Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Reflective Synopsis

Over the last few weeks, I have investigated a variety of different e-learning tools that can be incorporated into the classroom to assist students in their learning journey. Personally, I have gained a variety of skills and new competencies surrounding technology and its application into the classroom.

Each program outlined on the course website was analysed in accordance with various learning theories and frameworks to ensure that these tools were effective in engaging students in rich and meaningful tasks.

Current learning theories such as Siemens (2005) support the use of ICT within the classroom to facilitate metacognitve and problem-solving skills (Lai, 2001). I was surprised as to how ICT linked to higher order thinking and effective pedagogical frameworks (Lankshear & Knobel, 2003). Vygotsky’s constructivist theory provides further guidance on the use of ICT within the classroom to provide a student-centred and authentic learning context (Brady, 2006).

Technology such as blogs and wikis form a foundation to develop critical literacy practices by enabling the students to make informed and educated judgements about information gathered online (Gilster, 1997). Pretensky (2001, p.1) suggests that children of today, ‘think and process information fundamentally differently from their predecessors.’

Each piece of technology that I have explored can have both positive and negative implications when implementing in the classroom. After reflecting on various tools, I have concluded that I would use the following within the classroom:

1. Blogs. Blogs can be used to promote literacy skills such as reading and writing, to display students’ work and promote collaboration and reflection amongst students and teachers (Huffaker, 2009). When used in an authentic context, students are able to draft, edit, revise, publish and reflect on their thoughts pertaining to the focus topic (EduBlogs, 2009). For example, when used within literacy education, as a Learning Manager, I am able to moderate punctuation, grammar and other elements and conference with students to assist them to overcome challenges they may be facing (Lankshear & Knobel, 2003).

2. Wikis. Wikis are a useful collaborative tool for students to use with peers (Victorian Government, 2005). Students can access them to edit group assignments and discuss classroom learning. I would also have access to moderate and provide scaffolding and feedback to the students. To ensure safety and privacy of students, they can configure their settings to ensure that only their peers can view, add and modify content.

3. Voki Avatars. These allow the students to enter in their text and create their own animated person that then articulates the text, which is beneficial for shy students.

4. Quizzes. These can be used within the classroom as an assessment tool for the Learning Manager. They can be utilised as formative, summative or diagnostic assessment tools (Brady & Kennedy, 2009). Students in the Early Years would need assistance using these tests, however as they progress, these can become independent learning tools. It is important to note that I would need to provide feedback for students on their achievement and provide scaffolding to assist students to acquire the knowledge they may have got incorrect.

5. YouTube. This would arguably be the most used video sharing site. Along with Teacher Tube, YouTube can provide a vast range of videos to accompany a lesson or concept within the classroom. Students could also film presentations, school excursions or class work and upload to this site. I would need to address the issue of safety online for students to ensure that faces, locations and other personal information was not shown.

6. Google Earth. This technology can be incorporated into a wide variety of lessons. Students can use this technology to explore places around the world, various environments and their local area. This can link to many KLAs such as Maths, Science, SOSE and English.

7. WebQuests. I would use this technology as an aide to a unit of work. The use of a WebQuest would be based upon an inquiry unit to which students need to present a solution to a problem in an authentic context. As students work through the site, I would scaffold their learning and provide other information and sources for exploration based upon their own questions and ideas.


8. File Storage (MediaFire). The use of technology is rapidly expanding. Users require quick and reliable retrieval of data, music, pictures and other files. Storing data on one computer, is unadvisable, therefore the use of a file storage system, as well as personal or work computers is recommended. Within the classroom, I will have a vast range of files for learning experiences; therefore, require quick access to this data. The advantage of this program is that regardless of location, data is still accessible. It is also advantageous for the students, if for example, they could upload their assignments, citing easy retrieval for myself, as the Learning Manager to mark.

This task has also proved to be interactive with my peers. By following others’ blogs, I have had an opportunity to gain an insight into their thoughts and applications of various tools. This has given me the opportunity to place comments on their blog, and in turn, they have responded to mine.

Although I would like to utilise these pedagogical tools within the classroom, the technology within schools is lacking. I have found trying to use these tools on my practicum has been ineffective, as the bandwidth at school has been too slow for some programs. I have also found that I always need to check before the lesson to ensure that the site is not blocked on EQ computers.

However, I believe that my role as a Learning Manager is to facilitate and use the technology to the best of my ability and create innovate learning experiences using the resources I have available. If I am passionate about the use of these tools in the classroom, it will be infectious for my students and that in turn will create meaningful and effective learning experiences.

During this course, I have developed my own skills and competencies in technology and have discovered how the pedagogy relates to these programs. My aim is to create a classroom where students feel connected and engaged and take ownership of their learning.

Melissa.

References

Brady, L. (2006). Collaborative Learning in Action. Frenchs Forest, NSW, Australia: Pearson Education Australia.

Brady, L., & Kennedy, K. (2009). Celebrating Student Achievement. Frenchs Forest, NSW, Australia: Pearson Education Australia.

EduBlogs. (2009). Tips on blogging with students. Retrieved August 1, 2009, from http://theedublogger.edublogs.org/2008/02/13/tips-on-blogging-with-students/

Huffaker, D. (2009). The Educated Blogger: Using Weblogs to Promote Literacy in the Classroom. Retrieved July 16, 2009, from http://english.boisestate.edu/tpeele/nfwfourohone/digital rhetoric readings/huffaker.pdf

Lai, K.-W. (Ed.). (2001). E-Learning. Dunedin, NZ: University of Otago Press.

Lankshear, C., & Knobel, M. (2003). New Literacies: Changing Knowledge and Classroom Learning. Buckingham, UK: Open University Press.

Schacter, J. (1999). The Impact of educational technology on student achievement. Retrieved from http://www.mff.org/publications/publications.taf?page=161

Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. Retrieved July 16, 2009, from http://wwww.elearnspace.or/Articles/connectivism.htm

Victorian Government. (2005). Glossary. Retrieved July 16, 2009, from http://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/SARC/E-Democracy/Final_Report/Glossary.htm

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Quizzes

Hi everyone,

ClassMarker is a free site which allows for the creation of online tests. This provides the Learning Manager with the opportunity to create formative, summative or diagnostic tests. These tests can either be multiple choice, true/false or short response (ClassMarker, 2009).
Students can also use this site, not only to respond to the Learning Manager’s test, but to also create tests for other students.

Here is a task that I have created, but have not had the opportunity to implement within a classroom.

Students in Year Six have been investigating local, state and federal governments. They have visited Parliament House, as well researching these different government levels. The students have been asked, in groups, to create a test for their peers to complete on the knowledge that they have ascertained so far in their learning. Previously, students created their own mini questionnaire that they used to ask their tour guides when on the excursion.

Therefore, I will use the Dimensions of Learning Procedural Knowledge methodology to scaffold students’ creation of these tests (Marzano, et al., 1997).

Construct Models
- Provide or construct with students a written or graphic representation of the skill or process they are learning. Brainstorm with students all the knowledge and skills that they have gained so far in their studies. Identify areas which they believe would be useful to use to construct a quiz and what they may need to research further in order to gain answers for their quiz. Help students to use a graphic organiser which states the question and the relevant answer.

- Help students to see how the skill or process they are learning is similar to and different from other skills or processes. Students will analyse their construction of their mini questionnaires to identify the similarities between tasks.

Shape
- Point out common errors or pitfalls. Identify to students common errors when creating a test (spelling, grammar or content errors). Provide feedback to students when they are creating their test.

Internalise
- Help students understand the importance of internalising procedural knowledge. For example, discuss with students the importance of editing their text. As they are completing this stage of the task, inform students that they will need to practice revising their test to check that the questions and answers are written clearly and concisely for their peers.

The use of this framework also links to the ICT Learning Design Model (AusInfo, 2003) in the following way:

- Learning Tasks. Students are required to work collaboratively to create an assessment test for their peers. The content knowledge is centred on the people that govern in their city, state and country.

- Learning Resources. Students will need to gather information from their excursion and questionnaire to construct the test. They will also need to identify areas that they are lacking in information and search for this from reliable sources. Students will also need to outline, draft, edit and publish their questions and answers.

