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.
· 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.