E – Learning has provided me with the necessary knowledge and resources to feel comfortable with using technology in the classroom. Before this course I thought I was up to date with technology and that I would be able to enter a classroom and use my great knowledge to impress the students. This unit of study in E – Learning has shown that I was definitely wrong about my knowledge of technology. I believe now that I had a basic knowledge of how technology works but after being involved in this course I have found a new confidence in my teaching abilities. My first reaction to using the Internet (World Wide Web) in the classroom was ‘Isn’t that a risk’ but I now think it is a risk not to use it within the classroom. The learning opportunities for students are endless with technology. During this course I have been exposed to many different contemporary methods and analysed them to understand how I would use them in an educational setting. This has helped me to find a new level of creativity that I can bring to the classroom and school community.
My goals that I want to achieve when entering a classroom have now changed slightly. I would like to obviously use more technology to create engaging learning experiences for students but I would also like to involve students in a more collaborative, creative, authentic learning environment. E learning has given me the confidence and knowledge to achieve my goals.
Technology is something that is going to keep evolving so it is necessary for teachers to keep enhancing their knowledge so that we as teachers can produce the best for our students. Pitler (2007) supports this view by arguing that technology provides the opportunity for teachers to differentiate instruction and change their classrooms into dynamic learning environments. It also provides students with the opportunity to become lifelong learners (Pitler, 2007).
Students should be able to feel comfortable in their learning environment and be able to feel they have control over their learning. Careful use of technology can help students achieve this feeling but it must also be remembered that students can also become frustrated and feel a loss of control over their learning if not properly instructed. Pitler (2007) states that technology can give students more control over their learning facilitating analytical, critical thinking and collaboration. Integrating technology into instruction tends to move classroom from teacher dominated environments to more student centred (Pitler, 2007). Even though teacher dominated environments achieve students learning outcomes it doesn’t allow students to be involved in high order thinking skills.
Children in a mainstream school are not the only ones who can benefit from technology. Technology can provide distance education students with the same experiences as their mainstream peers. Payne (2009) states that the social synchronicity achieved through technology allow distant learners to connect in real life and promote connectedness (productive pedagogy) and community.
I have learnt about many new technologies that I could incorporate into the classroom. Using all of them in some way would be great but really unrealistic because of limited class time and differing confidence levels in using the technologies. There are still some technologies that I am not totally confident with yet so I would want to do more research on them before using them within the classroom.
The technologies that I found very interesting and I would love to use them to create an authentic learning experience for students are:
· RSS Aggregators – Google Reader
· Blogs - Blogger
· Voki Avatars
· Image Manipulation - Picnik
· Google Earth
· Web Quests
· Voice Thread
RSS Aggregator (Google Reader) was very overwhelming as I had never heard of it before. Once learning what it was and how it was used I realised what a high-quality technology it could be in the classroom. For teachers it enables them to keep up to date with new information on any topic that interests them. It can also be useful in receiving new knowledge on educational information. If students are creating blogs in the classroom the available technology could also be great for teachers in helping them keep up to date with the blogs. Not only is this technology enjoyable for teachers but it can be a great classroom resource that can be utilised at any time the teacher requires. Students can also use it to keep tabs on information that interests them for research projects. I would like to incorporate all of these ideas into the classroom to enhance students learning.
I had heard of blogs but had never considered what you would use them for. I have used Facebook and MySpace for many years and have found similarities in these to blogging. Blog could be used within the classroom in many different ways. I would use it as an assessment requirement like this course. Allowing students to blog about what they have been learning provides them the opportunity to reflect and analyse the new information. I think the most interesting aspect of Blogging is the ability of the program to be able to incorporate other technologies. As a result students can use these other technologies to construct a creative blog design.
Some other technologies that could be incorporated into the blogs are Image Manipulation and Voki Avatars. These are elements I would use to enhance the creativity and design of the other major technologies for example blogs, e –portfolios and wiki’s. Although Image Manipulation and Voki Avatars are a fun way for engaging learners they also need to be used as a tool in scaffolding students in creating something bigger. In my classroom these technologies would be used as a basic fun tool for students to use in projects or assessment etc.
Voice Thread is an amazing tool that promotes collaboration inside and outside the classroom. In my classroom I would use Voice Thread for digitally creating stories. The advantage of this technology is its ability to allow these stories to be commented on by peers and also from the outside community. Students can also use Voice Thread if they are away on a holiday instead of having the teacher give the student work to complete. The student can simply upload their photos and add their voice. This will not only engage the student who is creating the Voice Thread but also the student back in the classroom as they will be able to see with little difficulty what their class mate has been up to.
It was hard to choose just a few out of all of the technologies that I have learnt about. I think all the technologies that have been outlined in my blogs can provide students with improved and the best learning experiences if they are used correctly. As mentioned in a number of my blogs using technology within the classroom is only as good as the teaching instruction that goes with it. It cannot be relied upon to teach the students alone and it must be remembered that technology is just a tool to help teachers provide an authentic learning experience for students.
I think the following quote that is displayed on my blog best describes my experiences in this course and about technology in education. “Life is a succession of lessons, which must be lived to be understood”.
Payne, C (2009) Information Technology and Constructivism in Higher Education: IGI Global; United States of America.
Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M. & Malenoski, K (2007) Using technology with classroom instruction that works, McRel; Colorado.
The State of Queensland (2004) Productive Pedagogies; Accessed on the 19th August 2009; http://education.qld.gov.au/corporate/newbasics/html/pedagogies/pedagog.html