Thursday, August 20, 2009

My E Learning Journey - Reflective Synopsis

The students whom fill our schools today, tomorrow and in the near future have made a huge shift in the way we learn over the past ten years.
Today’s students are changing rapidly, and a number of things are influencing these changes such as social, cultural and most importantly the technological shift in the world. (Latham, G. ET al.2006) It is recognised that the students in classrooms today are not the same students as a mere ten years ago. However they are 'subjectively different by virtue of their relationship to new times.’ (Green and Bigum, 1993, cited in Latham, G. et al. 2006) In recognising the shift in our learners of today, we as future educators also have to recognise the new needs and capacities of our students, which demand reconceptualized curricula and pedagogies. (Latham, G. et al. 2006)
In order to engage our students of the 21st century, it is up to us as teachers to engage them in meaningful, rich tasks, where learning is a want not a need. There are a number of ways to engage our students in classrooms, however it is found that the use of technology in schools can in fact reach a level of engagement that is difficult to achieve in other ways. (Kearsley & Schneiderman, 1999) A framework that recognises the importance of technology, as an engagement tool is better known as Engagement Theory: A framework for technology-based teaching and learning developed, by Greg Kearsley and Ben Schneiderman.
When using the word engagement, Kierlsey and Schneiderman (1999) understand that children are motivated to learn when using active cognitive processes, such as problem solving, decision- making and evaluating processes.
In conjunction with Kierlsey and Schneiderman’s framework for technology-based teaching and learning is the active learning model. The active learning model adopts the notion that the learning experience is multi-directional and that learning occurs and is shared between all members of a classroom setting, including from teacher to student and from student to teacher. (ACU, 2000)
Both of the models work side by side to enhance student learning.

There are a range of learning technologies and tools that are available over the Internet that can enhance both teacher and student learning.
The main underlying reason to use the following technologies in my classroom would be to engage my students in meaningful and rich tasks.
The first engagement tool that I, as a future educator will be using in my classroom are the Voki avatars. Voki Avatars are a free service, which, allow the creation of personalised speaking avatars, which can be embedded into personal blogs and in email messages. (Oddcast, 2007-2008)
There are a number of uses for vokis, however in an education setting they can be a very useful engagement tool for teachers, to introduce a topic, to show a role-play or to have a bit of fun with the class. By engagement I mean that, all students are motivated to learn because of the meaningful context of the learning environment and activities. (Greg Kearsley & Ben Schneiderman, 1999)
After discovering the avatars in this course, I decided to use them in a lesson to show a role-play. It was amazing to see how well the students in my class responded to the avatars. They were totally engaged with the lesson and they could remember exactly what the avatars had said a week later.
This showed me how beneficial they really are in a classroom setting. Vokis need not only be used by the teacher in a classroom setting, however they can also be extremely beneficial for students learning, in areas such as story retell, visual literacy and also to show students what text to speech looks and sounds like.
The next tool that I am going to discuss is PowerPoint and the endless possibilities that can be achieved by using this technology in a classroom setting.
PowerPoint is a presentation software package that is user friendly and fun to use. PowerPoint’s can be developed for a number of purposes, however the two main purposes that I would use PowerPoint’s in my classroom would be for engagement tools and also for digital portfolios. Firstly, PowerPoint can be used as a teaching tool, to allow educators to incorporate ICT's into their lessons that are easy for the students, however most of all that are easy for the teachers.
The great thing about PowerPoint is that you do not have to be a technological whiz by any means to use it and there are a number of free programs available to help teachers step by step to create their own presentations and also to teach students how to do the same. As a frequent user of PowerPoint I would use the free tutorials that are available, such as ‘actden’ to teach my students how to create their own PowerPoint. Once the students were familiar with the dynamics of PowerPoint, I would get them to set up their own digital portfolio. The digital portfolio would consist of a number of slides that would track the students learning and progress throughout the year. (Kember, 2008) This would give students the opportunity to showcase their learning and achievement with friends and family from both inside and from outside of the school environment. It would also allow the teacher with a set of documents that provide evidence of knowledge. (Kember, 2008)

After researching and experiencing the endless possibilities of webquests, I am excited to say that I cannot wait to set one up for my future students. However if I were to set up a webquest for a unit of work, I would also have my students set up a personal blog that would be connected to the webquest. Webquests are an authentic learning tool that adopt the active learning and the collaborative learning approaches. Personally I would set up a webquest that would run throughout an entire term and that was to be completed in small groups, of two to three students.
Students would work their way through the webquest, while along the way posting reflective comments, questions and answers onto their personal blog spaces to share with their peers. The use of the small groups together with the personal blog spaces would encourage collaborative learning and enhance student success. Collaborative learning occurs when students work together and alongside each other to learn. Dillenberg and Schneider (1995, cited in Krause, et al. 2007) explain that collaborative learning may occur where learners work in small groups, to achieve a common goal. This is exactly my intent for the use of the webquest and the blog, where the class would be working in small groups to achieve an end product, whilst underneath it all they will be learning collaboratively. The use of the blog would also be great for students to be able access and work on their webquest outside of school, so that learning can occur outside of a formal school setting. The blog would allow students to share and find out new information and to work together, (without the teacher) to find out new knowledge work through the webquest. This would give the students control and ownership over their learning.

Lastly, the final teaching and learning tool that I would like to adopt into my class would be the use of podcasts. A podcast is a digital audio file that can be made available on the Internet, by using an RSS feed. (Orden, 2005-2008)
Podcasts can be a great teaching tool, to introduce students to a new topic by showing them a video, song or play on the computer. However in my class, I would like to use podcasts for students to make their own audio file, such as a video, a story retell or a music clip. The creation of the podcast would create an authentic assessment task, one that the students can take charge of. It would also be a great opportunity for the students to be able to showcase their knowledge over the Internet and to share it outside of the school with friends and family. How exciting for students to design, make and showcase their own learning over the Internet.

