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.

WIKIPedia - a global encyclopedia

An interesting resource not really recognised as legitimate in the university world but a more personal resource as it includes personal stories. I researched 'starting a business' and came up with stories from men and women who had begun businesses as diverse as rock climbing helmets, chocolates, butcher empire and brick making all through history. These real life stories would add authenticity to any project and lead on the link with references and external information, plus key word definitions.

Students would gain ideas and a feeling for personal struggles and achievements.

Regards Elizabeth

WebQuests - take the journey to learning

WebQuests the results of initiative learning design by Professor Bernie Dodge and Tom March, targeting all ages of students to instigate investigative learning via the Internet. Once information is researched students then formulate their own opinions or solutions to the task. Freedom Fighter or Terrorist by Tom March is a WebQuest for year 10 to 12 Social Studies students on a current contentious topic. The site includes many links to web sites, streamed videos, worksheets and the final reflection essay submission. The WebQuest includes both individual and group work which is facilitated by the teacher support and guidance.

A huge undertaking in technical design that would fulfill many assessment criteria as a major piece of student work. Is value as the time investment required by a teacher to design and deliver a similar project would have to be weighted against the outcomes for student learning and assessment.

As we experienced throughtout the Active Learning and Learning Diversity module, WebQuests will align with the reasearched successful teaching and learning theories. Kearsley & Schneiderman (1999) gave their engagement theory the basic success principles of group context, project-based and with an outside focus with learning occuring in technology based enviroments as the criteria for todays learning. Looking futher back to the 1960's Edgar Dale via Dale's cone showed that the effectiveness of learning with media involvement and the most purposeful being hands-on experiences. More recently Siemans (2004) reported one of his significant changes in learning as 'know-how and know-what is being supplimented with know-where (the understanding of where to find knowledge needed)'. These experiences are given by the investigative nature and presentation of the WebQuests.

Dale, E (1960), Dale's Cone, viewed 24 July 2009,
Kearsley, G & Shneiderman, B 1999, Engagement Theory: A framework for technology-based teaching and learning, viewed 24 July 2009,
Siemans, G (2004), Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age, viewed 27 July 2009,

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Google Earth

How to trip around the world from the comfort of your chair. Do take care the image of our home property is about 4 years old as we now have neighbours on both sides with new homes. I looked at the White House, Washington DC and the Sydney Opera House. The links to photographs (even night images) and videos, plus information websites, current weather conditions gave a broader experience. From a travellers view point it displayed accommodation and eating places. Google Earth would be useful when students are studying countries of the world and enables them to investigate world landmarks.

Podcasting - Now an iTune member

After signing in I headed for the Education Podcasts to find The Teachers' Podcast - a series of podcast by Dr Kathy King and Mark Gura of discussion on current relevant topics for educators. I listened to Ep 43 The Lighting of the Fire Part II The New Generation of Ed Tech Professional Development. Discussion included the reporting of the death of Michael Jackson and how his Wikipedia entry was up to date that evening but the Broadcast TV was still hesitant to commit showing how disconnected it can be (must fact check). Also discussed was the use of Twitter and Facebook purely in a professional capacity, links to resources, discussion of research and requests for information assistance. With posts about what is currently being worked on for example research papers and when broadcast to your professional network, people can comment or forward links to information. They empathised that many people are overwhelmed with the social networking available and ensured listeners that you only need to scan entries for relevant/useful information, forget the rest and by being aware of what is out there you can then make an informed choice as to the platforms used to link with like minded professional to assist with the magnification of work and information.

This last piece about being overwhelmed gave me heart, I am constantly trying to keep up and understand all this technology which is new to me. As for the use of Podcasts in student education I feel it would benefit as another medium of presentation especially for auditory learners.


Following on from video and increased use of YouTubes are available, I have chosen a Writing a Business plan session to introduce students to the wiki task set up - To Build a new Business. This YouTube gives them an overview of the use and construction of a Business Plan and its flexibility. While searching for a suitable YouTube I found some were just to quick and rushed and the presenters not suitable for a younger student audience.

