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?


VoiceThread is a collaborative, multimedia slide show that allows group conversations to be collected and shared in one place from anywhere in the world (VoiceThread, 2009). A VoiceThread can be used by friends, students and colleagues where they can record their own comments using voice, text, audio file or video (VoiceThread, 2009).

When I began creating my VoiceThread account I was not very confident and thought that something had to go wrong, as it is the last tool that I am exploring in this section. I have to admit that I was quite surprised. I set up my free account, downloaded some images from Flickr, uploaded them to VoiceThread from my computer and then typed in some instructions on the first image. I had to change the settings to make it public and able to be shared. I created one titled 'African Animals' and it shows an elephant, giraffe, leopard and zebra. In groups I would ask students to research a particular animal (features, habitat, interesting facts, etc) and enter some information in the corresponding image. More animal images could be uploaded in the future however for now time would not allow.

This type of program promotes group collaboration in an authentic setting and demonstrates the effectiveness of computers as communication tools. It allows the user to interact with others around a specific context and make a worthwhile contribution back to the network. For this reason, I feel that this ICT tool aligns well with Kearsley and Schneiderman's (1999) Engagement Theory and the relate, create, donate components.

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

VoiceThread. (2009). About. Retrieved August 19, 2009, from

Monday, August 17, 2009

Using Music on the Web (Incompetech)

Royalty Free music that is covered under the Creative Commons agreement can be used within the classroom without a breach of copyright restrictions. Incompetech is a website that provides a selection of music that can be used freely for these purposes and has many benefits within the classroom.

Music has a variety of uses in our daily lives such as when we are feeling happy or need some calming tunes to soothe our mind. The integration of music throughout the curriculum is beneficial and can enhance the learning environment in various ways. Some of the advantages are listed below:
  • set a positive mood and maintain a positive attitude
  • raise student energy levels
  • reduce stress levels, relieve frustration and create a peaceful classroom environment
  • help sustain student attention and concentration
  • help provide an emotional connection to information and provide a trigger for recall
  • help students relax
(Brewer, 2009)

The piece of music that I have downloaded 'Artifact' is an African instrumental piece and creates the feeling of energy and movement. This track would fit well with the 'Creatures on the Move' unit in my placement class as it encapsulates the feeling of wild animals on a chase or hunt, moving through the plains of Africa. It could be used to compliment a video or powerpoint presentation or played on its own to allow the students to demonstrate how different wild animals move, through dance. This would provide an opportunity for students to use their bodies to express ideas and use fast movements to show the quick actions of various African animals. The use of music and dance within a unit of work has cross curricular opportunities and the previous example aligns with the Art Essential Learnings by the end of Year 3 (Dance).

Brewer, C. (2009). Songs for teaching: Benefits of using music in the classroom. Retrieved August 18, 2009, from

Queensland Studies Authority (QSA). (2007). The arts: Essential learnings by the end of year 3. Retrieved August 18, 2009, from

File Storage (MediaFire)

Wow, after the last eLearning tool that I explored this one seemed like a breeze. I went to MediaFire and created my account, uploaded a file and saved it, and then just posted the URL into my blog. Simple.

MediaFire is a free file hosting site that allows you to securely store files online where they can be easily accessed 'from any computer, anytime, anywhere' (MediaFire, 2009). This is an extremely useful tool that could be utilised by both teachers and students and would eliminate
that horrible feeling that you have when you realise you've left your USB at home. You can create folders and sub folders so that files and images can be easily managed and security settings can be used to make files public or private. With the embedding links, files and images can be shared by 'email, instant messenger, or on your MySpace page, blog or forum' (MediaFire, 2009).

Within the school environment this site could be used by members of the teaching cohort to share resources pertaining to units of work or by the Learning Manager to upload classroom work. Students could access these files from school or home however internet safety issues would need to be considered. While the Internet provides a powerful resource for learning and research, there are also many risks. NetAlert offers some useful information for teachers and parents and is committed to providing a safe online environment for children.

