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”.

Resources

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

PowerPoint

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.

Resources

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 http://home.sprynet.com/~gkearsley/engage.htm

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.


Resources


Kearsley, G & Schneiderman, B (1999) Engagement Theory - A framework for technology-based teaching and learning: Accessed August 4th 2009 http://home.sprynet.com/~gkearsley/engage.htm

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?

Resources

AUTC. (2003). Learning Design. Accessed 10th August, 2009, from http://www.learningdesigns.uow.edu.au/project/learn_design.htm

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 http://home.sprynet.com/~gkearsley/engage.htm

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; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learning_management_system

Wikipedia (2009) Website. Accessed on the 15th August 2009: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Website#Static_website

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.


Resources


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.

Resources

AUTC. (2003). Learning Design. Accessed 10th August, 2009, from http://www.learningdesigns.uow.edu.au/project/learn_design.htm

Class Marker. (2009). Free Quiz Maker for online Testing: Accessed 17th August 2009; http://www.classmarker.com/

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" - http://voicethread.com/share/583363/

Resources

Cheek, B (2006) Multiple Intelligences: Accessed on the 17th August 2009; http://www.gp-training.net/training/educational_theory/multint/multint.htm

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.

Using Music on the Web - INCOMPETECH

I chose two pieces of music from Incompetech called “Private Reflection” and “Classic Horror 3”. I chose these pieces of music for different reasons. Private reflection is music that is relaxing and can stimulate students into relaxing and imagining their wildest dreams. I would use this music in reflection time for the students. This way they can write down or think about what they have just learnt. I would use Classic Horror 3 to dramatize situations. I thought this music could also tie in with the Natural Disasters area. This will hopefully help students feel the fear of actually being a part of a disaster and this may also show them how it felt for the people who have been in those situations.

Today more and more teachers are exploring different instructional approaches and tools, including music, to help students appreciate the real and significant connections that exist among various fields of human endeavour (Sporborg, 1998). Music can be added to many different technologies to enhance student’s engagement. It can also be used in many different subject areas. Another way to incorporate Music into the classroom could be to have students create their own music for their blogs or wiki’s etc. Benjamin (2005) states that music that is listened to or created has a powerful effect on the mind.

Even though music can be used in many different contexts and can create an effective learning experience for students, it can also create implications in the classroom if it is not used in the right way. It is vital to make sure as a teacher you provide students with boundaries which they must follow e.g. no offensive language in the music. Teachers also need to be wary of copyright infringements and remind students that illegally downloading music from the Web is not appropriate and will not be tolerated in the classroom. It not only goes for the students but teachers have to watch what resources they use within the classroom and make sure they are not illegally using someone else’s work.

As mentioned above music can be used in a range of different contexts and I think it is a great tool to incorporate within the classroom to engage the students.
Resources

Benjamin, A (2005) Differentiated Instruction Using Technology: Eye on Education; New York.
MacLeod, K (2008) Royalty Free Music: Accessed on the 15th August 2009; http://incompetech.com/m/c/royalty-free/
Sporborg, J (1998) Music in Every Classroom: Libraries Unlimited; United States of America.

File Storage

File storage is a method of storing and organizing computer files and the data they contain to make it easier to access them (Wikipedia, 2009). Media Fire is a one of the most popular online file storage service which can be used for personal and business purposes (MakeUseOf, 2009). There are no restrictions on the storage space or the number of files you can upload. You can also embed photos and link files from your blog or social networking profiles (MakeUseOf, 2009).

Creating my Media Fire account was really easy and navigating around the website is really straightforward as well. This would benefit teachers and students trying to store files on the internet. The file I uploaded to Media Fire was PowerPoint presentation that I created for a Health and Fitness presentation for university called “Drug Awareness”. I stored this presentation to Media Fire as it was a very engaging presentation that I would like to use it later on. Having the ability to readily access it off the internet through Media Fire really makes it easier. Another aspect of Media Fire that I found really interesting was that you can store your files and then send them to friends, family or even colleges who can in turn easily access them.
Media Fire Link "Drug Awareness" - http://www.mediafire.com/?fyo2etzmkly

Students and teachers can use this resource to store and easily access important information. It is also possible that if students have created a large assessment they could upload it to media fire and teachers can access it through the URL given to them. The files stored in Media Fire can also be embedded into many other Web resources such as Blogs and Wiki’s. Using this program to store educational files that could later be used within the classroom can therefore be underpinned by the Learning Design Framework (2003) in which it would be used as a resource in helping students construct specific tasks. It could also be used by teachers to provide students with some support material (learning supports).

I found this technology to be very effective and easy to navigate so I will definitely be using Media Fire to store all of my files just in case something happens to my computer.

Resources

AUTC. (2003). Learning Design. Accessed 10th August, 2009, from http://www.learningdesigns.uow.edu.au/project/learn_design.htm

MakeUseOf (2009) MediaFire – Ultimate File Storage: Accessed on the 16TH August 2009; http://www.makeuseof.com/dir/mediafire/

Wikipedia (2009) File Systems: Accessed on the 17th August 2009; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File_storage#Network_file_systems

SlideShare



The PowerPoint I chose to upload to Slide Share is ‘Conflicts in the Home” which I created for a group assessment piece (Professional Knowledge and Practice). I have never used PowerPoint in the classroom so I didn’t have any example of them that I used within the classroom. I was asked to make a narration for the PowerPoint and upload that to Slide Share but as I do not have a microphone I wasn’t able to do so. As I looked around the website I found it very hard to understand how I would incorporate the narration onto the PowerPoint. So in addition to not having the resources I was also finding it very difficult to understand how to do this.

What is Slide Share?