- Learning Supports. The Learning Manager will scaffold the students’ learning by assisting them to brainstorm information about their knowledge and understanding and to identify areas where further information will need to be sourced. The Learning Manager can conduct teacher-student conferences to assist them to create accurate quizzes for their peers.

Once the students have constructed their tests, they can upload them to the ClassMarker site. They can provide a link to their test for other students to complete.

I feel that this technology is useful as it gives the students ownership of their learning. However, this may not be appropriate in the Early Years, but it could definitely be used in the older grades.

Melissa.

References

AusInfo. (2003). The Learning Design Construct. Retrieved July 24, 2009, from Learning Design: http://www.learningdesigns.uow.edu.au/project/learn_design.htm

ClassMarker. (2009). Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved August 1, 2009, from http://www.classmarker.com/faq.php

Marzano, R., Pickering, D., Arredondo, D., Blackburn, G., Brandt, R., Mofett, C., et al. (1997). Dimensions of Learning: Teacher's Manuel. Colorado, USA: Mid-Continent Regional Educational Laboratory.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Using Flickr in the classroom

Hi everyone,

I have not been able to implement this into a classroom, so here are my ideas of how this tool could be used with Year Four students as an example.

Year Four students are studying animals and are going on an excursion to Australia Zoo. Their job is to take photos of their animal that they are studying. Once they get back to the classroom, they must upload these photos to their own Flickr account. Once they have uploaded these pictures, they are required to link them to their own wiki as a reference point for their oral presentation.

Students are also required to search the Flickr site for images relating to their animal of study. Once they have found images relating to their study topic, they will link and embed them into their wiki.

After their oral presentation, the students will respond to the following questions:
- Why did they choose those pictures?
- What makes them effective?

Also, ask the students to reflect on their process and discuss the challenges they faced and the strategies they employed to overcome these difficulties.

Reflecting upon this task, had I implemented it, the following challenges may have arisen:

- Equal sharing of the camera during the excursion. Students could possibly use personal cameras.
- Time to upload photos to Flickr. The Learning Manager could assist students in learning how to compress files to make them easier to upload through the use of a program such as Microsoft Picture Manager.
- Assist students to set up their own Flickr account. Use a data projector to show the students how to create their own account before they do it themselves.
- Scaffold students’ learning and show them how to embed and link their photos to the class blog or wiki. Use a data projector to show students how to complete this first.
- Computer access. If there are not many computers available for access, set up group rotations, making this activity a group rotation ensures all students have the opportunity to set up their account and upload photos.

The use of this technological tool relates to the ICT Learning framework (AusInfo, 2003). This framework is broken into three components:

- Learning Tasks – students are engaged in real-life authentic learning tasks
- Learning Resources – the resources necessary to complete the task
- Learning Support – scaffolding provided by the Learning Manager to assist students to complete the task.

Within this task, the students will be using all of the components of the framework. They are gathering resources for a task that is authentic and relevant to their world by taking their own photos as well as searching for other images on the Flickr site. The Learning Manager is giving the students support by scaffolding their learning to create an account, upload photos and link to blogs and wikis.

Once students have established their own account, they can also organise photos into folders, upload personal photos, and have access to these files at anytime (Yahoo7 , 2009).

Even though I did not have the opportunity to implement this idea into a classroom, I believe that it would have been an effective task for the students.

Melissa.

References

AusInfo. (2003). The Learning Design Construct. Retrieved July 24, 2009, from Learning Design: http://www.learningdesigns.uow.edu.au/project/learn_design.htm

Yahoo7 . (2009). What is Flickr? Retrieved August 1, 2009, from Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/tour/

Wiki - A sample unit plan

Hello everyone,

Here is an outline that I have created for the use of a wiki within the classroom. I have not been able to implement this, but hopefully one day I may get the chance.

Key Question- "How does recycling save our environment?"

Grade: Year 5
Unit Length: 5 weeks
Topic: Recycling

Outcomes

Science Essential Learnings
Science can help make natural, social and built environments sustainable and may influence personal human activities.

English Essential Learnings
The purpose of writing and designing includes entertaining, informing and describing.

The intended outcomes (derived from these Essential Learnings) are:
- Students will understand the impact that recycling has upon the environment
- Students will understand what is required within the recycling process
- Students will understand the elements associated with a wiki
- Students will create and edit a wiki
- Students will write and present an oral presentation about recycling using the wiki as an aide
- Students will prepare a wiki for publishing

Task Description
In teams, students will work collaboratively and populate a class wiki, which will form the basis of a presentation in their local community about recycling. The students will also send their information into Wikipedia for verification to be published on that site.


Weekly Overview
Week One: Students are hooked into the unit by visiting the recycling centre. They are informed about the amount of rubbish that is placed into landfill that should be placed in recycling. On the wiki, they will post pictures and comments of their visit to the recycling centre. Students are able to add and edit comments where appropriate.

Week Two: Students investigate how to recycle. The Learning Manager will place links on the wiki for students to visit that will assist them in finding information about recycling. Students will view these clips and read necessary material and comment on their learning on the wiki. Within their groups, they will research recycling and place information that they find on the class wiki site. The Learning Manager will monitor the use of this wiki and ensure that all students’ workload is the same.

Week Three: Students will investigate current recycling measures within the community and identify ways that these can be improved. Students will post their thoughts and ideas to the wiki. They will also begin to identify ways that they can create an effective presentation.

Week Four: Students will begin to use the information from their wiki and use it to create their presentation. Students investigate other wikis to analyse their information and sources to ensure their classroom wiki is accurate and succinct.

Week Five: Students will finish writing their oral presentation, using the information gained from the wiki. They will give their oral presentation to the class as well as an information afternoon at the local community centre. They will use their wiki as an aide to their presentation. After the presentations, students will reflect upon their new understandings. With the Learning Manager’s assistance, students will submit their completed wiki to Wikipedia for verification before publishing.

This unit plan could also be designed to fit the Learning Engagement Theory (Kearsley & Shneiderman, 1999). This could be outlined as follows:

Relate – students have identified a real world, authentic task in which they need to find a solution.
Create – students must design an effective oral presentation, using a wiki created collaboratively with peers about recycling.
Donate – students conduct their oral presentation at their local community centre. Students also submit their wiki to Wikipedia for verification before publishing.

I hope that this provides a general overview of how to effectively use a wiki within classroom instruction.

Melissa.

References

Kearsley, G., & Shneiderman, B. (1999). Engagement Theory:. Retrieved July 10, 2009, from http://home.sprynet.com/~gkearsley/engage.htm

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Digital Storytelling

Hi everyone,

In the classroom, story time can be considered an activity where teachers sit and read a book to the students. Although this form of literacy is still vitally important in a child’s education (Winch, Johnston, Holiday, Ljungdahl, & March, 2006), Digital Storytelling has become a new way of viewing and responding to text (Lubbock Independent School District, 2009).

Digital storytelling within the classroom allows (Lubbock Independent School District, 2009):
- Engaging learning experiences
- Faster pace of learning
- Opportunities for creativity
- Use of multiple intelligences

A Digital Story needs to be (Lubbock Independent School District, 2009):
- Clear and concise
- Personal
- Planned
- Constructed with readily available resources
- Formed in collaboration with others
- Engaging for the audience

Creating a Digital Story involves (Lubbock Independent School District, 2009):
1. Planning
2. Producing
3. Presenting
4. Assessing

It seems to be really simple to create a Digital Story. The software required is, but not limited to, Windows Photo Story or Windows Movie Maker. Students can also import and edit pictures from their Picnik account.

This program could be incorporated into all year levels by creating a display of classroom work throughout the year. Specifically within the Early Years, teachers use digital portfolios to showcase students’ learning throughout the year in alignment with a report card.

This is an example of a task that I have just designed myself, which could be used within the classroom. Year Three students have been learning about sea creatures and have just been to Underwater World for an excursion. Whilst they were there, they took pictures of marine life and took notes about how to effectively care for these animals. Once they returned to school, their teacher asked them to take on the role of a sea creature and give a presentation from that creature’s perspective. Students were allowed to use photos from the trip and also from Internet searches. They were asked to present their findings by using either Windows Photo Story 3 or Windows Movie Maker.

Here is how the task relates to the Learning Engagement Theory (Kearsley & Shneiderman, 1999):

- Relate. Students would work collaboratively in teams to create a presentation from the perspective of a sea creature.

