Thursday, August 20, 2009

Reflective Synopsis

Before undertaking a course of study in Managing E.Learning, I truly believed I was a fairly up-to-date digital native (Prensky (2001). My age certainly agrees. However, my opinion was quickly changed. While working through the course ware and investigating a set of technological tools, I was reluctantly surprised at the diversity. There is an application for everything, shortcuts everywhere, and most importantly there are many more effective ways of creating meaningful learning experience for our students. I still understand the need for many traditional types of learning activities I see in schools everyday. But the message I have taken from my research into E.learning suggests that, implementing these new technology based tools alongside more traditional methods can produce better learning outcomes for our students.


Within my research one of the major hurdles I came across most frequently was the resources schools have to implement these technologies. Unfortunately, many schools are under resourced in the technology department. This means many students are being enraged in their classrooms rather than engaged. In addition, my research has also identified problems with bandwidth, student access, teacher knowledge and the level of control over the Internet as hinders to providing effective e.learning environments. However, with the right attitude and knowledge many of these problems can be overcome. There seems to be a shortcut for everything, and a million ways to do one thing. So if problems persist, try, try, and try again.


As stated by Waterhouse (2005), “At a very basic level e-learning is using information communication technologies (ICT’s) to engage, enhance and extend learning in flexible and innovative ways. By just experimenting with the technologies outlined I was constantly day-dreaming about how my students learning would be enhanced, how their engagement levels would rise and how flexible the learning space would become If I were to implement these simple technological tools. Technology is the way of the future and I refuse to be left behind again.


During my learning journey I have experienced opportunities to collaborate with other peers and like-minded individuals. This has been a rewarding process as much of my knowledge was refined and extended during this collaboration. My mind was open to the endless possibilities of integrating technology into the classroom. One thing that really appealed to me was the creativity shown from so many people when talking about learning experiences. This also provided opportunities for peer-to-peer teaching. It was a fantastic feeling knowing that help was only a mouse click away. An example of communication I made was on Kira’s Blog

Of all the wonderful applications I have dealt with through my e.learning experience, I will now discuss some of my favourites.

Blogs: Creates opportunities for students to publish work and follow others, express themselves, and maintain important literacy skills. I really like this concept as it can move from the schooling environment to the home environment as well.

VOKI Avatars: I had a lot of fun playing around and creating vokis. They are an excellent tool that will increases creativity and engagement levels in any task. I enjoy the vokis as they can be implemented any where within a learning experience. They can introduce or conclude a topic, or give encouragement and regain focus in the middle of a lesson.

YouTube: YouTube is an excellent programme that has many uses. Firstly you can use a video to help make tasks more authentic and engaging. Additionally, you could have students create their own video to upload onto YouTube. This allows for rich-tasks to be developed and higher order processes to be completed by the students.

Google Earth: Google Earth was perhaps my favourite program. When teaching SOSE or even Science you could use Google Earth as a real-life atlas. The learning improvements you would see in students would be enormous.

Voice Thread: Voice Thread sets collaborative learning into full swing. Students can add their comments to one another’s work as well as other learning objectives set up by the teacher. It encourages creative, out of the box thinking and is a fairly easy tool to use (once you get the hang of it).

To implement these technologies into the classroom will require a lot of time, effort, and patience on both the teacher and students behalves. Students need to be introduced to these technologies in the learning environment and not just thrown in the deep end. It is when these technologies are used in conjunction with other learning tools that they will enhance and extend learning. As a teacher, teaching students in the 21st century can seem a daunting task. However, with a continued commitment to new technologies and a desire to be a life-long learner, effective teaching and learning can be achieved. After completing this e.learning journey I can say with all honesty, I am now confidently equipped with the knowledge to implement effective pedagogical approaches that foster technology in my classroom. Thanks for following my Blog.

Reference:
· Pensky. (2001). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. Retrieved August 19, 2009, from http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky%20-%20Digital%20Natives,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf
· Richard Waterhouse (1995) Private Pleasures Public Leisure: A History of Australian Popular Culture since 1788. Melbourne: Longman.

SlideShare :)





SlideShare(2009) describes itself as giving users the ability to "Upload and share PowerPoint presentations, Word documents and Adobe PDF Portfolios, either publicly or privately and the ability to add audio to these files.