Smith (2008) states that Slide Share is a free media sharing website where you can upload and share your PowerPoint files with others. It also has similar features to YouTube in that it has an embedded player so you can post your presentations on your Blog or Web page (Smith, 2008). Slide Share also uses a tagging system and collaborates this with favourites so you can find the presentations you like easier (Smith, 2008). It can also be used by individuals or organizations to share their ideas and connect with others and generate leads for their businesses (Slide Share, 2009).

Using Slide Share in the Classroom & Theory

I found it very hard to grasp the concept of using this technology in the classroom as I think it would be much easier just to use PowerPoint. Also I find PowerPoint easier to navigate my way around so my opinion maybe biased because I haven’t used Slide Share before and I was finding it very difficult. When looking around the Slide Share website I recognised that it can be used by teachers to enhance the concept they are teaching or it can be used by students to create their own presentation and make them accessible to other users. As a result slide share can be analysed by the Learning Design Framework (2003) as it can be used by teachers as a resource (learning resource) to support learners in construction of a specific task but it can also be created by students as a project (learning task).

It also came to my attention that allowing students to use Slide Share to upload their presentation or to find a presentation they like should come with some restrictions or guidance by a teacher. This is because it can contain inappropriate material like many other websites on the internet.

I think this technology could be really effective if you as a teacher know how to use it well. As I was not confident in using Slide Share I would probably not use it within the classroom until I fully understood how and why I could use it to engage the learners and create a meaningful learning experience. So I think I will be sticking to PowerPoint by itself for now.

Resources

AUTC. (2003). Learning Design. Accessed 10th August, 2009, from http://www.learningdesigns.uow.edu.au/project/learn_design.htm

Slide Share. (2009) What is Slide Share? Accessed on the 16TH August 2009, from http://www.slideshare.net/about

Smith, G (2008) Tagging – People Powered Meta Data for the Social Web: Pearson Education; United States of America.

Wikipedia


I have used Wikipedia before but only to look up information quickly. I have not used this resource in any educational projects or any assessment for university as I have always been told the resources aren’t very reliable due to all the anonymous authors that can edit the information. I found that navigating my way around the site was pretty frustrating as I have not really used Wikipedia before. Consequently I did not really know what else it could offer. However upon researching Wikipedia I discovered some interesting features that coincide with Wikipedia to make it more advanced. Also to my surprise I found that Wikipedia can provide you with some relevant and reliable resources that could benefit students if used within the classroom.


What is Wikipedia? & Using Wikipedia in the Classroom


Wikipedia describes a wiki as a medium which can be edited by anyone that has access to it and provides an easy method from linking one page to another (Coleman, 2008). Wikipedia has some ‘sister projects’ that fulfil some of the roles Wikipedia doesn’t. There are seven projects that are parallel to Wikipedia plus a project called the ‘Commons’ where pictures and other freely useable media are stored (Broughton, 2008). The seven projects are:


· Wikibooks
· Wikiversity
· Wiktionary
· Wikispecies
· Wikiquote
· Wikinews
· Wikisources
· Commons


As I looked at each of the sister projects that Wikipedia offered I found one in particular, ‘Wikinews’ which really caught my eye. I realise this would be another great resources to use in the classroom when teaching students about Natural Disasters (mentioned in other blogs). Students could browse through the news resources given to find more information about particular disasters that have occurred around the world. They could also use Commons which allows students to find pictures that can relate to the news articles they have just found. Using these sister programs in conjunction with Wikipedia can help students create a well researched project.


Wikipedia has become a well known research website but it does come with its unique issues. Students must be careful with what and how they use the information they gather from Wikipedia. Richardson (2008) states that students must be careful what Wikipedia sources to trust especially as there are many anonymous authors. An early consensus among educators was to tell students to use Wikipedia as a starting point for their work, not a sole resource (Richardson, 2008).


Using information from Wikipedia and other sources can create a well researched project if used in the appropriate way. To provide students with an authentic learning experience they could research their topic and add their new information to Wikipedia (as an author). This will allow students to critically think about their research if it gets modified. It also provides students with the opportunity to contribute what they learnt and know to a larger audience (Richardson, 2008).


Theory


Incorporating Wikipedia into the learning on Natural Disaster’s (as mentioned above) can be analysed by the Learning Design Framework (2003) as it is used as a resource to support students in the construction of a specific task. Teachers can use this source in many different learning areas but they must be aware that students will need some scaffolding in using Wikipedia effectively. As mentioned above Wikipedia is a starting point, not a sole resource and teachers must use it appropriately in a meaningful context to the students.

Resources


AUTC. (2003). Learning Design. Accessed 10th August, 2009, from http://www.learningdesigns.uow.edu.au/project/learn_design.htm

Broughton, J (2008) Wikipedia – the Missing Manual: O’Reilly Media; United States of America.

Coleman, D & Levine S (2008) Collaboration 2.0 – Technology the - Technology and Best Practices for Successful Collaboration in a Web 2.0 World: HappyAbout.info; California.


Richardson, W (2008) Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms: Corwin Press, California.

Web Quests


Using Web Quests in the Classroom


I really had no idea what a Web Quest was and I actually had never heard of it before this course. I needed to do a lot of reading to totally understand what they were and why you would use them in the classroom? I found it very difficult to grasp the concept of this technology. So to help myself out I explored some of the Web Quests going around. I found that they were all very similar in structure and provided students with a lot of scaffolding to point them in the right direction. One of the Web Quests that really caught my eye was “World Cultures Web Quest” which is found at http://bestwebquests.com/bwq/wqdetail.asp?siteid=196. These examples helped me to recognise how to use them within the classroom and the options are endless.

