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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Flickr for the classroom

As I don't have current access to a cohort of learners, I had my ten year old daughter complete the recommended activities regarding Flickr. She very easily was able to set up an account and decided to do a search of photos containing students dancing, as this compliments the unit of work I am currently working on. She also uploaded a few of her own photos of our dearly loved dog, using her mobile phone camera.

The comments made by my daughter included a frustration at the quality of some of the photos in the creative commons area. Many of the pics selected were grainy and the images poor. She felt it took a long time to sort through the pics to find quality. In fact she commented that there were easier ways to collect images, for example using google images. This initiated a discussion regarding copyright and creative commons licensing which although she understood the concept, I'm not entirely sure she understood the full ramifications of using copyrighted material.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Wiki's in the classroom

My rough draft of a wiki unit follows:

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Online Tests/quizzes

As I have been unable to access ICT's in my prac classroom I have asked my Year 5 daughter to have a go at making an online quiz using a topic that interests her. She decided to create a quiz about Harry Potter. Creating the quiz was easy and she thoroughly enjoyed the process, however we have discovered a problem after the quiz was embedded in this blog. When clicking the link below, the quiz that opens is indeed the Harry Potter quiz developed by my daughter however it has taken on the title of a previously created quiz. In trying to rectify the problem we discovered that within the Classmarker website the quiz is appropriately saved with the correct title, however it still appears incorrectly within the blog. Both myself and a colleague have made attempts to rectify the problem with no success. It is unclear if the problem was caused during the development of the quiz or if it is a glitch in the system. In assessing the usefullness of this tool for students to develop their own quizzes I would say that it is certainly not beyond young students to develop quizzes however some assistance may be required in embedding them into websites, blogs or emails etc. You are welcome to take a look at the quiz developed by this Year 5 student.

Tiarni's online quiz

http://www.classmarker.com/embedded_quizzes/?quiz=c2954e40697c5243cf1793d5a1c51740

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Digital storytelling


Year three students recently went on an excursion to the Brisbane Museum as part of consolidating their learning through a unit of work on Dinosaurs. Using technology to tell the story of the excursion would be an effective way to enable students to take ownership of the experience. Digital photographs were taken by staff and parents (with consideration of privacy requirements)and these photos have been printed on copy paper and hung around the room. To further take these photos and build a digital story around the excursion would be an authentic task, developing literacy skills and ICT skills along the way. I will definately be planning for using technology in this way in my own classroom in the future.

Creative writing



Using blogs to foster creative writing with students provides a trigger for increasing motivation to improve and extend upon their storytelling skills. Blogging provides for real world feedback and I can see this as a fabulous way to provide for extension of students who are working at higher literacy levels within a cohort. The electronic ability to edit, re-write and continue to build upon an idea provides an excellent resource that can't get lost in a messy desk tray or thrown away, or eaten by the dog!!

Blogs



During my recent prac I have had no access to ICT's. In an attempt to get an idea of how students respond to this type of technology I have seconded my 10 year old daughter into action. After introducing the technology to her, she decided she would like to establish a blog about the books she has read. Using this in an authentic classroom setting would encourage students to report on books read during level reading, as well as books read for pleasure. Students might be asked to provide a short re-count of the story, and respond to questions such as: Why I like/disliked this book? How did it make me feel? Whose voice is heard/unheard in this story? Similar book to this that I have read/would like to read.
Students would be asked to post comments to their blogs on a weekly basis.

What do others think?

Powerpoint buttons

Powerpoint buttons are new to me and I'm impressed. This is a very simple process that even young children can achieve with sufficient scaffolding. During a recent unit on Australian states and territories students were asked to design a class quiz, using this technology would have been a great engagement tool, not just for those students working at higher literacy levels but also as a means to engage low literacy learners to use literacy authentically. I have developed a very basic true/false quiz that younger learners would easily be able to create. Take a look, I'd love to hear your comments.