The file that I have uploaded to my account, Ladybug Maths Bingo, has been used in my grade 1 class and I feel would be a valuable resource.

MediaFile. (2009). What is MediaFire. Retrieved August 17, 2009, from


Well I am feeling very frustrated as I am writing this post. I have just spent the last three hours trying to convert an audio file, that I created in a program called Audacity, into an MP3 file with no success.

I set up an account with SlideShare and uploaded a PowerPoint presentation, saved it and then embedded the code into my blog. This all seemed to work well so I moved on to the next requirement which instructed me to make a narration audio file. I downloaded Audacity and after a fair bit of playing around I recorded and saved my first audio file. It was saved as an .aup file so I clicked on the 'Export as MP3' selection under the file menu and was instructed that I needed to download a LAME MP3 encoder (whatever this is). I searched in Google and found that I needed to download this through a site called SourceForge but again I had no success.

At this point in time I realise that I need to move on and, contrary to my motivational quote by Winston Churchill, have given up for now. I am feeling disappointed that I was not able to link an MP3 file to my SlideShare presentation as I know that adding audio to visual information is a more effective way of teaching and learning (Stansbury, 2008). I would appreciate any feedback if there are any 'Digital Natives' out there that have had success.

Just briefly, SlideShare is a website that allows individuals and organisations to upload presentations, share their ideas and connect with others (SlideShare, 2009). Presentations can be embedded into blogs and websites and you can even add audio to your slides (lol). SlideShare is an elearning tool that aligns with connectivism as it provides a source of information that can be accessed when knowledge is needed but not known (Siemens, 2004).


Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. Retreived August 16, 2009, from

SlideShare. (2009). About Us. Retrieved August 17, 2009, from

Stansbury, M. (2008). Analysis: How multimedia can improve learning. Retrieved August 17, 2009, from

Sunday, August 16, 2009


When I commenced university last year I was informed that academic writing needs to include reference to authors who are authentic, valid and reliable. I have usually tried to steer away from WikiPedia as we were told that this is not a reliable reference to use for our assignments, as the information can be altered and changed by anyone. While this is true, I can see that WikiPedia offers a starting point when researching a particular topic and provides some background information for the user. When used within the classroom it is important to inform students about the reliability of this site so they begin to recognise 'distinctions between important and unimportant information' (Siemens, 2004).

WikiPedia was launched in 2001 and is a web-based encyclopedia that promotes online collaboration and interaction by millions of viewers around the world (WikiPedia, 2009). This is a good example of connectivism in the Digital Age where 'new information is continually being acquired' that is not 'entirely under the control of the individual' (Siemens, 2004). The information and images contained within this site are covered by the creative commons license agreement and can be used for educational purposes.

As you know, throughout the term my grade 1 class has been looking at animals, their features and habitats, and in particular wild animals. For my visit this week I want to challenge the students to use their prior knowledge by posing some interesting questions. Questions such as 'Why do lions live in prides?' or 'Why do elephants live in herds?' will help to promote higher order thinking and through group collaboration develop some shared understandings.

Using WikiPedia (through the class computer/projector) as a lead in to the lesson could provide some images and interesting facts around this topic and offer some background knowledge, or a stepping stone, from which groups could reach a possible conclusion. I searched the site and found a page for both 'prides' and 'herds' however the information was not specifically aimed at younger children and would need to be read to them.

Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. Retreived August 16, 2009, from

WikiPedia. (2009). WikiPedia. Retrieved August 16, 2009, from


WebQuests are inquiry-oriented activities, that use Internet resources, which encourage students to use 'higher order thinking skills to solve a real messy problem' (WebQuest Direct, 2009). There are six essential components:
  1. Introduction
  2. Task
  3. Resources
  4. Process
  5. Evaluation
  6. Conclusion
There is also a Teacher's Guide which allows other teachers to see if the WebQuest meets their requirements. This contains a description of the grade level, curriculum standards, duration and implementation strategies (WebQuests Direct, 2009).

