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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

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