Thursday, August 20, 2009

Reflective Synopsis

So, my adventures as an E-Learning Manager have, for the moment, come to an end. It has been interesting, exciting, relevant and at times excruciating. As a Learning Manager in the 21st Century, I have developed an understanding of the importance of keeping track of rapidly evolving technologies. It is of my opinion that students need to be looked at as the future of society, and it is our responsibility as educators to provide them with opportunities that will both foster and extend their abilities.

Learning involves the ability to "maintain an open mind". (Marzano & Pickering, 1997). Marzano and Pickering (1997) argue that open-mindedness extends our knowledge base as well as enhancing our communication skills. To really understand the social diversity and technological abilities of our learners, we too must maintain an open mind and use materials which are relevant to the children in our classrooms.

Hargreaves (2001) suggests that teachers in today’s society must find a way to move forward with technology to better equip themselves and produce better teaching practices. This is done by creatively exploring and testing out what will work better for the children in their classrooms. Hargreaves (2001) also argues that effective teachers will seek professional opinions and guidance from others around them. I have found this to be extremely important during my blogging experiences. Collaboration with like-minded people can help to untangle complicated issues.

During my journey, I explored many technologies that would be of great benefit to me in my teaching career. All of these technologies I can imagine would be highly engaging for most students, though the tools that stood out the most to me were:
• Interactive whiteboards;
• Google Earth;
• WebQuests; and
• Avatars.

Interactive whiteboards have proven to me to be a wonderfully interactive learning tool. I have witnessed them being used in many subject areas, with the children continually wanting to try it out for themselves. During my allocated prac lessons, I have come across many websites which suggest possible teaching methods when using an interactive whiteboard. One such website suggests that “interactive whiteboards are becoming increasingly useful with a wide range of software to help you teach subjects in new and stimulating ways.” (Interactive Whiteboard Lessons, 2006).

Google Earth offers an alternative to mediocre globe which should be found in all classrooms. This tool provides students with a hands-on learning experience, which many constructivist theorists will argue is a vital aspect to effective learning. One such theorist is Kegan (1982), who believes that “learning is highly tuned to the situation in which it takes place”. With this in mind, would students be more likely to learn from viewing 3D images of the world from Space, or from a dusty globe?

The use of WebQuests in the classroom is one that I am definitely looking forward to implementing in future practice. The Queensland Department of Education and Training (2004), suggest that students must feel a sense of “connectedness to the world”. WebQuests are an excellent way to do this, as students can be confronted with real-life problems within their community and work together to come up with practical solutions.

Avatars provide an exciting ‘new teacher’ in the classroom, rather than listening to the Learning Manger constantly. Marzano and Pickering (1997) argue that for students to develop positive attitudes and perceptions towards classroom task, means to provide them with a multiplicity of ways to engage them. “Few would argue that when students are highly engaged in tasks, they learn more”. (Marzano and Pickering, 1997). This may pose as challenging for many teachers, however Avatars offer a simple initial solution to this problem.

After perusing many of my fellow BLM students’ blog postings, I have developed a barrage of ideas and resources to incorporate into my teaching strategies. Keeping this in mind, I realise that it is essential that I continue to search for new and interesting ways to connect to my students and enable me to enhance my comprehension of the ‘digital native’ language.

As all other teaching strategies, the use of technology should never stand alone in the delivery of information. To achieve outcomes in all learners means to cater for all learning styles. Not all students will be confident using a computer, let alone the Internet. We must not be naive to the fact that although our students were born as ‘digital natives’ they may still require responsible guidance when undertaking technology based tasks.

Regards,
Erin.


Sources:

Department of Education and Training. (2004). New Basics Project: Connectedness to the World. [Electronic resource]. (http://education.qld.gov.au/corporate/newbasics/html/pedagogies/connect/con3a.html). Retrieved 20 August 2009.

Hargreaves, D. (2001). Creative professionalism: The role of teachers in the knowledge society. London, UK: Demos.

Interactive Whiteboard Lessons. (2006). Smart Board Lessons In The Classroom & Smart Board Info. Interactive Whiteboards. [Electronic resource] (http://www.interactivewhiteboardlessons.org/). Retrieved 20 August 2009.

