Friday, August 21, 2009

Reflective Synopsis

When I commenced this course a wave of fear spread over me, not only because of my limited use of ICT's but also because there was no textbook. It quickly became clear to me that by engaging with the course I was provided with the information I needed, and so began my journey into the world of E-Learning. This synopsis provides an outline of my experiences, both the highs and the lows, which tools I would use (see links) and how these relate to the conceptual frameworks outlined in this course. I have also included links to some of my colleague's blogs where I have posted comments.

Contemporary learners think and process information differently from previous generations (Prensky, 2001) and in order to effectively engage them in authentic and meaningful tasks Learning Managers need to be able to speak their language. With such a rapid increase in new technologies one of the biggest problems facing Learning Managers today is keeping their skills current (Smith, Lynch & Knight, 2007). Personally, I feel like I am just catching up.

There is nothing like getting thrown in at the deep end and the establishment of my blog was the first task. This tool allowed me to collaborate with my peers and reflect on my learning journey through active engagement with the use of technology. The Learning Engagement Theory (Kearsley & Schniederman, 1999) aligns with this tool and has been used to a high level throughout my posts, as I feel it reflects the true nature of learning in the digital age. Social networking and collaborative learning tools such as blogs and wikis would make a valuable contribution to any classroom and allow a 'community of learners' (Kearsley & Schneiderman, 1999) to be formed. As a result students are more likely to experience success and achieve the desired outcomes (Kearsley & Schneiderman, 1999).

Siemen's (2004) theory of Connectivism states that 'learning is no longer an internal, individualistic activity' (Siemen's, 2004), and I have reflected on this concept many times throughout my journey. Online discussions with my peers have provided me with a deeper understanding, presented different viewpoints and even offered encouragement in times of despair. Through collaboration with my colleagues we have reviewed and discussed the importance of E-Learning applications within an educational setting and their application to learning. Some of these conversations included the effectiveness of quizzes in the early years (Leonie), the benefits of RSS feeds and aggregators (Kellie), the virtues of VoiceThread (Kerri) and the wonders of WebQuests (Glenn).

Within the classroom there is great diversity between the way learners process and retain information due to their different characteristic strengths and weaknesses. These are known as learning styles and relate to the way 'learners perceive, interact with and respond to their learning environment' (Felder & Brent, 2005). As a future Learning Manager I believe that it is important to understand our learners in order to employ a range of teaching strategies and modes that benefit all of our students. Multimodal delivery methods are more effective than traditional unimodal methods (Stansbury, 2008) and when used appropriately programs such as PowerPoint, Flickr and Picnik, YouTube and TeacherTube, Incompetech, Voki Avatars, Podcasts and Vodcasts are an effective way to facilitate this.

Oliver's learning design framework (1999) is instrumental when designing learning experiences with the use of ICT's as it allows the Learning Manager to use the key elements of 'learning tasks, learning resources and learning supports' (Oliver, 1999, as cited in AusInfo, 2003). This framework delivers flexible learning opportunities and encourages learners to seek understanding rather than memorisation, leading to the development of lifelong learning skills. During this course it became apparent how successfully this framework can be used as I moved through a sequence of tasks to arrive at the desired outcome.

As I progressed through the course I was faced with many problems, to which initially I did not know the answer. In finding a solution I was encouraged to take responsibility for my own learning and through active engagement I developed new skills along with the relevant content (CQU, 2002). Problem based learning (PBL) approaches, such as those adopted in this course, promote higher order thinking and I have discovered that WebQuests are an effective tool that can facilitate this within the classroom. My biggest challenge on this journey so far was adding a narration audio file to my PowerPoint presentation in SlideShare, and unfortunately I am yet to achieve this task.

I have come to the conclusion that one of the greatest challenges faced by educators in this century, in particular Digital Immigrants (Prensky, 2001), rests with one's own attitudes and perceptions towards integrating these new technologies into instructional design. Although this experience has been challenging and incredibly time consuming there is no doubt that the rewards have been plentiful. I look forward to exploring these tools in more detail in the coming weeks. While the internet provides a powerful resource for learning and research, there are also many risks and student safety is of the utmost importance.

In the 21st century Learning Managers need to keep up with the digital world of teaching and learning in order to effectively engage students in authentic and meaningful tasks. They need to possess futures oriented capabilities and develop a passion for lifelong learning. Managing E-Learning has renewed my confidence and opened my eyes to the many opportunities available for teachers and students through the use of digital technology and ICT's. I would like to point out however that successful instructional design with the use of these tools relies primarily on effective pedagogy, not just the technology.


