Thursday, August 20, 2009

Synopsis - My E- Learning Journey

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;


PowerPoint is one of my favourite programs to use. This feels like the one technology I actually know about and feel confident using already. I have used many PowerPoint’s for engaging my peers in presentations at university and I have also used PowerPoint’s within the classroom. Although I have already had positive experiences with PowerPoint I do think that I could better use this technology to engage students if I did more research into the different aspects of the program.

It has been my experience that PowerPoint’s are often used to engage the learners at the start of a lesson (just like a video). This technology offers so many possibilities other than using it at the start of the lesson. I also think using PowerPoint at the start of the lesson can be a powerful tool but it can be used in so many different ways. Students should be given the opportunity to create their own PowerPoint presentation within the classroom. Goodwyn (2000) states that in producing PowerPoint presentation students need to select, organize and justify points about the text. This experience can also promote collaboration as students can create and present their presentation as a group.

This technology ties in with Kearsley and Schneiderman’s Engagement Theory (1999) as the fundamental idea underlying engagement theory is that students must be meaningfully engaged in learning activities through interaction with others and worthwhile tasks. PowerPoint can assist students in both of these aspects.


Goodwyn, A (2000) English in the Digital Age: British Library Catalogue; London.

Kearsley, G & Schneiderman, B (1999) Engagement Theory - A framework for technology-based teaching and learning: Accessed August 4th 2009

Video & Animations and Simulations

Animation and Simulations - what can I say? I was a little disgusted by the dissection of a toad through the Internet. This may be because I have a phobia of frogs and toads and even looking at it made me sick. I can see however that using Animations and Simulations in the classroom would engage the students. “Explore Learning” is a website that promotes science and mathematical gizmos (animations and simulations). This technology fits in with Kearsley and Schneiderman’s Engagement Theory (1999) as the animations and simulations are specifically used to engage the students. Kearsley and Schneiderman (1999) state that Engagement theory is different from many older models of computer-based learning in which the emphasis was on individualized instruction and interactivity. Animations and Simulations allow students to explore and become involved in the activity.

Video is another excellent way to get students engaged in the lesson. I have used video before for many assessment pieces and also in the classroom. Video may be used at any part of the lesson but I think the best way to use a video within the classroom is to have students create the video themselves. I think that having the students create the video presents them with the best opportunity of fully understanding the functionality and capability of video technology.

I think both of these technology tools would be great to use within the classroom to engage the students. Again I must emphasise that they have to be used in the right way otherwise students won’t be involved in an authentic or engaging learning experience.


Kearsley, G & Schneiderman, B (1999) Engagement Theory - A framework for technology-based teaching and learning: Accessed August 4th 2009

Learning Management Systems (LMS) & Static Websites

I really had no knowledge of what Learning Management Systems (LMS) and Static Websites were before doing some research on them. Learning Management Systems can handle the tasks of creating teaching material and managing online courses (Chao, 2009). Two of the major LMS that I am aware of is Moodle and Blackboard. Chao (2009) states that Moodle is the largest open source LMS sponser and supporter. Moodle supports millions of students and courses, and the number keeps growing, but it is only the second largest LMS provider. It is slightly lower than Blackboard (Chao, 2009). Moodle offers students and teachers a lot of rich features. Some of these include:

· Moodle support constructive learning through students being about to comment and contribute on content.
· Creates a diversified learning environment
· Strong support for classroom management
· Can be used as a collaborative tool
(Chao, 2009)

Blackboard provides the instructor with the tools to easily present class material on the Web, communicate online with the entire class and track what students are learning (Southworth, 2006). The Blackboard system allows for complete integration with other collections of information and data such as enrolment in courses or course registration (Southworth, 2006). Southworth (2006) also states that it can also be expanded with many third party applications.

LMS is software for delivering, tracking and managing training/education (Wikipedia, 2009). Wikipedia (2009) also states that they range from systems for managing training/educational records to software for distributing courses over the Internet and offering features for online collaboration. This fits right in with the Learning Design Framework (2003) as a learning resource and learning support elements. It acts as a resources support because it provides students with content, procedures and instructions with what students are to complete. LMS (as mentioned above) are a collaboration tool which fits in with the Engagement Theory (1999). Students are able to communicate among peers and with communities of learners so this will increase student’s motivation as it emphasizes meaningful learning (Kearsley & Schneiderman, 1999).