http://www.mediafire.com/?u52mozj5mmy

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Reflective Synopsis



I’ve been on many journeys but I’d have to say that this has been one of the most enjoyable and rewarding. I have pushed myself beyond what I considered to be my limits and I’ve discovered that my capabilities far exceed my own expectations. What I hadn’t previously considered, but now recognise implicitly is how the principles of Habits of Mind (Costa 2000) guide my learning.
This has not been an easy journey, there have been numerous problems along the way, technology is a trying medium and I have had to persist beyond what I might have done in the past. I recognise that I have had to think flexibly, particularly when encountering the SlideShare website and I’ve had to draw on all my past knowledge to approach the problems I’ve encountered. Thinking interdependently means being able to work with and learn from others. I have drawn on the resources of my peers and others to solve the issues I have encountered. Without this assistance, and the team approach I believe it would have been much more of an onerous task, and without the support I’ve had, it’s possible I would not have gotten far beyond the Blogging stage, so to my colleagues, long suffering friends and family, I thank you.
Exploring the world of technology has offered me the opportunity to really understand what it is to respond with wonderment and awe. I have been introduced to a wide range of resources that I had never encountered before, including Wikis and Avatars. I’d seen the wonderful animations and simulations as I surfed the net, and always wondered at the brilliance of those who had these in their websites, blogs etc. I can now count myself as one of these brilliant website creators, just look at my blog and you’ll see. Google Earth can only be described as amazing and I have no doubt that students using this will have improved understanding of not just the magnitude of the planet, but also the incredible diversity within it. The other programs that support Google Earth, such as Google Sky and Google Sketchup have applications in science and technology that I had not been aware of prior to this task.
So how is it that this new learning can inform my practices as a learning manager? Discovering e-learning has provided me with a new pathway to learning that I had previously only considered in a minute way. My use of technologies in the past has really only centred on research. I was aware of powerpoint, photostory, Google Earth and Webquests but really did not understand the value of learning through collaboration, communication and the sharing of knowledge that is possible through the use of technology. Kearsley & Schneiderman (1999) suggest that the fundamental emphasis of Learning Engagement Theory is on collaboration among peers and communities of learners. Central to this is creating active learning opportunities that are meaningful and encourage real engagement in creating successful, collaborative and importantly purposeful outcomes.
Discovering the world of e-learning has provided me with a range of new tools and skills to enhance my teaching practices. One of the most valuable of these is a greater understanding of not only the need, but the ‘how to’ of including indigenous perspectives within my classroom practices. Davis & Grose, (2008) assert that the two way processes of Two way education include the indigenous voice and reason in an educational setting. The My Land, My tracks framework (Grant, 2000) will assist me to ensure that my future practices emphasise the holistic approach advocated by Ernie Grant.
My further understanding of the language barriers that ‘digital immigrants’ (Prensky, 2001)) such as myself face, when communicating with ‘digital natives within the classroom has alerted me to the need to become fluent in the new communication tools of the twenty first century. As an adult learner I have been challenged by ‘e-speak’ in the past and although I had some e-language skills, I am now aware of how much more I need to engage with this medium to reduce my ‘accent’ of the past. As with all literacies it is in the interactions that understanding and knowledge is built.
Using these technologies in my teaching practices will now include planning for active, engaging tasks that authentically relate to students needs and interests. Being ever mindful of the relate-create-donate framework of Learning Engagement Theory (Kearsley & Schneiderman) will transform my planning for the future.
What I need to be able to do is provide opportunities for students to develop multiliteracies by encouraging interaction with visual, digital and traditional literacy methods. Enhancing student’s critical literacy skills will be one of the most important tenets in their future interactions with an increasingly global, technology driven world. Meris Stansbury (2009) details a number of technologies that researchers have identified as those that will shape future education and it is interesting to note that the focus is on collaboration, communication, smart objects and personalisation of technology, that is the opportunity to do more than just viewing it, but enabling the process of configuring and managing online content. This course has offered me the opportunity for a ‘heads up’ on these technologies and I understand the need to continue pursuing information within these realms will be an important part of my ongoing, continuous learning journey.
References:

Costa, A. and Kallick, B (2000) Habits of Mind: A Developmental Series: [electronic resource]: Retrieved August 20, 2008 from http://www.habitsofmind.org/resources/OTHER/16HOM2.pdf

Davis, J. and Grose, S. (2008). Which Way? What happens when embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in schools meets the professional standards for teachers and an accountability matrix? [electronic resource]. Retrieved July 31, 2009 from http://www.strongersmarter.qut.edu.au/docs/papers/Which_Way__by_John_Davis_and_Sharon_Grose_for_Wipce_2008.pdf
Grant, E. (2000) in Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Studies Senior Syllabus, Queensland Studies Authority, Brisbane, Queensland.
Kearsley, G. & Schneiderman, B. (1999). Engagement Theory: A framework for technology-based teaching and learning.[electronic resource]. Retrieved July 31, 2009from http://home.sprynet.com/~gkearsley/engage.htm
Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, Digital immigrants. [electronic resource]. Retrieved July 27, 2009 from http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky%20-%20Digital%20Natives,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf
Stansbury, M. (2009). Six technologies soon to affect education. [electronic resource]. Retrieved August 3, 2009 from http://www.eschoolnews.com/news/top-news/index.cfm?i=57910&page=3

SlideShare



My experiences with SlideShare have not been good. I have spent countless hours attempting to create a synchronised slide show but to no avail. It began with problems downloading the powerpoint presentation. When I had finally sorted that out the problems really began. I used Audacity to create an MP3 file with few problems, I even found the option to change the pitch of voice, and I created a child's voice effect very simply. However I was unable to load this file onto slideshare through the slidecast process. I tried downloading the file from my own computer with no success (I checked several times and it was saved and operating as an MP3 file) so I saved the MP3 to Archive.com and attempted to load from there but still with no success. The error messages I was receiving suggested that my problem may have been with the site server, so I tried over a three day period but still with no success. Considering the hours I have spent, I would not be able to justify that time commitment when I was working full-time in a classroom. So my assessment of SlideShare is that due to the technical problems that I encountered, I would look for an alternative to this site.


Considering the alternatives I would probably just create a photostory (where I can link sound or music unlike SlideShare which only hosts voice files). My photostory could then be posted to a file storage site, such as MediaFire for storage and distribution. Other options I discovered include a site called Slide.com. This is also a free slide sharing site that hosts music and voice files and it may or may not be more reliable.


What I have learned from this experience is that there are times when you have to acknowledge that the technology is not working for you and you need to consider alternatives.


I have been able to upload my presentation however I can't even get it to post to my blog as I keep getting a Blogger message saying that there is a hosting problem. I have cut & pasted the link to the presentation, so hopefully at least this will be accessible.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Maslow's Theory and Inclusion



We as teachers often assume the basic needs of our students are being met, and we hope that their safety needs are also assured. We might not have a great deal of influence over what happens externally from the school, however in keeping with the principles of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs theory the ideology of the Dimensions of Learning framework (Marzano, 1997), particularly Dimension 1, assists us with the strategies required to assist in fostering an effective classroom climate where students feel safe, secure and accepted by their teachers and peers.
Kunc (1992) suggests that inclusive education is an opportunity to actualise Maslow’s Hierarchy. Avramidis,( 2000) reveals that his research suggests teachers who have experience in creating inclusive classroom environments have a more positive attitude toward inclusive education. What was also discovered in this research was that the level of professional development of the teacher significantly related to their attitude toward inclusion. This may be interpreted that by supporting teachers to enhance their skills and providing opportunities for teachers to gain experience of an inclusive environment, improved attitudes towards inclusive education is likely to follow. Supporting teachers to develop skills using ICT's and Web 2 technologies is an example of the practical upskilling teachers may undertake to help them discover and utilise the resources that are available through technology.
All of us enjoy the support of our friends and peers and students with complex learning needs are no different. As educators of the future I believe it is important to have the skills and the desire to differentiate the curriculum to enable all students to be accommodated in the classroom, ensuring students are not educated in social isolation from their peers, and as a result condemned to social isolation as adults. Using ICT's is a fantastic way of differentiating the learning, supporting students with low literacy levels and allowing students with special needs to experience success alongside their peers.