This was perhaps the most challenging to use application out of all the technologies i have discussed in my blogs. It is a great concept and when i finally figure out how to use it I'm sure it will be a great learning tool. But for now i do believe this program has gotten the better of me.
I was going to upload an example of my PowerPoint before the audio and an after take with the audio to demonstrate how much more effective audio and visual presentations can be. However, i was unable to do so.

My presentation URL is = http://www.slideshare.net/s0156386/we-are-australian.

I had created a PowerPoint presentation as the hook to the unit 'Australia and it's culture'. The presentation was a run through of the lyrics 'I am Australian' with matching pictures. This hook not only introduced students to Australians modern day culture but took them on a journey of our past. It had pictures associated with famous Australians and Landmarks. It was truly a captivating presentation.

Using a program like slide share can increase learning effectiveness and retention rates. However, it still sits at the top end of 'The Learning Pyramid' (ACU 2000). However, by following the video with an activity like a group discussion retention rates can be raised to 50%.

References:

e.Portfolio and Mahara

Before i started e.learning i really had no firm description i could apply to e.portfolios. I knew they were on-line, i knew that they contained a portfolio of objects but that was about it. Because my knowledge was very limited i turned straight to my on-line best bud YouTube and undertook some enlighten videos on e.portfolios. My favourite was e.portfolios for starters http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6B3tujXlbdk.

E.portfolios can be seen as a learning record. It provides a collection of electronic artifacts assembled and managed by a users. Users can demonstrate their academic ability while expressing themselves in a safe manner. Evidence of learning may include such things as, text samples, pictures and images, electronic files, blog entries, videos, hyperlinks, and other multimedia applications like voki's and presentations. All of their artifacts are uploaded onto their portfolios and organised in a set manner. The students are given the choice of what to include in their e.portfolios but usually artifacts are picked to demonstrate learning outcomes have been achieved.


Reflections from students on the processes of learning can also be added to e.portfolios. "The reflective process of portfolio development can be as important as the final product" (TeacherTap, 2007). Additionally, because e.portfolios are a work in progress and can continually be updated and added to, they present opportunities for students to take on the role of life-long learners.


Mahara is one such example of a e.portfolio application. Not only does it provide users with a e.portfolio but has other options like, blogs, file repository, social networking, resume building, profile building, and security features. "What makes Mahara different from other ePortfolio systems is that you control which items and what information (Artefacts) within your portfolio other users see" (Mahara 2006).


Reference:


  • TeacherTap (2007). Electronic Portfolios. Retrieved 10, August, 2009, from: TeacherTap web site: http://eduscapes.com/tap/topic82.htm

  • Mahara. (2006). About E-Portfolios. Retrieved August 1, 2009, from http://mahara.org/about/eportfolios

Voice Thread :)

Voice Thread is such an easy to use piece of software with endless educational opportunities. According to VoiceThread (2007), "a VoiceThread is a collaborative, multimedia slide show that holds image, documents and videos and allows people to navigate pages and leave comment in 5 ways- using voice (with a mic or telephone), text, audio file, or video (via a webcam)".

It allows students to creatively publish, edit, and add comments to work, pictures, or presentations. It is an effective critiquing tool and has its roots in a social networking persona. This means students can collaborate, comment, and critique other students work.

The VoiceThread website contains excellent examples of how to incorporate voice thread into the classroom. However, for the purpose of my blog i will give you my own example today.

When i created my voice thread presentation i added a set of pictures outlining the different procedures involved in making ice cream. I than added voice comments to each of the photos describing what was occurring in the picture. Once i had completed this i shared my presentation to my class group. When i created my presentation, however, i re-arranged the photos to demonstrate the wrong sequence of events for making ice cream. In small groups, the students were asks to watch the presentation, once they had finished watching the presentation they were required to make comments about the correct sequence for making ice cream. This particular learning activity came from the unit 'Where Does My Shopping Come From?' which has students looking at natural and processed materials as well as production flow charts.

INCOMPETECH :)


"Music is everywhere: in stores and offices, at parties, and on the car radio. It has become an integral part of our lives from the time we are children" (Ostergren, 2008). So why is it not played more freely in our classroom? Using music in classrooms can provoke many different responses. If used as a tool to aid a learning experience it can provoke some pretty positive academic reactions. However, if used alone it really only is effective for stimulating the students.Music can help students de-stress and refocus. It also gives students a means to collaborate with one another and to be creative.