Wikipedia (2009) states that Static Websites is one that has web pages stored on the server in the format that is sent to a client web browser. It is primarily coded in Hypertext Markup Language (HTML). Static Websites are the simplest kind of website and are suitable for small sites that don’t change much and don’t require personalization (Boiko, 2004). Boiko (2004) states that the disadvantage of this type of website is lack of flexibility and scalability.

After researching Static Websites I still really did not find any reason why I would need to use them within the classroom.

Does anyone have any ideas for what they could be used for?


AUTC. (2003). Learning Design. Accessed 10th August, 2009, from

Boiko, B (2004) Content Management Bible: Wiley Publishing; Indianapolis

Chao, L (2009) Utilizing Open Sources Tools for Online Teaching and Learning: IGI Global: United States of America

Kearsley, G & Schneiderman, B (1999) Engagement Theory - A framework for technology-based teaching and learning: Accessed August 4th 2009

Southworth, H., Cakici, K., Vovides, Y & Zvacek, S (2006) Backboard for Dummies: Wiley Publishing; Indianapolis

Wikipedia. (2009). Learning Management System. Accessed on the 15th August 2009;

Wikipedia (2009) Website. Accessed on the 15th August 2009:

Interactive Whiteboards

During my prac teaching I have been at 2 different schools but unfortunately both of these schools have not had Interactive Whiteboards. I do not know the reason for this but I think it would be an interesting technology to incorporate within the classroom. I have watched some video’s and audio files on how Interactive Whiteboards work. In my opinion it may be very difficult to use effectively if teachers are not fully conversant with the functionality to know what they are doing or how to use the technology properly.

Interactive Whiteboard is a touch sensitive board which allows teachers and children to participate interactively in activities projected onto it from a data projector connected to a computer (Muijs, 2005) It consists of three main elements: computer, a data projector and a touch sensitive whiteboard (Muijs, 2005).

There are many benefits for teachers using the Interactive Whiteboard compared to use of your traditional blackboard. The interactive whiteboard allows teachers to create multimedia presentations which is extremely beneficial to students as they are seeing what is happening compared to just being told (Muijs, 2005). The major advantage of using this technology is that it offers students interactivity. This means students are directly interacting in the exercise with the whiteboard (Muijs, 2005). As mentioned in many of the blogs previously technology is only engaging and useful when it is used properly. Muijs (2005) states that as with any other use of ICT whether these advantages will be present in a given lesson will depend on how well the whiteboard is used.

It is not realistic to think that a school will have an Interactive Whiteboard available for each class. So many teachers will have to use the traditional alternatives. But for those who do have this technology available within the classroom it would be effective if you were teaching directed learning. As there is most likely one Interactive Whiteboard per class using it with 20 odd students could become a major problem for teachers. Betcher (2009) when discussing the interactive whiteboard argues that getting a student to physically interact with the board is good but it only engages that one student. A well designed learning activity filled with ambiguous ideas however will intellectually challenge every student.

If given the opportunity within my school to use an Interactive Whiteboard I would take it. I find this technology very interesting and I think there would be many different ways to engage students. I do understand that a lot of time and preparation will be needed but I think once the ground work is completed students will be involved in a great learning experience.


Betcher, C & Lee, M (2009) The Interactive Whiteboard Revolution: ACER; Australia

Muijs, D & Reynolds, D (2005) Effective Teaching – Evidence and Practice: SAGE; California.

Quizzes - Class Maker

I found it very easy to navigate my way around the website when I created my “Class Marker’ quiz. It was very user friendly in making the quiz as well. I did not finish my quiz, only just started it. It’s called “Natural Disasters” and it can be used before you starting teaching the students (prior knowledge) or it can be used after (what students have learnt). It is only the start of the quiz. I would like to add many more questions and also other features.

Class Marker is an online testing website that is professional, easy to use online and that marks your tests and quizzes for you (Class Marker, 2009). These quizzes can be used for many different purposes including: business and training, education, recruitment, distance learning and self study (Class Marker, 2009). Signing up to Class Marker is free or you can pay a fee depending on how you want to use your online test. Class based testing (free) is what I used and this would allow my students to register under my account and log in to complete the test (Class Marker, 2009).