Avramidis, E., Bayliss, P., Burden, R. (2000) A Survey into Mainstream Teachers’ Attitudes Towards the Inclusion of Children with Special Educational Needs in the Ordinary School in one Local Education Authority. Educational Psychology, 20 (2) 191-211.[electronic resource] Retrieved from http://www.enothe.hva.nl/projects/tuning/fpypdee/curriculum/docs/a_survey_of_mainstream_teachers.pdf

Kunc, N. (1992). The Need to Belong: Rediscovering Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. [electronic resource]. Retrieved July 31, 2009 from
http://www.normemma.com/armaslow.htm

Marzano & Pickering, (1997). Dimensions of learning: Teachers Manual (2nd Ed.) Mid-continent Regional Educational Laboratory, Aurora, Colorado.

VoiceThread



This is a fun and easy program to operate. I was excited to see that kindergarten students were able to create articles to share with the world.

A VoiceThread is a collaborative multimedia slide show that stores and displays images, documents and videos and allows students to share creative works with the world wide web. Others can navigate the articles and leave comments, gathering group conversations from around the world.

Collaborative visualisation tools enable not only the sharing of data but also the visualisation of
data, allowing comments to be made, providing opportunities for collaborative feedback. (Spiro & Solis, nd)

I could see the use for this application to develop discussions about reading, by developing VoiceThread articles of narratives students have written. It could also be used as an assessment item where students provide a verbal explanation with visualisation for mathematical or scientific concepts. Speech fluency could also be practiced through this medium. It also has application as a reflective tool by demonstrating visually, with comment, on the learning students have achieved after a specific unit of work.

After reading the blogs of my colleagues regarding the application of technology such as VoiceThread, I am reminded that providing opportunities for Indigenous students to use the medium of storytelling can enhance their engagement with the learning. Using a web application such as VoiceThread would offer this opportunity for all learners to tell their stories and practice the age old custom of 'yarning'.


Davis, J. and Grose, S. (2008). Which Way? What happens whem embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in schools meets the professional standards for teachers and an accountability matrix. [electronic resource]. Retrieved July 31, 2009 from http://www.strongersmarter.qut.edu.au/docs/papers/Which_Way__by_John_Davis_and_Sharon_Grose_for_Wipce_2008.pdf


Spiro, L. and Solic, C. (nd). Social software and education. [electronic resource]. Retrieved August 20, 2009 from http://74.125.155.132/search?q=cache:0M3AWCIYW08J:library.rice.edu/services/dmc/online_guides/using-electronic-resources/Collaborative%2520Software+benefits+of+using+collaborative+slide+sharing+websites+in+education&cd=8&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=au

Using music on the Web




Using the program Incompetech, I have selected a relaxing piece of music titled Somewhere Sunny.

I chose this music because in my current placement I am in a classroom with fourteen learners who require special consideration of some sort; learning needs, behavioural issues and physical/emotional disabilities. I would use this music to encourage relaxation and meditation techniques. I would encourage the children to lie quietly in a comfortable position on the carpeted area and ask them to close their eyes and listen to the music and to physically let go of the tension within their muscles.

Betsy King Brunk (1999) suggests music is a very effective intervention in assisting communication with children who have been identified as located within the Autism Spectrum.

Brunk, B.K. (1999). Music Therapy:another Path To Learning And Communication For Children In The Autism Spectrum. Arlington, TX : Future Horizons, 1999.

File Storage

Mediafire is an easy to use file hosting website that allows you to store files online for easy and secure access. This software allows you to distribute large files to a wide audience without clogging inboxes or slowing down your website.

I found this applicaiton very easy to use, and it provides an effective service to make files available to multiple users simply and securely.

Using a file hosting service such as this could have extensive application within the classroom, making files you want students to have access to easy to locate and view. This could also be used to provide information to parents and others who are interested, and to share ideas with other education professionals. It is suggested that there is a risk of downloading malicious software hidden in files, however this risk is probably no greater than that posed by internet surfing or e-mails. (ZeroPaid, 2008)

Take a look at the file I have downloaded.

http://www.mediafire.com/?sharekey=de18fba21d65e1688d78a0e555291609e04e75f6e8ebb871

ZeroPaid.com. (2008). Congress: ‘Can P2P and File-Sharing Programs Lead to a Cyber Pearl Harbor?’ [electronic resource]. Retrieved August 20, 2009 from http://www.zeropaid.com/news/8928/congress_can_p2p_and_filesharing_programs_lead_to_a_cyber_pearl_harbor/

Wikipedia





Wikipedia is described as the largest free encyclopaedia, having recently surpassed the 3 million article milestone (Parrack, 2009). What is truly unique about Wikipedia is that not only is it freely accessible, it is also freely editable. Dave Parrack (2009) claims 1300 new articles are created each day, having decreased from about 2200 during the peak growth year of 2007. He reports that Wikipedia now hosts in excess of 3 million articles.
Wikipedia is not without critics. Criticism levelled at the online encyclopaedia include suggestions that its ease of editing makes in unreliable and unauthoritative, that it exhibits systemic bias and that its group dynamics hinders its goals (Wapedia, nd). Reliability assessments examine the speed at which false or misleading information is removed, however in a widely reported case it was shown to have taken Wikipedia administrators considerable time to rectify serious errors in information that falsely defamed an individual. Systemic bias is considered based on the possibility that overrepresented opinion by particular racial, ethnic or gender groups could unconsciously, or not, alter or skew the opinions expressed within the encyclopaedia. Group dynamics describe processes which include amongst other things social influence, and effects on behaviour. Social status of people within groups is well researched and it is usual to find the group leader having a strong influence on the group. Criticism has been levelled at co-founder of Wikipedia Jimmy Wales as having an undemocratic level of control over final content and Brent Bedford (nd) suggests protocols set in place by Wikipedia obscure the fact that Wales has the final say.