Although I have only known about most of these technology tools for a mere six weeks, I now feel like I have grown into a digital native and I have come so far.
I am sure that these are only a few of the available teaching and learning tools out there, however I am now confident to say that as a 21st century teacher,
I feel that I can connect my 21st century students with real, relevant and rousing learning experiences, by incorporating these new exciting technologies into my lesson.

Reference List

Kearsley G & Schneiderman B. 1999. Engagement Theory: A framework for technology- based teaching and learning. Retrieved from: on the 14th August 2009.

Kember, D. 2008. Learning with Digital Portfolios. Retrieved from: on the 17th August 2009.

Krause K, Bochner S, Duchesne, S. 2007. Educational Psychology: learning and teaching. 2nd Edition. Thomson, Melbourne, VIC.

Latham G, Blaise M, Dole S, Faulkner J, Lang J and Malone k. 2006. Learning to Teach: New Practices, New Times. Oxford University Press, Melbourne, VIC.

The Abilene Christian UniversityAdams Center for Teaching Excellence. 2000. Active Learning Online. Retrieved from: on the 27th July 2009.

Orden 2005-2008. How to Podcast. Retrieved from: on the 17th August 2009.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Making Videos in the classroom

It is understood that video can be one of the most powerful forms of communication and also a very powerful learning tool. ( Education Development Centre, 2009) Videos may be used in a classroom setting for viewing purposes, however it is the actual planning and making of a video that is going to be the most beneficial for students. The use of video in the classroom is endless, as are the benefits for using videos within the classroom, such as teaching kids critical thinking skills, literacy, public speaking and also group decision making skills. ( Education Development Centre, 2009)

Not only does the use of video in the classroom enhance students thinking skills, it also helps kids to work collaboratvely together. Collaborative learning is a joint effort either by students working together or the student and teacher working together. (Smith, L & Macgregor, J. 1992) A creation of video amongst a class of students is only going to be effective if the students work together as a team and take on particular roles to create a finished product.

Videos are now a very easy tool to intergrate into the classroom with todays technology. In this instance the teacher does not have to be an expert in making videos as there are a number of free websites available that guide students/ teachers to create their own videos and to upload them onto a website such as YouTube. One of the many free online tutorials that could be used to introduce students on how to make their own video, is called Media College. This website provides students with step by step instructions on how to produce their own professional movie.

Reference List:

Smith & Macgregor et al. 1992. Collaborative Learning: A source book for higher education. USA.

Education Development Centre, 2009. An Introduction to Making Videos. Retrieved from: on the 15th August, 2009.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Voice Thread

I'm just discovering the voice thread website and i think that it is another great tool to enhance your pictures, videos and powerpoint presentations. As a future teacher this website would be good to set up as a class, so that students could share there pictures (taken in class) with each other and also with family members, friends etc. I like the application where students would be able to describe their photo using the record option. I think that this is a great tool. These are a couple of the photos that i uploaded and added text to.

Presentation with a new layer...MP3

This is my second attempt at embedding my powerpoint from slideshare, only this time it is better (hopefully) as i have added a mp3. media file to explain to the students what is happening in each slide.

I think that this application is a great idea, not only to add another layer to the presentation but also to target different learning styles and needs wihtin the class. For example i have an esl student in my class, who can understand a conversation, but not written text. This will be a great benefit to him and i am interested to see how the other students in the class respond. I hope it works becasue i did have a lot of trouble trying to sync the audio to the slides. Anyway only one way to find out i guess.

My Slideshare Powerpoint presentation

I have just uploaded this PowerPoint presentation to my slideshare account, which i will be using as a part of my lesson next week. Now i dont have to worry about saving my presentation to my usb, instead i will just access my document via my slideshare account. Much easier!!!


I really like the idea of slideshare and i think that it is fantastic that you can upload your powerpoints to one place on the internet that can be accessed from anywhere. The best part is no matter what software you use to create your powerpoint the website will play it. Now you don't have to worry about converting it to the same program as on the computer such as PowerPoint 2003.

The website doesn't only allow you to upload you powerpoint presentations, however it also allows Word documents and Adobe PDF Portfolios to be uploaded and shared publicly or privately. (Slideshare, 2009)

I think that this is a great tool for anyone who is frequently creating powerpoints at home and sharing them elsewhere, as part of a presentation etc. As a teacher this tool would be great as you could upload you powerpoints to one place and have them there as ready references for ever!!!

Reference List:

Slideshare, 2009. Retrieved from: on the 17th August, 2009.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


I love the idea of this website and i am so excited that i don't have to stress about where to put my documents anymore. MediaFire is a great website that allows you to upload your files and keep them in a safe domain that can be accessed at any computer. (MediaFire, 2006) Before i used to keep all of my files on my usb stick, however there has always been a worry that my usb may crash or even worse i may lose it. Now that i have uploaded my files from my documents to the mediafire website, i can feel happy to know that i can never lose them and i can access them from anywhere which is great.

I will definately be using this site to upload my files and also to keep my digital photos in a safe place. I am so excited about this and i can't wait to share it with my friends.

I have just uploaded my first file onto mediafire and i am about to go and do the rest (could take me a while) this is the url for my shared file: hope it works.

Reference List:

MediaFire, 2006. Retrieved from: on the 17th August, 2009.