Music can be used in many different ways in the classroom.


  • Play music in the background when students are reading or being read to.

  • Play music to signify a transition in the classroom (when music plays students pack up and get ready for lunch).

  • Traditional music can be played to signify different countries.

INCOMPETECH supplies users with royalty free music covered under the Creative Commons agreement. This means that any music found on this site can be downloaded and replayed to students at any time. Incompetech has an extensive list of royalty free music, frequently asked questions and answers section, as well as a music licencing section.


The song i chose to download from Incompetech is titled Frost Waltz.It goes for 2 minutes and 15 seconds and is instrumental composition. Incompetech describes it as "a calm but mysterious composition that uses Glockenspiel and Celesta throughout. The French Horns and Bass intercede throughout to accompany the Glockenspiel and Celesta. The Violin and Viola are heard in the background throughout the piece" (INCOMPETECH, 2009).


This is a very mysterious and exciting piece of music. I would implement it into my classroom at story time. I would prepare my year 2's for the story by playing the music. This will help them settle, de-stress from previous tasks and focus on the story about to be read to them.


Reference:

File Storage with Media Fire :)





Media Fire is a free file hosting website. It allows you to upload your files, make them public, and access them anywhere and at anytime on the Internet. It is an easy to use application that first requires you to create a login. Once you have your login you can begin uploading your files. This is a handy tool for teachers and students alike. Once files have been uploaded they can be accessed anywhere there is an Internet connection. This in itself has many advantages. MediaFile also allows users to upload large files, up to 100MB per file and allows for unlimited uploads and downloads.

The file i chose to upload was a guide for APA referencing. This means that if i lose the original file i can easily obtain another copy. Furthermore, where ever I am undertaking my study, as long as there is an Internet connection, i can easily view the APA referencing file.
The URL to this file is : http://www.mediafire.com/?mojyimn33yz

This technology could be used in any educational setting. Students could use it to upload assignments or homework. Teachers could use it to upload lecture slides or presentations. It can be used in group assignments where students upload their work for other group members to add to read through and reflect on. The list is endless. Overall i found this program easy to use, the design is logically and easy to follow and the free features more than cater to my needs.

WikiPedia :)


WikiPedia is one of the largest known Wiki applications. It comes in over 25 different languages and it's basic function is to provide information and resources on a large variety of subjects. It's open to all individuals to add and source information and it classifies itself as a free encyclopedia.

As the information posted on WikiPedia can come from any individual the academic world discourages it's use as a reliant source or quote. However, this is not to say that the information presented on its sites cant contain relevant information. One of WikiPedias main functions is to guide readers onto further information. It is here where relevant scholarly references and quotes can be used.

Take for example, my year six class is currently undertaking a topic on 'Where Does my Shopping Come From'? By typing into the wikipedia search bar 'nutrition' a wonderful informative piece comes up all about nutrition. It lists an overview of the topic than continues down to discuss relevant parts associated with nutrition. at the bottom of the page it's a topic with 'links to further readings'. This list of further readings are all resources i could use to support my teaching. I could make these websites available to students by posting them onto the class blog, including them in a web quest, or even allowing the students to do a scaffolded search themselves. On top of the list for further reading, wikipedia also provides you with a list of resources and external links. These too can becomes resources used to support my teaching.

WebQuests.

Teaching students in the 21st century who are digital natives can be a challenging task. All learning experiences must be engaging, authentic, and meaningful to the learners if they are going to achieve any learning outcomes. Therefore, Web Quests are an excellent way to engage our learners and not enrage them. Not only do web quests engage learners but a well structured and interesting web quest will also intrinsically motivate our learners to want to achieve the desired learning outcomes.

A web quest is a structured and scaffolded learning journey students undertake using carefully selected resources from the world wide web. They are challenged to answer open-ended questions that have been selected to provoke higher order thinking. Web quests need to engage the students from the beginning so that they are motivated to complete the challenge. The web quest needs to "relate to a real-world, authentic problem scenarios that are messy and ill-structured" (Kearsley and Shneiderman, 1998). Additionally, the resources (websites) selected for the students to work through need to be student-friendly. It's easy to see why creating web quests can become a timely process. However on the plus side, once a web quest has been created it can be used for years to come.