- Create. Students would gather resources from their excursion, using photos and written notes. They would also search the Internet for information pertaining to their chosen creature. Students would upload pictures and place text and sound over the images to tell the story of their chosen animal.

- Donate. Students would place their completed presentation on the Learning Manager’s MediaFire account, which is shared with other Learning Managers to use within their classroom. The students would also provide links to their completed presentation in a class handout. Students would also visit a lower grade and show them their completed stories.

Although I have not had the opportunity to use this resource within the classroom, I believe that it would be effective. It also links well with other Key Learning Areas such as, ICT, English, Arts, SOSE and Science. It is definitely a resource that I will be looking to use in the future.

As a final thought about the use of this technology, consider this quote by Marco Antonio Torres, an expert within Digital Storytelling who states, “Digital kids need learning to be relevant, meaningful and applicable now” (Lubbock Independent School District, 2009).

Until next time,

Melissa.

References

Kearsley, G., & Shneiderman, B. (1999). Engagement Theory:. Retrieved July 10, 2009, from http://home.sprynet.com/~gkearsley/engage.htm

Lubbock Independent School District. (2009). Digital Storytelling. Retrieved August 18, 2009, from http://www.lubbockisd.org/sfirenza/storytelling/

Winch, G., Johnston, R. R., Holiday, M., Ljungdahl, L., & March, P. (2006). Literacy: Reading, Writing and Children's Literature: 3ed. South Melbourne, VIC, Australia: Oxford University Press.

Blogs in the classroom - effective?

Hi everyone,

As I do not have the ability to gain access to a class to trial the use of blogs, I will just post my thoughts on this technology tool.

Recently in an English presentation, my group presented the argument that blogs should be used as a tool for literacy instruction.

The use of blogs within the classroom can promote the following attributes in students:

- Interactivity (Weiland & Hayden, 2007)
- Collaborative learning with peers
- Sense of community in the classroom
- Creating own opinions and viewpoints
- Personal reflection
- Critical thinking skills
- Assist with confidence and clarity
- Lifelong learning
- Higher order thinking
(Williams & Jacobs, 2004)

The Learning Manager could create a blog and post homework, links to sites and encourage students to post comments and reflect on classroom learning. It will also be important that the students are taught correct netiquette as well as being safe online.

There are three keys to an effective blog:

1. Evidence of a clear and strong sense of purpose
2. Recognisable and well-informed point of view
3. A good standard of presentation
(Lankshear & Knobel, 2003).

Blogs can be used as a great collaborative and engaging tool for students. Although they link well to multiple learning theories, Siemens (2005) states that learning best occurs within networks. One of the principles of connectivism is that learning and knowledge is constructed when viewing different perspectives and opinions (Siemens, 2005).

The use of blogs within the classroom is endless. For example, they can be used to upload photos of recent trips and allow the students to comment on their images, or post homework assignments. It is important to note that a password can be set to ensure that only the Learning Manager and students are able to view their blog to maintain online safety standards. They are a great tool and when used in the correct context, have great learning benefits for the students.

Melissa

References

Lankshear, C., & Knobel, M. (2003). New Literacies: Changing Knowledge and Classroom Learning. Buckingham, UK: Open University Press.

Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. Retrieved July 16, 2009, from http://wwww.elearnspace.or/Articles/connectivism.htm

Weiland, S., & Hayden, R. (2007). Online Literacy for Distance Learning. Retrieved August 5, 2009, from http://www.uwex.edu/disted/conference/Resource_library/proceedings/07_5182.pdf

Williams, J. B., & Jacobs, J. (2004). Exploring the use of blogs as learning spaces in the higher education sector. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology , 20 (2), 232-247.

PowerPoint (Quiz)

Hi everyone,

I have just learnt about how to create hyperlinks within PowerPoint presentations. I followed the instruction guide on creating PowerPoint buttons through the Internet4Classrooms website. I never knew that in PowerPoint, links can be added to easily other sites and pages throughout the presentation. Buttons can be designed for the user to either click on or hover the mouse over for them to perform their function (Brooks & Byles, 2000).

I have created a very simple PowerPoint for my Prep students to help them to understand colours. I would also have them try to use their prior knowledge of sounds and find the word that corresponds to the colour. For example, pink – they would need to look for the ‘p’ word. Below is the link to my MediaFire account where this quiz is located.

Colour PowerPoint Quiz

I found that the creation of this quiz was quite time consuming. I have concluded that ClassMarker seems easier for the Learning Manager and students to create and use. The only problem with ClassMarker is that once students have chosen an answer, they are unable to change it. However, by creating a PowerPoint Quiz, it can be considered an informal test or learning activity for students.

In the upper grades, students could use this technology to create their own quizzes for classmates, based upon their classroom work. This would assist students to gain a deeper understanding of their content knowledge and develop ICT skills. It is also important to note that students would need to understand copyright laws to ensure that they are creating their own original work.

The use of this technology relates to the Learning Engagement Theory (Kearsley & Shneiderman, 1999) by using the following framework:

- Relate – students work in collaborative teams to create a quiz for their peers in a real-life context.
- Create – the PowerPoint is created based on a problem. For example, students create a PowerPoint for their peers to test their understanding of how climate change is affecting their local community.
- Donate – students allow access to the PowerPoint and provide opportunities for peers and teachers alike to test their knowledge.

Although this technology is time consuming, it is a good learning tool that students can take ownership of and present to their peers a quiz that challenges current knowledge and viewpoints.

As a Learning Manager, it would be my role to facilitate and scaffold students’ learning of how to effectively use this tool. It would also be important that I teach the students appropriate research and referencing skills so that they create a PowerPoint within copyright laws.

Melissa.

References

Brooks, S., & Byles, B. (2000). PowerPoint: Using Buttons on a Slide Show. Retrieved August 17, 2009, from Internet4Classrooms: http://www.internet4classrooms.com/pp_buttons_show.htm

Kearsley, G., & Shneiderman, B. (1999). Engagement Theory:. Retrieved July 10, 2009, from http://home.sprynet.com/~gkearsley/engage.htm

VoiceThread

Hello again,

VoiceThread is a collaborative program that contains documents, images, video and music. It allows users from around the world to leave comments via five different ways, voice (microphone or telephone), text, audio or video (VoiceThread, 2009). Files can be uploaded from computers or websites and exported to MP3 or DVD players (VoiceThread, 2009).

Recently I uploaded a picture that I had on my computer entitled, ‘Autumn Leaves’. Once I uploaded this file, I then posted a voice comment on the picture. I described what it was and how it could be used in the classroom. I also included a text comment, which was a description of the picture. After commenting on this picture, I made this ‘view’ public, and embedded the code into my blog.

Click here to view my VoiceThread file.

After completing this activity, I considered the implications of this technology within the classroom.

The theory of connectivism (Siemens, 2005) suggests that learning occurs in a variety of ways - through the use of personal networks, communities of practice and continual practice. These can be defined as tools to be used to shape students’ thinking. Therefore, the selection of appropriate technology within the classroom is paramount.

Connectivism provides the opportunity to learn through the use of networks and connections to aide thinking and learning (Siemens, 2005). VoiceThread links to this theory by providing an opportunity for students to view the images and video, comment on them, and view others’ thoughts on the file. The Learning Manager could set up a class page, where students are able to upload images and other documents for their classmates to view and provide comments. It is the responsibility of the Learning Manager to ensure that students remain safe online and netiquette standards are upheld.

The only negatives with this site is that within EQ schools the internet bandwidth is slow, therefore, it would take a considerable amount of time to load documents, especially if multiple comments have been given, through audio means. The Learning Manager could load the program during lunch breaks, making it easily accessible for students. Another option is for the Learning Manager to provide the URL for students to access at home, where they could view the image or video and record their own comments. When placing comments via audio means, it requires the use of a microphone. These can be purchased cheaply and are useful to teach students how to correctly record using an audio device.

I believe that I could use this technology within the classroom, provided that I allowed for time for it to load on the school computers. In the Early Years, with assistance, students could leave purely an audio comment. Whereas in the older grades, they could experiment with a variety of comment tools and use this program to analyse pictures and videos that would relate to a wide range of Key Learning Areas.

I believe this technology would work in the classroom, provided that the Learning Manager was willing to create meaningful learning experiences to accompany this program.