What is a Web Quest?

Libutti (2004) states that Web Quests are lesson plans based on an inquiry- orientated process with most, if not all, of the activities and related resources involving navigation of the Internet. Web Quests include everything that is right in modern education; they are student centered, discovery based, open ended, conducive to high order thinking, and best of all, appealing to even the most disengaged students (Thompson, 2007). Thompson (2007) states that a Web Quest is a way for students to integrate the information they find through their search on the Web into a creative product that stimulates them to think deeply about a topic that interests them.

Theory- Engagement Theory

Libutti (2004) states that Web Quests encourage students to control their own learning experience by evaluating the resources discovered in relationship to the specific task. Students have the opportunity to work in small, cooperative learning groups focused towards a synthesis project (Libutti, 2004). Small group collaboration in conjunction with meaningful learning is known to provide students with an engaging and authentic learning experience within the classroom. I think Web Quests create this opportunity for students. Kearsley and Schneiderman (1999) also support this statement by stating that the fundamental idea that is underlying the Engagement Theory is that students must be meaningfully engaged in learning activities through interaction with others and worthwhile tasks.
Web Quests can also promote critical thinking through tasks that allow students to logically proceed through the process of building on knowledge as it is discovered (Libutti, 2004). Not only do they promote critical thinking but special needs students can also benefit from Web Quests as the detailed process steps help the students by providing consistent and logical structures for learning (Libutti, 2004).

Implications

There are always going to be some implications when using a new technology in the classroom so teachers need to be aware and cater for these to make sure all students are still engaged in meaningful learning. The internet is a very unpredictable technology to use in the classroom and teachers must be wary of this. Some implications that could interrupt the students learning when using Web Quests could be:

· Students could use inaccurate information
· Computer access for all students
(Johnson, 2001)

Also using Web Quests can allow students to become complacent so teachers have to be aware that Web Quests are only a tool in helping students to learn new skills. Killen (2006) states that Web Quests are simply another learning tool and the goal is not for students to do them forever but to ultimately fade the use of this scaffolding so that in the end students are self-initiated, expert learners.

One of the major concerns in creating a Web Quest is the time taken to prepare it. It is very time consuming not only to create it and cover the curriculum but to also teach the students how to manoeuvre their way around the Web. However I think if teachers are prepared to expend the time to prepare fully it will be a very worthwhile learning experience for students. These are just some implications that could occur when using Web Quests. Teachers must be cognisant that many things can happen when using technology in the classroom so it is vital to be ready for the unpredictable.

Resources

Johnson, D., Muddux, C. & Liu, L (2001) Integration of Technology in the Classroom: Routledge; United States of America.

Kearsley, G & Schneiderman, B (1999) Engagement Theory - A framework for technology-based teaching and learning: Accessed August 4th 2009 http://home.sprynet.com/~gkearsley/engage.htm

Killen, R (2006) Effective Teaching Strategies: Social Science Press; Australia

Libutti, P (2004) Digital Resources and Librarians: Association of College and Research Libraries; United States of America.

Thompson, J (2007) The First – Year Teachers Survival Guide: Wiley Publishing Inc, Indianapolis

Google Earth

Google Earth, what can I say? I was amazed by what this technology can do. I had heard of Google Earth but had never had the urge to try it. I had so much fun looking at my house and other friend’s houses (seemed a little creepy, at stages). I also couldn’t believe what other types of things you could look at. At the time I was looking at Google Earth it was raining so I looked at the weather aspect of the technology. I really had no idea what I was looking at but I noticed the clouding over parts of Queensland. I tried a number of different aspects and found them all to be interesting and I learnt a lot. I also found my house (picture above) which was really exciting to me.

What is Google Earth?


Google Earth provides a 3 – Dimensional look at planet Earth that flies users to any location in the world to zoom in on details such as cities, streets, schools, railways, parks and hotels (Behen, 2006). It also consists of items called layers which are forms of information that are added to the basic view of Google Earth e.g. National boundaries, crime statistics, hospitals, airports and golf courses (Crowder, 2007). Crowder (2007) states that layers are pieces of information above and beyond just the satellite image itself.

Google Earth also has place marks which are when you find something interesting when travelling the virtual planet and you want to get back to that place easily. All you have to do is put down a place mark there and it remembers the place for you. Crowder (2007) states that place marks are to Google Earth what book marks are to a Web browser. These place marks can be customized to suit the person using Google Earth.

Using Google Earth in the Classroom

Following on from YouTube and Podcasting I will be concentrating on my lessons on Natural Disasters. Students can use the ‘Geographical/ Geological Layer’ to look at sites where volcanoes and earthquakes are. Students could also look at how the terrain has been affected by these sorts of disasters. They can also look back at past disasters and see the damage that they caused to communities etc.

Another aspect I would show students is the Hurricane/Cyclone tracking which would allow students to see satellite photos, radar animations, hurricane tracking, live web cams on the ground, sea surface temperature analysis, etc (Taylor, 2009). In the limited time I have had with this technology I have already found that there are many things in Google Earth which could be utilised within the classroom. I will need to do some more exploring of the technology to fully understand its capabilities.

I have also subscribed to a new blog called “Google Earth Blog”. It provides teachers with lessons or new information about Google Earth. http://www.gearthblog.com/

Theory

Google Earth can be used in a number of different ways and it can also provide students with different learning experiences. Depending on how the teacher uses the technology in the classroom will determine how effective it really is and how it will engage the learners. One way to use it could be in collaboration with other students in different research projects. This lies within the Learning Engagement theory (1999) which states that it is based on creating successful collaborative teams that work on ambitious projects that are meaningful to someone outside the classroom (Kearsley & Schneiderman, 1999). Creating this experience in the classroom allows students to become involved in many different learning experiences (as mentioned above). Kearsley and Schneiderman (1999) state that collaborative learning forces students to clarify and verbalize their problems thereby facilitating solutions. It can also motivate students to learn as they feel a part of the experience and they also have the opportunity to learn about their peer’s perspectives.