Kegan, R. (1982). The evolving self: Problem and process in human development. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Marzano, R.J.; Pickering, D.J.; Arredondo, D.E.; Blackburn, G.J.; Brandt, R.S.; Moffett, C.A.; Paynter, D.E.; Pollock, J.E. & Whisler, J.S. (1997). Dimensions of Learning: Teacher’s Manual. Colorado, USA: McREL.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Voice Thread


VoiceThread is where "group conversations are collected and shared in one place from anywhere in the world...(It) is a collaborative, multimedia slide show that holds images, documents and video and allows people to navigate pages and leave comments." (VoiceThread, 2009).


This site is amazingly easy to navigate and operate! Although, it did take quite some time to upload my photos, and in the end, I had had enough! Then, I decided to browse through other's which gave me some great ideas on how to use this tool in the classroom. During a SOSE lesson on Natural Disasters, the Learning Manager could upload photos of the effect of different disasters and have the students comment on what disaster they think it might be and why. This would also need to incorporate research strategies.


Student collaboration is an important aspect of classroom practice. Marzano & Pickering (1997) argue that when students are given "opportunities to work in groups toward a common goal, when structured appropriately (it) can help students feel accepted by their peers."


VoiceThread recognises the need for privacy and thus have created a spectrum for displaying one's work. It can be accessed by the entire world, or only by a small group. I consider this to be extremely important when dealing with children. VoiceThread also offers and section dedicated to education, where content is restricted for viewing by students and was designed to be "a place for creating and collaborating on digital stories and documentaries." (VoiceThread, 2009).


Many possibilities for using this site in the classroom, just another way to bridge the gap!



Regards,

Erin.



Sources:


Marzano, R.J.; Pickering, D.J.; Arredondo, D.E.; Blackburn, G.L.; Brandt, R.S.; Moffett, C.A.; Paynter, D.E.; Pollock, J.E. & Whisler, J.S. (1997). Dimensions of Learning: Teacher's Manual. Colorado, USA: McREL.


VoiceThread. (2009). K-12 Solutions. [Electronic resource]. (http://voicethread.com/about/k12/). Retrieved 20 August 2009.

Using Music on the Web


There is a lot to consider when using music from the Internet as most music is copyrighted and therefore can not be used without written permission from the person who wrote it.


There is however, many websites that cater for royalty free music. According to Bainbridge (2005), royalty free music "is a term that refers to production music that has no additional fees to pay once the music has been bought. It is purchased once and can be used again and again."


Using music in the classroom can have great benefits for many children. Howard's (1993) theory of multiple intelligences describes potential pathways for learning, one of these pathways is through music. It is essential for a Learning Manager to be 'in tune' with their students and provide alternative materials which will "facilitate effective learning" (Armstrong, 2000).



Regards,

Erin.



Sources:


Armstrong, T. (2000). Multiple Intelligences. [Electronic resource]. (http://www.thomasarmstrong.com/multiple_intelligences.htm). Retrieved 19 August 2009.


Bainbridge, S. (2005). What is Royalty Free Music?. The Beat Suite. [Electronic resource]. (http://www.beatsuite.com/pdfs/whatisroyaltyfreemusic.pdf). Retrieved 19 August 2009.


Gardner, H. (1993). Multiple Intelligences: The Theory in Practice. New York: Basic.




Slide Share

Slide Share allows "individuals and organisations (to) upload presentations to share their ideas, connect with other, and generate leads for their businesses." (SlideShare, 2009).

As I connected to SlideShare, I found the process very easy, although time consuming when creating my own slide show. I therefore searched in the Education section of this site and found some really interesting videos that could be used in the classroom. Above is one that I thought would be engaging for an English lesson.

Students could use this tool to create their own presentations for assessment, they could show the relevant visual materials as well as embed their own voices relating to the information they have researched.

Marzano and Pickering (1997) suggest that when tasks are constructed with a variety of interesting materials, students are more likely to be engaged, hence more effective learning will take place.

SlideShare is yet another interactive ICT tool which could be incorporated successfully in the classroom.

Regards,

Erin.

Sources:

Marzano, R.J. & Pickering, D.J. (et al). (1997). Dimensions of Learning: Teachers Manual. Colorado, USA: McREL.

SlideShare. (2009). What is SlideShare?. [Electronic resource]. (http://www.slideshare.net/about). Retrieved 20 August 2009.

File Storage




"Digital media has changed; rich media and large documents require larger files and more storage space. That's where MediaFire comes in. MediaFire allows you to store all your files online for easy secure access and enables you to distribute large files to hundreds or thousands of peoples without clogging inboxes or bogging down your website." (MediaFire, 2009).