WebQuests support a Problem Based Learning (PBL) approach, as students are encouraged to take responsibility for their own learning and help develop skills and attributes along with the relevant content. PBL provides 'realistic and authentic problem situations' (CQU, 2002) and aims to develop problem-solving skills, which are considered essential qualities for the individual later in life.

A well designed WebQuest caters for the needs of all learners and can be used by individuals, small groups or whole classes. They can be completed in a few lessons or used for a long term project however Learning Managers need to ensure that curriculum requirements are met through alignment with the Essential Learnings. One of the advantages of using a WebQuest compared to a more traditional approach is that there is no need for the students to waste time searching for information, it is all provided for them.

I believe that the use of WebQuests as a pedagogical tool supports Kearsley and Schneiderman's (1999) Engagement Theory and the Relate-Create-Donate components in the following way.

Relate-investigate the issues of the problem or task
Create-apply this new knowledge to the problem or task and create an authentic product
Donate-make a useful contribution back into the task (class cohort)

The following link provides an example of a WebQuest where students are required to research animals and their habitats. Although there are parts that would be beyond the students in my grade 1 class I feel that there are some good ideas for future reference Break-out at Rolling Hills WebQuest

Central Queensland University. (2002). Problem based learning: Why PBL? Retrieved August 16, 2009, from

Kearsley, G., & Shneiderman, B. (1999). Engagement Theory: A framework for technology-based teaching and learning. Retrieved August 15, 2009, from

WebQuests Direct. (2009). What is a WebQuest. Retrieved August 16, 2009, from

Google Earth

Google Earth is a satellite imagery-based mapping product that puts the whole world on a student's computer. It is basically a 3D model of the entire planet and is like a video game and search engine rolled into one (Google For Educators, 2009). I have some previous experience using this program (I have flown to various destinations around the world, searched for my house using street view and used the various navigation controls) however after exploring it in more depth, I realise that my knowledge was at a very basic level.

When using this program within the classroom having a basic understanding just won't cut it. There are so many other functions that can be utilised and the possibilities for teaching and learning are endless. Initially I thought that this program would lend itself to subject areas such as geography and maths where students would be required to examine continents and mountain ranges or calculate distances using the measurement tools. After further investigation I now know that Google Earth can be used for creating learning experiences for many KLA's, from English to Science and SOSE. Students can explore topics like:
  • the progress of human civilisation
  • the growth of cities
  • the impact of civilisation on the natural environment
  • the impact of natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina
(Google For Educators, 2009)

This just names a few however the possibilities are endless and the only limit to Google Earths classroom use is your imagination. I believe that the use of this program for educational purposes is consistent with Oliver's (1999, as cited in AusInfo, 2003) learning design framework, and would allow the Learning Manager to develop high quality learning experiences using the three elements of learning tasks, learning resources and learning supports. As it is easy to get distracted (or off task) when using this program I feel that it is essential for the students to have a clear understanding of what is expected of them or what the Learning Manager requires them to do.

Due to the authentic and real-world context of this program it provides a meaningful and engaging learning environment for students, and will most likely result in learners that are more motivated to learn.

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

Google For Educators. (2009). Google Earth. Retrieved August 16, 2009, from

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Podcasts and Vodcasts

Although I had heard of the terms Podcasts and Vodcasts before, I have to admit that I really had no idea what they were. I now know that a Podcast is an audio file that can be listened to on a computer or MP3 player while a Vodcast is a video file that can be viewed in the same way. The advantage of using these types of digital media files is that, just like a broadcast, new information is downloaded automatically to your computer through a software application such as iTunes (Wikipedia, 2009).