Resources

Behen, L (2006) Using Pop Culture to Teach Information Literacy: Libraries Unlimited; United States of America.

Crowder, D (2007) Google Earth for Dummies: Wiley Publishing; Indianapolis

Kearsley, G & Schneiderman, B (1999) Engagement Theory - A framework for technology-based teaching and learning: Accessed August 4th 2009 http://home.sprynet.com/~gkearsley/engage.htm

Taylor, F (2009) Google Earth Blog: Accessed on the 13th August 2009; http://www.google.com/reader/view/#stream/feed%2Fhttp%3A%2F%2Ffeedproxy.google.com%2FGoogleEarthBlog

Twinning

When researching Podcasting I came across an interesting concept that could be used in schools. It is called “Twinning”. Twinning is available to schools and it allows schools to form a special link to overseas schools. This can enrich and develop education in both schools that are involved. There are some basics that you will have to consider so here is the website to have a look at what you can do: http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldclass/twinning.shtml

I think this would be a great experience for students and an excellent collaborative tool.

Has anyone heard of Twinning before?

Podcasting

What is podcasting?

A podcast is a series of portable sound files hosted on the Web and distributed via an RSS feed. There are individual podcast episodes and there are podcast shows (King, 2007). King (2007) states that podcasting is different from other audio files posted to the web because it is a part of a series and the power of a scripting language called XML. Podcasting is the evolving technology in which people listen to their favourite music and videos (Hall, 2008). Hall (2008) also states that Podcasting is the term brought about by combining two significant terms; IPod and Broadcasting.

Using Podcasts in the classroom

I was instructed to find a podcast that would fulfil the requirements for my students and me in the classroom. I searched through the Education/ K- 12 and found a podcast that would support students learning in Natural Disasters. The podcast I chose was an audio only file called “WNC- Kids News”. This podcast comes as a series and is updated daily to keep kids up to date with current news and it also targets kids at the age of 7 – 14 years old. Natural disasters are a major topic on most of the news podcasts. This podcast would allow students to be able to research new natural disasters occurring around the world.

I was thinking of a way to incorporate these podcasts into the classroom for a major project and I came up with the idea of students creating their own news podcasts for the week. Students could pick out certain issues that have happened during the week that interest them and present them in a podcast to the class. I realised that listening to 20 or more podcasts could take up too much time. To alleviate this time issue teachers may provide students with a roster which only has 2 to 4 students present a podcast per week. This would also allow students to have time to gather research and create it into a podcast.

The Kids News also has a website students can look at http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldclass/. This may help students find more information about the Natural Disasters happening around the world.

Theory

A number of different Learning Frameworks can evaluate important elements in podcasting. Connectivism is one theory that can relate to podcasting; this is because it is based on students forming their own opinions about certain situations and keeping up to date with new information. Students will have different opinions on varying topics as not all students have had the same experiences. Two of the principles of connectivism are evident in the learning experiences mention above. They are:
  • Currency (accurate, up-to-date knowledge) is the intent of all connectivist learning activities.
  • Decision-making is a learning process. Choosing what to learn and the meaning of incoming information is seen through the lens of a shifting reality. While there is a right answer now, it may be wrong tomorrow due to alterations in the information climate affecting the decision.

I chose these principles as students need to have accurate and up to date knowledge for their podcasts. Also they need to choose areas (natural disasters etc.) that interest them and decided how they are going to present the information the best way through their podcasts. Students also have a week or more to complete this task so students may have to update their news due to new information being presented.


Kearsley and Schneiderman’s Engagement Theory (1999) also relate to the podcasting learning experience mentioned above. Students have the opportunity to ‘Create” their own project when creating their own podcast. Kearsley and Schneiderman (1999) states that because students get to define the nature of the project (even if they don't choose the topic), they have a sense of control over their learning which is absent in traditional classroom instruction.


Also students get to ‘Donate” as they have the opportunity to present their projects to an outside customer, whether that is parents, class mates and school etc. Kearsley and Schneiderman (1999) state that the authentic learning context of the project increases student motivation and satisfaction.


Any input into improving my podcasting lessons (only an overview provided) that would be great.


I am not really sure of any other learning experience that could involve podcasting; if anyone has any other ideas it would be great to hear them?


Has anyone used podcasting in the classroom? If so, how did it go?


Resources


Hall, J (2008) Podcasting 100 Success Secrets – Start Your Podcast Today: Lulu Enterprises; United Kingdom.


Kearsley, G & Schneiderman, B (1999) Engagement Theory - A framework for technology-based teaching and learning: Accessed August 4th 2009 http://home.sprynet.com/~gkearsley/engage.htm


King, K & Gura, M (2007) Podcasting for Teachers: Information Age Publishing; United States of America.


Siemens, G (2005) Connectivism – A Learning Theory for a Digital Age: Accessed on the 12th August 2009; http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm

YouTube or Teacher Tube



The subject area I chose to do was Natural Disasters. After searching for an appropriate video on YouTube and Teacher Tube for this learning area I decided to select a video from YouTube called “Natural Disasters and Human Dignity”. This video tries to target people emotions through the use of pictures and music, so I thought it would get students thinking about how these disasters affect other people. It also targets not only people in Australia but people in other countries, so this could lead into lessons about major disasters that have occurred around the world. This area could be trans-disciplinary across many subjects e.g. Science – students could do experiments to show how natural disasters like volcanoes occur. This video clip could also be used to explain to students that we need to help people that have been affected by these disasters. This could then lead to students wanting to donate things around their houses that they might not need any more and teaching them that a little goes a long way.

