Monday, August 24, 2009

Assessment 1 - Reflective Synopsis

Managing E-Learning

Technology has become a major part of life in the 21st Century. As the world becomes more technologically advanced, learning and teaching styles have to keep up in order to give students the best possible chance of surviving in this new environment. With so many new teaching technologies available, it is up to the teacher to decide which of these will be most beneficial for their students in conjunction with teaching styles which have existed for many years. Technology, while full of the potential to do good, also has inherent risks especially for the young who tend to be easily led. When dealing with technology and students, it is vital that certain safe guards be put in place to protect the students from both inappropriate content, and those people who would do them harm.

Of the teaching technologies introduced in Managing E-Learning, a few stand out in particular as being very effective for both students and teachers. Blogs, Wikis and PowerPoint can be used in a number of ways which can enhance the learning process.

Blogs are a useful tool for teachers to employ on both sides of the coin. Teachers can set up blogs to help students with coursework and be there as an extra support network outside of schooling hours. Teachers can also get their students to set up blogs as a means to monitoring their progress, and to easily interact with their fellow classmates.

Wikis are a great tool for most group related activities. It allows for easy access from any computer with an internet connection, and allows anyone with an internet connection to view it (unless the security settings are changed so that only members of the wiki can view it). Students can collaborate on assessments and actively work together much easier because of this easy-to-use environment. It also allows students to share their work with the larger community, giving them extra incentive to achieve their best.

PowerPoints are used not only throughout schooling but after schooling as part of seminars and other employment related activities. Therefore they are an important part of the education process to prepare students for their futures. Not only it is important to teach students how to effectively use PowerPoint in conjunction with oral presentations however, but it is useful to employ PowerPoint in classes, more easily used in tutorial based classes where everyone follows steps as a class to reach an outcome – a science experiment for example. Students will benefit from having a visual aid to go with the verbal commands and will increase their learning experience.

As with all internet related activities involving students, keeping their identities safe is important for their own protection. As such, personal information should be kept to a minimal if need needed at all. While students might like to sign their work with their full names and other personal information (ie; Mary Smith, Year 4, Newton Primary School), a much safer way would to be simply sign it as Mary or Mary S as this information would be needed purely for the teacher to see who had created that page in order to assess that student’s work.

With so many articles, WebPages, blogs and wikis available on the internet, it is also vitally important to teach students how to check the credibility of the information they obtain, as well as how to correctly reference the material they use so that no breach of copywrite occurs. Books are checked and re-checked before publication, making their information often outdated within a few years of hitting the shelves but still accurate at its publication date. Internet based publications to not have the same restrictions, but can also mean they aren’t properly checked either. Students need to be shown what sort of WebPages to trust to get the most reliable information.

While technology can be used to enhance teaching in a variety of ways, it is only as useful as the teacher’s comprehension of it, and their ability to use the technology effectively within the coursework. While giving students a Podcast to listen to rather than requesting they read Chapter One for homework may be a more effective way of getting students to retain information, it is only useful if reliable Podcasts exists with the information being covered in class. Creating a PowerPoint Presentation to go with a science experiment may cause more harm than good if the teacher does not know how to effectively incorporate it. In this way, a lot of technology should just be left alone unless fully understood how best to use it, otherwise it can result in confusion for the students and frustration for the teachers.

Technology is a fast-paced environment. It is completely possible that in 10 years time, all of the technology used today will be obsolete, due to be being replaced by bigger and better technologies. If teachers are to keep up with this ever changing world, they have to be almost as on top of the game as the people within the IT industry creating the new technology. For some teachers it will be worth the trouble, for others it will be an endless frustration. As long as technology exists however, teachers will be expected to make use of it, as it does have the potential to help students if used properly.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

You Tube

You Tube as an educational tool seems a bit odd, as it is used mainly for entertainment purposes. I thought long and hard about how it could be used in an educational purpose, as You Tube videos are not subject to any checks for it's validity (the same could be said however about most online information). But I finally started thinking about some of the cool experiments we did during science and found the following video. Due to the nature of some experiments, it would unwise to allow students to do the experiments themselves, and rather than having the teacher perform the experiment in front of them, were something could go wrong, a You Tube video allow for the experiment to be shown and then the teacher can go through it afterwards explaining in greater detail how the experiment works and discussing other variations of the experiment. In this You Tube Video provided by ViewDo (c) 2006 entitled "ViewDo: How To Get an Egg in a Milkbottle", it explains a number of scientific principles including the needs of fire and vaccums. Accessed 23/08/09 ViewDo (c) 2006
Allan Puccinelli -