YouTube at

The experience I have had with the YouTube segments on the Moodle course is that at times it has taken twice the time of the YouTube to download and watch it, this can cause frustration. Teachers could down load YouTube clips onto their laptop computers and then connect to an interactive whiteboard to play to the class. This way it can be replayed.

Flickr and Picnik

Picnik I did not have great success with I was aiming to make the following photo more historic looking link a sepia toning but without success, more practice required.

Amazing photos Flickr taken by people being in the right place at the right time. I find sunsets very calming and a spectacular close to the day. Images in learning are especially relevant to visual learners, assisting understanding and giving visual representation to text explinations.

Static Websites

Static websites are popular for information that remains constant, they were extensively used in the tourism industry to get your town and area on the Internet and also in information booths. History and most street names do not change but business and their owners do. Keeping information current has been an issue and therefore should be treated with caution!

The new Web 2.0 technologies have enabled flexible website design where information can be easily updated.

Video - watching moving pictures with sound

University study has introduced me to the increased use of video in the learning process, my understanding of YouTube was where teenagers or smart advertisers made fun, this is my life short clips for entertainment. Now I realise that there are millions of clips available for educational use. The pedagogical use of topic introduction, explanation of tasks or methodology have been useful for me as short videos catch your attention and enable focusing on the subject. I couldn't go near the online Dissection clips, I even missed my A Level Biology lectures that included the real dissections, too much for me I preferred to learn from the text book diagrams. Introductions by real people give credibility and reality to tasks a key for problem based learning.

By watching the online Message Stick episodes we saw the engagement, inclusion and interest of aboriginal students to attend school and participate in a facilitated video making project about their lives. Enabling the expensive equipment and expertise required to be brought in from outside the community by trained professionals. Regards Elizabeth

Monday, August 17, 2009

Interactive Whiteboards - What no chalk and dusters?

When I attended school, the teacher threw the duster at students talking and not paying attention. Then there were whiteboards with colour and magnetic items attached increasing interest but at the end of the day,all the lessons work was wiped away.

Now I was impressed with the Interactive Whiteboards, especially the engineering design program where the teacher can just draw the components and the computer recognises the activity and can run the series. Just the colour and movement on the screen would engage any students attention no matter what age. Plus the ability to save, email and print additional notes taken during the lesson, giving teachers flexibility in their delivery of materials to students.

In the quest to find out more I contacted Electroboard Solutions Pty Ltd at St Leonards in NSW who are the Australian agents for SMARTBoards. Gerry from sales was kind enough to give me a few moments of his time. SMARTBoard was the first invented interactive whiteboard and due to its longivity has the most development and refining, its software is SMARTNotebook, longest developed, supportive and easy to use. SMARTboards come in 3 sizes 48, 66 and 77 inch a board only costs from $3000 for 48 inch to $5500 for 77 inch. For instillation and use there is a requirement for the following - SMARTboard + speakers, resident PC or laptop plus a data projector either ceiling or wall above the board mounted. Each component has choices as to brand and use an price is dependant on this. Currently SMARTboards are being installed in Queensland schools and they have 85% of the Australian market share. Currently and most popular are education bundles where schools install SMARTboard packages in 10 classrooms of 77inch SMARTboard with speakers and ceiling projectors for the cost of $7000 each. (plus a new resident PC approx $2000) Making the 10 classroom cost approximately $100,000-00. The current government support funding is available via Building the Education Revolution and Schools of Tomorrow programs. A huge range of resources exist on the Internet to assist teachers with tutorials, lesson plans etc see

The cost seems high and are these facilities only going to be available to well off private schools? Also if schools are not installing in every classroom, what is the criteria for choosing which rooms get a SMARTboard? Are students demanding interactivity to the extent that teaching will be via the use of virtual software suits with heavy use of the Internet and textbooks will be become a thing of the past?

I have yet to see an Interactive Whiteboard in action and would be very interested to hear from anyone who has had the experience. Regards Elizabeth

Learning Management Systems

Development of these systems has been the coming of age for external students, no more feeling isolated now we can converse with lecturers and fellow students, check progress with online tests, follow weekly timetables, web stream lectures and print materials. My experience through CQU has been with Blackboard and this term with Moodle. It is easy to see the difference with Moodle being able to incorporate more UTube, web links and animations. Whereas Blackboard was more traditional with layout and content.