What is YouTube?

YouTube is a video sharing website that allows anyone to watch videos for free. Registered users can also upload videos for free (Schools Resourcing Taskforce, 2008). Kwan (2008) stated that YouTube has become a popular way to upload, share, view and comment on video clips. Videos can be rated, and the average rating and the number of times the video has been watched are both displayed (Kwan, 2008). But it is necessary for teachers to be cautious when using YouTube as many inappropriate videos are uploaded to this site. Many Australian Schools are blocked from accessing YouTube, making it hard for teachers to use this resource as part of their teaching practice (Schools Resourcing Taskforce, 2008).

Theory – Learning Design

Kwan (2008) states that video can be a powerful educational and motivational tool, however, a great deal of the medium’s power lies not in itself but in how it is used. Videos shouldn’t be used as a tool on its own; teachers have to incorporate videos into the learning while using great instructional strategies to facilitate students learning. A video will not be effective if the teaching around it is of a poor quality. As Kwan (2008) states ‘video is not an end in itself but a means towards achieving learning goals and objectives’. Effective instructional video is not television-to-student instruction but rather teacher-to-student instruction, with video as a vehicle of discovery (Kwan, 2008).

I would use this video clip at the start of the learning experience to engage my learners and to generate a discussion for the next part of the lesson. The Learning Design process states that resources and supports can be specific to an activity. They can be introduced before beginning an activity or when an activity is complete (AUTC, 2003). This video would support the learners in conducting their tasks in the future lessons.

Resources

AUTC. (2003). Learning Design. Accessed 10th August, 2009, from http://www.learningdesigns.uow.edu.au/project/learn_design.htm

Kwan, R., Fox, R & Chan, F (2008) Enhancing Learning through Technology: World Scientific Publishing, London.

Schools Resourcing Taskforce (2008) Using YouTube: Accessed on the 12th August 2009; http://www.smartcopying.edu.au/scw/go/cache/offonce/pid/855;jsessionid=B5A2CC5682A29F6E8ACEDCF6F3FADC87

YouTube (2009) Natural Disasters and Human Dignity: Accessed on the 11th August 2009; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7u5APs_G2W0

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Image Manipulation - Picnik




Picnik is a free creative and fun editing program that allows you to transform your photos. Picnik has many tools such as adjusting exposure, contrast and shadows and highlights. It also offers all the basic tools to crop, resize, rotate, sharpen and fix red-eye. The program also has plenty of special effects and filters and other advanced controls to fine-tune photos (Digicamhelp, 2009).

I had so much fun using Picnik and couldn’t stop changing all my photos. I even connected Picnik with Flickr and Facebook which means the images I created can also be saved to those programs. I found this website very easy to navigate my way around which I think would suit students of a young age if of course scaffolding was used as well. One of the major advantages of this program is it not only teaches students how to edit photos and create different effects it is also works in conjunction with other programs. This will provide students with immense assistance in completing their projects, blogs, wikis etc. Students could use this tool to create a picture story of their life and thus students would take ownership and pride in their work to create a favourable classroom climate. This favourable classroom climate could be further promoted by displaying the results of this activity around the classroom.



The images above are the ones I created from photos of me. Firstly, I uploaded these photos from Flickr and Facebook to use with this program. When editing my photos I cropped and resized so that it could fit in smaller documents in the future. I also changed the exposure, contrast and colours. My favourite part was the “creating” part of the photos where I used the sandbox effects - HSL Filter and Circle Splash. On one of the photos I added a sticker to my arm to look like a tattoo. When I was satisfied with the picture I had created I finished it off by adding a frame to it. I really enjoyed this program and I can’t wait to incorporate it into my classroom.



Theory –



If students were doing an Art project on Image Manipulation with photos that related to their lives or something in their lives teachers could provide students with the Picnik program (resource) to complete their projects. Students would use the program to edit their photos and come up with different creative ideas. Using this program as a resource fits in with the Learning Design Process within Oliver’s framework (cited in AUTC, 2003) as it supports the learners in conducting their task.



Resources



AUTC. (2003). Learning Design. Accessed 10th August, 2009, from http://www.learningdesigns.uow.edu.au/project/learn_design.htm



Digicamhelp (2009) Picnik Online Editing Program: Accessed on the 11th August 2009; http://www.digicamhelp.com/processing-photos/basic-editing/picnik-review/



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

Flickr

I used these images on my Blog because when I finish my teaching degree I would like to go overseas and teach students over there. I would also like to volunteer to help small communities get a better education. I have been to Bali once and I absolutely enjoyed it. I really wanted to visit a school over there to see what it is like but it is not allowed (unless volunteering there). I am not too sure where I would exactly want to teach or volunteer but I will be willing to use the skills I have learnt to help other students/communities less fortunate.

I discovered using Flickr to be very frustrating as it took a long time for me to understand the use of this program and to upload the photos. When my photos had finished uploading and I was working around the website I found a lot of different and interesting things you can do with your photos and other people’s photos in Flickr.

In exploring the website I found that the ability to edit your photos using Flickr and other websites e.g. Picnik interesting. Not only can we use other programs to edit the photos but you can add maps to your photos to show exactly where your photo was taken. Tagging was one of the most interesting tools Flickr offers as it makes it easier to find and manage photos you had already uploaded.

What is Flickr?