Melissa.

References

Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. Retrieved July 16, 2009, from http://wwww.elearnspace.or/Articles/connectivism.htm

VoiceThread. (2009). VoiceThread. Retrieved August 14, 2009, from http://voicethread.com/about

MediaFire (File Storage)

Hello everyone,

Technology is a great learning tool, however, sometimes can be unpredictable. At times, when I have gone to use a USB stick to open a presentation or document found that it does not work and the files have been lost. Therefore, it is recommended that all files, such as photos and documents be backed up on another file system to ensure that data is not lost forever!

A handy file storage system that I have discovered through this course is MediaFire. Not only does it provide storage, but allows the user to share these files publicly on the web (MediaFire, 2009). Files can be uploaded and stored in customised folders, making it easier to organise and share files. It is also able to embed links to allow the user to share files through blogs, forums or websites. This site allows files to be set to either public or private, and passwords can also be added to ensure optimum safety.

Here is the link to the file that I have uploaded to be shared - Letter 'a' worksheet. This file is a worksheet that could be used with younger students in phonic lessons.

The use of this program within the classroom would allow the Learning Manager to upload files pertaining to classroom work for the students to download both during and after school hours. Students could also have access to provide additional security for assignments, as opposed to carrying USB sticks to and from school. This would also allow the Learning Manager to make classroom work publicly available for parents to access from their home or workplace. It would require the Learning Manager to place a password upon these files, to ensure that only parents would be able to view students' work. Other considerations that would have to be made are to ensure that any photos of students were either blurred, or permission was granted from parents/guardians.

The use of this site could also prove to be a great collaborative tool with other Learning Managers to share documents and images of different resources or ideas for the classroom.

The use of this technology can link to the ICT Learning Design Model. This framework discusses how the learning process has three stages (AusInfo, 2003):

- Learning Tasks – creating authentic and meaningful tasks.
- Learning Resources – identifying the resources required to complete the task.
- Learning Supports – scaffolding by the Learning Manager to ensure all students will be able to complete the task.

I believe that this site could be used within the Learning Resources and Learning Support sections of this model. The Learning Manager can assist students by uploading files that can be used as part of their resources for their tasks.

This technology is advantageous as a back-up storage facility as well as providing an opportunity to share files with others. The question that I have with this technology is the upload and download time required, considering the bandwidth speed at EQ schools. This could be overcome by the Learning Manager uploading or downloading files before or after school for students. Alternatively, the students could access their files at home. Overall, this is a worthwhile tool to use within the classroom to provide an online storage facility for the easy retrieval of data.

Melissa.

References

AusInfo. (2003). The Learning Design Construct. Retrieved July 24, 2009, from Learning Design: http://www.learningdesigns.uow.edu.au/project/learn_design.htm

MediaFire. (2009). What is MediaFire? Retrieved August 16, 2009, from http://www.mediafire.com/about.php

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Creative Commons

Creative Commons is a corporation whose focus is to assist to share the work of other people ensuring that copyright rules are maintained. They also provide free licenses for the creator to identify how much access and use others be allowed (Creative Commons, 2009).


Reference


Creative Commons. (2009). What is it? Retrieved August 14, 2009, from http://creativecommons.org/about/what-is-cc

Music (Incompetech)

Hi everyone,


I recently searched on the Incompetech website to locate a piece of royalty-free music that I could use within the classroom. In this section of the site the music is covered under the Creative Commons agreement (refer to next post).


I found a piece of music entitled, ‘Water Prelude.’ After downloading, I listened to it and it sounded relaxing. I considered how I could incorporate this into the classroom. At the beginning of the year, my Prep students had rest time. This could be played to create a sense of calm and rest within the classroom.


I also considered other music that I could search for on this site.


1. Pack-up music. This is a good way for students to be engaged when packing away materials.
2. Transition music. This could be played for the changing of group rotations.
3. Presentation music. Students could select music to play as an accompaniment to their presentations.
4. Music as a subject. Students could analyse and discuss the patterns and musical elements within the piece.


The use of music within the classroom can be aligned to the theory of Active Learning (ACU Adams Centre for Teaching Excellence, 2000). Active Learning is split into three components, input, process and output. The use of music relates to the first component in the following way:


- Input. Active Learning requires input from multiple senses. Music assists with the auditory and feeling component.


Music is an effective tool to engage or manage students within the classroom.


Feel free to leave a comment about your thoughts to the use of music within the classroom.


Melissa.


Reference


ACU Adams Centre for Teaching Excellence. (2000). How does Active Learning work? Retrieved August 3, 2009, from Active Learning Online: http://www.acu.edu/cte/activelearning/howdoes.htm

Thursday, 13 August 2009

SlideShare


Hi everyone,

Here is the slideshow that I have uploaded in the free program SlideShare. This allows anyone to sign up and upload PowerPoint files to a publicly viewable space. I have uploaded a PowerPoint on the Lifecycle of a Butterfly which I used for my Prep class. This PowerPoint presentation is very simple, yet caters for a variety of learning styles. There are pictures for the visual learners and links to interactive sites for the audio and kinaesthetic learners. As the students are in Prep, I am unable to place text for them to read on the screen, hence the pictures!

Here is the slideshow:





This site also allows the user to create and upload a narration file. Once this has been uploaded, the user can synchronise the slides to fit the presentation (SlideShare, 2009). The presentation then becomes a video presentation. I have tried repeatedly to upload the narration file, but to no avail. I also attempted to use music that already existed on my computer, but this too did not work. I do believe, had this technology worked correctly, it would be useful within the classroom. Students could record using a microphone, their narration to their PowerPoint presentation. This could be used as a method of assessment and assist the shy students by allowing them to create this presentation, without peer judgement.

This learning tool links to the Active Learning pedagogical framework by:
(ACU Adams Centre for Teaching Excellence, 2000)

- Input. Students are receiving input through hearing the music and seeing the visual images.

- Process. Students collaborate with others to create their presentation. They also use various technologies such as microphones, music files, PowerPoint and SlideShare to create their presentation. They also need to use the scaffolding by the Learning Manager to assist them to successfully complete the task.

- Output. Students produce their own presentation, complete with an audio narration file. They load their presentation onto the SlideShare account to share with others. Students will also give their presentation in a time allocated by the Learning Manager in the classroom.

Once again, here is another fabulous program for use in the classroom. It would allow me to create authentic and rich tasks to suit this pedagogical tool.

Melissa.

Reference

ACU Adams Centre for Teaching Excellence. (2000). How does Active Learning work? Retrieved August 3, 2009, from Active Learning Online: http://www.acu.edu/cte/activelearning/howdoes.htm

SlideShare. (2009). About Us. Retrieved August 13, 2009, from http://www.slideshare.net/about

Wikipedia

Hi again,

In this post, I am investigating the use of Wikipedia in the classroom.

Wikipedia is a web-based, free encyclopaedia. It combines the words wiki (a shared website, of which anyone can edit) and encyclopaedia (Wikipedia, 2009). This site is written and edited collaboratively by anyone who joins Wikipedia. Therefore, care must be taken before referencing this material. Each article provides links at the bottom of the page to sites where the information was sourced. It is useful to then check whether these sites are credible before referencing in assessment documents.

However, Wikipedia is a great tool to provide background knowledge on a topic before further exploration is undertaken. The Wikipedia site is continually updated; therefore, information can be more current than print articles (Wikipedia, 2009).

I decided to conduct a search on the topic that I will be exploring with my Prep students. We have been looking at various job occupations within the community. We have explored Paramedics, Fire Fighters, Doctors and more recently Police Officers. A local Police Officer visited the class and discussed with the students the role and responsibility of his occupation. The students were able to view a police vehicle and try on police uniforms.

I now have the opportunity to conduct a follow-up lesson to this visit. I decided to look on Wikipedia to search for the page on Police Officers. This site was at a level above the Prep students; however, I decided that I could still use it for general information. Here is the link to the Wikipedia site - Police Officers. I have come to the conclusion that I can use the site in the following ways:-

- Place the website on the data projector and show the students the pictures of the Police Officers. Discuss the similarities and differences between the Police Officer that visited and the pictures.

- Selectively read to students the role of the Police Officer. Activate students’ prior knowledge and ask them to link the information that they gained through the talk to the website.