Regardless of the criticisms, Wikipedia is here to stay. What is important for me as a learning manager is to assist students to understand and apply critical literacy skills when undertaking investigations. Kahn & Kellner, (2006) suggest that for students to fully participate in an increasingly globalised and technologised society they must learn where authentic knowledge is found, how to recognise and distinguish between authentic information, misinformation, malinformation, commercially biased information and other forms of useless information and they suggest students need to be able to recognise gaps in information and understand why such information may be missing or absent. These are the skills required by students to enable them to critically evaluate and interpret information.

Bedford, B. (nd). What is Wikipedia? [electronic resource]. Retrieved August 19, 2009 from http://www.larouchepac.com/node/5215
Kahn, R. And Kellner, D. (2006). Reconstructing Technoliteracy: a multiple literacies approach. E-learning, 2 (3), 238-251
Parrack, D. (2009). Wikipedia celebrates three million articles milestone. [electronic resource]. Retrieved August 19, 2009 from http://tech.blorge.com/Structure:%20/2009/08/18/wikipedia-celebrates-three-million-articles-milestone/

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

WebQuests


A WebQuest is an online tool that facilitates exploring and evaluating information that comes from the internet. WebQuests usually involve collaborative learning and invite students to use information rather than find it (Thirteen Ed Online, 2004). As the ever increasing array of information continues to bombard us all, learning how to critically interpret important or relevant information is a skill that learners of the twenty first century will require above all else. WebQuests provide a perfect opportunity to develop problem solving and other higher order thinking skills.


I particularly liked the layout design of the Antarctic Ice to Water Australia WebQuest, (Aldred, 2002) and the unfolding nature of the investigation appealed to my senses. In contrast the Freedom Fighter or Terrorist WebQuest, (March, nd) did not have the same sense of excitement due mostly to the fact that all requirements were visible, making the document appear more like traditional schoolwork. Examing both of these samples reveals a huge commitment in time to creating such a resource, however it is appreciable that a quality resource will continue to be an effective tool for some time.


Having an online resource such as a WebQuest lends itself to instruction both in the classroom and beyond. Activities could be undertaken during class time, or if access issues limit this, students could work on the WebQuest out of school hours. Downloading the WebQuest to a secure environment like The Learning Place would enable such activity.



Using inquiry based approaches to learning, such as the WebQuest requires the teacher to take on more of a facilitator role, scaffolding the learning, and guiding the student to analyse, synthesise and evaluate information. Siemens (2004) suggests the ability to synthesize and recognize connections and patterns is a valuable skill.


Teaching these skills looks very different in the classroom than the traditional chalk and talk. Students need to be encouraged to discuss, debate and analyse points of view. Teachers need to see themselves as learners as well, collaborating with others to facilitate the learning process(Mavericks Teacher Resources, 2006).

Take a look at this WebQuest about WebQuests...!

http://webquest.sdsu.edu/webquestwebquest-es.html
Mavericks Teacher Resources. (2006). Using inquiry based learning. [electronic resource]. Retrieved August 18, 2009 from http://www.glenbow.org/mavericks/teacher/english/inqbl.html
Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. [electronic resource]. Retrieved July 31, 2009 from http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm

Google Earth

Glancing through the Google Earth website I was fascinated to discover that Google Earth is not alone. What Google refers to as a suite of products include Google Earth, Google Maps, Google Sky and Google SketchUp. On their Education home page Google claims they are able to support teachers to empower students and expand the frontiers of human knowledge (Google, 2009). These tools together certainly have the potential to empower students to discover the world’s geographic information.

Google Earth has a wide range of uses within education. It develops the opportunity for students to apply deductive logic to reach conclusions thereby promoting development of analytical skills. When developed further it can assist in developing literacy skills by having students write explanations or observations of what they are seeing (Patterson, 2006).

Google Maps can be used to explore a range of subjects and like Google Earth provides a tourist view with StreetView. Google Maps is an online application and therefore doesn’t require downloading, which makes it particularly suitable for use in the classroom as there are fewer technical obstacles if downloading is not required. With its ability to edit maps Google Maps allows students to create personalised maps, embed photos, videos and text. These maps can be published and shared to make projects more authentic.

What I love about Google Sky is its ability to provide insight into a previously unexplored realm. Students can learn about astronomy and view real imagery from the Hubble Space telescope. There are a huge range of resources available to immediately introduce complex abstract concepts to students with the advantage of visual imagery which brings the experience alive.

Google Sketchup is modelling software that allows students to construct 3D models of just about any object imaginable. It has valuable mathematical application as students are able to visualise geometry concepts, learn about measurement and have great fun in the process.

In a report titled Multimodal Learning through Media: What the Research Says, the authors suggests that by adding visuals to verbal instruction significant gains in basic or higher-order learning can be gained, if applied appropriately. They suggest when sensory input is combined with new information at the same time, it has a positive effect on memory retrieval by creating a linked memory that when triggered recalls the entire memory. (Stansbury, 2008)

Kearsley & Schneiderman (1999) suggest that the fundamental idea underlying engagement theory is that students must be meaningfully engaged in learning activities through interaction with others and worthwhile tasks. Walter, (2006) asserts that in order to achieve this level of engagement we as teachers need to ensure that students can interact directly with real world experiences, allow them to own their own learning and have tangible outcomes which result in an impact on society.


