian pre-service teachers’ capacity to teach interculturally.

In the first year, we supported the Shree Bhumeshwor School and helped them with technical difficulty in connecting to the internet that delayed the school’s participation. The children were eventually able to logged on and were were thrilled at being able to ‘chat’ online with teachers and fellow students outside of Nepal and to have the opportunity of providing a window on village life to other participants.

Bhumeshwor participated for a second round of the program in September to November 2013. RMIT was planning to include primary school students for the first time but was unable to do so because of the age restrictions placed by service providers of the online collaborative platform.

We stepped in and developed a fully customised web platform for all students and teachers to collaborate online. Over four weeks of development time resulted in the Samuday platform which allowed participants to login to a secure environment and post videos, comments, photos, hit likes, share item, collaborate on projects, send private messages, and post on other participant’s walls. The platform was unique and had more functionality than a previously used system. It also provided a safe space for children and teachers to collaborate. We also designed the database architecture that provided the necessary data for RMIT staff to analyse and publish their findings (Read More).

Over 14 weeks, 455 participants in the eTutor project posted blogs, comments, images and videos centred on cultural exchange. Although some technical, organisational and cultural issues acted as a challenge to online communication, the findings from the program showed that despite the challenges, online settings can be an effective way to improve the intercultural as well as digital competence of teachers, with positive learning outcomes for participating school students as well.

In eTutor 2013, the children at Bhumeshwor were partnered with a group of children from the Morang South Primary School in Victoria, Australia. Children from both schools were able to chat online, post photos and videos, and share stories about their own lives and community.
Morang South Primary School eTutor Participants
“I would imagine the social studies textbooks were put away for a short time while the children, who are ‘worlds apart’, were chatting with each other.” said Logged On’s CEO, Mark Pinoli. “The students at Morang South were getting a real lesson about everyday life in rural Nepal where children go to the well everyday to collect water, feed grass to their buffaloes and where the family cook meals on wood fireplaces. What better way to learn about another community than from the children who live there” Mark says.

The children in Astam had the opportunity to improve their computer and English language skills by using eTutor to communicate with teachers and children in Australia.

“A great way to learn a language is by chatting to people who are fluent in that language. eTutor allowed the children in Nepal to start practicing what they had learned in class. We would like to thank the RMIT tutors and students at Morang South Primary School for helping!”

Astam Computer Centre
Logged On’s CEO visited Morang South Primary to award Certificates of Appreciation to the students who made suggestion to help improve the Samuday website.

“We had little time to develop the website and in the first few weeks I had eTutor children and teachers making suggestions for improvements. Morang South Primary really stood out as the ‘unofficial’ system testers!” Mark says. “They were helping to improve the site so all 500 participants could have a better experience of eTutor and I think that is pretty outstanding!”
Morang South Primary School Award
Certificates awarded to: Matthew Falzon, Elijah Grech, George Kounelakis and Erin Cupit.
In 2014, a group of seven RMIT University teachers who were involved in eTutor 2013 spent three weeks at the Shree Bhumeshwor School in Astam in a placement program that focused on helping children with their language skills (Read More).

RMIT University’s School of Education and the Logged On Foundation have formally sign a Memorandum of Understanding that will help further the work in Nepal (Read More).

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