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

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