Google Website: Education Home: http://www.google.com/educators/index.html

Patterson, T. (2006). Using Google Earth as a Political Education Tool. [electronic resourece]. Retrieved August 18, 2009 from http://www.allacademic.com//meta/p_mla_apa_research_citation/1/5/1/0/0/pages151004/p151004-1.php

Stansbury, M. (2008). Analysis: How multimedia can improve learning. [electronic resource].Retrieved August 18, 2009 from http://www.eschoolnews.com/news/top-news/index.cfm?i=53243&page=2

Walter, J. (2006). Values Education for Australian Schooling: Increasing student engagement – the theory behind Learning Journeys. [electronic resource]. Retrieved August 15, 2009 from http://www.valueseducation.edu.au/values/default.asp?id=8759

Monday, August 17, 2009

Podcasts

When I first considered Podcasts I thought of music files only. As the parent of teenagers I had been introduced to itunes and the program was already downloaded onto my computer. However, after having researched the concept of podcasting in education I am amazed by the possibilities. Shawn Wheeler in his website Adventures in Podcasting provides a myriad of purposes for using podcasting in education. He cites the following list of reasons:
For lectures
To facilitate self-paced learning
For interviews with external resources
To offer advanced and or highly motivated learners extra content
For distance learning
To allow guest speakers to present once to many classes
To feature guest speakers from remote locations
For helping students with reading and/or other disabilities
To offer a richer learning environment
For multi-lingual education
To communicate with your community

Laura Blankenship (2007) suggests that using podcasts can provide a more effective use of face to face time with students by allowing them to view material prior to lectures and using class time to gain specific assistance and clarify problem areas.

Small groups of learners would develop a podcast involving demonstration of communication, planning, management and social skills. When collaborating students must clarify and verbalise their problems (Kearsley & Schneiderman , 1999) Further, they assert students require creative and purposeful activity to maintain engagement and in developing a podcast students will define the nature of the project and therefore have a sense of control over their learning. Publishing the podcast to the internet creates an authentic context where the project is being created for a purpose beyond assessment.

As Prensky (2001) maintains, teachers of today need to learn to communicate in the language and style of their students and to this end we need to become proficient at using the tools that ‘digital natives’ take for granted.

Blankenship, L. (2007). Podcasting in Education: A perspective from Bryn Mawr College. [electronic resource]. Retrieved August 18, 2009 from http://www.academiccommons.org/commons/essay/blankenship-podcasting

Kearsley, G. & Schneiderman, B. (1999). Engagement Theory: A framework for technology-based teaching and learning.[electronic resource]. Retrieved July 31, 2009from http://home.sprynet.com/~gkearsley/engage.htm

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, Digital immigrants. [electronic resource]. Retrieved July 27, 2009 from http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky%20-%20Digital%20Natives,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf

Shawn Wheeler Website: http://www.shawnwheeler.name/workshops/adventuresnpodcastingpresentation/

You Tube





I was amazed to discover YouTube is only a few years old. It seems like it has been around longer, but I guess that's the consequence of the rapid pace of change, time seems to be moving more quickly.

I thought it would be easy to find a clip on Australian States and Territories, however it was trickier than I'd anticipated. Many of the clips were either unsuitable, unsavoury or just plain poor quality. I am reminded that using technology of itself will not improve student engagement or student outcomes, what is essential is the quality of pedagogy that accompanies the electronic tools. Siemens recognises this when he suggests utilizing new tools alters the way people work(Siemens, 2004).

The video I finally settled on delivers information about Australian States and Territories. It is a good quality video with excellent visuals. It provides accurate information about States and Territories and gives additional information regarding population. What is a little off-putting is the pronunciation of some familiar Australian landmarks, however I don't think this adversely detracts from the quality of the content.

I would use this video as a hook, to introduce the concept of States and Territories, Capital Cities and to provide a visual reference for students to relate to at the beginning of a unit of work titled 'Australia all over'.



Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. [electronic resource]. Retrieved July 31, 2009 from http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Quizzes

Reading my colleagues blogs I felt this one would be easy. Several people have created interesting quizzes and commented how simple the process was. Not my experience, I can tell you. Making the quiz was simple enough, but working out how to get the test into my blog has been a challenge to say the least. I even called in the big guns (my 10 year old digital native daughter) but to no avail. I've persisted and I think I've finally got it... Let's hope so.

http://www.classmarker.com/embedded_quizzes/?quiz=b457b9a8a9348682794d3f942e0dd0b8

Animations and Simulations

Like video, animations and simulations provide a great opportunity to show students complex and/or abstract concepts. In many instances visual representation can show a great deal more in a simpler manner than text and it can make the ordinary appear wonderous.

Use this link to view an earthworm digesting dirt....!


http://www.ncsu.edu/scivis/lessons/earthworm/Overview.html

Image Manipulation

This is the before shot..


















This is the edited image..









Image manipulation is a lot of fun and using an online resource such as Picnik makes it not only a painless process, but when linking an account with Flickr, the resource base is endless.

Students could use this resource to find pictures that relate to an area of interest, or upload their own (with appropriate permission in place, and perhaps location or non-personal shots rather than personal photos). Making alterations to the pics gives students ownership, and they could then use these photos to create a photostory. To truly make this an active learning experience students could display their photostories during Parade, or they could be gathered together and used as a teaching resource within the topic area they have chosen.

Flickr Pics - Richard Spooner on his horse Robinson

I love this photo, it shows the dynamic movement of the horse and you can see the energy in his hind legs. This photo was taken in Canada, 2002 by Richard Spooner.
Flickr is a great resource and I'd love to have more time to check out all the great visuals. It is very easy to post pictures onto blogs, or to send them in e-mails. I will certainly be making greater use of this site in the future.