In the older grades, the Learning Manager needs to explain to students that Wikipedia is a good starting point; however, the following questions need to be asked when using this site:

- Are the references credible? Discuss how to determine credible sources.

- Does it support the views of other researched material?

Before allowing students to use this site, it would be advisable for the Learning Manager to censor references at the conclusion of the page to ensure that the links are appropriate for students to access.

The use of this learning tool can be viewed through a connectivist perspective (Siemens, 2005). This theory has been developed specifically for the digital age. The focus of connectivism is that decisions are made based upon the continual acquisition of knowledge (Siemens, 2005). Accurate and current knowledge is one of the main principles of connectivism, which may occur through the use of technology. Students need to understand how to decipher between important and unimportant information. Wikipedia is currently updating information; therefore, students need to understand that information is not static but is ever changing. Although information may be correct one day, due to societal changes, it may be revised in the future (Siemens, 2005).

The use of Wikipedia in the classroom is helpful as a beginning reference point, provided that the Learning Manager scaffolds students’ understanding of the use of this resource.

Until next time,

Melissa.

References

Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. Retrieved July 16, 2009, from http://wwww.elearnspace.or/Articles/connectivism.htm

Wikipedia. (2009). About Wikipedia. Retrieved August 13, 2009, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia

Wikipedia. (2009). Police Officers. Retrieved August 13, 2009, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Police_officers

Monday, 10 August 2009

WebQuests

Hello everyone,

WebQuests are such an engaging tool for students in the classroom. It begins with an authentic context, usually a problem that requires the students to work through the site to obtain the answer.

In SOSE (Studies of Society and Environments) last year, I constructed a WebQuest in collaboration with a peer. We used Microsoft Word as our WebQuest program, which can be considered the easiest program to use. The only problem that we had was linking the pages and pictures together. At times, I was required to manually update all the links to ensure that it worked when we presented the assignment. If I were to use this technology within the classroom in the future, I would investigate the use of a better program to ensure that a smooth learning experience occurs for the students. A site such as WebQuest Direct provides suggestions and tips for obtaining your own WebQuest.

We were required to pick a topic of sustainability. The topic question that students sought to find an answer was, “If the Sunshine Coast is giving water to other parts of Queensland, how can I reduce my water usage and how can I tell others to reduce their usage?”
Students were required to create a presentation (PowerPoint, poster or brochure) using the information from the WebQuest to assist them in answering the topic question. This task was aimed at a Year Three level; therefore, the Learning Manager significantly scaffolded their learning journey.

In this WebQuest, it required students to work collaboratively with peers. We created a mascot that ‘guided’ them through each stage. We used this approach, as we believed it would assist with student engagement. The use of WebQuests within the classroom aligns with Vygotsky’s theory, whereby, learning gains are made when students work with peers (Nichols, 2007).
I think that it is also important to note that the use of the Learning Engagement Theory (Kearsley & Shneiderman, 1999) is appropriate within this situation. The use of this theory is applied in the following way:

Relate – Students were required to work in groups for this WebQuest.

Create – Students were given an authentic, real-life problem to which they needed to seek out relevant answers. They were required to create a presentation that highlighted ways that they could save water around their home, school and community.

Donate – The students were required to present their findings to their class, as well as write an article for the local newspaper, encouraging their local community to save water.

WebQuests can be a long task for the Learning Manager to create. However, once in place, the role of the Learning Manager is to assist students in the literacy components of the WebQuest, as well as provide additional scaffolding where necessary. The Learning Manager is also required to continually censor the links on the site, as well as pose higher-order thinking questions that allow students to gain a deeper understanding of the focus topic.

I personally believe that WebQuests are a valuable tool within the classroom. My only concern is for the students to be safe online when following links to sites, even with censoring by the Learning Manager.

The use of WebQuests, as opposed to the traditional approach of learning, would require easy access to computers within the school. If technology was lacking, the Learning Manager could employ a rotation system, which would allow all groups to engage in this learning tool.

Nevertheless, WebQuests are an effective tool for the engagement of digital native students (Prensky, 2001). Although they may be time consuming to complete and monitor, the role and responsibility of the Learning Manager is to ensure that all students make learning gains.

Melissa.

References

Kearsley, G., & Shneiderman, B. (1999). Engagement Theory.Retrieved July 10, 2009, from http://home.sprynet.com/~gkearsley/engage.htm

Nichols, K. (2007). What is learning? Current knowledge and theories. In R. Smith, D. Lynch, & B. A. Knight, Learning Management: Transitioning teachers for national and international change (pp. 21-29). Frenchs Forest, NSW, Australia: Pearson Education Australia.

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital Native, Digital Immigrants. On the Horizon , 9 (5), 1-6.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Travel around with Google Earth!

Hi everyone,

Recently, I downloaded Google Earth. This program enables users to view aerial images of places around the earth. Recently in Australia, Google Street View was added. This allows the user to view pictures of streets in cities around Australia.

I recently used this resource in one of my lessons. My Prep students are studying job roles within their community. This specific lesson was to focus on the relationship between hospitals, paramedics and ambulances. I decided to use this technology as the hook into the lesson. Previously, I was made aware of the speed of the computers at school; therefore, at home, I entered the details of the nearest hospital, and took a screen dump of the aerial shot. I then pasted this into Microsoft Word. I repeated the same process using Street View. I took screen dumps of the ambulances waiting outside the emergency department as well as the entrance to the hospital. These images were shown to the students using the Word document and Data Projector. This was effective as it provided a great starting point for discussion.

I considered the use of this technology in upper grades and concluded that it aligned well with the Learning Design Framework (AusInfo, 2003).
For example, within the SOSE Essential Learnings (Queensland Studies Authority, 2008), the juncture by the end of Year five states,

“Environments are defined by physical and human dimensions.”

For example, the task may require students to identify land features and explore problems within their own environment.

The Learning Design Framework (AusInfo, 2003) can be applied as summarised below:

- Learning Tasks – The problem is for students to investigate their local environment.

- Learning Resources - Google Earth, in conjunction with other resources, can assist in the acquisition of knowledge with students viewing landforms from an aerial perspective.

- Learning Supports – Students will use the information that the resources provide to make informed judgements in conjunction with scaffolding from the Learning Manager.

The use of this framework is also supported by the Productive Pedagogies Framework, specifically, 'Connectedness to the world' (Education Queensland, 2006). Authentic learning experiences are created when students are presented with real-life challenges and connections are made to their lives outside the classroom.

The only problem with this technology is that needs to be downloaded from the Internet on each computer. Due to the slow bandwidth connection in schools, Learning Managers will need to be prepared and allocate time before lessons to install this program.

This is a great tool to use in the classroom for students to view countries around the world from an aerial perspective. It is one of the tools that I will be attempting to incorporate into the classroom.

Melissa.

References

AusInfo. (2003). The Learning Design Construct. Retrieved July 24, 2009, from Learning Design: http://www.learningdesigns.uow.edu.au/project/learn_design.htm

Education Queensland. (2006). Productive Pedagogies. Brisbane, QLD, Australia: Curriculum Implementation Unit.


Queensland Studies Authority. (2008). Essential Learnings: SOSE. Brisbane, QLD, Australia: Author.

Podcasts - Learning Engagement?

Hello again,

Podcasting has become a great tool that can be incorporated into the classroom. The Learning Manager needs to understand how to effectively use it as a pedagogical approach.

After downloading iTunes, I was searching for podcasts that I could download and use within the classroom for my students. I came across ‘Podkids Australia’ (Orange Grove Primary School, 2009). I Internet searched this name and it led me to their homepage. Year 4/5 students in Western Australia have created this podcast to document their learning journey. Even though I teach a Prep class, I considered how this podcast could be used for children in an older age group. For example, one of the podcasts is on ANZAC Day. The children have interviewed war veterans and commented on the ceremony that was held at their school. This use of this podcast could be at a variety of times during ANZAC Day discussions. The Learning Manager could play it for the students to analyse perspectives of the war veterans. This activity could be used in a lesson that is targeting complex reasoning (Marzano, et al., 1997).

Podcasts can be used within the classroom in the following ways. Students and teachers can create their own materials then record and upload it, or existing files can be downloaded through the use of a program such as iTunes.