AusInfo. (2003). Learning design. Retrieved August 16, 2009, from

Central Queensland University (CQU). (2002). Problem based learning: Why PBL? Retrieved August 20, 2009, from

Felder, R., & Brent, R. (2005). Understanding student differences. Retrieved August 19, 2009, from

Kearsley, G., & Shneiderman, B. (1999). Engagement Theory: A framework for technology-based teaching and learning. Retrieved August 20, 2009, from

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. Retrieved August 19, 2009, from,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf

Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. Retreived August 20, 2009, from

Smith, R., Lynch, D., & Knight, B. (2007).
Learning management: Transitioning teachers for national and international change. Frenchs Forest, NSW, Australia: Pearson.

Stansbury, M. (2008). Analysis: How multimedia can improve learning. Retrieved August 19, 2009, from

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Flickr as a Student Centered tool

As you know I have explored Flickr in a previous post however due to time restraints I have not had the opportunity to explore this site with the students in my classroom. I really enjoyed using this program and I feel that it presents a number of learning opportunities.

I believe that the use of this application would vary depending on the year level that it is aimed at. For example, in the lower grades the Learning Manager could create a classroom account and introduce students gradually to the program and the various functions. In higher grades it would be fantastic to allow individual students to create their own accounts with images that they have taken and uploaded themselves. They could then edit and enhance their photos and create sets and collections of photos around a given topic or theme (Flickr, 2009).

Within my grade 1 class I would love to explore the use of this program to create a digital classroom journal. I would need to create the class account at the beginning of the year and as it progressed create sets of photos for each topic/unit and each student. Students could take photos of their work samples and then I would upload these to the program as well as any other major events that happened throughout the school year. I realise that the issues of student safety and copyright would need to be addressed and strict guidelines followed however this site allows users to change security settings and means that you can keep files completely private. During the year the Learning Manager could scaffold the task so that students were involved in all aspects and gradually became familiar with the program.

I believe that students would be excited with the prospects of this tool and would feel a great sense of achievement and ownership when they saw their work on the computer screen. With an emphasis on meaningful and engaging learning through interaction with others and worthwhile tasks this tool is consistent with Kearsley and Schneiderman's (1999) Engagement Theory. It highlights the effective way technology can facilitate learning in 'ways which are difficult to achieve otherwise' (Kearsley & Schneiderman, 1999).

Flickr. (2009). What is Flickr? Retrieved August 20, 2009, from

Kearsley, G., & Shneiderman, B. (1999). Engagement Theory: A framework for technology-based teaching and learning. Retrieved August 20, 2009, from

Wikis as a Student Centered tool

WikiPedia is a web-based encyclopedia that promotes online communication and interaction with millions of viewers around the world (WikiPedia, 2009). Whist it serves as a good starting point for students to gain background information when researching a particular topic, the information is not always reliable. In this post I will give an example of how a Wiki can be used as an instructional tool, where the students are the producers of information and not the consumers.

Problem/task: WikiPedia have asked you to work together to increase and improve the information they have regarding native animal habitats in your area, namely the Sunshine Coast. They need you to research this topic and provide them with accurate and reliable information to update their site.

Year Level: Grade 5
Duration: 5-6 weeks
Science-Life and Living: Living things have relationships with other living things and their environment
SOSE-Place and Space: Environments are defined by physical and human dimensions
Art-Media: Representations in media texts are selected from different settings, including time and place, and for different audiences and purposes
English-Writing and Designing: Writers and designers refer to a number of authoritative sources and use a number of active writing strategies, including planning, drafting, revising, editing, proofreading, publishing and reflecting

The Sunshine Coast is one of the most biological diverse regions in Australia with a variety of habitats ranging from mangroves and wetlands to rainforests and coastal heath. Providing students with a problem or task, such as the one outlined above, aligns well with the first component of Oliver's (1999, as cited in AusInfo, 2003) Learning Design framework, 'Learning Tasks'. Throughout this unit students will be researching using a number of resources (books, internet, excursion to local wetlands and other habitats, human resources for example a Parks and Wildlife Ranger, Sunshine Coast Regional Council, etc). This supports the second component of Oliver's framework, 'Learning Resources'. Throughout the task the Learning Manager is there to scaffold the learning journey and in doing so, completes the third element 'Learning Supports'.

