Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Reflective Synopsis - Learning and ICT's

There is a continuing paradigm shift occurring in the pedagogical methods currently used from the traditional teacher focused, verbal, text book use to the modern student focused, various media and information communication technology utilization in teaching and learning. These changes have occurred partly due to research highlighting individuals differing learning styles (Soloman & Felder, n.d.), personality traits (Keirsey, 1998) and Theory of Multiple Intelligences (Gardner, 1983). Maslow (1970) researched and found that certain needs had to be fulfilled before learning could occur, he represented these in a pyramid form with physiological and safety needs required to be met before belonging and self-esteem coming into consideration and this is where learning lies. There are also strong cultural influences on learning as explained by Grant (2000) in a framework for indigenous students due to ‘Indigenous communities have a holistic view of their world, which incorporates the vital link between Land, Language and Culture’ therefore differing from western culture and successful teaching requires relationships with these vital links and interactions.

Studies by Dale (1960) showed the effectiveness of different media in learning, from the least effective – verbal symbols to the most effective purposeful hands-on or field experiences. Now we have moved on into the digital age with technology at the forefront of modern teaching pedagogy. Learning trends are also changing, Siemans (2004) instigates that learners are fluid and move between fields during their lifetime, learning is more informal and continual, occurring through a variety of ways including communities of practice and personal networks which can be world reaching. Siemans (2004) concludes ‘Connectivisim presents a model of learning that acknowledges the tectonic shifts in society where learning is no longer an internal, individualistic activity.’ This is emulated in the shift in society and the use of technology, ‘today’s students think and process information fundamentally differently from their predecessors’ (Prensky 2001) and has labelled them as ‘Digital Natives’ with a new language, networking and parallel processing. These new students demand engagement with their learning on a higher technological level and considering the mix of learning styles and personalities in a classroom technology can enrich the learning experience. Engagement Theory (Kearsley & Shneiderman, 1999) builds on the use of technology to provide a meaningful learning environment which includes project based, authentic activities using active cognitive processes in a group context. Oliver (1999) brought together tasks, resources and supports into a learning design sequence for online teaching and learning especially for distance education delivery through Information and Communication Technologies.

The introduction to teachers’ delivery technologies module guided this naive digital immigrant through a selection of tools available to enhance the learning journey outlined above. To add variety of learning mediums will give credibility plus understanding to existing learning materials this can be achieved through YouTube clips, Podcasts, video, images, music, animations and simulations, with Voki Avatars adding humour too. Presentation of material via an Interactive Whiteboard allows use of predesigned programs available via the Internet and presentation of teacher designed presentations utilizing PowerPoint and other software. For me the Interactive Whiteboards gave the greatest opportunity across the student spectrum for teachers to design classes with hyperlinks, sound files, video clips and where the student focus on learning is achieved with their spontaneous interaction with the board. Moving towards the higher end of learning and engagement through problem based activities where student are challenged to explore, gather evidence, critically analyse their findings and present a point of view or solution on either an individual or collective basis Webquests, Blog sites, VoiceThread and WIKI technologies can act as avenues for this type of practice where the teacher becomes a facilitator while students direct their own learning. I found the Blog site the easiest to use and can see this as a beneficial tool for teaching via student conversations, comments and homework avenues plus communication with parents.

From the teachers view point I now fully support a wage increase for them all. To be able to utilise and master the technology available along with knowing your class learning stage and abilities to then source and incorporate useful and meaningful tools to fulfil the curriculum while engaging your class is a all consuming task. There is also the duty to be mindful of copy right or plagiarism infringements and acting within the Creative Commons License guidelines. This is where I can see the professional use of some of the tools for instance Blog sites, WIKI, Mahara E-portfolio, Slideshare and file storage can assist in the ongoing learning and development of teachers through professional learning communities linked with these technologies to share new materials and resources. Websites and Blogs with RSS feeds can be monitored quickly and efficiently with the use of an RSS aggregator for both professional and teaching use.

Throughout this module I had issues with slow download and the broadband width in the rural community I live is reduced. I have asked the question how many schools have the technology available and at what stage is implementation and professional development of existing teachers? Are we currently releasing technological savvy teachers fresh from university who become despondent when they realise the technology is not available or accessible in the classroom? We cannot assume that every student has access to a computer, iPods, MP3 players or mobile phones therefore reliance on these as modes of learning delivery is currently pre-emptive and discriminatory. Government funding programs are rolling out technology to schools but how long will it take and is there supporting infrastructure available to every school? While students wait, will we be in the situation of some students having the benefits of the technology while others are falling behind while waiting? My learning experience has given me and understanding of how much is available on the Internet and how it has more use that just a repository of information but can be used for networking and interactive resources. I aim to build on this knowledge and practice using the tools to build my technological competency and lessen my digital immigrant accent.

I still wonder what happens when the power goes off?