Because some schools may be under resourced with technology equipment, or time allocations in computer labs. Web quests are best completed in small groups. This means students will also benefit from collaborate learning. Vygotsky (1962), contends that "social interaction has a large influence on learning". Therefore, students who are not so computer savvy may be matched with other students who are so peer-to-peer teacher can be performed. Also students who typically have trouble reading can be grouped with more refined readers so they are less limited in their learning journey. This can be linked to Vygotsky theory on the 'Zone of Proximal Development' (Vygotsky 1962).


To implement a web quest into the classroom, assuring that it is interesting, engaging, meaningful, and authentic to the students, I believe it has the potential to further develop learning outcomes for all students. Used as a unit of work or even to cover a topic I believe web quests can give our students that extra bit of motivation and encourage them to take on an active role in their own learning and develop key qualities of a life-long-learner.


Reference:
  • Kearsley, G. Shneiderman, B. (1998) Engagement Theory. A Framework for Technology-Based Teaching and Learning. (1998). Retrieved 5, July, 2009, from Sprynet website: http://home.sprynet.com/~gkearsley/engage.htm
  • Vygotsky, L.S. (1962). Thought and Language. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Google Earth :)

Google Earth...

What an amazing program !!!!
Firstly, downloading google earth is easy and free, anyone can do it.
Secondly, it is just the most amazing program ever. You can zoom right into your house, check out your neighbours house, or even zoom across the world and look at the Eiffel Tower.
Did i say amazing!!!
Google earth has many easy to use features. It has a search bar titled 'fly to', by typing in a street address or landmark google earth will quickly rotate the world so you are staring right at your desired location. Once you arrive at these destinations if the google view is not enough for you there are picture icons that you can click on and get real-life photos of your destination. Not only can you find places, streets and landmarks all around the world but you can also, find the quickest routes, measure the distance, and get directions from one location to another. Google Earth is a unique program that is exhibited by its high resolution graphics, it amazingly accurate maps and photos and its easy to use functions and applications.

Not only is this an amazing tool for everyday technology users, but it also contains some exceptional educational qualities.

  • Students can locate major cities and landmarks.
  • Students can develop a concept of the entities of the world (percentage of water to land).
  • Students can learn to use latitude and longitude navigation's.
  • Students can find directions and measurements between landmarks in their local areas.
  • Using Google Earth geographic browser students can look up world oil consumption, current Arctic sea ice concentrations, and sea surface temperatures.

The learning opportunities presented in this small list of examples is enormous. SOSE and Science lessons can be transformed into real life situations and simulations. Using Google Earth can thus increases the authenticity and richness of any task. Not only will students be engaged in their learning but they will be intrinsically motivated to learn. Google Earth requires students to be active participants in their own learning. This is important because "active learning leads to effective and efficient teaching and learning" (ACU 2000). Google earth is a very effective learning tool. This is proven by looking at Dale's Cone(ACU200). Google Earth as a learning tool can be placed at the bottom of the cone under a direct, purposeful experience.

Reference:

Podcasting :)

Our learners today are classified as digital natives and have a special syntax and language developed around the technology they are submersed in. This means that using old school methods of instruction in classroom is not working for our students. Prensky(2005) claims " if you cannot engage young people in education then you will enrage them". This is where a Podcast could fit in.

According to TecED (2007), "a Podcast can be defined as a media file that is freely available for download from the Internet automatically with software that can handle RSS Feed . This file is then played on a personal computer or mobile device at the listener’s convenience".

Podcast have been around in their prime since the year 2000 and are quickly making their way into the educational arena. Podcast require a user to upload media files either text, images, audio, or videos to a podcasting server. The server than allows anyone to download and view these files.

In the classroom TecED(2007) also states that, "a Podcast can be a lecture, presentation, announcement, audio book, or any kind of supplemental material facilitating the educational goals of the teacher and students". Podcast have many educational advantages when implemented effectively. From research on the topic i have compiled a list of some specific positive outcomes as a result of using podcasts in the classroom.

  • Allows you to provide information to your students in a variety of ways, thus catering to a diverse group of learners.
  • Podcasts allow students to replay and review important information.
  • Podcasts help engage students as it is incorporating technologies that the students use on a daily basis into the learning environment.
  • Podcasts engage and motivate students int he learning process, thus reducing behaviour management problems.