Although I had already downloaded iTunes to my computer I have not had a good look around this site and was glad that we were given step by step instructions in the Delivery Technologies module of this course. I spent a long time searching through the educational podcasts and by doing so, have a much better understanding of how these tools can be utilised to support both student and teacher learning. The Podcast that I subscribed to is titled 'Technology 4 Teachers' (Martinson, 2009) and offers help and suggestions for teachers wanting to integrate technology into their classroom (I need all the help I can get).

While I was searching, it was interesting to see that several Primary Schools had their own Podcasts and how these were used. One school in particular used the Podcast as part of a reading program. The students would read books and then present a short review each week to inspire potential readers. The Podcast is aimed at Primary aged readers and the show is entirely scripted, recorded and produced by the students. This is a fantastic way to integrate literacy learning through the use of ICT's and no doubt the students would find it very engaging.

I feel that the last example aligns with Oliver's (1999, as cited in AusInfo, 2003) learning design framework. Through the use of ICT's the Learning Manager can design student learning experiences by using three key elements. These are highlighted below:
Learning Tasks-students work collaboratively to write, record and produce book reviews
Learning Resources-the use of a software application (iTunes) to upload their Podcast
Learning Supports-Learning Manager provides scaffolding and support

AusInfo. (2003). Learning design. Retrieved August 12, 2009, from

Martinson, S. (2009). Technology 4 teachers. Retrieved August 15, 2009, from

Wikipedia. (2009). Podcast. Retrieved August 15, 2009, from

Friday, August 14, 2009

YouTube (TeacherTube)

Isn't it funny that as a Digital Immigrant working with new technologies you always seem to be questioning yourself. "Am I doing something wrong?" or "There must be an easier way to do this". At times like this the term 'funny' does not seem appropriate and another 'f' word comes to mind, 'frustrating'.

Last night it took me what seemed like an eternity to do something that I thought would be quite easy. I have not used a YouTube video as a teaching tool before, I suppose through my limited knowledge of this program, however I know that they are used all the time within classrooms as a successful and engaging pedagogical tool. When exploring YouTube and a similar site called TeacherTube the biggest problem that I seemed to encounter was the time it took to find a video that suited the subject area I am working with, as there is such an enormous amount of content on these sites.

The key word here is 'problem' and just like many times before throughout this course I found myself feeling a little uneasy about the task at hand. Thankfully this is quite normal and is the way this course has been designed. Problem-based (PBL) learning requires you to "take an active role in solving whatever problem situation you are presented with" (CQU, 2002). These situations are realistic and authetic and are likely to occur in real life, so the ability to problem-solve is highly prized in the workplace (CQU, 2002).

YouTube is a video sharing website that allows you to watch videos, upload videos that you have made and interact with other YouTube users around shared interests. Videos can be sent as a link on emails, embedded on blogs and Websites and can even be watched from mobile phones
(YouTube, 2009). It is important to note that some schools do not have access to video sharing Websites. This problem can be overcome by downloading videos using KeepVid where they can then be uploaded to the class website or played at school. This program also eliminates the possibility of students accessing harmful or inappropriate material that is on the internet.

The clip that I have chosen is a photostory called 'Animal Habitats' and could be used to introduce students to the topic or as an engaging video to use during the current unit 'Creatures on the Move'. Some questions that are raised during the video could be used for further discussion or investigation such as 'Where do animals live? What do animals need to live? Within my grade 1 classroom, as part of their summative assessment, students are required to create an imaginary creature and have an understanding of its habitat, needs, food and features.
Students use this knowledge to create an environment appropriate for their imaginary animal and this video shows some examples of student created habitats which I feel would be valuable.

When searching through TeacherTube I came across a video that I remember our lecturers showing us in a tutorial last year. Why do I remember it so clearly? Because I found it very engaging! While it would not be appropriate to use for Primary students I feel that it could be used successfully during a culminating social science project for Secondary students. It is titled 'We Didn't Start the Fire' and, using Billy Joel's famous song of the same title, aims to give a brief history of the USA. Hope you enjoy it!