When creating a test you are given many different options. I found this a little overwhelming at first but it is still easy to use. You can choose different types of questions to use for example: multiple choice, multiple response, true/false, free text or punctuation (Class Marker, 2009). The aspect I really found interesting in Class Marker was that you can add pictures and videos to the questions. I thought this would be a good way to provide students with a fun and engaging quiz.

Traditional quizzes and tests are still being used in classrooms today however they have been found to be time consuming. This is why online quizzing is becoming more popular. Dunn (2006) states that Web based quizzing may allow teachers to incorporate the benefits of quizzing without sacrificing valuable class time. An online quiz also provides students with immediate feedback which allows them to reflect on where they went wrong.

Teachers should also be aware that many students may open up another web page and research the answers when attempting to complete their online quiz. A good way to stop this happening (available on Class Marker) is to place a time restriction on the test or quiz. Growing up I did not enjoy quizzes or tests as they did not maintain my interest but incorporating online quizzes into the classroom (when used in the right way) can provide students with an engaging and fun way to learn. I would definitely use online quizzes in the classroom.

The Learning Design Framework (2003) need three key elements to create the most effective learning experience for students. These three elements are tasks learners are required to do, resources that support the learner and support mechanisms that exist from the teacher (Oliver, 1999). Online quizzes provide students with all of these aspects.


AUTC. (2003). Learning Design. Accessed 10th August, 2009, from

Class Marker. (2009). Free Quiz Maker for online Testing: Accessed 17th August 2009;

Dunn, D & Chew, S (2006) Best Practices for Teaching Introduction to Psychology: Routledge; United States of America.

Oliver, R. (1999). Exploring strategies for on-line teaching and learning. Distance Education, 20(2), 240-254.

Voice Thread

Voice Thread is a versatile online media album that can hold essentially any type of media (images, documents, videos) and allows people to make comments in five different ways – using voice, text, audio file or video and share them with anyone they wish (Wood, 2009). Subramaniam (2009) states that Voice Thread allows conversations to be collected and shared in one place, from anywhere in the world. Another aspect of Voice thread is that once created they have their own URL which can be posted to blogs, wikis or a class website where students can watch.

I found it was very easy to navigate my way around the Voice Thread website and uploading my pictures didn’t take too long (which can be frustrating). I created my own Voice Thread which I called “My Bali Adventure”. I used photos of my trip to Bali just as an experiment to help me understand how to use Voice Thread within the classroom. As I don’t have a microphone or webcam I just used text to comment on my photos.

Teachers could provide students with many opportunities in using Voice Thread throughout many different learning areas. One of the strategies I found interesting was Digital Storytelling as it can be used not only in the classroom but also outside the classroom. This could be useful if a student is away on a vacation. They can take photos, upload them to Voice Thread and add commentary to the picture to explain what he or she has been doing on their vacation. This will not only benefit the student creating the Voice Thread but also the students in the classroom as they can not only see what their class mate has been doing but they can also comment on the students photos.

Story telling in a traditional sense is still a very effective tool within the classroom. I believe using a different method (new and improved) to produce the stories will remain an effective tool. Moving our stories into digital format is the next generation of teaching (Teehan, 2006). Teehan (2006) states that storytelling, it seems, is timeless. Digital Storytelling provides students with many different learning experiences. Teehan (2006) states that it gives teachers a systematic method for integrating technology across the curriculum while tapping into students high level thinking, creativity, and emotional engagement with the content material.

Digital Storytelling can also promote multiple intelligences within the classroom. Students are involved in visual – spatial and verbal – linguistic when they are creating their stories, logical as they are using computers, Interpersonal and Intrapersonal (Cheek, 2006). Providing opportunities to use different intelligences in the learning will help students to become more engaged in their learning. Many students have an intelligence that they prefer so being able to provide a lesson that uses the majority of them will create an authentic learning experience for all students.

I loved creating my Voice Thread and the more I added to it the more I became comfortable with using the technology. I would definitely use it within the classroom in many different learning areas.
Link to Voice Thread "My Bali Adventure" -


Cheek, B (2006) Multiple Intelligences: Accessed on the 17th August 2009;

Subramaniam, R (2009) Handbook of Research on New Media Literacy at the K -12 Level: IGI Global, United State of America.

Teehan, K (2006) Digital Story Telling – In and Out of the Classroom: Lulu; London.

Wood, K & Blanton, W (2009) Literacy Instruction for Adolescents: Guilford Press; New York.