Friday, August 21, 2009

Reflective Synopsis

I had the privilege of sitting in on a lecture by Eric Frangenheim, author of the books Reflections on Classroom Thinking Strategies and the E-Book, The Reconciliation of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Frangenheim’s states, “my key focus is to inspire teachers and educators to introduce higher-order thinking into their classrooms” (Frangenheim, 2006). The theme of his lecture, Bloom’s Taxonomy and Purposeful Pedagogy, was to promote the ‘Thinking Classroom’ and share practical thinking tools and strategies to engage better learners. He sees integrating Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) as part of the “Thinking Classroom”. His lecture opened my eyes to how important it is to know what level of thinking we are requiring of our students when setting tasks and asking questions.

What does this have to do with Managing E-Learning I hear you ask? Well later that day, as I continued to work on my blog, I questioned. What were we really being asked to do, and what level of thinking was required of me for this assessment piece? I then had an AHA moment. This assessment wasn’t just asking me to create a blog and fill it with YouTube clips, pretty pictures and the rest; this assessment was asked me to evolve, to re-think what I do now and what I WILL DO in MY future classroom.

To complete this task, I had to apply the complex reasoning processes of investigation and decision making to extend and refine my knowledge of all things technological, while also using Bloom’s higher order levels of thinking to analyse and evaluate these technologies and critically analyse the best way to use them in my classroom. Siemens (2004) and Prensky (2004) both agree that formal school-based learning is under threat from these emerging technologies; technologies that have the potential to empower and engage learners in higher order thinking activities in an informal learning environment.

The many tools and products that we explored and played with and now know are available to us, does make choosing the tool for the job a difficult decision. Digital learning can be different and challenging for some, as I found out. Siemens (2004) determines that this learning with new technologies is very different from previous types of learning and discusses the term ‘connectivism’ as the ‘learning theory for a digital age’. We are all aware that today’s teachers and their students can differ greatly in their level of skill, acceptance and interaction with ICT. Students who are ‘connected' are social, action orientated and dependent on group knowledge and often see their teachers or ‘digital immigrants’ as people who speak a whole different language (Prensky, 2001).

In saying this, connecting to the world is no guarantee that learning will occur, therefore my role as a future Learning Manager will still require me to define and plan meaningful experiences that engage learners. The challenges that I have witnessed within my current teaching school is keeping skills current to align with these new technologies, with teachers also arguing that they just don’t have enough technology time or the computers to integrate ICTs into their daily lessons. Smith, Lynch and Knight (2007) emphasise that teachers need professional development and practical ICT skills to help develop an understanding of what ICT tools can do. With this support and skill development, teachers can then use the application of appropriate pedagogies while engaging students in social, relevant and interactive learning experiences. Our classrooms are filled with learners that demand digital learning experiences and now the expectation is that teachers integrate ICTs as part of the Queensland Studies Authority (2007), Information and Communication Technology (ICTs) cross curriculum priority.

On completion of this assessment task, I can now see the opportunities and understand what role ICT tools can play in teaching and learning. Although, before I can plan these social, relevant and interactive learning experiences I will need to ask myself these significant questions.
1. Does the ICTs play a role in the learning design?
2. Am I just using ICTs because I can or is there a learning opportunity involved?
3. Is using ICTs the best way of delivering the concept? Or is there an easier way to get the same result?
4. Is ICTs the best way to deliver the concept?
Smith, Lynch and Knight (2007)

For the duration of this course I have been following a number of my fellow colleague’s blog postings. Although my comments have been few and far between, reading others very insightful postings has differently given me a new understanding of the wonderful technologies available to us and the learning theories that are vital for productive pedagogy to occur.
I think for me it’s important to remember that moving through the stages of technology takes time and patience. I need to consider how I previously used ICTs in the classroom and decide which one of these new wonderful tools I will try next.

In the words of Kearsley & Shneiderman’s (1999), “Engagement Theory is that students must be meaningfully engaged in learning activities through interaction with others and worthwhile tasks”. This is definitely what all of us have been doing over the last month or so. Wouldn’t you agree?

Frangenheim, E. (2006). Reflections on classroom thinking strategies. Loganholme, Qld, Australia: Rodin Educaional Publlishing.