Saturday, August 22, 2009


ClassMarker is an easy to use on-line quiz software which allows teachers to create quizzes for their students in order to evaluate them in a number of ways. In the short quiz I created in order to test ClassMarker’s functions I created a quiz of two questions based on determining the student’s auditory memory by asking questions about the book currently being read during class “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. ClassMarker provides easy to read results of individual students as well as the class as a whole, making it a quick and effective way to view the classes progress.

Rowling, J. (1997). Harry Potter and the philosopher’s stone. London: Bloomsbury

Flickr & Picnik

Having used Flickr for over 2 years, I think it is a great way to network with other people who share a passion for photography. The search functions are easy to use and cover everything under the earth and even some times above it. This makes it a very useful resource for presentations.

One of my Grandmother's Photo's from her Flickr Account:
For Marlies ~

Picnik is the editing program of Flickr. It is very easy to use and allow for a variety of edits even on a free account. As with most things, more can be achieved if you part with money to upgrade to a pro account. Editing a image can be as simple as putting some writing on it or cropping the photo, to changing the lighting effects and colours of the photo.

In the following photos from my recent trip to Hong Kong and the Fishing Village Tai-O, I have cropped the photo as well as sharping the image and changing the lighting to make the whole image clearer. I have also added text showing the place and rough time of the photo.
Before (Top) - After (Bottom)

Tai-O Fishing VillageTai-O Fishing Village

Power Point - The Power to Present

Powerpoint is a very effective visual aid to any oral presentation (also for non-verbal presentations). Most students will use PowerPoint throughout their education, mainly for the purpose of aiding oral presentations, so teaching students how to effectly use it is important. Powerpoints are also an effective learning tool, as it gives a visual aid for students who respond better to seeing or reading information than being spoken to - it effectly allows student from at least 3 learning styles to engage more easily with the course material.

My presentation was created to aid in the Fire Evacuation/Emergency Lock-Down Plan. Using these visual aids including an outline of the school marking assembly points, and what would happen in the event of an Emergency Lock-Down, I would better prepare the students for these eventualities and they would be more likely to remember what to do in these situations.

Voki Avatar

Voki's are a fun way to interact with your students. Rather than getting students to create their own Voki's, I would use this tool to create a back up for lessons which the students could view on-line to watch as part of their study for a exam, or to simply go over to make sure they have understood something correctly. In my example I have make a Voki as part of a language course - Mandarin. A cute panda whom I have named Ling, helps the students perfect their pronunciation of words in Mandarin, aiding in the learning process by providing an auditory aid for students who find it easier to repeat what they have heard rather than decipher the often complicated inflections presented in print.

Click here to comment on this Voki.
Get a Voki now!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Wacky and Wonderful Wiki

Having never created or been a part of a Wiki before, I was unsure what to expect when I first opened up Wikispaces, and was a bit nervous. But the technology is so easy to use and so versatile, it was like have a new fun toy to play with!

Here is the short little Wiki I created on Wikispaces so I could play around and see what this new toy could do:

The uses of Wikis in education are endless from an assessment prospective. Every group oriented project could make use of a Wiki from a simple joint report to a project spanning over the entire class. The “Discussion” section would allow students to leave messages in regards to the Wiki development, and the whole thing could be monitored at any time of day by the teacher.

My example of using a Wiki:

Students have to create a Wiki about their town (in my example I’m using Bundaberg as it the town I live in). Through negotiation with the teacher, students select an aspect relating to the town to do in the Wiki as a page (tourist attraction, local celebrity, weather trends in the area, local history ect). By piecing together the student’s individual topics, a Wiki about Bundaberg would be created. As this would then be available for the world at large to view, students would be much more motivated make this Wiki the best it could be.

A Wiki would make a very effective technological learning tool from both the student's and the teacher's perspectives.

RSS Aggregator: Useful!