Dale, E 1960, Dale’s Cone, viewed 24 July at http://www,

Gardner, H 1983, Multiple intelligences, viewed 25 July 2009 at

Grant E, 2000, My Land My Tracks: A framework for the holistic approach to indigenous studies, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Studies Senior Syllabus, Queensland Studies Authority, Brisbane

Keasley, G and Shneiderman, B 1999, Engagement Theory: A framework for technology-based teaching and learning, viewed 10 August 2009 at

Keirsey, D 1998, Temperament sorter, viewed 25 July 2009 at

Maslow, A 1970, Motivation and personality, 2nd ed., Harper and Row, New York

Prensky, M 2001, Digital natives, digital immigrants, On the Horizon, vol.9, no. 5

Oliver, R, 1999, Exploring strategies for online teaching and learning, Distance Education, vol. 20, no. 2, pp. 240-254

Siemans G 2004, Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age, viewed 27 July 2009 at

Soloman B and Felder R, n.d., Learning Styles and Strategies, viewed 25 July 2009 at

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

VoiceThread - a great discussion medium

Please refer back to last nights posting about Professional Learning Communities and the Digital Conversation Link about Anthony Muhammad's book - Transforming School Culture. This was my first VoiceThread experience and I was amazed at how a discussion could be held between people from various places and situations could be had with the author for advice and guidance.

I was aware of the bandwidth I was using as I had to wait quite a while between sections of the presentation but I liked the way people could participate either by audio or written comment. This would be a good technology for older students in study groups to discuss and even debate topics which can be saved and then shown to the class for greater learning and discussion.

Music - awake the ears of auditory learners

Music can create a mood, feelings or images. The type of music chosen will reflect a difference in these as dark and sombre sounds will create doom and gloom whereas a bright and happy piece of music can uplift you and make you smile. Dependant on the topic of teaching the choice of music can create a mood in the class to set a stage of learning.

My choice of music is classical as I find it relaxing and it evoked mind images of the beach, waves and calm. Great for teaching about the beach ecosystem.

MediaFire - share a file

Due to my limited files available only my fourth course studied, I have uploaded and essay from term one. It is an essay on the importance of essays in university learning my mark was a HD so it may assist other students.

I can see that by sharing files with like minded colleagues can be of benefit especially in a professional learning community, we are all time short and sometimes stumble on useful information which can benefit many by sharing, also others will have different useful resources to share. BUT we should all be mindful of copy right infringement and plagiarism and ensure the correct processes are followed to ensure these do not occur.

Classmarker - invaluable!

Everyone enjoys a quiz whether it is a game for fun or testing your knowledge of a subject just learned or helping with revision.

Multiple Choice tests are part of my Psychology and Human Resource Management courses and linked to textbooks. With practice a quiz could be designed for any learning material at any age and can form an important part of monitoring progress and assessment.

Here is the very small one I designed

It was tricky to add HTML to blog therefore I resorted to using the direct link. This is an important part of checking recall of learning and cognition.
Good luck.

Professional Learning Communities - a light bulb moment occurs!

I have struggled with the amount of technologies we have been introduced to, I have never signed up to so many different 'free' accounts on the Internet before. Overwhelmed I went looking for some direction and I had scribbled a note - R J Marzano - so I Googled and found The Solution Tree - Professional Development and Professional Learning Communities - under PLC at work they outline how a set of auditors can come into a school review their current practices and give a report on how to set up a PLC and strategies improve their teaching results.

Then I moved on to find a book review page here I found a digital discussion with the author that had questions and comments from other teachers, I was hooked here at my desk I was watching a topical discussion between teachers from different schools, of various experience and issues.

It was captivating, the comments and questions held true to many of the same questions that had raised in my mind during the learning in this course, especially that technology has changed so much in the last 10 years what is happening to the longer term teachers and also the smaller, rural and remote schools? From the discussion it became apparent that struggles occur in all schools with staff division and differing principles and values about teaching. Although the book is centred on changing a toxic school culture to a positive one, it raises many point that I am sure we can all relate to in any workplace situation - the culture of change resistence?

I have really been struggling as to why you would want to be linked into every person on the planet but the light bulb moment has been that your professional network can start small - firstly your school colleagues (or university students depending on when you start), who work together to better their teaching delivery and share resources and findings - and as you explore the possibilities along the way you will add to your network like minded people who work in your area and have expertise and resources that can help you. So you build up a bank of resources that you use and expand on, define and refine to the current class you are teaching. I think I may have got it!

I am off to the CQU library to see if they have a copy of the book - Transforming School Culture - How to overcome Staff Division author Anthony Mohammad (2009) Sorry but I still love to hold and read a book!

Regards Elizabeth

Monday, August 24, 2009


Here is a presentation I made for the first term - Principles of University Learning - about the risks of procrastination and stress on distance learning, and tips on time management. I found that the first download to Slideshare did not bring across and formatting of design or the embedded audio so here goes for a second attempt.