Friday, August 21, 2009

Reflective Synopsis

My elearning journey to date.
I have learned through participating in the BLM e-learning subject that I am, as Marc Prensky (2001) defines, a “digital immigrant”. Having grown up in the 70's and 80's, my earliest experience with digital technology was the privilege of using an electric typewriter instead of the old clunkers. When I first encountered computers, as a year 9 student, we had to remember what seemed like an endless amount of information just to start a program.

Fortunately technology has come a long way in the last 25 years allowing today’s students’ to be recognized as “digital natives”, having grown up with technology all around them. Today's learners interact with technology on a daily basis, communicating with peers via sms, email, facebook and msn just to name a few. They listen to music and view movies and podcasts via portable storage devices such as ipods and mobile phones. These digital natives download music, perform Internet searches and play games. As Marc Prensky illustrates in his Engage Me or Enraged Me article (2005) "Life for today's kids may be a lot of things - including stressful - but it's certainly not unengageing."

For this reason, as a future Learning Manager, I need to, not only learn how to use the current array of technological tools, but be constantly vigilant of the ever increasing supply and upgrading my knowledge with it. In order to support my learners by providing authentic learning experiences that incorporate the use of the ever changing and developing tools, I will be implementing technology based frameworks such as Kearsley and Schneiderman’s (1999) Engagement Theory and keeping my eyes open for other theories that will help develop my pedagogical practices.

By participating in this elearning journey I have discovered a myriad of elearning tools that I was previously unaware of and have developed a stronger understanding of the applications of many others. Tools such as Google Earth, Wikipedia, Webquest and PowerPoint which I have used before, personally and within my learning design, but through following this process of discovery, reading other blogs and discussing with my peers and lecturers, I have found new and interesting aspects about them that I can now embed into future learning experiences.

Having now discovered internet sites such as Blogger, WikiSpaces, Google Reader, Voki, Picnik, SlideShare, Mediafire, Incompetech and VoiceThread my head is spinning with ideas about how I can implement these in the classroom, to not only engage my students, but increase the intellectual quality of their learning.

As I have now discovered, with tools such as blogs and wiki’s, it is possible to have an internet site where students can work collaboratively both inside the school and from home. Kearsley and Shneiderman’s (1999) Engagement Theory, which is broken into three components;
• Relate advocating for team efforts, communication, management and social skills,
• Create the principle of making learning a creative, purposeful activity and
• Donate which stresses making a useful contribution while learning ,
suggests that collaboration is key to effective learning. This is backed up by Siemens (2004) Connectivism theory, where he suggests that “learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources” and “Nurturing and maintaining connections is needed to facilitate continual learning”

Whether you use class blogs or students’ individual blogs or wikis would be dependent on the age and experience of the learners and the expected learning outcome of incorporating such tools. As a teacher having a class blog would allow posting of resources such as readings and images, homework activities with instructions that parents can follow, and lessons that can be undertaken at the individuals own pace. Students’ entries could then be monitored using an RSS aggregator.

VoiceThread, Youtube and PodCasts are tools that I feel would be beneficial in supporting inclusive education particularly the likes of indigenous students, with their “dependence on the spoken word and observation for sharing knowledge about their own world” (E. Grant, undated) Using podcasts and youtube videos that relate to a topic and provide insights or demonstrations can be incorporated into lesson planning any stage,
• Engage, providing a hook or introduction to the topic,
• Body; used to enhance the learning, provide modeling, prompt discussions or provide information.
• Conclusion; could be used to tie learning together or encourage reflection.
Just as they can be presented in many ways, through embedding in blogs, providing links through wikis, presented via Interactive White Boards or Digital Projection or just as a URL link within Blackboard.

Through computers, the internet and a variety of other technological advances, we as educators of the future have the opportunity to develop creative, authentic and engaging learning experiences that will ensure inclusion of all our students. Just look at the wealth of knowledge this cohort of University students has gained from participating in this journey of elearning.

As I mentioned earlier I have gained a stronger understanding of these technologies not only through my own experiences but through reading my peers blogs, commenting and exchanging ideas. The following is a list of blogs that I have followed and commented on.

Jasmin Winters, Wikipedia,
Rhonda Perrett, Digital Storytelling,Google Earth,
Kerri Norman, Class Marker,
Kira , Powerpoint Quizzes,
Ben Deguara, Incomptech Music for learning,
Donna Webb, ,


Prensky, M., (2001). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. Retrieved July 18, 2009, from:,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf

Prensky, M., (2005) Engage Me or Enrage Me; What today’s learners demand, Educause Review, Sep/Oct.

Kearsley, G. and Shniederman, B (1999) Engagement Theory: A framework for technology-based teaching and learning. Retrieved 25th July 2009 from

Grant, E., (undated), My Land My Tracks; A framework for holistic approach to indigenous studies, Innisfail and District Education Centre.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Voice Thread

My impression of this tool is that it is similar in context to blogs in that individuals can enter content and others can comment on the content that has been embedded. The advantage of voicethread is that it is auditory which supports both the lower literacy learners and it appeals to the learning styles of the indigenous.

Having listened to the promotional videos for their ed.voicethread, it sounds like this site is well set up to supply the security necessary for an educational institute to use such tools. In ed.voicethread the Educational instructor that initiates the thread has control of the members that view it and is the only one who can allow new memebers. The system is set up so the instructor has to moderate all students comments before they are posted for members viewing/listening.