Static Websites

There are effectively four different types of websites:

1. Static: a static website is one that is created in a Web Editor Package and used to show the same message again and again. Change is cumbersome but possible by the author however it generally remains static.

2. Active: an active website is different in that it is database driven and is often referred to as a Web 2 technology. Here the content can be easily changed, and choices can be made about which users get to view which content. A blog is an example of an active website.

3. Branded: a branded website is one that displays distinct ownership to a particular company or organisation. When visitors arrive at a branded website they immediately know where they are. CQ University's website is an example of a branded website.

4. Editable: an editable website is self managed and self edited. This can reduce wait times for changes to a website by an administrative authority. This type of site is ideal for quick moving or short-lived events.

Static websites had been favoured over Active websites in the past as early search engines were more able to index static sites, however with improvements to search engine capabilities it is argued that active sites offer attractive alternatives over the static design, which it is claimed "just sits there passively". (Novack 2005)


Gembiz website: http://www.gembiz.co.uk/page71.html

Novack, B.J. (2005). Dynamic vs Static Website Design. [electronic resource]. Retrieved August 15, 2009 from http://kickasswebdesign.com/wordpress/2007/04/dynamic-vs-static-website-design/

Using Video in the Classroom

Video is a wonderful medium for exploring the unknown. Opportunities exist to introduce information that is impossible for students to explore in a practical sense, for example space travel. It not only shows actual scenes of history, it also has the capacity to demonstrate complex abstract concepts through animation and 3 D images.

Throughout the BLM program video has been used to great effect in a variety of learning areas. What I have experienced in my own learning is the need to keep videos short, and to offer immediate opportunities to discuss the concepts presented.

Video can also provide opportunities for students to practice critical literacy and critical viewing skills. Winch (2004) refers to teaching literacy with technology and he reminds us that "the challenge is to use technology as a liberating, productive and creative resource to support the curriculum." As with all tools at the teacher’s disposal, it is the quality of pedagogy provided that determines the effectiveness of the tool in the classroom.

Winch, G., Johnston, R. R., March, P., Ljungdahl, L., & Holliday, M. (2004). Literacy: reading, writing and children’s literature. (P.268). South Melbourne, VIC, Australia: Oxford University Press.

Interactive whiteboards

Interactive whiteboards, what an amazing resource. Every time I see one I’m reminded of the “Back to the Future” movies. To me IWBs represent the future in a very tangible way, but not everyone is in awe of this technology as I am. Critics of electronic whiteboards suggest they in fact encourage and facilitate the dreaded didactic teaching approach and reinforce and increase teacher control and ‘ownership’ of classroom interactions. (Rudd, 2007) On the other hand many researchers find IWBs significantly improve and extend teaching and learning practices (Kennewell & Beauchamp, 2007).

What is apparent is that the use of IWBs does not automatically improve student outcomes or teacher effectiveness. As has been discussed elsewhere in this blog, the single greatest determinant in student success is the quality of teaching received (Hattie, 2003) and quality pedagogy must guide the teaching practices, regardless of the tools used.

In my own experience I have not had the opportunity to use IWBs or to see them used in action, other than during staff training sessions. I have not been witness to the increased levels of engagement promised by whiteboard manufacturers, however I have to admit that the few opportunities I have had to see whiteboards being demonstrated I have been very impressed by the technology. Providing alternative methods of instruction and using alternative means of delivery such as these interactive electronic tools, is catering to the different learning styles that may be encountered in an average classroom.

Students in my prac classroom are studying Australian States and Territories. Using the inbuilt maps in the IWB would obviously be a great tool and would reduce the need for multiple paper resources for each student.

Almost every lesson I plan I can see how I could incorporate online learning into it, however due to a lack of resources this is not possible. If I had an IWB in my classroom I would use it at every opportunity, and I look forward to the possibility of having just such a resource as early as possible in my teaching career.

Hattie, J. (2003). Teachers make a difference: What is the research evidence? University of Auckland, ACER.

Kennewell, S and Beauchamp, G (2007). Features of interactive whiteboards. Learning, Media and Technology, Vol 32 No 3 pp227-241

Rudd, T. (2007). Interactive whiteboards in the classroom. [electronic resource]. Retrieved August 16, 2009 from http://www.futurelab.org.uk/resources/documents/other/whiteboards_report.pdf

Learning Management Systems

According to Wikipedia (2009) a learning management system is software for delivering, tracking and managing training/education. There are primarily two types of LMSs, proprietary which is sourced by licence fee and open source which is free to install but does have ongoing costs.

Bryant (nd) has conducted research comparing two learning management systems; Blackboard and Moodle. Blackboard is a proprietary system and is very expensive to maintain due to ever increasing licence fees. Moodle on the other hand is free to install but requires extensive re-training of staff to manage the system. Bryant concludes that the major differences between the systems are central to maintenance of the system. When encountering difficulties with the proprietary system an error is logged and support is readily available, however with the open source system it is a time consuming process to check through forums to obtain information from other users that may resolve technical problems that can be encountered.

Any system that ultimately reduces cost to education authorities must be seriously considered as it allows resources to be directed elsewhere. As with any open source product there are issues that need to be addressed but it is in extending the coverage of the application that provides the community of users to resolve issues that arise.

From my own experience of using both Blackboard and Moodle I can say that Moodle is in my opinion a far superior system. It is both user friendly and provides a more logical approach to scaffolding requirements for online learners. The advanced system of communication offered by various forums provides a greater incentive to engage in this form of collaborative learning. According to Vygotsky (1978), students are capable of performing at higher intellectual levels when asked to work in collaborative situations than when asked to work individually. Bruner (1985) contends group diversity in terms of knowledge and experience contributes positively to the learning process. Bruner (1985)

Bruner, J. (1985). Vygotsky: An historical and conceptual perspective. Culture, communication, and cognition: Vygotskian perspectives, 21-34. London: Cambridge University Press.