Before introducing podcasts into your classroom it is important that you match the podcasts up to the content that the students are covering in class. This can require a lot of careful planning to ensure that it becomes a worth-while educational experience for your students. To plan this type of learning experience Prof. Ron Oliver (1999) has developed a ICT Learning Design Template. He suggests that first you should define the learning task. Kearsley and Shneiderman (1998), suggest the learning task should "relate to real-world, authentic problem scenario that is messy and ill-structured". Secondly Oliver, suggests defining your learning resources and third defining the learning supports.

Using this conceptual framework I could put to my students a concept such as 'The World Will end tomorrow'. This activity would follow on from the unit 'Earth Life and Living'. Students will than be instructed in small groups to make a solid prediction as to why this may be (eg. global warming, extinction of a particular animal ETC). The students will have to research the topic they have chosen and create a podcast to teach and share their information with the rest of the class. I would give the students a list of the resources available to them (cameras, voice recordings, websites) and than clearly identify to them the learning support structures available. Examples of learning supports could include a tutorial using speaking Vokis, the teacher and teacher aids and technical support staff.

Reference:

  • Prensky, M. Engage me or Enrage me. What today's Learners Demand.Retrieved 4, July 2009, from the Educause website:http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/erm0553.pdf

  • Thacker, C. (2007). Podcasts in Education (2007). Retrieved 4, July 2009, from Macinstruct website: http://www.macinstruct.com/node/43

  • Kearsley, G. Shneiderman, B. (1998) Engagement Theory. A Framework for Technology-Based Teaching and Learning. (1998). Retrieved 5, July, 2009, from Sprynet website: http://home.sprynet.com/~gkearsley/engage.htm
  • Oliver, R. (1999). Using on-line technologies to support problem-based
    learning: Learners’ responses and perceptions. Australian Journal of Educational
    Technology, 15(1), 58-79.

YouTube & Teacher Tube :)

YouTube is an excellent on-line program stocked full of wonderful, engaging, resources. It contains millions of videos uploaded from people all over the world and generally cover every topic imaginable. It is simple just a matter of typing into the search bar your preference and clicking search. I am a big fan of face book and have wasted countless hours watching video after video after video.

TeacherTube follows the same design as you tube however it allows you to easily download the videos so you can share them with your class. Teachtube is full of wonderful videos all suitable for students. Each video is given a category so they can be easily identified as either primary, high school or college.

A wonderful video i came across on YouTube is termed 'I am Australia'. I will share with you the video than explain how i would implement this video into my classroom. The URL link to my video is = http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9ue2QZu7do

video

Video's sit in the top end of the effective learning cone and learning retention pyramid (Abeline Christian University ACU Adams Centre for Teaching Excellence, 2000). This means that used alone the effectiveness of the learning produced by the video is very limited and the retention rate of learning sits only at 20%. It is important to remember that a video alone is not an effective learning tool however, used in conjunction with other learning activities can aid in producing engaging learning experiences that cater for a diverse range of learners.

Thus, I would use this video as a hook when introducing students to the unit of work on 'Australian Culture'. Students would be asked to watch the video than write a reflective piece on what it means to them to be Australian. This reflective pieces would than be collect from the students and put away. Once the students had completed the unit of work on Australian culture the reflective pieces would be handed back to the students for them to read. Students would than be asked to write a reflection on their views of being Australian and reflect on their ideas that have changed, remained the same, or been newly created.

Reference:

Quizzes with ClassMaster :)

Online Quizzes are a really handy tool for a teacher to incorporated into the classroom environment. Online programs like ClassMarker allow teachers to create quizzes, or select from already existing quizzes and store them in a class bank. The pre-stored tests can be easily completed at anytime and can be a wonderful tool for checking students knowledge and understanding. They can be used on individual students or a whole class depending on the resources available at the school. Students could also be asked to complete online quizzes for homework as a reflective tool for their days work.

The quizzes offer students immediate feedback and results. This allows the students and teacher to identify gaps in learning as well as student's strengths. Skinners theory on 'Operant Conditioning' fits in nicely here. Skinner (1977) states that, "when a reward is added to a situation, the person is more likely to behave more positively in that same situation the following time". By using positive feedback in the quizz, the teacher can illicit more positive behaviours towards learning. This could become a very useful tool for teachers when working with students with behaviour problems.