Podcasts allows students to create and share learning experiences. It allows them to be exposed to a variety of material from around the world. This style of learning creates meaningful and authentic assessment options for the Learning Manager (Department of Education and Training Western Australia, 2009).

The flexibility of this technology allows students to access the material from the Learning Manager and listen whenever they wish, generally through the use of an mp3 player. This mode of delivery promotes podcasting as a valuable pedagogical approach (Department of Education and Training Western Australia, 2009).

This educational tool aligns with the Learning Engagement Theory (Kearsley & Shneiderman, 1999). This theory promotes human interaction, rather than individual interaction with a computer program. Therefore, the use of podcasting can be viewed through the Relate-Create-Donate approach. The use of podcasts in this theory is documented below.

Relate – Students work collaboratively and focus on effective communication, planning and social skills.

Create – Students create their podcast as an authentic assessment task. This could be demonstrated by role-playing an interview based upon a problem that has been identified within their community.

Donate – Students are given the opportunity to publish and share their podcast as a solution for a problem identified in the ‘create' phase.

As shown above, this e-learning tool can be used within the classroom. Again, it is the responsibility of the Learning Manager to equip themselves with the skills and acquire the appropriate technology to implement this approach into the classroom. Personally, I think that it is a worthwhile tool, as many students have access to technology such as an mp3 player. It is the role of the Learning Manager to ensure that all students are able to access the podcast and to cater for student diversity where appropriate.

Melissa.

References

Department of Education and Training Western Australia. (2009). Retrieved August 8, 2009, from Podcasts in the Classroom: http://www.det.wa.edu.au/education/cmis/eval/curriculum/ict/podcasts/

Kearsley, G., & Shneiderman, B. (1999). Engagement Theory:. Retrieved July 10, 2009, from http://home.sprynet.com/~gkearsley/engage.htm

Marzano, R., Pickering, D., Arredondo, D., Blackburn, G., Brandt, R., Mofett, C., et al. (1997). Dimensions of Learning: Teacher's Manuel. Colorado, USA: Mid-Continent Regional Educational Laboratory.

Orange Grove Primary School. (2009). Podkids Australia. Retrieved August 8, 2009, from http://www.podkids.com.au/

YouTube - An Active Learning Tool?

Hi all,

YouTube is a well known video sharing site. It contains a large amount of videos that can be effectively used within the classroom.

Recently, I showed a YouTube clip to my Prep students. Over the last few weeks, my lessons have aimed to orientate students to different job occupations within the community. In this particular lesson, students were exploring the role of a Fire Fighter. The YouTube video clip was used to hook students into the content of the lesson. I found a clip on Fireman Sam and thought that it would be a good way to engage students into the role and responsibility of being a Fire Fighter. The students became really engaged in the lesson, and it provided a starting point for classroom discussion.

Click here for the link. I have also embedded it into this post as shown below.



There are sites such as TeacherTube that purely provides educational videos for teachers. Regardless of the video sharing site that is used, it is important to ensure that students are safe online. In some schools, only teachers are allowed to access these sites. However, the program KeepVid allows the Learning Manager to download the video prior to the lesson and play the them in the classroom or upload them to servers where students can access them. This program is useful to ensure that students are not exposed to inappropriate advertisements or comments when streaming the video live. This also overcomes any problems with bandwidth connection within a school. I was unaware of this program until the lecture/tutorial at university, which meant that in my lesson I streamed the video live. To ensure that the movie ran smoothly, I had to let it load during the lunch break at school. I also made the video into a full screen, before turning the data projector on and then turned it off before exiting from the full screen mode, to ensure that the students could not see any inappropriate advertisements or comments.

This piece of technology is extremely useful to engage or provide further information about a topic to students. It allows the Learning Manager to search for videos pertaining to the relevant unit of work being explored in the classroom.

This technology tool can be viewed through the lens of Active Learning (ACU Adams Centre for Teaching Excellence, 2000):

For example, a task for students may be to create a solution or response to a news topic recently featured in the media.

1. Input – viewing news reports though YouTube can assist the students to gain an understanding of their topic through multiple senses (seeing, hearing).

2. Process – working collaboratively, students can film their own news report or construct a moviemaker file.

3. Output – students can upload their created product to YouTube and reflect upon their response or solution to the problem.

YouTube can be used within the classroom as an effective pedagogical tool, provided the Learning Manager ensures that students remain safe online. I personally believe that it is an effective way to engage students in a task, whether it is used in the hook, body or conclusion. The key to using this tool effectively is to show students videos that specifically relate to the intended learning outcomes.
I will take this new knowledge and apply it into the classroom at my next opportunity.

Until next time,

Melissa.

References

ACU Adams Centre for Teaching Excellence. (2000). How does Active Learning work? Retrieved August 3, 2009, from Active Learning Online: http://www.acu.edu/cte/activelearning/howdoes.htm

Monday, 3 August 2009

Classmarker (Quizzes)

Hi everyone,

I have just recently signed up for another site which provides users with a program to create online quizzes. This site is called Class Marker. It was a bit difficult at first trying to navigate and understand how to create a test to post a link to my blog. However, I persisted and located the icon where I created my own test. After creating the test using a variety of multiple choice and true or false answer options, I created a group entitled, ‘University Blog Group’. Below is the link to this test.

Take our online test

The user has many options on this site such as determining the pass mark, whether answers can be viewed at the conclusion of the test and the inclusion of feedback (ClassMarker, 2009).

The test that I created was designed for my Prep class. Recently, we have been studying the lifecycle of a butterfly and using the story, ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ as the basis for this exploration. Although the problem that I have with using this site with younger students is that they are unable to read the questions, therefore, the Learning Manager would be required to read the questions to students and then wait for their response to place the mark in the correct box on the screen. In these Early Years, it would be beneficial as a whole class activity, or in small group rotations with adult supervision. As students progress through the school, this activity would become extremely helpful for teachers, as it would save on marking and correction. The only negative with this system is that teachers would be unable to provide feedback on students’ responses if the tests were created purely on true or false or multiple choice answers. As an alternative, the Learning Manager could create a few questions which require students to place a short response to the question posed.

Within the classroom, this style of testing can be determined by the Learning Manager to be used as either summative or formative assessment. Testing can be a positive conclusion to a unit that consolidates and links both their prior and newly constructed knowledge and skills throughout the unit of work. Testing also allows the Learning Manager to identify the areas that the students have an understanding of the content knowledge, or may need additional assistance. This mode of assessment can be viewed through the lens of a constructivist theorist’s perspective (Nichols, 2007). Students are required to apply content knowledge that has been constructed throughout the unit of work and recall these facts during the test.

I personally believe that testing can be a valuable tool, as long as the results are used by the Learning Manager to effectively adapt learning experiences. This online testing program would be positive within the classroom alongside another assessment piece, so that students have the opportunity to show their learning in a variety of contexts (Kearsley & Shneiderman, 1999). Using online testing may also assist students to overcome anxieties with traditional testing methods.

As with all technological products, the Learning Manager needs to ensure that resources are well prepared and accessible for all students. However, I believe that this style of testing will gradually become an effective tool for both Learning Manager and student.

Melissa.

References

ClassMarker. (2009). Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved August 1, 2009, from http://www.classmarker.com/faq.php

Kearsley, G., & Shneiderman, B. (1999). Engagement Theory:. Retrieved July 10, 2009, from http://home.sprynet.com/~gkearsley/engage.htm

Nichols, K. (2007). What is learning? Current knowledge and theories. In R. Smith, D. Lynch, & B. A. Knight, Learning Management: Transitioning teachers for national and international change (pp. 21-29). Frenchs Forest, NSW, Australia: Pearson Education Australia.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Picnik

Hello again,

After my last post, I discovered the pictures on Flickr can actually be edited using Picnik (I am definitely still learning!). Here is the link to Picnik. This is another free site to join and use. This enables users to link both accounts and publish photos for others to view. Photos can be linked from social networking sites and also uploaded from a computer. In this program, the user can crop, resize, rename, change colours and use many other editing functions (Picnik, 2009). For additional editing options, a small fee is payable per year.

Above is a photo that I linked from Flickr to Picnik. It is a photo of my dog, which I have cropped so that the wall that was on the right of the picture is not included. Although there are many photo editing programs in the marketplace such as Adobe Photoshop, they have costs involved and take time to develop knowledge and skills to use effectively. This site is simple and easy to use and can be shared with a variety of people, depending on privacy settings.

