It seems very apt to be writing this blog post in tribute to a dear, dear friend. The world has lost a true global educational IT innovator and my best online buddy Miss Allanah King.
It seems like only yesterday that our 2 classes on opposite sides of the globe made a connection through our use of the then 'new' mediums of blogging and podcasts....it was 2006!
Allanah had adopted podcasting as a means of communication with her class at Appleby Primary School in Nelson on the South Island of New Zealand. Back in my Cefn Fforest class in the South Wales valleys we had also sought out global partners. Neither place was really the hub of technology, however what grew was true educational innovation. This was helped by the fact that the world wide web was awash with new apps as part of the Web 2.0 revolution of user generated content.
I think that it must have been fate that drew us and our classes together, we had found a true partner many thousands of miles and several time zones apart. In Allanah I had found a good 'partner in crime', in that she was happy to run with some of my off the wall suggestions having seen a morsel of good educational practice often hidden, inside!
Following our blogs and podcasts we discovered a then new technology tool called Skype, you may have heard of it? I had to pretend to my headteacher that this was a closed system and that we would not be contacting the world outside Cefn Fforest....it was a white lie! Our classes used to skype us the teachers when they got to school in the mornings....it being the evening for the teachers. We were frustrated by our inability to talk directly pupil to pupil in 'real time' - in another of our hairbrained schemes we agreed to each bring our classes into school late one evening and as a result we were able to talk to our friends as they arrived in school in their morning. My pupils became very aware of global tome zones through our connection.
In another innovation I sent a small geocaching bear called Tiny Ted to New Zealand where he had some photographic adventures in Nelson prior to going on a tour of the world, from which I believe he is yet to return....it is believed that Tiny Ted was last seen in a university in Arizona!
Following the success of Tiny Ted, the two classes agreed to swap cuddly toys with each other, hence Dylan the Dragon headed down to the southern hemisphere, while a very noisy Cuddly Kiwi came to South Wales. Each toy went on a number of photo opportunities with the respective pupils, the one proviso that a blog post was required from the pupil who was hosting the toy!
As must seem obvious, we the teachers were have great fun challenging our respected classes to come up with new eays to communicate wjth their new friends - all great lnline learning, problem solving and great for writing for an ambience. ...sound educational principles.
Years went by and on a rare visit to the UK and Ireland in 2009 Allanah (AK) came to stay with us on the Welsh part of her holiday. Even though I had by that time left Cefn Forrest Primary, we were allowed to visit the school and Allanah was able to meet face to face the pupils that she had Skyped with a few years before.
After our collaboration Allanah went on to great things with CORE in New Zealand and also as a globally connected educational innovator, through all we remained firm online friends across the years.
Allanah's final illness has robbed us of a great woman, educator, innovator.....she leaves a truly amazing digital footprint.
Farewell my friend ♥️.