The program ClassMarker has a number of variables a teacher can choose when establishing a quiz. The time allocations aloud for students to complete the quiz, the number of questions, the type of questions (essay, multiple choice, true or false), the feedback, and the use of visual aids are just a few examples. A teacher will select these particular elements in accordance with the needs of the learners and the purpose of the quiz.

To implement a quiz into the learning environment i would;
  1. Introduce topic 'Australian Native Animals'
  2. Brainstorm with students a list of native Australian Animals and Introduced Animals.
  3. Look at one animal in detail 'Wombat'. (Characteristics, habitat, adaptions, flow charts)
  4. For homework have students complete the online quiz on wombats.
  5. Check results and look at gaps in learning. Use this to inform future learning activities.

The ClassMarker quiz that i created can be found at the following URL =

http://www.classmarker.com/quiz/?test_id=59225

Reference:

  • Skinner, B. F. (1977). The Free and Happy Student. In H. F. Clarizio, R. C. Craig &bW. A. Mehrens (eds) Contemporary Issues in Educational Psychology, 3rd ed. Boston: Allen & Bacon.



Picnik :)

Picnik is an awesome way to manipulate your photos and images. I could honestly spend hours just playing around on this program. There are so many features to try out alone in the free version, imagine the premium version. It was an easy process uploading my personal photos to the program. Simply click on the 'up load photos' button and your away. Once you have uploaded your photo you than edit it, you can adjust colour, contrast, size, and even crop your image. Following the editing process you can than create your image. This is where the image manipulation fun all beings. You can turn your picture into a pencil sketch, neon colours, doodle on it, focal zoom, even turn it into a puzzle. I have demonstrated the before and after Picnik photo here.



Photo manipulation can be a very useful tool for student to know and understand. It could be used in a unit of work where texts are being explored and decoded to find their true meanings. As the hook to the unit a teacher could show the students a handle of photos. Students must decide which photos are not being truthful and have been manipulated. This would enforce that not everything is how it seems in the world of media.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Flickr :)

Flickr is a online library of images uploaded from people all over the world. It is an easy to use web-site and all the pictures could be used for any educational activity. Flickr allows anyone to download and use the images presented on the website the copyright is covered by the creative commons licence. The following picture is one that I downloaded from Flickr.

Flickr, although in itself offers no educational advantages, used in conjunction with other learning activities can add to the visual effectiveness of particular learning objects.

For Example if i was doing an activity with my class on cultures, i could download a number of photos of people from around the world than have my students try and match the pictures of people to their country.

Pictures taken from the Flickr site can also help make tasks more meaningful and authentic to students. Pictures can help students relate concepts to real-life scenarios thus increasing their understanding of the topic. Kearsley and Shneiderman (1998) support this claim with their engagement theory by stating that "for learners to be truly engaged in their learning they need to relate to a real-world, authentic problem or scenario".

Reference:


Power Points :)



Power Point is an excellent program used to aid in the delivery of presentations. I have used Microsoft's PowerPoint program to create my PowerPoint.

The unit of work my students are starting on is Australian Culture and Identity. Therefore, i wanted to create a PowerPoint presentation to use a hook and an introduction into the topic. I wanted to include a range of elements in the PowerPoint including our Indigenous history, white settlement, our land, and our people. I also wanted to include a range of different media's into the PowerPoint to cater for the variety of learners in my class.

I decided to Use the song 'We Are Australian' as a theme to my presentation. So i downloaded a version of the song and the lyrics and spent a bit of time just listening. Once i knew what the song was about i set out to find a whole bunch of pictures i could use in my presentation to make it more meaningful and engaging.

Once i had all of my resources i set to work putting the PowerPoint presentation together. I added the pictures in the correct order. I used strategically placed captions and headings on the PowerPoint's and arranged the pictures as to give them life on the page. This was the easy part. I have used PowerPoint many times before so this part of the presentation came natural to me.

Once i had the presentation in a manner i considered to be perfect, i than proceeded to add my song to the presentation. This proved to be quite difficult for me and actually required a whole lot of time. Adding the song to the presentation was easy it was animating the slide to run in time with the lyrics that was challenging. However, i did complete it.

This PowerPoint was an awesome hook for the topic. It had audio, visual, and textual elements to it, thus catering for all of my learners. The pictures were captivating, the music was unique and the timing was impecible. Overall i would say that PowerPoints are a very helpful teaching tool.