In my last post, the example of implementation in the classroom was of students creating a brochure, which aligned to Oliver’s Learning Theory (AusInfo, 2003). Picnik would be able to assist students in the second part of this theory, which is the resources phase. Students can edit their photos for their brochure, by cropping or changing colours to make them more effective. Having the ability to link from the Flickr account allows the Learning Manager to place photos in this account that will specifically assist the students when they are choosing photos to edit. This aligns to the third section of the Learning Theory, whereby the Learning Manager scaffolds the learning experience (AusInfo, 2003). The use of this site also has links across other Key Learning Areas such as Arts and ICT.

I am definitely exploring and creating a long list of websites and programs for my repertoire. It is essential to ensure that these programs are used to provide authentic learning experiences for students that engage them in higher order thinking.

Melissa.

References

AusInfo. (2003). The Learning Design Construct. Retrieved July 24, 2009, from Learning Design: http://www.learningdesigns.uow.edu.au/project/learn_design.htm

Picnik. (2009). Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved August 1, 2009, from Picnik: http://www.picnik.com/app#/home/faq

Flickr

Hi again,

Recently, I opened an account with the online picture facility Flickr. This site is completely free to join and use. I uploaded one of my digital pictures onto my own profile page. However, before loading, I used Microsoft Office Picture Manager to resize this photo so it was not a large file. After uploading my picture, I then searched for ‘Sunshine Coast’ and received many different photos of the Coast. I then saved this picture and placed it onto this blog (this is the picture on the left hand side). Flickr allows the user to upload, edit, share, organise and create cards for friends and family which can be shared with users around the world. Maps can be used to show where pictures were taken and investigate other pictures that have been taken in the same location. This also allows the user to keep in touch with family and friends as they can view the pictures, regardless of their location, as long as they have access to this site (Yahoo7 , 2009).

While I was completing this task, I thought about the practical uses of this technology in the classroom. Students could further enhance their ICT skills (link to Essential Learning Outcomes) and use a digital camera around the school, on excursions and at home. With the assistance of the Learning Manager, they could then upload their pictures onto this site for other students to view.

The issue of net safety could easily be overcome by ensuring that all parents have given permission for their students’ images to be placed on this site. I also investigated on this site that the user can set their profile to private which allows only family and friends to view their photos. This option would have to be used for students so that net safety standards are maintained.
Flickr can also be used if students are requiring pictures topic pertaining to classroom work. Learning Managers would need to monitor the use of the search function and ensure that students are using the safe search option on this site.

The practical use within the classroom is that Learning Managers can use it as a tool to engage students in visual literacy. They can place a picture on their whiteboard, through the use of a data projector and get students to write a creative piece based on that picture. Students could also search for photos to add into their writing pieces as well as provide authentic pictures for presentations that relate to their current unit of work. In Early Years’ classrooms, parents could assist students to upload photos and they could be used as a basis for show and tell.

Oliver’s Learning Theory effectively aligns to this learning tool. For example, Learning Managers could create a learning task whereby students are required to create a brochure for their community, thus engaging in the first part of the theory (AusInfo, 2003). Students would then be required to search in Flickr and locate pictures that can be incorporated into their task, which form the resources component of this theory. The third part of this framework is for the Learning Manager to scaffold students’ learning by providing learning experiences that assist them with the writing, designing and publishing of their brochure (AusInfo, 2003).

This technology can also be used with the site, Picnik. This site allows the user to edit pictures for documents, websites and presentations (more about this in the next post).
Flickr enables users to store their files and share them privately as opposed to Google Images, which is purely a search engine, making it a useful pedagogical tool in the classroom.
Next on the list is Picnik, so watch this space!
Melissa.

References
AusInfo. (2003). The Learning Design Construct. Retrieved July 24, 2009, from Learning Design: http://www.learningdesigns.uow.edu.au/project/learn_design.htm
Yahoo7 . (2009). What is Flickr? Retrieved August 1, 2009, from Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/tour/

Friday, 31 July 2009

PowerPoint

Hi everyone,

I believe that PowerPoint would have to be one of the simplest programs to use within the classroom. It is easy to create a new presentation, allowing the Learning Manager to upload images, movies and graphic organisers.

PowerPoint can be used as an effective delivery tool within the classroom to place key ideas and facts for the students to make notes about the content of the lesson. Links can also be easily placed for quick access to videos, learning objects and other sites relevant to their topic (Tuscaloosa City Schools, 2002).

When using PowerPoint there are many things to consider. Recently, I created a PowerPoint as a visual aide to my lesson. I was teaching my Prep students about the lifecycle of the butterfly. After downloading and saving pictures from the Internet, I placed them in the presentation. I had to ensure that these pictures would not become too blurry when they were shown through the data projector on the whiteboard. This was achieved by selecting pictures that had larger dimensions through the advanced search function on Google Images. I then placed links to learning objects that I was able to easily click on during the presentation and have the students complete. I placed notes on the slides as prompts for myself to pose higher order thinking questions for the students. When I was creating the PowerPoint, I used various animation tools such as shrinking, fading and zoom. Although these did not add academic value to the presentation, they assisted the children in remaining focused throughout this part of the lesson as they had not been exposed previously to this presentation format.

The links that I placed on various slides gave the students opportunities to work collaboratively. These sites were learning objects featured on various educational sites, primarily Education Queensland’s Learning Place (Education Queensland, 2009). The students were then encouraged to assist each other in completing the learning objects. A few students were able to have a go on the various sites. The students who did not have a turn were allowed to use the computers at the back of the classroom during the day to complete the activities, enabling me to cater for students' individual differences.

This collaborative learning approach links to the Learning Engagement Theory, whereby students are engaged in a group context and able to work together to achieve the desired outcome (Kearsley & Shneiderman, 1999). The activities had an authentic context as the students were learning about the lifecycle of the butterfly so they could apply their learning to understand how to effectively care for the living world.

A couple of PowerPoint tips that I have discovered when using this presentation mode:

- Be aware of the amount and size of text for each slide
- Ensure that the colour of the background and text is clearly readable for the students
- Save as a PowerPoint Show. This ensures that all pictures and movies can be viewed from any computer

I encourage you to try this technology within the classroom, however, pose these questions in conclusion, and look forward to hearing your thoughts.

1. As PowerPoint is arguably the most used presentation tool, is it becoming too common?
2. Are students not as engaged in their learning if for every project they have the option of creating a PowerPoint presentation?

Until next time,

Melissa.

References

Education Queensland. (2009). Retrieved July 10, 2009, from The Learning Place: http://education.qld.gov.au/learningplace

Kearsley, G., & Shneiderman, B. (1999). Engagement Theory:. Retrieved July 10, 2009, from http://home.sprynet.com/~gkearsley/engage.htm

Tuscaloosa City Schools. (2002). Using PowerPoint in the Classroom. Retrieved July 31, 2009, from Online Technology Learning Centre: http://www.online.tusc.k12.al.us/tutorials/pptclass/pptclass.htm

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Voki Avatars

Hi everyone,

In this posting, I aim to reflect on my creation of a Voki Avatar.

Click on this link for the site to create a Voki Avatar.

This site is free to join and I must admit I quite enjoyed customising my own avatar. The only problem is that the amount of text allocated for each avatar is smaller than fee-paying sites.

Featured below is the avatar I created.






I am planning to use an avatar in an upcoming university group presentation. The avatar will take on the role of a newsreader which will provide an introduction to our topic. This will allow for minimal group role changes throughout the presentation.

The students of today can be considered ‘digital natives’, therefore, require different methods of engagement compared to students twenty years ago (Prensky, 2001). Prensky (2001) continues by discussing that they have been exposed to technology such as mobile phones, computers and digital music players, which have contributed to their shorter attention span. Therefore, as Learning Managers, our role now incorporates educating students using a futures orientated pedagogy, rather than traditional rote learning (Prensky, 2001).

Prensky (2005) states the need to engage students in the curriculum through ways that are aligned with their fast-paced, technology-rich society. The use of a avatar could be effective within the classroom as an introductory hook into the lesson or unit of work. The avatar could take on a role within the lesson as an expert regarding the focus topic or as a segment in students’ oral presentations.