After using MediaFire to download one of my current files, I can see this would be a reliable and beneficial way for teachers to store their own documents and share them with other teachers within the school. Though, I fail to see the uses this site possess for students. As I trolled this site, there were many, let's say distasteful ads, that popped up quite regularly. Of course, the school could get rid of these ads, if the students were to use this site, but this is for a cost, and we are all aware of the limited finances that Education Queensland schools have.


Has anyone used this website in their classrooms, I would enjoy hearing how you incorporated it and if it was successful.



Regards,

Erin.



Sources:

MediaFire. (2009). [Electronic resource] (http://www.mediafire.com/about.php). Retrieved 19 August 2009.

WIKIPedia


Wikipedia is a free web-based encyclopedia, which "is written collaboratively by volunteers from all around the world. Anyone with internet access can make changes to Wikipedia articles." (Wikipedia: About, 2009).


Since the beginning of my University journey, I was (as was everyone else) explicitly told NEVER to use Wikipedia as a reference source, as the content can be altered by anyone who felt like it. I haven't even entered this site again, until now.


Wikipedia may be a basic source of information for students to initially gain an understanding of a particular topic, however they must be informed that not all the information they find will be correct. Therefore critical literacy is a major factor when obtaining information from Wikipedia. "We are swamped by masses of information from sources across the globe. We need to be able to make meaning from the array of multimedia...that confront us each day." (Department of Education, Tasmania, School Education Division, 2007).



Regards,

Erin.



Sources:


Department of Education, Tasmania, School Education Division. (2007). English Learning Area: Critical Literacy. [Electronic resource]. (http://wwwfp.education.tas.gov.au/english/critlit.htm#whyis). Retrieved 19 August 2009.


Wikipedia. (2009). Wikipedia: About. [Electronic resource] (http://en.wikipenia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:About). Retrieved 19 August 2009.

WebQuests


"A real WebQuest is a scaffolded learning structure that uses links to essential resources on the World Wide Web and an authentic task to motivate students' investigation of an open-ended question, development of individual expertise, and participation in a group process that transforms newly acquired information into a more sophisticated understanding." (March, 2003).


Siemens (2004) states that "learning theories are concerned with the actual process of learning, not with the value of what is being learnt." This would suggest that the completion of an engaging and interesting WebQuest as a unit, would excel the learning outcomes in all students, as it focuses on 'their world' and uses authentic methods of instruction.


WebQuests aim to bring students together to solve an ill-structured problem that has no direct answer. Students collaborate their ideas after individual research and use a decision-making process to create a viable solution to the problem, often resulting in the construction of an authentic product. Cooperative learning - "its philosophical basis is that learners can gain by working together in small groups, and that they can be rewarded for their collective accomplishments." (Cruickshank, Jenkins & Metcalf, 2005).


After looking through the WebQuest "Freedom Fighter or Terrorist", designed by Tom March, it occurred to me that the creation of WebQuests would could become quite time consuming, ensuring that the content was relevant and appropriate, relating to the Essential Learnings and making it simple for students to navigate. Although, once the WebQuest was created, it would be accessible for future classes, the Learning Manager may need to change some aspects to suit the class needs.


Allowing students opportunities to work with their peers and at their own pace, develops higher levels of learning and social interaction.



Regards,

Erin.



Sources:


Cruickshank, D.; Jenkins, D. & Metcalf, K. (2005). The Act of Teaching, 4th Edition. Boston: McGraw-Hill.


March, T. (2003). The Learning Power of WebQuests. [Electronic resource] (http://tommarch.com/writings/wq_power.php). Retrieved 19 August 2009.


Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. [Electronic resource]. (http://www.elearnspace.org/articles/connectivism.htm). Retrieved 19 August 2009.




Google Earth



"Google Earth lets you fly anywhere on Earth to view satellite imagery, maps, terrain, 3D buildings, from galaxies in outer space to the canyons of the ocean." (Google Earth, 2009).

This program offers a range of interesting options for students to access, these include exploring the ocean floor, the moon and even Mars in 3D! Students can pinpoint the exact location of their home and school and follow directions to local attractions, all from a bird's eye view.