Kearsley, G., & Shneiderman, B. (1999). Engagement Theory: A Framework for Technology-Based Teaching and Learning. Retrieved August 19, 2009, from http://home.sprynet.com/~gkearsley/engage.htm

Prensky. M. (2001). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. Retrieved August 19, 2009, from http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky%20-%20Digital%20Natives,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf

Queensland Studies Authority, (2007).
Information and Communication Technology (ICTs) cross curriculum priority. Retrieved August 19th, 2009, from http://www.qsa.qld.edu.au/learning/7300.html

Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. Retrieved August 12th, 2009, from http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm

Smith, R., Lynch, D. & Knight, B. A. (2007). Learning management: Transitioning teachers for national and international change. French's Forest, NSW, Australia: Pearson Education Australia.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Interactive Whiteboards


Hi again.
I have heard a lot of teachers talk about interactive whiteboards and how they would love to have one in their classrooms, but I have yet to experience how an interactive whiteboard works. After having a look at the Interactive Whiteboard Demonstration on YouTube, I now understand that an interactive whiteboard combines the simplicity of a white board and the power of a computer. They really are an extension of your computer. The whiteboard includes a projector that can bring lesson files, websites, videos and images to life. Whatever you can imagine doing on your computer with a mouse, you can do on the whiteboard with your hand or a tool. For example, opening up a word document to playing a powerpoint presentation. The build-in software allows you to save and hold documents for later use. This would be very beneficial if the teacher needed to revise previous parts of the lesson for clarification. Interactive also means that documents can be student generated. Some systems also include a control panel that enables the user to connect multimedia devices. Interactive whiteboards appear to be easy to manage and maintain, leaving the user free to focus on teaching and learning. What a way to keep lessons interactive and engaging.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Digitial Storytelling and Music in the Classroom

Digitial Storytelling:

After watching a couple of digital literacy projects by Marco Antonio Torres, I asked myself, how could I implement this type of learning into my classroom. Clay animation came to mind. When my daughters were younger they use to spend hours modelling with clay, creating characters and scripting stories which they loved to share. Their creations were so detailed and their stories full of imagination.
In the classroom clay animations would be an exciting technology that would capture the imagination of students of all ages. Story telling can literally be brought to life. Today the tools for creating clay animations are either free or very inexpensive (Edson, 2006.)
Clay animation can work across many curriculum areas. According to The Arts Essential Learnings, the Media strand involves, “constructing meaning, considering intended audiences and intended purposes, by modifying media languages and technologies to create representations.” For example students can create backdrops and scenery using conventional or digital art forms using genre conventions to construct media texts (Queensland Studies Authority, 2009).
Clay animation is something that I would love to have a go at. Maybe I will try one at home with my “own’ students first. Reignite their creativity and imagination.
Cheers

Edson, E. (2006). Success for boys: Boys and ICT Module. Retrieved 18th August, 2009, from http://www.maryborougheducationcentre.vic.edu.au/successforboys/resources/pdf/ict/ict_resource14.pdf
The Queensland Studies Authority, (2009). Essential learnings: The arts. Retrieved 18th August, 2009, from http://www.qsa.qld.edu.au/learning/7262.html


Music in the Classroom:


A few weeks ago in an E-Learning tutorial we were made aware of the copyright laws and regulations and the implications surrounding them. Most of us, I’m assuming, took for granted that if you could download it from the internet then it was ok. Referencing them I don’t think so. A basic concept of copyright is that a copyright owner has exclusive rights to his or her work and only the owner, or those authorized by the owner, may copy, adapt, distribute, display or perform the work – with some very important exceptions. You need to obtain permission any time you want to use a copyright work unless your use fits one of the exceptions (Copyright Connection, 2000 -2006). Good news is there are Royalty free music and Royalty free image sites out there for us to use.
As one of Howard Gardner's major intelligence areas, music is valuable for its own sake as well as for what it can add to a lesson. A friend of a friend told me about a teacher who used music to inspire his class at the start of the day. He used a feel-good tune, which he called ‘music of the day’. He would write the name and composer of the music on the board, along with a ‘thought for the day’. He found that simply reading the ‘thought for the day’ out loud did not have a great effect. But when the ‘thought for the day’ was displayed alongside the ‘music of the day’, with the music playing, students began to take notice of both. They wanted to know exactly what the music was and who wrote or sang it, and then what the thought of the day was.