Central Queensland University. (2002). Problem based learning: PBL Students. Retrieved August 14, 2009, from

YouTube. (2009). Handbook. Retrieved August 10, 2009, from

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Quizzes (ClassMarker)

ClassMarker is an easy to use online quiz maker that marks your tests and quizzes for you (ClassMarker, 2009). The quiz that I have created is titled 'What am I?' and relates to the current unit in my grade 1 class 'Creatures on the move'. Over the past few weeks the students have been looking at animals, in particular wild animals, and their observable features and habitats. There are ten multiple choice questions that briefly describe an animal (features/habitat) and the students are required to choose the correct animal from four possible answers. My test can be found at

This quiz was used during group rotational activities within the classroom, however I found the students could not complete the quiz independently and needed quite a bit of help to read the questions (and answers). While it is possible that certain parts could be modified I wonder how successful this type of assessment would be for the lower grades (P-2). I can see that the use of a computer to complete a test would undoubtedly be more engaging for contemporary learners than paper-based tests, however I would want to give them many opportunities to demonstrate their learning.

On a more positive note ClassMarker does have a number of advantages for Learning Managers and students. It would allow students to practice and test their knowledge base around a particular topic/unit and provides an effective formative learning resource that can be conducted in class or at home (ClassMarker, 2009). In teams/pairs learners might create their own tests that they could share with their peers. This would relate to Kearsley and Schneiderman's (1999) Engagement Theory as students would be required to work in collaborative teams to determine what questions they would ask (Relate). These questions would be purposeful and need to relate to the current topic or specific context in the classroom (Create) and the tests would be undertaken by their peers, giving it an outside focus (Donate).

ClassMarker. (2009). About. Retrieved August 8, 2009, from

Kearsley, G., & Shneiderman, B. (1999). Engagement Theory: A framework for technology-based teaching and learning. Retrieved August 7, 2009, from

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Flickr and Picnik

It has taken me what seems like a huge amount of time but finally I have been able to upload this photo of my dog Dudley to my blog. This may sound like an easy task for most people however it was a big achievement for me. I found the use of Flickr quite easy, just followed the online prompts and my account was created. For educational purposes, Flickr could prove to be a valuable tool allowing students to upload and use images for various ICT tasks.

I uploaded this
photo to Flickr from my computer and in order to edit the photo I was redirected to a site called Picnik. This site is free to join and easy to use and allows you to make basic alterations to your images. Once there I managed to crop and resize my photo and when I was happy I saved it. At this point it was not clear what I needed to do in order to put this photo on to my blog. I tried copying and pasting the URL into my blog posting with no success. Then I clicked on the 'Blog This' tab in Flickr and inserted the details of my URL here. This seemed to work, so like many times before I just followed the prompts and success, or at least I thought. While my photo was now on my blog it did not allow me to add text as well. Delete!

Finally I saved the edited photo to my desktop and while in Blogger just clicked on the 'Add Photo' tab in my post. Now here we are, constructivist theories hold true and through my own experiences I now know how to add a photo to my blog. I'm sure that there is an easier way to do this but for now, I have achieved the result I wanted.

I realise that as a 'Digital Immigrant' my future students will all be 'Digital Natives' and in order to teach them effectively I need to familiarise myself and become proficient with these types of online tools. Mark Prensky (2005) believes that if we cannot engage our students in education then we will enrage them. This means engaging with them on their level and while programs like Flickr and Piknic can offer great visual stimulation (that is free to use) it is important to note that engagement is not just about fancy graphics but about good ideas and how we use them (Prensky, 2005).

Prensky, M. (2005). Engage me or enrage me: What today's learners demand. Retrieved August 8, 2009, from

Thursday, August 6, 2009


The use of PowerPoints as an effective presentation tool is widely known, even to 'digital immigrants' like myself. With this said I have to admit that my knowledge of the various tools and functions within this program was quite limited. I found the online tutorial extremely helpful in this respect and have a better understanding after playing around with my own PowerPoint presentation. I have included a link to this site PowerPoint in the Classroom for future reference.

