August 2006 Pangaea Newsletter


・Monthly General Report: July, 2006
・Yumi, Chief Executive Director's monthly note
・Toshi, Chief Technical Director's monthly note
・Activity Report

General Report: July 2006

At the beginning of July - The facilitator training sessions were held in Tokyo and Kyoto

Facilitator training sessions were held in Tokyo and Kyoto as well as Nairobi and Vienna. Although sessions were held on weekends, there were nine attendants in Tokyo and twelve in Kyoto. Participants enjoyed as they simulated actual activities such as Tako Introduction or Drawing Pangaea House. It was a great opportunity for facilitators to be to get acquitted to each other.

July 10th - Picton Card Monitoring started

We have started to feasibility study for the use of Picton Cards with children who have difficulties in communication. Families and teachers tested 200 Picton Cards that are used in our activities. We will evaluate and select appropriate Picton Cards through their monitoring. We plan to distribute 100 Picton Card sets to related institutions. This is supported by charity donation of New Year's lottery post card by the Japan Post.

July 13th - NICT research presentation report (Review for Pictons)

The Picton research presentation for the results report continued from last year by NICT and Pangaea was given at Kyoto-Keihanna. There was the report based on questioner through the Pangaea website and the proposition and progress report of this year.

July 14th, 28th - The Pangaea Activity at Ogikubo-kita Youth Centre

Children's works such as house drawing, photo taking, voice recording and profile forming have been made steadily thorough activities held twice a month. We have no activities in August so we are really looking forward to seeing Pangaea children again!

July 22nd - The Pangaea joint activity held at Shibuya-ku

Children from four schools gathered at Yoyogi primary school. Although the number of children was ten that was less than usual activity because of summer vacation, children had a fun freely in the restful atmosphere.

Yumi's Monthly Note

I was so surprised at the long rainy days in July this year.
Now I remember, I have not been in Japan through the rainy season for the last 10 years.

We began this month with the facilitator training sessions in Tokyo and Kyoto. Many had already had some experiences as a facilitator. Facilitator training sessions had been preceded at overseas branches for half a year. As for the style of the workshop, I myself don't like just listening to the speaker at the lecture (except the case that the speaker is remarkable).

So at the workshop, facilitators not only listen to the speaker but also actually participate in the activities. Through this way, they seemed to be cheerful in participating in the workshop. Though I still wondered that they could grasp the main points of facilitation, I felt relieved and found that the workshop had been a success when I saw the facilitators, who had participated in the workshop, making a good job of facilitation at the activity after the workshop. Now Package Ver.1 is completed! PangaeaNet, Activity Manual Vol.1-3 and a facilitator workshop are all ready.

Toshi and I again went to Seoul in the end of July. We had a meeting at Korea UNESCO MIZY Center where we are to launch the Pangaea Activities in September. As members of NICT(National Institute of Information and Communications Technology) also joined us, we tested multilingual communication tool among the Pangaea staffs for the first time. The tool is developing quickly under the Language Grid project. It was impressive to see the text written in the Korean alphabet being translated into Japanese. The tool properly translates the original words used among the Pangaea staffs, which is impossible if we use the ordinary simultaneous interpretation software available to us. The MIZY staffs were also impresssed. It seems the tool will soon help the corresponding activity between Korea
and Japan.

It seems that it will be hot summer, but it's cool in Tokyo today. I heard that this rainy season is also extraordinary in Korea. I thought a little seriously 'We have to think of the environment, too'. See you.

Yumiko Mori

Toshi's monthly Note

After a long unexpected rainy season, summer that we've been waiting for has finally come. What are you going to do during the summer ? Personally, I am very excited with summer in Kyoto that I spend for the first time.

As Ms Mori reported, a facilitator training sessions were held at Japan and overseas branches in an attempt to share Pangaea philosophy and compliance, also to get them enjoy activities knowing how to communicate with children. A workshop for technical staffs was held separately in order to get them know the PangaeaNet system, how to prepare networks at an activity and how to process and save data of children's work. Every one attended earnestly even though required time was quite long. I really appreciate those who participated the workshop.

We encounter many technical troubles since the PangaeaNet has launched officially in this spring. A technical staff's operation work is basically same at every branch but the staffs have to take a flexible approach depending on a difference in a kind of PC and a connection method of the Internet. It is similar in a way facilitators take a flexible approach to communicate with children according to different characteristics they have at each branch.

The most difficult trouble a technical staff has to cope with is unexpected one. It is required relatively high skill to investigate causes, what we call "trouble shooting", for example examining whether a PC setting a staff did was inappropriate or a PC's condition was originally bad. I am now making a trouble shooting manual for technical staffs. Following a flowchart designed to be used at an activity, it offers an answer to a cause such as "what is a possible cause ?", "Could a problem be immediately cleared up or could not be ?" It is common to everything, not only knowledge but also experience may help us deal with difficulties.

I myself encountered many problems, for example difficulties connecting the Internet or installing software. Then I coped with those problems with staff's support and when we could not solve them, we held a thorough investigation into the causes of the problems. With every technical staff, I would like to support the technical basis of the Universal Playground where children may happily play without anxiety.

Toshiyuki Takasaki

Activity Report - Mariko Yamazaki

In July, we held three activities in Tokyo. It is tough to do a preparation of an activity every week but thanks to a manual, staffs can work in good collaboration. So even I, a new leader, can have an elbowroom to carefully get an overview at the activity. In this newsletter, I would like to report what I recognized at the activity from my point of view.

杉並アクティビティ I mentioned about children's characteristics at each branch in a last newsletter, this month I recognized a difference in a way of dealing with Picton seeing children playing with PangaeaNet. Children at Suginami branch are just questioners. "How do we play with this ? What is it ? What do we do next ?", children asks these questions here and there so it is hard to answer to all of them. A question that I was concerned the most was about questioning the correctness of a sentence in Picton that they made. For example, "What is the meaning of this Picton ? Where is a Picton that corresponds to a house ?

Is this sentence correct ?" While I was thinking twice about how to answer to them, a girl sitting next to me said "Think by yourself. That's important to you." I was happy that some understands the Pangaea Activity's idea. But I believe it is a normal reaction to have these kinds of question.

杉並アクティビティ These questions may not be heard at Shibuya branch. This is because Shibuya children have got used to Picton playing with it in an analog way. Before Communicator testing version has completed, they used to make a sentence drawing a Picton on a sticky note and freely made a sentence with it. Children thought about the meaning of Picton and gave us ideas of interesting uses. These activities gave them a deeper understanding and strengthened a motivation for Picton. At the Japan-Korea synchronous activity, I was impressed by children showing their Picton mail that they originally made to their friends in Korea through webcam.

Children at Suginami branch join a Pangaea Activity for the first time from this year so I guess their understanding is not reached to a level of Shibuya children yet. So I would like to introduce them an activity that gives a chance to play Picton in an analog way. It's been a while so I'll do it at Shibuya branch too. I am looking forward to a day when a Picton of "summer holidays" will be updated at Pangaeum.

PangaeaNet and Picton are just tools. The excitement of Pangaea is what children created through a real experience with imagination is passed to children around the world. I now relish the excitement.

Mariko Yamazaki