Bryant, R. (nd)A Comparison of Two Learning Management Systems: Moodle vs Blackboard. [electronic resource]. Retrieved August 15, 2009 from http://www.naccq.ac.nz/conference05/proceedings_05/concise/bremer_moodle.pdf

Vygotsky, L. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Wikipedia. (2009): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learning_management_system

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Power Point



There are a number of ways that Power Point presentations can enhance the effectiveness of classroom instruction. They emphasise the main points of a learning experience, they assist in organising information and by integrating creative effects presentations can stimulate student interest through the use of graphics, cartoons, music and videos (Online Technology Learning Centre, 2002).

Critics of power point suggest they can be used as a substitute for polished thinking skills (Guernsey, 2001). Catherine Adams (2006) claims Power Point usage among educators seems to be relatively unreflective and taken for granted, and she cites Tufte (2003) who maintains that Power Point supports a cognitive style inconsistent with the development of higher analytical thinking.

When students are creating power point presentations it is important to focus on the content knowledge that is being presented and not purely on the aesthetics of the presentation. As students and teachers alike we need to go beyond the template default settings and use power point as a tool to enhance complex reasoning processes by developing presentations that deepen students understanding of what they are learning.

Adams, C. (2006). PowerPoint, habits of mind, and classroom culture. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 1366-5839, Volume 38, Issue 4, 2006, Pages 389 – 411

Guernsey, L. (2001). PowerPoint invades the classroom. [electronic resource]. Retrieved August 16, 2009 from http://www.sfu.ca/educ260/NYT-powerpoint.pdf

Online Technology Learning Centre Website. http://www.online.tusc.k12.al.us/tutorials/pptclass/pptclass.htm

Tufte, E. R. (2003) PowerPoint is evil: power corrupts, PowerPoint corrupts absolutely. [electronic resource]. Retrieved July 7, 2005 from http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/
11.09/ppt2.html

Avatars are fun!!!


Get a Voki now!



Avatars are a great way to engage students of all ages. This is a tool that is very user friendly and even young children can create avatar characters. In my current placement the Grade Three's are studying Australian States and Territories and using an avatar such as the one created here would be a great way to introduce content. Within this cohort there are a number of special needs students and providing instruction verbally using this tool would create an engaging opportunity for the low literacy level students to regularly review the instructions to complete a task.

Using visual images such as avatars provide opportunities to engage those students whose primary learning style is visual. Sternberg(1997)maintains that most students fall into one or more of three categories of learners; visual, auditory or kinaesthetic. Adapting teaching methods to provide opportunities across the three categories is an effective way of differentiating the content, and engaging all students in the learning process.

Sternberg, R. J. (1997) Thinking Styles; Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

E-Portfolios



An e-portfolio is similar to a traditional portfolio in that it is a collection of evidence of abilities over a variety of contexts. Dynamic electronic versions are increasingly becoming popular because they offer the opportunity to review and be reviewed by peers and assessors alike.

Wikipedia (2009) suggests there are three different types of e-portfolios; developmental (e.g., working), reflective (e.g., learning), and representational (e.g., showcase). A developmental e-portfolio is a record of things that the owner has done over a period of time. A reflective e-portfolio includes personal reflection on the content and what it means for the owner's development and a representational e-portfolio shows the owner's achievements in relation to particular work or developmental goals.

Simon Cotterill (2004) suggests that the features that value add to an e-portfolio are its ability to be highly customisable, have a multi-purpose, multiple structures or views, easily enables cross-referencing, is sharable and facilitates interaction, is transportable, searchable, has reduced administration, is securely accessible from a range of locations and cannot be left on the bus! (Cotterill, 2004)

E-portfolio’s are an effective way of demonstrating student progress and providing evidence of that progress. It is interesting to note that in Helen Barrett’s (2008) research students overwhelmingly agreed that e-portfolio’s were effective as an organisational tool.

My own experience in attempting to set up an e-portfolio using Mahara has been testing. My limited experience of Web 2 applications has restricted my progress, as well as the fact that I am very much a digital immigrant in this new e-land. I am able to relate to the many teachers who reported on their use of e-portfolios in the classroom that the greatest barrier to the use of this application is time.

Developing expertise in web applications such as e-portfolios is one of the many responsibilities of the teacher of the twenty first century, to keep the learning content relevant and presented in a format that students of the future will expect.



Barrett, Helen. (2008). The REFLECT Initiative: Researching Electronic portFolios: Learning, Engagement and Collaboration through Technology/ [electronic resource]. Retrieved August 15, 2009 from http://electronicportfolios.com/portfolios.html

Cotterill SJ. What is an ePortfolio? ePortfolios 2007, Maastricht. [electronic resource]. Retrieved August 15, 2009 from http://www.eportfolios.ac.uk/definition

Wikipedia Website: Electronic Portfolio [electronic resource]. Retrieved August 15, 2009 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_portfolio

Wikis

I wish I had discovered Wikis last year, it would have made group assignments so much easier. In my most recent group assignment we used a wiki to share information and develop drafts of our work. This tool made collaboration simple for a group of adult learners with various responsibilities and commitments outside of uni.
Wikis are a web page that can be viewed and modified by anybody providing users with both author and editor privileges. They are an easy and effective web-based tool designed to enable collaborative activities. There use as a vehicle for education is limited only by ones imagination. WikEd (2008) have some great ideas for using wikis in the classroom including planning for projects, creating online textbooks, student portfolios and developing collaborative understandings. Teachers can also use these tools to organise their resources, collaborate with others in the planning process, and they are a great tool for assessing learning as the versioning capability of a wiki demonstrates the evolution of thought processes as students build understanding of concepts and relevant ways to demonstrate their understanding.
Using wikis in the classroom establishes clear links to the Learning Engagement Theory (Kearsley & Schneiderman, 1999). Wikis certainly occur in a group context, and by design they will be project based. The nature of a wiki, being available to a world wide audience, makes this a tool that contributes to learning in a meaningful and authentic way.