Flickr is a service for uploading and sharing you photos but one of the key elements is that photos can be shared with the public, specific friends or just kept secret (Brown, 2006). Brown (2006) also outlines another aspect of Flickr being that individual photos can be “tagged”: given a special keyword that can be used for searching and organizing your photos. As photos are shared this allows other people to look up keywords making it easier to find content or your photos that you are looking for. Flickr can also allow people to upload their photos to their blogs, send photos to groups inside Flickr and keep up with the photos their friends are taking with an RSS feed (Farkas, 2007).

Theory- Learning Design Construct
Teachers should provide students with a task that they want them to complete, resources they can use and they should also offer students support. This fits in with the Learning Design Construct (AUTC, 2003). Oliver (1999) states that creating a supportive learning environment for students the learning design must comprise of these 3 elements:

1. Tasks that learners are required to do.
2. Resources that support learners to conduct the task.
3. Support mechanisms that exist from a teacher implementing it.
(Cited in AUTC, 2003)

Using Flickr in the Classroom

Teachers Network (2009) recommends that if you are going to use Flickr in the classroom that you make a class account. This makes it easier for students and teachers to access whilst also giving the options of keeping your work private. This will alleviate parental concerns (Teachers Network, 2009).

Flickr can be used for a number of subjects. Students can look up a particular subject (that they are doing in class) and find an image and upload it to their class account. When student’s images are uploaded it invites peer collaboration as students can embed comments about the picture. (Teachers Network, 2009).

References

AUTC. (2003). Learning Design. Accessed 10th August, 2009, from http://www.learningdesigns.uow.edu.au/project/learn_design.htm

Brown, M (2006) Hacking Google Maps and Google Earth: Wiley Publishing Inc, Indianapolis

Farkas, M (2007) Social Software in Libraries: Information Today Inc, New Jersey

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

Teachers Network (2009) Using Flickr.com in the Classroom: Accessed on the 10th August 2009; http://www.teachersnetwork.org/NTNY/nychelp/technology/flickr.htm

Setting up an E - Portfolio

I found that setting up my E- Portfolio in Mahara wasn’t to difficult as I have signed up and registered to so many things in the last few weeks. I did have trouble working my way around the site but as I explored the website more I began to understand how to create and add information to the portfolio. To feel more comfortable and able to use Mahara more effectively I feel that I have a lot more exploring to do.

What is an E – Portfolio?

Regis University (2003) states that a portfolio is a collection of work developed across varied contexts over time. The portfolio can advance learning by providing students and/or faculty with a way to organize, archive and display pieces of work. The electronic format allows faculty and other professionals to evaluate student portfolios using technology, which may include the Internet, CD-ROM, video, animation or audio (Regis University, 2003).

Regis University (2003) states that not only are electronic portfolios easy to access but they also physically don’t take up much space. They also create the opportunity for teachers to interconnect through hyperlinks which reduces the possibility of losing documents or information.

Electronic portfolios also allow for sound, pictures, videos and other graphics to be added to them.

Theory – Engagement Theory

I think E – portfolios can fit into many of the categories in the Engagement Theory process. However I am going to focus on Project Orientated Learning. Using E – portfolios in the classroom will take a lot of scaffolding and time but once the foundation is set up students will find it fun and engaging as they are monitoring their own learning.

Having students create their own E – portfolios in the classroom will allow students to perform activities involving active cognitive processes such as creating, problem-solving, reasoning, decision-making, and evaluation (Kearsley & Schneiderman, 1999). This doesn’t mean the students are the only ones contributing to their portfolios. Teachers should be adding to these designs from their own perspective as well.

Kearsley and Schneiderman (1999) argue that students should be provided with a description of the criteria that will be used to evaluate their projects to help them determine the appropriateness of their project ideas. I agree with the assertions of Kearsley and Schneiderman (1999) and in order to achieve this I believe teachers should present students with an example of a portfolio that is of a predetermined standard. This will provide students with the opportunity to create their own criteria for their portfolio project.

Using E- Portfolio in the Classroom

Allowing students to participate in creating and editing their E – Portfolio’s allows them to gain valuable computer skills (Regis University, 2003). I love what the E –Portfolios offer students and teachers in the classroom. I feel as I read some research on these folios that the best way to use them in the classroom is to allow students to participate in the creating. Teachers should provide students with example portfolios; this will also give the students opportunity to create their own criteria and standards. Having students do these will give the students responsibility for their own learning (Urquhart & McIver, 2005).

Using E- portfolios in the classroom will differ for different year levels as students in lower primary may have difficulty compiling information or data for their portfolios. As a result having students involved in what goes into their portfolios is a more appropriate strategy for lower primary. Upper primary students should be able to do most of their creating and editing but teachers must also scaffold students in the right direction.

Teachers can use these portfolios in a number of ways. Regis University (2003) states that there are 3 main types of portfolios:

1. Developmental – This demonstrates the advancement and development of student skills over a period of time.
2. Assessment Portfolios – This demonstrates student competence and skill for well-defined areas.
3. Showcase Portfolios - This demonstrates exemplary work and student skills.
(Regis University, 2003)

Regis University (2003) also asserts that you will rarely find a portfolio that is strictly used for assessment, development or showcase purposes. Consequently many portfolios that are created in schools are a hybrid of all three.

References

Kearsley, G & Schneiderman, B (1999) Engagement Theory - A framework for technology-based teaching and learning: Accessed August 4th 2009 http://home.sprynet.com/~gkearsley/engage.htm

Regis University (2003) E – Portfolio Basics: Accessed on the 9th August 2009; http://academic.regis.edu/LAAP/eportfolio/basics_what.htm

Urquhart, V & McIver, M (2005) Teaching Writing in the Content Areas: ASCD, United States of America.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Voki Avatars



I have never had so much fun creating a virtual person/animal in my life. I created two Voki Avatar as I wanted to explore what other options I had in creating something fun and engaging for the students. After I had my fun I began to wonder how I can incorporate this fun technology into the classroom. Student would enjoy creating their own but what are the students actually learning from this technology and experience?