This unit plan could also be aligned with Kearsley's and Schneiderman's (1999) Engagement Theory and the relate, create, donate components in the following ways.
Relate-students need to work collaboratively towards an authentic problem/task
Create-students conduct research and apply their findings in a specific context
Donate-after substantial research students present their information to Wikipedia and make a worthwhile contribution to an 'outside customer'.

The use of a Wiki as a student centered tool has the ability to reach a much wider audience than say a classroom blog. It gives the students the chance to make a very real contribution to a site with existing content (WikiPedia) about a given topic, in this case 'Native Animal Habitats on the Sunshine Coast'.

AusInfo. (2003). Learning design. Retrieved August 16, 2009, from

Kearsley, G., & Shneiderman, B. (1999). Engagement Theory: A framework for technology-based teaching and learning. Retrieved August 19, 2009, from

Queensland Studies Authority (QSA). (2007). Essential Learnings by the end of Year 5. Retrieved August 20, 2009, from

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Quizzes as a Student Centered technology

I have explored the use of quizzes in the classroom in a previous post through a site called ClassMarker. I found that this was an easy program to use and could be utilised by both teachers and students, however I feel younger children would need quite a lot of support.

Allowing students to create their own quiz on a program such as ClassMarker would provide them with a task that is both challenging and authentic. The Learning Manager could create a file on MediaFire where students could access information relating to their subject area, as research would need to be conducted to ensure their information was correct and reliable. When using this program however, student safety needs to be taken into consideration as I discovered that there is a lot of inappropriate advertising material on this site.

Recently the students from my grade 1 class visited Australia Zoo as part of their unit. Not only did they develop an understanding of the various animals that were there but they also gained an insight into the various roles of people that work at the zoo. These included zoo keepers, hospitality workers, retail employees, veterinarians, even the bus drivers. Investigating in more detail the responsibilities of these people would be a good way to incorporate SOSE into the unit. In groups the students are to create a quiz for their peers, with each group focusing on a different occupation within the zoo. This task would most likely be beyond students in grade 1 so for this example I will focus on a grade 5 class.

Using Dimension 2 of the Dimensions of Learning Teacher's Manual (Marzano, et al., 1997) will help students to acquire and integrate procedural knowledge in the following ways:

Construct Models-Provide or construct with students a written or graphic representation of the skill or process they are learning.
Once the various groups have been formed and occupations assigned, provide a set of written steps that describes the process they need to follow to complete the task/quiz successfully. This could include reliable sources of information, designing effective questions, creating your account, correct spelling and grammar.

Shape-Help students develop the conceptual understanding necessary to use the skill or process.
(a) Describe a variety of situations or contexts in which students can use a specific skill or process.
Provide students with examples of other uses for quizzes other than the task that they are currently doing. Quizzes can be designed around a variety of topics, age levels, they can be multiple choice, short answer, true/false, and even designed at home for their family and friends.

Internalise-Help students understand the importance of internalising procedural knowledge.
Knowing the various steps involved in order to make a successful and reliable quiz requires practice. Allow the groups of students to design short quizzes, perhaps for different classes at the school, in order to practice the new skill and process they are learning.

I believe that the use of programs such as ClassMarker to create quizzes can help students to develop researching skills and enables them to develop strategies to write effective questions. In the Digital Age the use of computers within learning environments is fundamental and provides todays learners with authentic and engaging tasks. In the words of Prensky (2001) 'there is absolutely no going back'.

Marzano, R., Pickering, D., Arrendondo, D., Blackburn, G., Brandt, R., Moffett, C., Paynter, D., Pollock, J., & Whisler, J. (1997). Dimensions of Learning: Teacher's Manual. Aurora, Colorado: McREL.

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. Retrieved August 19, 2009, from,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf

Digital Storytelling

After reading the information about digital storytelling provided by the Lubbock Independent Schools District (2009), I have to say that I am quite excited about the prospects. Contemporary learners are living in a media rich environment where there are many opportunities that can be used to bring stories to life. One could say that the only limit is your imagination.

Digital storytelling uses modern multimedia tools (computers and digital cameras) to deliver stories using images, sound, music and voice. Not only does it provide opportunities to add a new dimension to traditional tales but allows students to 'develop their written ideas and translate them into a visual medium' (Lubbock Independent Schools District, 2009).