I would use this. I love music and I love inspirational quotes; I have them emailed to me every day. I’m going to try this in my two week block. I will keep you posted as to how it goes.


Copyright Connection, (2000 -2006). Using copyright. retrieved August 12th, 2009, from http://depts.washington.edu/uwcopy/Copyright_Connection/

Podcasting


I don’t think I had ever heard of a Podcast (the blend of the two words ipod and broadcast) before starting my university degree, let alone accessing one or trying to create one. I understand now that a Podcast is a digital media file that is distributed over the internet for playback on portable media players and personal computers. Podcasts can also be syndicated, subscribed to, and downloaded automatically, using an aggregator or feed reader such as Google Reader (Commonwealth of Australia, 2008).
I do remember commenting to a lecturer at the beginning of the year on how great it would be if our readings were delivered via Podcasts. I find it very difficult to vertical read a lot of information off the computer, and while I do print some readings, others are just too long to print out and read. As a parent I would love to be able to download the readings via Podcast and listen to them while I do the other million things that I have to do.
In the cast of students, myself included, we could listen and learn whenever and wherever we wanted. I have to travel an hour each way to university so being able to listen to a podcast while travelling would be very productive learning. Podcasts could also be useful for revising content. Podcasting also allows educators to present information on a student’s audio, rather than visual channel. Information that students acquire in sessions and through reading, can be reinforced through the brain’s auditory channel. Listening to content rather than reading may be a student’s preferred way of learning (Advanogy, 2003-2007).
There are many podcasts available that teachers can use to supplement their own resources. Podcasts range from the more professional, for example ABC Radio programs, to ones produced by the general community. By subscribing to podcasts, we could compile a range of dynamic content that can provide the basis for activities and learning.

Commonwealth of Australia. (2008). Your guide to social e-learning. Retrieved 17th August, 2009, from http://socialelearning.flexiblelearning.net.au/social_elearning/lo/podcast_gde/podcast_gde_00.htm

Advanogy, (2003-2008). Discovery your learning style. Retrieved 17th august, 2009, from http://www.learning-styles-online.com/

Monday, August 17, 2009

Animations and Simulations and Google Earth

Web-based Animations and Simulations, such as Gismos, are content focused and encourage inquiry based instruction and exploration. Animations and Simulations use complex interactions and abstract concepts to actively engage students in learning while offering a virtual experience when the real thing may be difficult to provide (Explorelearning, 2009).
When it comes to using animals for scientific purposes in our classrooms, for example dissecting a frog, approval from the Queensland Schools Animal Ethics Committee is a legal requirement (Department of Education and Training (DET), 2007). Because of this legal requirement, the Queensland Schools Animal Ethics Committee considers, as one of their 3Rs of animal welfare, is to replace animals with other alternatives (DET, 2007). In the case of dissecting a frog, (could you do it?)the alternative could be to use the Web-based virtual dissection of a frog
Frogguts.

Google Earth
I love playing on Google Earth. Typed in my address and had a look at my house, still no pool. NASA seems to be taking a long time to update the images from this part of the world.
Google Earth lets you explore the wonders of planet Earth through the use of satellite imagery, maps, terrain, 3D buildings and much more. As far as our students go, Google Earth can help us bring a world of information alive. The Google Earth demos can be used as the hook that gets our students excited about everything from geography to maths.
I have used Google Earth twice in my learning experiences plans. In my first year at University my Year 5 class were looking at the history of the Olympic Games. Students were keen to see what the “Bird’s Nest” (China’s Olympic Stadium) looked like, so off we flew to China. Before we arrived in China we discovered and documented other Olympic sites along the way. This year I have used Google Earth to view the tectonic plate-shifts and areas of volcanic activity for my mini unit on volcanoes. The students were able to view the seven major tectonic plates and analyse data to see for themselves the earthquake and volcanic activity which happens each day. They were able to view, flat or in 3D, all of this with just a few clicks of the mouse. The only limit to Google Earth's use in the classroom is your imagination.