What is a Voki Avatar?

Deucher and Nodder (2003) describe Avatars as a computer generated graphic representation of a user within a 3D (3 dimensional) Virtual Reality environment therefore enabling the user to take on a visible persona. Voki’s enable users to express themselves on the web in their own voice using talking characters. You can customize your Voki to look like you or take on the identity of lots of other types of characters… animals, monsters, anime etc. Your Voki can speak with your own voice which is added via microphone, upload, or phone (Oddcast, 2008). Voki lives on your blog, social network profile and will soon be integrated in various instant messaging platforms. You will also be able to download it to most video supported phones (Oddcast, 2008).

Theory – Engagement Theory

Deucher and Nodder (2003) state that the greatest advantage in using 3D is the ability for individuals to immerse themselves in role playing by the use of Avatars. But there is a danger in using 3D as a teaching tool that students may become isolated, desensitised to the physical world and lost in a world of unreality (Deucher & Nodder, 2003). That is why teacher support and peer scaffolding must be interwoven into any 3D learning to maintain the humanistic element (Deucher & Nodder, 2003). I agree with this statement as teachers should use this technology only as a tool for engaging the students in their learning as these problems may occur if it is not used appropriately. It may hinder the students learning not assist them.

Technology provides an electronic learning environment that fosters the kind of creativity and communication needed to nourish engagement (Kearsley & Schneiderman, 1999). Students can create their own avatars, which will facilitate students in being creative and they also allow students to communicate using their own voice or that of someone else.

I believe that using avatars in the classroom is going to be more useful to students if the learning surrounding the technology is meaningful to them. There is no point using a technology in the classroom, whether it is avatars or some other form if the learning behind it is worthless. Kearsley and Schneiderman (1999) state that students are intrinsically motivated to learn due to the meaningful nature of the learning environment and activities.

All the students we teach have something in their lives that are really engaging- something that they do and that they are good at, something that has an engaging component to it (Prensky, 2005). This allows teachers to find out what really engages their students and how to utilise the resources they have in the classroom to get the best out of their students.

Using Voki Avatars in the Classroom

I found it very difficult to research how a Voki would engage students in the classroom and ways I could use the technology usefully. After researching I found a lot of ideas in how to use them within the classroom with language support.

Avatars use in education is boundless, open to research (Rogers & Howard, 2009).

If anyone has any ideas in how to incorporate this technology into the classroom I would love to hear it.

Has anyone used Avatars in the classroom before? How did it go?

References

Deucher, S & Nodder, C (2003) The Impact of Avatars and 3D Virtual World Creation on Learning: Accessed on the 8th August 2009, http://www.naccq.ac.nz/conference04/proceedings_03/pdf/255.pdf

Kearsley, G & Schneiderman, B (1999) Engagement Theory - A framework for technology-based teaching and learning: Accessed August 4th 2009 http://home.sprynet.com/~gkearsley/engage.htm

Oddcast (2008) Voki: Accessed on the 3rd August 2009; http://www.voki.com/mywebsite.php

Prensky, M. (2005). Engage Me or Enrage Me - What today's learners demand: Accessed on 8th August, 2009 from, http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/erm0553.pdf

Rogers, P & Howard C (2009) Encyclopedia of Distance Learning: IGI Global, United State of America.

Reflection on a Wiki

Are we ALL ready to use Wiki technology in the classroom? How might you use this Wiki technology within the classroom?

Firstly, what is a Wiki?

Palloff (2007) states that a wiki is a piece of server software that allows users to freely create and edit Web page content using any Web browser. Wikis support hyperlinks and have simple text links for creating new pages and cross links between internal pages (Palloff, 2007)
Wiki’s are designed to help groups collaborate, share and build online content (Margaret West, 2008). Margaret West (2008) states that without context and support, online groups can experience unbalanced participation, a lack of progress and direction, mistrust, misunderstandings and conflicts.

Theory – Active Learning Framework & Contructivism

Whilst experimenting and discovering the Wiki I found it fits in completely with the Active Learning framework. This framework allows students to obtain input from multiple sources through multiple senses, interacting with other people and materials and requires students to produce a response or evidence showing the interactive learning taking place (ACU, 2000).

Educators today understand that meaningful learning cannot be accomplished solely through passive activities such as reading and listening. According to constructivist theory, meaning is gathered through active learning, social interaction and the construction of knowledge. (Margaret West, 2008)

A wiki can also be analysed through the constructivism approach as a wiki can be edited and added on to according to other people’s perceptions or prior experiences of a certain topic. Constructivist believe that learners construct their own reality or at least interpret it based upon their perceptions of experiences, so an individual's knowledge is a function of one's prior experiences, mental structures, and beliefs that are used to interpret objects and events (Sharma & Tomar, 2005).

Using Wiki’s within the Classroom

This is an example of how I may use a wiki in my classroom. I would create a wiki that showed the students, other teachers and parents the text for the curriculum. This would allow students to co-construct what they will be learning during the year. This will allow the creation of a positive classroom environment as students will feel they are contributing to their own learning. There are many ways to incorporate this technology into the classroom and this is just one idea.

Does anyone have any other ideas they would like to share?

Has anyone had any negative experiences with Wiki’s?

I have also found a really good Wiki at http://flatclassroomproject.wikispaces.com that was created by Vicki Davies so that students could be connected to other learners around the world.