Allowing students to create their own avatar within the classroom can provide Learning Managers with explicit teachable moments in literacy training. Students would need to understand how to effectively create a piece of text that the avatar can articulate. This aligns with Oliver’s theory, whereby Learning Managers scaffold students’ learning in authentic contexts (AusInfo, 2003). After creating their piece of text, the students would then be able to produce their avatar, thus demonstrating their application of learning through this tool.

I believe that this piece of technology can be used within the classroom. The Learning Manager needs to value it as a pedagogical tool and create learning experiences that engage the students and ensure that learning outcomes are achieved.

Until next time,

Melissa.

References

AusInfo. (2003). The Learning Design Construct. Retrieved July 24, 2009, from Learning Design: http://www.learningdesigns.uow.edu.au/project/learn_design.htm

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital Native, Digital Immigrants. On the Horizon , 9 (5), 1-6.

Prensky, M. (2005, September/October). Engage Me or Enrage Me. Educause Review , 61-64.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Mahara - The Online Portfolio

Hi all,

At the end of last week, I created my Mahara account. To create the account, I was required to follow the online instructions and pay five dollars, charged annually, for access.

Mahara is an electronic portfolio program, which in its simplest form, is similar to a paper portfolio, only an online version (Mahara, 2009). Data such as blogs, resumes, multimedia and documents can be stored in this facility. The benefit of this system is to provide a central location for the storage of documents in a secure server environment. One of the benefits of using this system is that it is accessible through any computer internet connection.

Mahara can be considered as a valuable pedagogical tool in a new approach to teaching and learning. This program allows both students and Learning Managers to demonstrate their acquired knowledge, skills and learning to a selected audience. It provides a place for reflective practice that can be utilised for both teacher and student.

Within the classroom, this piece of technology can be used by providing students with a secure and simple environment where they are able to upload work samples and documents that they have created. This will allow other members of their class to view their portfolio. This is definitely a more formal approach to learning, whereas a wiki can be accessed and modified by any user, depending on the security settings.

This portfolio enables students to build a profile of themselves through text and pictures. It is an effective way to become familiar with the interests and hobbies of each class member. This aligns clearly with Dimension One strategies for developing positive attitudes and perceptions in the classroom (Marzano, et al., 1997).

There are many different programs that can be utilised within the classroom. I believe that as a Learning Manager, I need to identify specific knowledge and skills that I want the students to acquire and consider the range of different pedagogical tools that will enhance the creation of effective learning experiences.

I am looking forward to creating and expanding my Mahara profile.

Regards,

Melissa.

References

Mahara. (2009). About. Retrieved July 24, 2009, from Mahara - ePortfolio System: http://mahara.org/about

Marzano, R., Pickering, D., Arredondo, D., Blackburn, G., Brandt, R., Mofett, C., et al. (1997). Dimensions of Learning: Teacher's Manuel. Colorado, USA: Mid-Continent Regional Educational Laboratory.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Wikis - A valuable learning tool?

Hello everyone,

I have just recently created my own wiki page. Feel free to view this page using the following link,

http://melissawaleswiki.wetpaint.com/

Click on the following link and it will take you to a YouTube site which explains in simple terms the definition of a wiki and its uses. I found this clip extremely helpful which allowed me to create my site and reflect in this post on my experiences.

Wikis in Plain English

The following is a reflection of my understanding of the creation and use of a wiki.

A wiki is an online resource which promotes collaboration between users to add and modify content (Victorian Government, 2005). A wiki’s security setting can be set to only allow members of the site to view and modify content, or open for anyone to post comments and change data. It is the wiki’s creator that determines the level of access to their site.

When I setup my own wiki, I logged onto http://www.wetpaint.com/ and followed the online instructions to open my account. I was able to choose the colour scheme for my wiki and was able to decide the level of access I wanted other users to have. When prompted for a title, I chose, ‘Melissa’s Classroom Ideas’.

The aim of my wiki is to provide a site where members are able to add and modify pages that lists educational websites in an attempt to collate teaching resources and ideas.

After the creation of my wiki, I considered how this piece of technology could be incorporated into the classroom.

I believe that this piece of technology corresponds well with the Learning Engagement Theory (Kearsley & Shneiderman, 1999). This theory states that productive learning occurs when students are engaged in meaningful tasks through interaction with their peers. Effective collaboration can occur with the Learning Manager creating a class generic page where students can add and modify information pertaining to their classroom academic work. The use of this medium for collaboration with peers emphasises this as a valuable communication tool (Kearsley & Shneiderman, 1999).

I believe that this tool can be effectively used within the classroom. Students could upload pictures and information that is useful for group projects, thus allowing other group members to edit the project where necessary. To ensure safety and privacy of students, they can configure their settings to ensure that only their peers can view, add and modify content.

This piece of technology is very simple to setup, maintain and control, making it an effective learning tool in the classroom.

Regards,

Melissa.

References

Kearsley, G., & Shneiderman, B. (1999). Engagement Theory:. Retrieved July 10, 2009, from http://home.sprynet.com/~gkearsley/engage.htm

Victorian Government. (2005). Glossary. Retrieved July 16, 2009, from http://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/SARC/E-Democracy/Final_Report/Glossary.htm

Friday, 24 July 2009

RSS Feeds (Google Reader)

Hi all,

I have now been able to construct my RSS feed. The use of the acronym of RSS is defined as Really Simple Syndication. This system enables the user to subscribe to different websites such as news, blogs, audio and video. Regular updates from these sites are read using an RSS reader or aggregator. This reader checks the subscribed feeds for new works and updates automatically to allow the user to read the feeds from one simple location. A RSS feed symbol can be found on many websites and often is able to be accessed on the Internet Explorer task bar. There are many different reader programs, but the one that I have used for this assignment is Google Reader. Every time I join a new blog, it enables me to view it through this program.

A part of this assessment task is to comment on peers’ blogs. Google Reader provides a simple and effective way of checking if new posts have been made. This also provides a quick link to blog addresses where responses can be posted.

The incorporated of ICT in the classroom is fast becoming a desired pedagogical tool. Kearsley and Shneiderman (1999) discuss that technology can aid the engagement level of students. The intent of the Learning Engagement Theory is to provide a conceptual framework for teaching and learning in the area of technology. The use of this technology within the classroom could extend to students setting up their own RSS reader and subscribing to websites that are relevant to their academic work. Using this technology would allow the Learning Manager to equip students with the last information and resources pertaining to the content knowledge required for their current unit of work.

Personally, I believe that this technology is valuable within the classroom. As technology grows and the opportunity for students and teachers to use blogs to post homework and other classroom tasks increases, it would allow students to stay connected with each other and promote collaborative learning (Kearsley & Shneiderman, 1999). The question that I have with the use of this specific piece of technology is the minimum age it would be appropriate. Children in the Early Years may not be able to understand this form of technology, however, I believe that it could be shown using a generic class page in these years, and this knowledge built upon as the students progress in their learning journey.

I look forward to your thoughts on this topic.

Melissa.

References

Kearsley, G., & Shneiderman, B. (1999). Engagement Theory: A framework for technology- based teaching and learning. Retrieved July 10, 2009, from http://home.sprynet.com/~gkearsley/engage.htm

Friday, 17 July 2009

E-learning - the classroom of the future.

After yesterday's lecture/tutorial, it made me consider how technology can be used within the classroom as an effective learning tool. After being exposed to many types of resources, it left me feeling slightly apprehensive about how these can be incorporated into the classroom.

As a learning manager, I need to equip myself with the skills necessary to teach children how to effectively manage these mediums to ensure that they become well-equipped for the future.

As I progress through this course, I aim to explore various learning tools and how I can apply them into the classroom. So venture with me as I try to manage e-learning!

Until next time,

Melissa.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Welcome!

Welcome to my first blog ever!

Let me tell you a bit about myself.
I am currently studying the BLM (Primary) course at CQU since 2008. I have only got 1.5 years left of this degree, then it's into the wonderful and exciting world of teaching!
Having graduated school in 2006, many say that I should find this course easy, since I did grow up in the technological age, however, this is still quite daunting.
I look forward to the journey ahead, to learn more about wikis, blogs, rss feeds (?) and many other terms that I have no idea about!

Until next time,

Melissa.