Dr Robert Mazano identified nine instructional strategies that are most likely to improve student achievement across all content areas and across all grade levels. These strategies are explained in his book, Classroom Instruction That Works (2001). In his book, he has stated that student achievement improves when simulations are used by teachers as a form of instruction. Animations and Simulations are designed to supplement and support curriculum materials and standards, while also helping teachers to bring research-proven instructional strategies to their classrooms (Marzano, Pickering & Pollock, 2001).

References:

Department of Education and Training. (2007). What is the queensland schools animal ethics committee? Retrieved 17th August, 2009, from http://education.qld.gov.au/curriculum/area/science/qsaec.html

Explorelearning, (2009). Experience maths and science with gismos. Retrieved 17th August, 2009 from http://www.explorelearning.com/index.cfm

Image.Retrieved 17th August, 2009, from http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

Marzano, R., Pickering, D. & Pollock, J. (2001). Classroom instruction that works. Retrieved 17th August, 2009 from http://www.marzanoresearch.com/site/

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Powerpoint


I have had the opportunity to create a number of PowerPoints at university over the last year and a half. These Powerpoints were used to complement oral presentations, which according to Howard Gardner and his multiply intelligences (1983) can accommodate the diverse learning needs of our learners, including both visual and auditory. The PowerPoint is a visual method of presentation in the form of a slide show and when used with explicit pedagogical skills can enhance learning in both a student and teacher-directed environment (Smith, 2002-2008).
After reading “Using Buttons on a Slide Show”, I realized I already knew how to include buttons in a slide show. Last year we had to create a WebQuest as part of an assessment piece for SOSE and buttons were used throughout. Buttons were also used throughout my Learning Object on Flies, as seen above. Buttons allowed the user to navigate back and forth within the Powerpoint by using a 'mouse click' or 'mouse over'.

Internet4classrooms, provided easy to follow directions on how to include buttons into a PowerPoint, which for future creations I may need to use again as reference.

Smith, M. K. (2002-2008). Howard Gardner and multiple intelligences: The encyclopedia of informal education. Retrieved 18th August, 2009, from http://www.infed.org/thinkers/gardner.htm

WebQuests

The WebQuest was first formulated, designed and used by Professor Bernie Dodge and Tim March in 1995. They designed the WebQuest to be a “scaffolded learning structure” that links resources from the internet to an authentic task by using the investigation of an open-ended question that motivates students. According to these two men the key attributes of a WebQuest, is to combine authentic tasks using Internet resources to develop the critical thinking skills of our students (March, 2004). A real WebQuest, designed in an inquiry-oriented lesson format, requires the higher order thinking skills of synthesis, analysis, problem-solving, creativity and judgment, not simply summarizing. (Dodge, 2007). A good WebQuest has authentic context and problem or task.

Before designing, creating or using a pre-existing WebQuest, it is important to address a key issue. Does the WebQuest address the Key Learning Areas (KLA’s) of the Essential Learnings? As we all know, the Essential Learnings identifies what should be taught and what is important for students to have the opportunity to know, understand and be able to do (Queensland Studies Authority, 2009).
Siemens (2004) in his article, Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age believes that learning is a process of connecting through the specialized nodes of information sources and non-human appliances. He also states that having the capacity to know more is more critical than what is currently known. This for me sums up the “scaffolded learning structure” of the WebQuest.

Last year I had the opportunity to create a Webquest, which was an assessment piece for the subject, “Teaching about the Living World”. While daunting at first, achieving something this technological in my first year at University was certainly an achievement. Just think how good our assessment pieces would have been with the knowledge that we know now, thanks to E-Learning.

I have included the link to Tom March’s website:
The Learning Power of WebQuests

References:

Dodge, B. (2007). WebQuest.org. Retrieved 16th August, 2009, from http://webquest.org/index.php

March, T. (2004).What WebQuests Are (Really). Retrieved August 14, 2009, from
http://bestwebquests.com/what_webquests_are.asp

Queensland Studies Authority. (2009). Essential learnings. Retrieved 16th August, 2009, from http://www.qsa.qld.edu.au/learning/7261.html
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