Kearsley, G. & Schneiderman, B. (1999). Engagement Theory: A framework for technology-based teaching and learning.[electronic resource]. Retrieved July 31, 2009from http://home.sprynet.com/~gkearsley/engage.htm

WikEd website: URL http://wik.ed.uiuc.edu/index.php/Wiki_in_a_K-12_classroom

Friday, August 14, 2009

RSS aggregators





The way I understand it, aggregators are a means of having information come to me rather than me chase it.. Is it as simple as that? Well seemingly it is. With RSS (really simple syndication) feeds I have discovered that I can link to blogs belonging to my uni colleagues that I want to follow. I can also link with other websites that enable RSS feeds and any new information on these sites come straight to me via my Google Reader account. Very simple... This is a fabulously simple way of accessing information of interest.
In working through this course I have used this system to filter the huge volume of postings appearing on forums. By subscribing to the blogs of colleagues I am able to keep track of new postings of a select group of peers whose views I value. I had been trying to read all postings in all forums but I soon realised it was an insurmountable task. In deciding to focus purely on the blogs of a number of key peers and subscribing to their blogs via Google Reader, I am able to more effectively use my time to experiment with the toys ... oops sorry tools available to the e-learner.

Blogs

A Blog is a great tool to enable anyone to instantly publish simple web pages. As a teacher this tool can be used to post resources, lessons and homework. It can also be used to communicate with parents and caregivers, giving them a window into what is happening in the classroom. Other uses include the opportunity for educators to join with others in hyperconnected communities, sharing teaching practices and ideas.
Students can use blogs to share their schoolwork with those they choose, and it is a great tool to facilitate collaboration on assignments. It is also a fun and convenient way to keep a reflective journal recording learning throughout the school year.
Kids using blogs is a perfect vehicle for the donate phase of the engagement theory principle as described by Kearsley & Schneiderman, (1999). After researching areas of interest, what a fantastic way to share this knowledge in a meaningful way, by posting the students findings on a blog! Researchers also contend that student work is of a higher standard when they understand that their work will be viewed by not only their peers but others across the world wide web. (Kearsley & Schneiderman, 1999).
Barriers to the use of blogs are essentially based upon the issue of access that hopefully will be addressed with a common sense approach in the near future. Teaching kids how to keep themselves safe on the internet needs to be a key component of the new National Curriculum, and effective monitoring by educators of the posting on any blogs are some ways of providing safeguards for students. Scholarly organisations such as the Crimes against Children Research Centre have reported that the risk to students of online predators is greatly exaggerated. (Magid, 2009)
Providing opportunities to develop hyperconnected communities of learners can be enhanced by using tools like blogs, allowing students to share their thoughts and knowledge, and to gain an insight in to the thoughts of peers in other locations. In this way students are using multiliteracies to connect to the increasingly diverse global world in which we live in the twenty first century.


Kearsley, G. & Schneiderman, B. (1999). Engagement Theory: A framework for technology-based teaching and learning.[electronic resource]. Retrieved July 31, 2009from http://home.sprynet.com/~gkearsley/engage.htm

Magid, L. (2009).Should sex offenders be banned from social networking sites? [electronic resource]. Retrieved August 14, 2009 from http://www.safekids.com/

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Mark Pesce (2008)sees Web 2 tools as a vehicle to pooling expertise. He maintains that sharing is the key element to hyperconectivity. His suggestion that this pooling of expertise which fosters reflection and allows us all to share not just what works but also what doesn’t work and why, is I believe a model for improving the way we do things in every facet of life.
It is the responsibility of Governments and educators to collectively solve the problem of developing explicit curriculum that adresses instruction in not just internet safety, but also internet responsibility or we risk losing the advantage of using the most effective tool at our disposal to re-engage students with learning that is relevant to the way they live their lives away from school.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

An immigrant to a new land..

As a digital immigrant I have to admit that creating my first blog was a testing task. I was nervous about the whole concept and quite fearful of the application but I perservered and after two days work came up with something faintly credible. My ten year old daughter decided after watching my agony, that this 'looked like fun'. After two hours she had created a great blog, an avatar and loaded a heap of fun activities onto her blog. Not only did she do this effortlessly, but she revealed a range of options that I had not discovered. Simple things, like noticing that there were several pages of options within the add a gadget tab, and when creating her avatar found left and right arrows that provided a range of options that I had missed. It was glaringly obvious that my immigrant 'accent' had limited my ability to locate all that was on offer.

This reinforces to me how important it is to not just immerse myself in the new technology so I can become fluent in the language of the 21st century learner, but to be open to learning from the students and watch how they read e-language.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Monday, July 20, 2009

Navigating moodle.....

Wow, I'm travel weary already, I never guessed blogging could be so time consuming and mind boggling!!

When I began this course I felt pretty confident that I was a competent online operator but boy haven't my eyes been opened wide to what I don't know... Anyway, I now know that the journey I need to travel is long, so the sooner I get going with it the better.

I am attempting to engage with the courseware but by the time I read all the posts, and respond to those that move me, I have run out of time to check out the e-learning tools we are supposed to be analysing. Has anyone worked out an effective way to get through them all?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Hi all,

Here it is, my first blog. What an exciting prospect. Although nervous, I am looking forward to learning how to use the new tools introduced to us during this journey and hopefully my confidence will build as my knowledge of this area grows.

Cheers, Sharon