Why integrate this technology into the classroom? Digital storytelling helps to:
  • enhance learning experiences
  • promote creativity
  • accelerate learning
  • covers multiple intelligences
(Lubbock Independent Schools District, 2009)

Within my grade 1 classroom this type of technology could be used in a number of ways but I will give a brief example of just one idea that I have. In keeping with the 'Animals on the Move' theme we could begin by reading the book Stellaluna as an introduction to the learning task and collaboratively write a script for our own story that portrayed a different animal. Once the script is complete, allocate each student a different part of the story that they are to design and draw a picture for. When completed these pictures will be scanned into the computer and placed in order using an editing program such as Windows Photo Story 3 or Windows Movie Maker 2. Students would then add audio to their picture and their story could be shared with other grade 1 classes at the school.

I believe that this would be an engaging and effective learning task for the students and one that they could be proud of.
Digital storytelling aligns with Kearsley and Schneiderman's (1999) Engagement Theory and the relate, create, donate components. This project would give students the opportunity to work with their peers towards a common goal and allow them to make a worthwhile contribution to the school environment.

Kearsley, G., & Shneiderman, B. (1999). Engagement Theory: A framework for technology-based teaching and learning. Retrieved August 19, 2009, from

Lubbock Independent Schools District. (2009). Digital Storytelling. Retrieved August 19, 2009, from

Blogs as a Student Centred technology

There is no doubt that the use of blogs within the classroom is an effective student centered tool that, through the use of technology, allows them to take ownership of their learning journey in an engaging way. When saying this I reflect on my own journey throughout this course, as I am for now, a student myself.

I have mentioned in an earlier post the opportunities available to teachers implementing this tool within their classroom. It allows them to post resources (images, reading activities), lessons and set homework activities around a particular theme, and with the use of an RSS aggregator/reader they can keep track of how their students are progressing from a central location.

For contemporary learners there are many advantages, in particular the ability to develop literacy skills. I know myself that I am especially cautious when the whole world can view my posts. This opens a new domain and the appropriate use of online communication (netiquette) needs to be addressed and incorporated into learning experiences, as well as internet safety issues. Kearsley and Schneiderman (1999) state that 'technology can facilitate engagement in ways which are difficult to achieve otherwise' and blogs are a fantastic way to achieve this. Students also benefit from the use of blogs by providing them with:
  • meaningful and authentic learning experiences
  • promote higher order thinking and lifelong learning
  • a collaborative learning environment
  • a place for reflection
Due to time restraints, I have not had the opportunity to introduce my grade 1 students to blogs, however I look forward to exploring this tool with them in the near future. The effective use of blogs within the classroom certainly rests with the Learning Manager and when planning learning experiences the following key questions need to be addressed:
  • Is ICT the best way of delivering a concept?
  • Is there an easier way to get the same result?
  • Am I doing this just to use ICT or is there a real learning opportunity here?
(Smith, Lynch & Knight, 2007)

Kearsley, G., & Shneiderman, B. (1999). Engagement Theory: A framework for technology-based teaching and learning. Retrieved August 19, 2009, from

Smith, R., Lynch, D., & Knight, B. (2007). Learning management: Transitioning teachers for national and international change. Frenchs Forest, NSW, Australia: Pearson.

PowerPoint (How to make buttons)

I have just completed a tutorial about how to make buttons appear in your PowerPoint presentation. I accessed this through a site called Internet4Classrooms and was completely unaware that this function existed within the program. I decided to create a short multiple choice quiz titled 'Who Am I?' where students are given a brief description of an animal and are required to select the correct answer from four possibilities.

The first problem that I encountered was locating the 'action buttons' as they did not appear under the 'Slide Show' tab where I was advised to look. After searching for some time I finally located them under 'Insert' and then shapes. I found the process of inserting these and then applying action settings quite easy, it was just a matter of selecting which slide you wanted these to link to and clicking 'OK'. I also inserted a URL link to National Geographic Kids on the first slide to provide a point of reference if students required further information regarding certain animals.

I followed the tutorial step-by-step and it was noted that the action buttons would not work while you were still editing the presentation. I closed the program and then reopened it to check my fabulous work and guess what? The links did not work and the action buttons were useless. Fear spread over me and I searched through some of my colleagues blogs to find their links to quizzes in MediaFire. After investigating a couple of them I realised that they obviously had the same problem because their buttons did not work either. I have decided that this is something that is best attempted another time when time permits (I still have six more posts to do!) however it is a tool that I would like to explore in more detail.

For ease of use and time restraints I believe that ClassMarker would be the preferred alternative and one that could be utilised by students as well as teachers. Click here to view my quiz Who Am I?