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.

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