My challenge has been with access and bandwidth in a small rural town, the slowness or non access can be frustrating and expensive. Sometimes if it didn't work I had to walk away and try again tomorrow, which can really disrupt your study schedule.

Main advantages - engagement, inclusion and self management of study, access to everyone with a computer and broadband access.

Regards Elizabeth

Powerpoint - visual, sounds and stuff

Last term I completed my first ever PowerPoint presentation with voice over as an assignment. I was very proud of mu achievement especially having success with embedding the audio voice to run with the slides. I had used some comparison slides, images and chosen a nice looking colour template for the slides, my audience being university students. Now after completing the PowerPoint tutorial I realise how boring it must have been so I have gone back to the slide show (removed the audio) and added a couple of additions - slide transitions, animated sounds and converting existing text to Smart Art text. Hopefully this bling will make the visual more interesting.

I really liked the idea of the individual multiple choice quiz for students, the uses of PowerPoint seem many and once learned it can be refined to allow teachers to quickly utilise for their particular audience.

Regards Elizabeth

Friday, August 14, 2009

Voki Avatars

Now I have created Barney Bear and added him to my Blog and surprize, surprize it all worked, now I am feeling proud of myself. I think these are cute ways to introduce topics or lessons to catch students attention and add some humour into the day.

Regards Elizabeth

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Mahara success

(Picture smiling dolphin)

I have gained access to my Mahara account and after watching the turtorials have updated my profile and uploaded my University assessment files. Now I have a virtual filing system on the web. So if the house burns down I will still be able to access important data files from any computer via the www.

The posibilities are enless once I create a resume I will be able to send it to a prospective employer from any computer. Giving the fexibility of not being tied to "my" laptop. From an educational viewpoint each student can build their own e-portfolio and set up groups to share assessment workings with from either a school or home computer. A great tool for the digital natives of our modern classrooms, especially year 12 students in preparation for leaving school.

Regards Elizabeth

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wiki site is alive!

Let us not get too excited but I have put together a wiki site:
with the ethos of project based learning from a business perspective (it only took 2 hours to figure it all out) using the Kearsley and Shneidman (1998) theory of true engagement is gained with learning from real-world, authentic problem scenarios. I have started a skeleton of my Wiki with the intention that students would tidy and extent the material. This task also has reality links as how many people try, at some point in their careers, and succeed in small business. So having done the research on the requirements and gained assistance from their fellow students a strong business model can be built. By being a part of a group creating something students will have a stronger sense of belonging and then move onto higher self esteem as outlined by Maslow (1970) in his Hierarchy of Needs. During this task the linking to a RSS aggregator would assist monitoring. As an activity for smaller groups in a class a Wiki could be set up for each group and then they would choose the business they wanted to start giving students more ownership of their project.

I know as a facilitator of the task it would take me time to learn more about my ICT design along the lines of Prof. Ron Oliver (1999) where he recommends 3 areas for the framework being 1 Learning Tasks, 2 Learning resources and 3 Learning supports.

My feeling is that Wiki gives a good medium to base PBL tasks.


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

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

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

Slowly, Slowly

Now I have a Blog and I have set up Google reader (challenge - my external mouse has stopped working on the lap top), I must have linked a couple of student Blogs to my Blog as they showed up on Google reader before I did anything. So I added a few more and tried to get a cross-section of students.

I am still having a hard time with the expectation that our lives and those of students revolve around computers. I can see the benefits of communication via Blogs and keeping abreast of changes with the RSS but all these things are new to me. I will keep trying and investigate deeper.

Regards Elizabeth

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Starting Off

After taking the big step into university study I have completed my first term and into the second. Now I embark on a E-Learning journey which is well outside my comfort zone and will take many deep breaths to gather the courage to move on and not be afraid to sign up to and use the unknown. My work may be basic and not as falsh as others but please realise it is not as easy for some.