Marsh (2008) suggests that the use of computer technology during SOSE lessons is highly beneficial to students, some reasons for this are:
  • flexibly meets the needs and abilities of each individual student.
  • provides access to rich materials beyond the school and even the Nation.
  • relevant ways for presenting new information.
  • enables students to feel comfortable with the tools of the information age.

In regards to restrictions to particular websites in all Education Queensland schools, Google Earth may pose a problem if the Learning Manager wanted each student to 'have a go' at using the applications. I imagine that Google Earth would need to be used in conjunction with an interactive whiteboard or data projector in the classroom, so that the students can view it.


Regards,

Erin.



Sources:


Marsh, C. (2008). Studies of Society and Environment: Exploring the Teaching Possibilities. Frenches Forest, NSW: Pearson Education Australia.


Google Earth. (2009). [Electronic resource]. (http://earth.google.com/). Retrieved 19 August 2009.

Podcasting

As a Learning Manager in the 21st Century, with the sheer volume of rapidly evolving technology, it is essential to keep up to date with your students' interests and abilities. Podcasts are one such example of this. They allow you to download audio from the Internet and replay it on your computer or iPod. The Apple Online Store (2009) describes podcasts as "a free video or audio series - like a TV or radio show - that you download from iTunes and play of your computer, iPod, iPhone or Apple TV."

Podcasts would be a great way to involve the students in ICT experiences. They could choose the music they wanted to add to the class list (with the Learning Managers supervision, to ensure appropriate choices are made) and be able to listen to the music during creative art or writing lessons.

Regards,
Erin.

Sources:
Apple Online Store. (2009). [Electronic resource] (http://store.apple.com/au). Retrieved 18 August 2009.

YouTube and TeacherTube

YouTube is an interactive website where participants can upload their own videos for public viewing or download others' videos for a variety of reasons. YouTube has grown dramatically over the years, and can deliver clips relating to almost every possible known topic.

Not only is YouTube a source of entertainment for children and adults alike, it also provides a foundation to learning and a gateway to all subject area units.

Since the creation of YouTube, many sister sites have evolved, including TeacherTube. Here, educators will find a massive range of instructional videos, that both engage and teach their students.

The above video I located on YouTube, under the section of Education. This video would assist prep and grade 1 students with the recognition of the alphabet, using catchy tunes and bright, bubbly cartoon characters. It is something that the Learning Manager could play regularly in the classroom.

It is well understood that rote learning is an age old teaching technique, and not one that is looked upon favourably in today's practice. However, there are many tasks that require the process of practice and repetition to gain mastery. It is almost impossible for mere human beings to learn something once and become and expert at it. "The use of various forms of repetition, forms the bedrock of virtually all memory." (Verfaellie; Rajaram; Fossum & Williams, 2008).

Regards,

Erin.

Sources:

Verfaellie, M.; Rajaram, S.; Fossum, K. & Williams, L. (2008). Not all repetition is alike: Different benefits of repetition in amnesia and normal memory. J Int Neuropsychol Soc. [Electronic resource] (http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=2396955). Retrieved 18 August 2009.

Quiz-tastic!!


According to the Learning and Teaching Unit (2009) on-line quizzes "can be a powerful and empowering formative and summative assessment tool." These quizzes often come in three different forms; short answer, true/false answers and multiple choice.


Some benefits for using on-line testing:


  • answers are electronically marked, saving valuable teaching time.

  • students can complete the test over and over, allowing them to fully digest the information and obtain the correct answer.

  • environmentally friendly as there is no need for paper sources.

  • provide students with feedback as to the areas of need.


Some disadvantages of using on-line testing:


  • impersonal, students need to feel that their work is valuable enough to discuss on a personal level.

  • does not allow students to work together to formulate ideas.

  • students can take the test again and again, perhaps just guessing the answer rather than reflecting on where they went wrong.


As I set up my own ClassMarker account, I found this process to be very time-consuming (and I only added one question!). I would imagine however, that over time, a Learning Manager would create a question bank where they could just pull out the relevant answers and tweak them slightly to suit the needs of the class.


Some issues to keep in mind when using on-line testing are:

(1) ensuring that the students receive a sufficient amount of feedback, especially when it is written feedback.

(2) continually monitor the students progress, it would be useless to just let the computer mark the work, without the Learning Manager checking it as it would completely defeat the purpose.


I have previously used on-line testing with an individual child. It was part of a focus assessment piece, and I was required to work through the test with her to ensure she understood the questions. This was not a test that I personally created, though I found it to be a stimulating form of assessment.