I found setting up an RSS Aggregator extremely each, as much to my surprise it was already done for me. Through using “Blogger” I had already selected some of my peers’ work to be followed using its own internal RSS Aggreator in “Dashboard”. By clicking “Follow Blog” while viewing my peers’ blogs they were added to by Reading List in “Dashboard”. When I went on to set up my RSS Aggregator using “Google Reader” I found that the blogs I had already selected to follow where listed there also as “Blogger” uses my Google Account. Very quick and easy!

This technology would be very useful within a “blogging” section of assessment. For example

As part of an independent assignment, students have to set up a blog which they must post in regularly as a sort of log-book, detailing how they are travelling within the assignment, any difficulties they are having and so forth. Students would be asked to set up an RSS Aggregator as part of this to keep in touch with their fellow students, giving encouragement, advice and feedback where able. It would also make it very easy for the teacher to collect their “logbooks” and keep an eye on the progress they are making on their assessments, as well as being able to step in and help answer any questions the students have. Teachers would be able to set up their own blog in conjunction with the assessment and be able to post in their own blog useful information for the students in regards to the assessment.

A very useful tool for students and teachers alike.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Student Engagement

The "Engagement Theory" is based around the best way to get students to engage with the coursework at hand. When someone is interested or "engaged" in what they are doing, their results are much higher than that of someone who isn't. A student's interest in a particular assessment or project is motivated by a number of things and the "Engagement Theory" aims to focus on this.

The "Engagement Theory" is focused on using technology (although it admits this not necessary), group work, independent learning and pride to engage students in learning. It is most commonly summarised at the "Relate-Create-Donate" principle, where students relate with one another to create a solution to a task which it to be dontated to someone else.

My example of an learning activity which uses this method (my example is based on a Year 7 Primary School Class):

  • Students are broken up into groups of 3.
  • Together they are to create a book for a Year 1 student.
  • It can be any type of book, but must be suitable for a 6 year old.
  • The book is to be complete - with a story, illustrations, and bound together in some form.
  • In conjunction with the school, the students then read their book to a group of three Year 1 Students.
  • Marking will be based on team efficiency, quality of the book as well as it's presentation to the Year 1 Students.

This assessment allows for all of the criteria used in the "Engagement Theory". Students work together in teams (Relate) , create a storybook (Create) for the entertainment of a younger student (Donate) . In this instance, technology would probably play a major role in student communication over weekend, as well as the physical creation of the book and possibly the illustrations in them. Technology would also play a major role for those students choosing to base their books on fact as it will need to be researched, a task the Internet is extremely well suited to.

Engagement Theory: A Framework for Technology-based Teaching and Learning, Greg Kearsley & Ben Shneiderman

Pay Attention

I am a Bachelor of Arts student, so I have to do this course as part of the core courses which make up the Bachelor of Arts. I do not want to be a teacher, and so have found relating to this course very hard and tiresome as it does not directly relate to me. I still have no idea why this course is part of the core courses for a Bachelor of Arts, but I am trying to get through it by pretending that I am going into teaching. I"m pretending I'm going to be a Primary School Teacher and so all of my blogs and responses will be in response to this pretence.

I was personally bemused by the video entitled "Pay Attention", which explained that if we incorporate technology into teaching more, students would be more interested in learning. The mere suggestion of allowing students to text durning class for academic purposes is adsurd for example. Allowing students to bring their mobiles and iPods into class and expect them to pay attention to what you are saying is like putting a piece of steak in front of a dog and trying to get them to stay four feet away from it and do tricks. Only the most disciplined of dogs could pull it off and the same goes for students. The theory in itself is interesting, but I would love to see how long it takes before Mary is texting while Mrs. Smith is trying to explain the difference between a cyclone and a tornado, and Garry is listening to music on his iPod while he should be watching the educational video about the mirgration of buffalos. And at the end of the day, Garry probably doesn't need to know about the migration of buffalos, and Mary doesn't need to know about the difference between a cyclone and a tornado - they will probably never use that information outside a game of Trivial Pursuit unless they become teachers, meterologists or zoologists respectively.

I loved school, I love learning, and I even once wanted to be a teacher. But mixing technology with education is a very slippery slope. I think this video has not only fallen down that slope, but has started an avalanche behind it which is picking up speed and is going to wipe out the town nestled below.