Voki's :)

Hey This is a Voki i created :)




Voki is a free service that allows you to create personalized speaking avatars and use them on your blog, profile, and in email messages. They are a really fun and engaging tool that can be used almost everywhere throughout a learning experience. They can introduce a topic, conclude a topic or act as a guide throughout. Voki's combine visual with audio simulations to produce a learning tool which caters for all learners. Voki's are quick and easy to use and are free to make.

The website in which i created my Voki is called http://www.voki.com/. You can use voki's for all ages. Younger learners will enjoy the animal vokis to help explain concepts, while older learners could benefit from vokis being used as a guide, thus, allowing the older learners to progress through a learning activity with little teacher instruction.

Vokis are an awesome engaging tool, however used alone they provide little learning opportunities. This can be demonstrated in Dale's Cone of learning effectiveness, as many of the qualities associated with voki's fall into the top end of the scale (Abeline Christian University ACU Adams Centre for Teaching Excellence, 2000).

WIKI

A wiki is a website that uses WYSIWYG software. This particular type of software allows all users to upload, change, and add content onto the website. It can be located anywhere, anytime and only requires a computer and Internet connection. Matias (2003) states that, "Wiki can be used for a large variety of tasks, from personal note-taking to collaborating online, creating an internal knowledge base, assembling an online community, and managing a traditional website".
Wiki's have many amazing capabilities and offer many educational advantages. To begin they require active participation from students. The students must take control of their own learning to create effective and well structured postings in their Wiki. Wikis also require students to read text, demonstrate knowledge, discuss ideas and concepts, practice their work before publishing, and teach others. According to Abeline Christian University ACU Adams Centre for Teaching Excellence, (2000), these academic elements range across all areas of the learning pyramid. This indicates that students participating in a wiki exercise would retain high amounts of information.
Students using a wiki to publish a group school report is an excellent example of incorporating technology into the classroom environment. The students would need to do the research first than they can add their information into the wiki. The students although working in groups could complete the assignment with little to no face-to-face time as once work has been uploaded to the wiki other students can access, change, or add to it. This is a much more engaging and motivating way of doing reports that cutting out and sticking pieces of paper onto large bits of cardboard. A Wiki that is free to use is called wetpaint.
Reference:
  • Matias, A. 2003: What is a WIKI? (2003). Retrieved 4 July, 2009, from Site Point web site:http://www.sitepoint.com/article/what-is-a-wiki/
  • Abeline Christian University Adam Centre for Teaching Excellence. (2000). Learning Pyramid (learning retention). Retrieved August 19, 2009 from http://moodle.cqu.edu.au/mod/resource/view.php?id=580

RSS Aggregator

Technorati Media(2009)




!!WOW!!

The World Of Blogging Is Beyond Huge


It seems impossible to follow so many blogs with so little time. The table above from Technorati (1996),demonstrates this, it gives an indication to the ever growing popularity of blogging. There is millions upon millions of blogs that capture my own individual interest but how to do i keep up-to date with blogs i like and sort them from other blogs im not interested in?


The answer to this problem lies with a handy little invention called an RSS Aggregator.


RSS stands for really simple syndication and it bascially acts as a babysitter to all your favourite blogs and internet sites. It posts all new additions to blogs or websites into your RSS homepage that you are subscribed to. In a sense the RSS Aggregator is like a graphic organiser. It logically presents information for the users to work through. The RSS aggregator that i subscribed to was google reader. It was an easy to use, and more importantly easy to understand free on-line RSS. Once i had signed up for an account it was simply just a matter of subscribing to my favourite blogs. Google reader has different sections one for your subscriptions, a look at what's new, and a recently read section.
Using a RSS Aggregator like 'Google Reader' would allow you as a teacher to be constantly updated with news and information from your favourite blogs or websites. We know a teachers time is very limited so if it's a time saving tool you are looking for than an RSS Aggregator is the solution for you.
Reference:
  • Technoranti 2006: What’s Percolating in Blogs Now. (2006). Retreived 5 July, 2009, from Technorati website: http://technorati.com/.