Regards,

Erin.



Sources:


Learning and Teaching Unit. (2009). On-Line Quizzes. [Electronic resource]. (http://www.unisa.edu.au/ltu/staff/practice/online/quiz.asp). Retrieved 17 August 2009.

Animations and Simulations

Animations and simulations involve a variety of on-line educational games and activities which provides students with hands-on learning in the virtual world. Clearly, these programs are much more engaging for today's students than the ordinary pencil and paper. They can also act as an alternative to the 'real thing' when resources and assistance are limited.


"The Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning ... describes cognitive process involved in learning from multimedia materials, suggesting that learners first select relevant visual and verbal information from the stimulus, organise that information into (a) coherent...mental representation, and then integrate these ... with prior knowledge." (Mayer, 2001).


Simulated activities would be an interactive way to conduct authentic assessment tasks, as well as using formative assessment at the beginning of a unit to gain an insight as to what the students already know.


The Queensland Department of Education and Training (2006) argue that assessment must involve "intellectually challenging and real-world learning experiences (which) will help all students to become life-long learners".


Animations and simulations are an interesting and exciting way to get all the students involved, work together and collaborate ideas.


Regards,
Erin.




Sources:

Department of Education and Training (QLD). (2006). Curriculum: Learning, Teaching and Assessment. Queensland Government. [Electronic resource] (http://education.qld.gov.au/curriculum/). Retrieved 17 August 2009.




Mayer, R.E. (2001). Multimedia learning. New York: Cambridge. Cited in Plass, J.L.; Homer, B.D. & Hayward, E.O. (2009). Design factors for educationally effective animations and simulations. US Government. [Electronic resource] (http://www.springerlink.com/content/d68013h371050043/fulltext.pdf). Retrieved 17 August 2008.

Image Manipulation


Image manipulation is the process of "altering [an] image using computer program tools and software to produce a contrived image, often generating new meaning." (M/Cyclopedia of New Media, 2004).



Cronklin (2001) argues that media technologies carve the pathway for manipulating images and thus altering reality. He also suggests that representation of images is a misrepresentation of the truth, especially in regards to cultural diversity (Cronklin, 2001). This may be apparent for large advertising agencies and journalists, however, for use in the classroom it is an interesting way for students to express their creativity. "Many approaches to creativity stress human potential for self-realisation, personal growth and fulfillment." (Treffinger; Isaksen & Firestien, n.d.).

I have manipulated my own image (see above) using 'Picnik', which provide a free sample of possible tools to change your photo. This site would be great to use in conjunction with Flickr, as it allows you to access photos from many different sources. The students could put together a photo story of their own experience on school camp for example, as well as discuss The Arts aspects of light and shade, colour composition ect.



Regards,
Erin.


Sources:


Cronklin, W. (2001). The Illusion of Diversity: when ethics, technology and diversity clash. Diversity Factor Journal, 9 (2), 5-10. (Cited in http://wiki.media-culture.org.au/).

M/Cyclopedia of New Media. (2004). Digital Image Manipulation. [Electronic resource] (http://wiki.media-culture.org.au/index.php/Digital_Image_Manipulation). Retrieved 16 August 2009.

Treffinger, D.J.; Isaksen, S.G. & Firestien, R.L. (n.d.). Theoretical Perspectives on Creative Learning and its Facilitation: An Overview. [Electronic resource] (http://www.cpsb.com/research/articles/creative-problem-solving/). Retrieved 16 August 2009.

Flickr Fun


The makers of Flickr (2009) suggest they had two main goals when developing this website:


  • help people make their content available to the people who matter to them.

  • enable new ways of organising photos and video.
I found the process of setting up a Flickr account actually quite difficult, and am finding myself still trying to navigate the site. However, the time taken to upload my photo was extremely fast and I can imagine that this would be a great source for people who had tonnes of photos and videos to store, especially with limited hard-drive space.
After a while, I realised that I could spend hours on this site, looking at pictures that people have posted, there are some amazing images which could be incorporated into any unit of work.
Flickr would be a wonderful way to involve parents in their childrens' school lives, by posting photos of them completing work, school excursions, sports days, you name it. Parents would be able to create a free account and keep track of their childs' progress.


"In Australia we are entering an important new era in relation to schools. We have the 'education revolution' and as part of that a growing recognition of the importance of parental engagement and the importance of more authentic partnerships between home, school and the broader community to support children's learning." (Family-School & Community Partnerships Bureau, 2009).