In my opinion Voicethread would support a wide range of pedagogical practices that included learners in authentic engaging expereinces. Having just completed two oral presentations and reflecting upon the way i reacted to them, I would be happy to employ this type of technology in replacement of such assessment tools. Students would be able to orate their learnings without the pressure of being stuck out in front of the class with everyone watching. The assessment would be performed in a way that supports the learners to maintain a sense of comfort and order, which Marzano and Pickering (1997) identify as a key aspect to developing positive attitudes and perceptions

Marzano, R. and Pickering, D. (1997), Dimensions of Learning; Teacher's Manual, Aurora, Colorado, McREL (Mid-continent Regional Educational Laboratory)

Using Music on the Web

Although I was aware of copyright when it came ot print, I was not aware of just how far it stretched and what was actually covered and what wasn't. Throughout this course though I have become more aware of the implications of copyright and am now treading carefully when using images, symbols and audio in any public forum.

Fortunately there are tools out there in the world wide web that collate Royalty free images and music so we can still use these forms of media with in our learning design. Personally I love listening to music and really don't have many vices to any genre, I just find music to be soothing.

I have seen and heard music used in many ways within classrooms including; as background music to create a feeling of peace and calm, as revision of learning such as times table raps or Thrass raps, it can be used as a transitional tool (when you hear the music pack up and be ready to listen), music can be used as an engagement tool, it can be used for dramatical purposes. In fact the possible uses are endless, and I believe if you visit my class, when I get one, you will no doubt hear a tune of two coming from it everyday. As Marzano and Pickering (1997) suggest "when our attitudes and perceptions are positive, learning is enhanced" and I strongly believe that music is one way of supporting positive attitudes and perceptions.

Marzano, R. and Pickering, D. (1997), Dimensions of Learning; Teacher's Manual, Aurora, Colorado, McREL (Mid-continent Regional Educational Laboratory)

File Storaage

A free internet site for storing and sharing files and images, immediately my defenses go up. Media Fire provides secure access to your files from any computer, any where, any time. Storing files on such a site allows you to free up some of the storage space on your personal computer. Of course it is available for businesses as well. The instructions and information provided seems clear and straight forward and the idea of freeing up storage space in my computer is inviting, but I am still concerned about security.

This tool could serve as a useful networking resource, where teachers could share lesson plans, resources and ideas for learning experiences. Of course there are all the advantages that, the site itself boast, such as sharing your photo gallery with friends and family, while freeing up storage space on your disk drive.
My question is, to those of you out there who might know, can this site be accessed from within the Queensland Education intranet. If it can't there is little value, for us as future Learning Managers, in storing resources on it.

Below I have added a link to a couple of unfinished powerpoints that I have made, the first Myth or Reality was made last year for use with a year 6/7 class the power point was used to prompt class discussion about each image. Images were only introduced one at a time and once students had a go at providing insight as to the meaning behind it the next image or information snipet was added. This had been a practiced activity where students were expected to work out what the theme of the myth ws from the images provided.
The second powerpoint is the one I am currently working on, I have found it difficult to find free resouces that help younger students to define the characteristics of money and perform simple additions and price comparisons (eg; working out which coins and how many are needed to make a purchase of 35cents) Thsi is a work in progress so please don't be too critical just yet.
MediaFire, (2006, 2009) retrieved 20/08/09


Creating an eportfolio with Mahara allows users to create an electronic portfolio htat they can then share whom they choose. This tool enables the user to build their resume, store and present work that they have developed. It is an ideal way of presenting your work and resume when applying for employment, displaying to potential emplyers your ability to navigate the advances in technology. Mahara is also a social networking tool enabling you to allocate groups that you have established links with.
As I have not as yet ventured too far into this resource I can not say much more about it other than to say I look forward to discovering more about his tool.


My initial reaction to this was, not another site that I have to sign up for, how long is this going to take? The process was actually relatively easy. I quickly uploaded my Powerpoint Slideshow and was able to view it. Then I read the next part of the instructions, “Select Embed in your Blog code” Oh no, now what, Why does mine say embedding disabled. Once again panic set in, How am I ever going to teach this, if I can’t do it? But I went back to edit slideshow and found a square I needed to tick to enable embedding.

As my presentation is quite lengthy and is aimed at Year 7 level, I have not added narration to it. The idea of adding narration though is very appealing as I am currently working on a Powerpoint slideshow for year 2’s and narration would no doubt reduce the need for explicit instruction during its use by individual students.


The Term 4 Transdisciplinary unit, planned for the Year 2 class I am working with, is called A Feast of Authors. In order to support this unit with the implementation of ICT’s I have conducted a search of Wikipedia for suitable Australian Children’s Authors. I came up with the following list of sites, which includes information sites, on Wikipedia, about each of the selected Authors. There are also links to sites such as Mem Fox’s where learners can, search the list of books she has written, listen to Mem read some of her stories aloud, there is also a page of frequently asked questions that Mem has answered. This page could lead into a discussion about conducting an interview, resulting in a brainstorm of possible questions to ask an Author.

English Essential Learnings by the end of Year 3

Speaking and Listening
Words and phrasing, volume and pitch can add interest and emphasis, clarify meaning and be monitored by listeners.
Speakers and listeners use a number of strategies to make meaning, including identifying purpose, activating prior knowledge, responding, questioning,identifying main ideas, monitoring, summarising and reflecting.

Reading and Viewing
Writers and designers can adopt different roles for different audiences.
Text users make choices about grammar and punctuation.

Wikipedia not only provides a definition and explanation of the subject of your search it also provides direct links to a range of resources that are related to the topic. It is however up to the individual, or in this case the Learning Managers, to critically analyse the content of these links and determine their value as a respectable source of information. When educating ou lerners we must inform them that Wikipedia is a source of information that can be edited by onyone, therefore, not everything we read on is entirely accurate. Iin this case it is our role, to begin educating even the youngest of our learners to develop and use their own knowledge and skills for evaluation and decision making about the content of the resources.