References

ACU. (2000). What is Active Learning? Accessed August 3rd, 2009, from http://www.acu.edu/cte/activelearning/whatisal.htm

Palloff, R & Pratt, K (2007) Building Online Learning Communities, John Wiley and Sons, San Francisco

Sharma, S & Tomar, M (2005) Learning and Teaching: Isha Books. India

West, M (2008) Using Wiki’s for Online Collaboration, John Wiley and Friends; San Francisco.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

RSS Aggregator



Image by spellwithflickr


I set up my RSS aggregator with Google Reader. At first I had no idea why I was using this Web tool but as I started to explore what I could do I was really amazed at how easy it was to track everyone’s updates for their blogs. Instead of visiting their actual blogs I could visit Google Reader and see the updates. I will like to do more exploring on this Web tool to find out how to use it effectively in the classroom.









What is a RSS Aggregator?


RSS Aggregator stands for Real Simple Syndication. It works in the background of a website to generate content (or code) called news feeds (Subramaniam, 2009). RSS has helped automate the process of keeping up with news and information online. Now users can subscribe to blogs, news sites and other web content and receive an updated content in a single place. (Farkas, 2007). It can also help keep you updated on podcasts and social networks.

Subramaniam (2009) states that the most notable feature is that it allows the user to easily generate her own content because the content, called feeds, comes to the user rather than the user going to get the content. RSS is the key to staying informed and preventing information overload (Farkas, 2007)

Theory – Engagement Theory

This technology fits into Kearsley & Shneiderman’s (1999) first principle of the Engagement Theory; Relate. The Relate principle emphasizes team efforts that involve communication, planning, management and social skills (Kearsley & Schneiderman, 1999). The students can use the RSS Aggregator to track other students’ blogs and post a reply to them. This will also create social skills as the students are communicating with other students they might not usually communicate with. As a result the social skills that the students develop through RSS Aggregator and blogs may also help them to find new things in common with other students within the classroom.

It also emphasizes collaboration among peers and a community of learners. This is because all student activities involve active cognitive processes such as creating, problem-solving, reasoning, decision-making, and evaluation (Kearsley & Schneiderman, 1999).

Using RSS Aggregator in the Classroom

RSS can provide teachers and students with the opportunity to evaluate and filter content from the Web (Subramaniam, 2009). The way a teacher could use this tool within the classroom could be to incorporate it into an English lesson where students are learning about current issues within Australia. The teacher can subscribe to blogs and new sites that are relevant and appropriate for the student’s topic. Students can then go into the RSS aggregator and read the stories without having to retrieve information from their original sites. You could also use the RSS Aggregator to keep track of students blogs (if they create one for a particular lesson) and this would also allow the students to keep track of other students postings.

RSS is a technology that will change your life, if you let it (Richardson, 2008)

I agree with this statement as it is a technology that is going to revolutionise learning through other web sources but only if classroom teachers learn/ teach students how to effectively use it. What do you all think?

Does anyone have any other ideas in how to incorporate this technology into the classroom?

References

Farkas, M (2007) Social Software in Libraries: Information Today Inc, New Jersey

Kearsley, G & Schneiderman, B (1999) Engagement Theory - A framework for technology-based teaching and learning: Accessed August 4th 2009 http://home.sprynet.com/~gkearsley/engage.htm

Richardson, W (2008) Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms: Corwin Press, California.

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

My Blog

Image by wordle.com

Creating a blog was definitely an experience for me as I had no idea where to begin. Once I created the blog I started to understand how it could be used as an easy and effective tool in the classroom. To help create my blog I went on Teacher Tube and watched a video called ‘Blogs in Plain English”. The video really helped me understand how to use blogs effectively and the reasons why I would use a blog.

video
What is a Blog?
Mario Camilleri (2008) states that the traditional definitions of a blog is of a special kind of website consisting of regular entries or posts arranged in chronological order - that is the most recent post is at the top of the main page. In my use of blog I have also found that each post can include pictures and generally contain links to other resources.


Using Blogs in the Classroom

Fernette and Brock Eides research shows that blogging has a great deal of positive potential that impact upon the students. They found blogs can:


· Promote critical and analytical thinking
· Be a powerful promoter of creative, intuitive and associational thinking
· Promote analogical thinking
· Be a powerful medium for increasing access and exposure to quality information
· Combine the best of solitary reflection and social interaction
(Eide Neurolearning Blog, 2005)

When creating my Blog I thought a good way to incorporate Blogs into my classroom could be through storytelling. Not only can storytelling be used for primary school students but also for high school and even adults. Zaphiris (2008) states that storytelling does not end at childhood but continues throughout adolescences and even adulthood. Story telling fused with peer collaboration is an excellent way to improve language abilities and advanced literacy for children and adults (Ryokai et al. 2005).

I have also had a look at the websites Class Blogmeister (www.classblodmeister.com/) and Gaggle Blogs (http://www.gaggle.net/) as they are an excellent tool to use with students. These blogs are specifically set up for classrooms as it mandates teacher supervision; this is only if parents or teachers are concerned with students’ blogs being public.


References

Camilleri, M (2008) Blogs: Council of Europe, Austria

Eides, F & Eides, B (2005) Eide Neurolearning Blog: Accessed on the 30th July 2009; http://eideneurolearningblog.blogspot.com/2005/03/brain-of-blogger.html

Richardson, W (2008) Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms: Corwin Press, California.

Teacher Tube (2009) Blogs in Plain English: Accessed on the 30th July 2009; http://teachertube.com/.Zaphiris, D & Ang, C (2008) Human Computer Interaction: IGI Global, United State of America.