With our hectic lifestyles, parents often do not have the time to physically be in the classroom with their children. Flickr offers an alternative by providing busy parents with visual evidence of their child's school life.
Regards,
Erin.
Sources:
Family-School & Community Partnerships Bureau. (2009). Parents: Involved in Schooling and Engaged in Learning. ACSSO / APC project. [Electronic resource] (http://www.familyschool.org.au/2009/07/parents-involved-in-schooling-and-engaged-in-learning/). Retrieved 16 August 2009.



Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Learning with Videos

Videos are proven to be an engaging teaching method, especially when they relate to students' interests. Videos in young primary grades, often contain cartoon characters, which display simple explanations of particular topics or convey moral messages. I have witnessed this type of video in a year 2 classroom, where the characters explained the process for counting backwards, using a range of examples.

It is well understood that effective teaching videos should be limited in time, and contain images that relate to the children. It would be worthless showing a video of a mundane middle-aged man, explaining the process of adding two-digit numbers to a year 3 class. They are likely to 'switch off' and probably be more confused than before.

I have used video in the classroom once, during my previous prac. This process was designed to provide the students with an understanding of how to calculate the mean when graphing. The video was retrieved from YouTube and demonstrated the process as well as incorporating a catchy tune, which stimulated memory of the process.

Not only can provided videos be shown to students for learning, but the students can also create their own videos. This is particularly helpful for submission of assessment pieces for students who may be uncomfortable presenting in front of a live audience. It is essential for students to have options during assessment times, providing them with a sense of ownership of the task.

All subject areas can be taught using video as a teaching method. Take my home video below, let's imagine we are teaching a human movement lesson to a grade 7 class. The topic question may be "Which muscles allow humans to laugh and talk?". A range of other information could be collected from this initial, simple video.

"Students can either be passive receivers of media messages or they can be digital content creators and critical thinkers." (Needleman, 2008). Something to ponder...


Regards,
Erin.









Needleman, M. (2008). Video in the classroom.com: digital storytelling in the elementary grades-and beyond!. [electronic resource]. http://www.needleworkpictures.com/vic/






video

Interactive Whiteboards


"As schools move progressively into a digital learning environment, interactive whiteboards are being widely adopted in primary and secondary classrooms." (Department of Education and Training, 2009).


Interactive whiteboards, or Smartboards as they are sometimes referred to, offer students a hands-on learning experience over all Key Learning Areas. They are operated using specially designed markers and by finger-touch. Brown (n.d.) lists a range of benefits for using interactive whiteboards in the classroom, some of these include:


  • enhanced presentations by integrating a variety of materials such as pictures, graphs and links to websites.

  • create customised learning objects to suit the class needs.

  • student collaboration.

  • broaden the use of ICTs and alternative modes of delivery.


I have used interactive whiteboards in my practicum classroom recently, during a mathematics lesson. I used a hundredths grid to teach the concept of decimal numbers. I encouraged individual students to colour the squares to represent the numbers I told them, I also asked other students to provide numbers for representation. I found this helped with the learners' understanding through the use of interactive hands-on materials as well as peer tutoring.


During a previous practicum, I witnessed the Smarboard being utilised during a literacy lesson, where they students were able to physically choose alternative words to retell a provided story.


Interactive whiteboards in the classroom are a wonderful invention!


Regards,

Erin.
Sources:

Brown, S. (n.d.). Interactive Whiteboards in Education. TechLearn. York: UK. [electronic resource]. (http://www.jisc.ac.uk/uploaded_documents/Interactivewhiteboards.pdf). Retrieved 16 August 2009.
Department of Education and Training WA. (2009). [electronic resource] (http://www.det.wa.edu.au). Retrieved 16 August 2009.

Powerpoints



An educator in the 21st Century must be able to use a variety of teaching strategies to continually keep students engaged and interested. Long gone are the days where students 'learn' by listening to teachers regurgitate knowledge, fill in a couple of worksheets and copy writing tasks from the blackboard.

Powerpoint presentations are something we see both inside and outside the classroom. They are often used to back up one's argument, and are a great tool for those visual learners. They can however, be used incorrectly, with massive amounts of information written on each slide, and not easy to read. With the correct know-how, powerpoints are an advantageous teaching method.

