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.

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