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.
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