Blogs :)

Hey Guys I have begun my exploration by looking at blogs. Blogs or weblogs are perhaps one of the simplest technological tools that one can implement into the classroom. According to Blogger in the Classroom, ‘blogs are simply web pages, often made up of short, informal, and frequently updated posts”. As I have learnt, blogs are an easy and effective way to post and publish text and pictures to a large audience. They also have the built in ability for posters (people who post the blog) to receive feedback and respond to other people’s post. Blogging is a form of digital literacy as it allows users to read and understand text, images, and sounds.
There are many different free blogging sites that can be used. Some examples include;
· http://www.blogger.com
· http://www.edublog.com/
So now that I understand what a blog is the question becomes; why should I use it? Blogs can be used for many different purposes. They can be used as marketing tools, educational tools, communication tools, even just as a means of expressing one’s opinion. The choice is up to the user as to what content they want to display in their blog.
According to Blogger in the Classroom(2009);
“Blogs make it easy for teachers to:
· Post resources, lessons, and homework,
· Keep parents up to date on class happenings,
· Reflect on their own teaching practices and share their ideas with other educators”.
“Blogs make it easy for students to:
· Share school work with their peers, parents, and others,
· Collaborate on projects and get feedback from others,
· Keep a reflective journal throughout the school year”.

So as you can see there are many educational advantages of using blogs in your classroom. If I were to implement blogs into my classroom one way in which I would do it would be to use it as a reflective tool. Because “reflection is seen as an active and deliberative cognitive process, involving sequences of interconnected ideas which take account of underlying beliefs and knowledge”(Adler, 1991, P140), it is a very important part of the learning journey.
In my year 6 class the students complete a unit termed ‘Where Does my Shopping Come From’. Here there is a focus on healthy eating and nutrition. An example of using blogs in the classroom could see my students writing a reflective blog of their eating habits and exercise routine each day. They would have to make informed decisions as to weather they are sufficiently eating healthy and exercising, or not. They could make suggestions as to how to improve their diet and perhaps look at uploading pictures of the types of foods they have eaten into their blogs. This activity can be done at home or at school and requires very little resources, only a computer and an internet connection is needed.


· Blogger 2009: Blogger in the Classroom. (2009). Retrieved 5 July, 2009, from Central Queensland Website; http://www.infinitethinking.org/stuff/bloger.pdf
· Adler, S. (1991). The Reflective Practitioner and the Curriculum of Teacher Education. Journal of Education for Teaching 17(2), 139-150

My Learning Journey

We live in a fast pace, every upgrading, technological world. Our students on a daily basis encounter this technological world and think, adapt, live, and learn accordingly. They process large amounts of non-linear information; they are constantly engaged by bright, fast, walking, talking, graphics. Furthermore, they are intrinsically motivated to keep up with the technologies presented before them. These students also spend vast amounts of time in social networks, collaborating to solve problems, gain new information, and share their knowledge with others.
However, for six hours a day, five days a week, these same students are encouraged to power down from their fast passed world and attend school. At school information is presented to the students in static linear slow methods. The graphics used to engage students (if used at all) are static black and white images that generally have nothing to do with the task. Gathering knowledge or sharing knowledge with other students is a punishable crime and opportunities to use technologies come few and far between.
The conclusion we can draw from these two realities is that there is an overwhelming gap between the student’s needs and delivery. The problem is that students are simply not being engaged in the learning process. The solution is simple terms can be stated that “User-friendly technologies, when integrated effectively into a learning environment will engage students in the active process of learning” (EDUCAUSE 2009). So our challenge as teachers is to implement technologies into our classrooms effectively to help engage students into the learning process. This solution, however, presents more difficulties as “new technologies are often viewed as a way to transform classrooms but typically reinforce traditional methods of teaching and learning by delivering static information rather than supporting learner construction of new knowledge (Cuban, 1986).

As you can see there are many difficulties surrounding the relationship between technology and education. My future blog inserts will aim to provide followers with useful information on a range of technologies that can be easily implemented into the learning environment.



Reference:
· Ed Educause 2009: Serious Games, Incorporating Games Into The Classroom. (2009). Retrieved 5 July, 2009, from Educause Web site: http://www.wducause.edu/EDUCAUSE+Quartely/EDUCAUSEQuarterlyMagazineVolum/SeriousGamesIncorporatingVideo/157412
· Cuban, L. (1986). Teachers and machines: The classroom use of technology since 1920. New York: Teacher’s College.