So, what is the best way to do this? suggests that
  • slides should be appealing and easy on the eye, that is, colours should match and not outdo each other, the automated colour scheme can help with this.
  • keep the function in mind. What is it that you want the powerpoint to do?
  • keep writing to a minimum. Powerpoints should be used as a backup to what you are teaching and allow the students to gain a better understanding through a visual representation.

Powerpoint presentations can be used in any subject area and for any purpose, the students can also create them individually for assessment purposes.

Regards,

Erin

Sources:

Microsoft Corporation. (2009). Powerpoint in the Classroom. ACT360 Media Ltd. [electronic resource]. (http://www.actden.com/pp/unit2/2_main.htm). Retrieved 14 August 2009.







Wiki Learning

Wikis are a great way to bring ICTs into the classroom. Not only do they allow students to access information from a variety of sources, but they can also be used to write and re-write their own ideas and relate experiences with each other.

I used Wetpaint to set up my own Wiki account. The makers of Wetpaint describe this tool as a website that is "built on the power of collaborative thinking". (wetpaint.com,inc, 2009). There are many options for a user of a Wetpaint account, as they allow you to sit anywhere on the spectrum of broadcasting your website to the entire world, or only to an invited group.

I set up my account with the idea of using it for my science unit during my practicum experience. I anticipate that the students can add, change and edit information as we complete the unit and they gain explicit knowledge of the topic. The WA Department of Education and Training (2009)argue that "Wikis encourage group social interaction and collaboration and support asynchronous communications allowing users to contribute at a time, and from a place that suits them." It is well known that students learn successfully when they contribute to their own learning.

An aspect of this process which concerned me was the monitoring process for this site. It contains many ads which change often and would be difficult to keep up with, however, for a price these can be deleted forever.

Visit Wetpaint to create your own Wiki, or have a look at mine

Regards,
Erin.



Sources:
Wetpaint.com, inc. (2009). [electronic resource] http://www.wetpaint.com/ (retrieved 13 August 2009).

Department of Education and Training WA. (2009). Resourcing the Curriculum: ICT in the classroom. [electronic resource] http://www.det.wa.edu.au/education/ (retrieved 13 August 2009).

Blogs and Aggregators

Setting up a blog for the first time, was for me (a technical dud!), quite an easy process. A blog allows the user to connect to the cyber-world in an endeavour to express their feelings and knowledge on particular matters to the web community. It can be a great educational tool both personally and in the classroom, especially when the user is connected to other professional blogs from area experts.

It is however, exhausting, searching for blogs inside the WWH (World Wide Haystack). This is where RSS Aggregators come in handy. These devices are used to attach the user to others’ blogs that are the most relevant to them, and provide updates of blogging action without the user having to go a search for it. Before the commencement of this course, I had, like many others, no idea that this contraption even existed. What a simple way to keep up to date with the information you need. Hence the name Really Simple Syndication!

Blogs and Aggregators would be a great way to connect your students to professional information in the classroom. It could also be used to connect to each other, to share experiences and ideas, even record the students’ journal writing rather than using the age old pencil and paper. Of course, it would be the Learning Manager’s responsibility to monitor the postings on each student’s blog, ensuring that harassment and bullying were not occurring.

Bring students together and allow them the opportunity to communicate in their own way.

Try Google Reader to follow other peoples blogs!

Regards,
Erin.

Avatars

So this is the animated version of me!

An avatar can be a computerised image of one's self or a selected character. It is designed to be a user-generated technology that can be inserted into your blog, email or profile.

I chose to create a Voki avatar for my blog. It was surprisingly easy to use, and took me through a step-by-step process. There was an enormous range of options for my character's clothing, appearance and voice. Voki was created by an American based company called Oddcast, who aim to make the sharing of information more engaging.

I am planning on using this program in the coming weeks of my school prac, during my science lessons. I believe it to be a great tool for transmitting knowledge. I did however, find that the text-to-voice audio can become very monotonous, especially for young children to listen to. I would suggest that a user should either record their own or a colleagues' voice. Alternatively, if the standard audio is required, the user needs to make their character's appearance more interesting.

Overall, a useful, interactive and innovated tool to use in the classroom.

Regards,
Erin.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Get a Voki now!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

First time Blogger!

So...my very first blog. What an interesting experience it was to set this up. Still uncertain as how to use many tools in this application, but I am confident that it will become easier as time goes by. I'll let you know.
Erin.