There is so much to learn in order to effectively utilise all of the fantastic tools available within this program and ensure that it is used to its full potential. For my own presentation I have decided to keep with the theme of the current unit within my grade 1 class 'Creatures on the Move'. The PowerPoint (which is a work in progress) aims to inform the students about Koalas and includes basic information on their features and habitat. I challenged myself by adding motion to some of the text and animations, as well as sound. I feel that these additions have made my presentation much more engaging for students and cater to a wider variety of learning styles.

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 they relate to the way 'learners perceive, interact with and respond to their learning environment' (Felder & Brent, 2005). Some students learn better through seeing (visual), some by hearing (auditory) and some by doing (kinesthetic). A well thought out and developed PowerPoint presentation has the ability to engage students on all levels.

Students differ from one another in a wide variety of ways, including the types of instruction to which they respond best.
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. PowerPoint presentations, when used appropriately, are an effective way to achieve this. For me this means Practice, Practice, Practice!


ACT360 Media Ltd. (2009). PowerPoint in the classroom. Retrieved August 6, 2009, from

Felder, R., & Brent, R. (2005). Understanding student differences. Retrieved August 6, 2009, from

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Voki Avatars

When I commenced this course I was intrigued by the avatars that are embedded within the content. I did not know that this technology existed and now, what do you know, I have created my very own avatar! What a fantastic tool! This would be a great 'hook' to use to engage your students at the beginning of a learning experience, or provide instructions during an ICT based activity, just like they have been used throughout this course.

Like most of the tools we have been introduced to, in order to establish my avatar, I was required to set up an account.
This process was quite simple, the hardest part is remembering all the different log in and password details. I used Voki to create my avatar and found it very engaging playing around with all the different features that are available. No doubt my future students will too.

In the 21st century the use of multimedia and technology as a form of curriculum design certainly holds many opportunities. Through multimodal delivery techniques it is possible to cater for a variety of learner characteristics. Multimodal learning has shown to be more effective than traditional unimodal learning, as it caters to individual learners' needs and capabilities by using many different modes and strategies (Stansbury, 2008). A report conducted by Cisco (2008) concluded that 'adding visuals to verbal (textual and/or auditory) instruction can result in significant gains in basic and higher-order learning'.
The use of avatars within learning experiences supports this view and by combining both visual and verbal elements, it increases the learning opportunities available for all students.

The avatar I have created is aimed at a grade 1 class and relates to the unit of work they are currently studying, 'Creatures on the Move'. Part of their assessment involves having an understanding of the observable features of different animals and their habitats. Within the classroom the use of avatars has numerous possibilities, not only as an effective teaching tool but also as an engaging learning tool. Allowing students to create their own avatar would incorporate literacy skills and give them ownership of the task.

Cisco Systems Inc. (2008). Multimodal learning through media: What the research says. Retrieved August 3, 2009, from

Stansbury, M. (2008). Analysis: How multimedia can improve learning. Retrieved August 3, 2009, from

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Mahara (e.Portfolio)

I have to say that setting up my Mahara e.Portfolio website has proven to be the most challenging (frustrating) task so far. I created my account using NetSpot, paid my $5, changed my password and thought 'how easy is this'. Yeah right! I could not get in to my Mahara site and envisaged having to pay another $5 with the same unsatisfactory outcome. While I still don't actually know what I did wrong, thankfully I am now able to log in and I have modified the layout and colour scheme and added some friends to my list.

Mahara is a digital portfolio that provides the user with blogs, a resume builder, a file manager and a view creator (CTER, 2009). It allows you to create folders and sub folders to upload files (images, video, audio and documents) quickly and efficiently, resulting in portfolios and project pages with rich multimedia content (CTER, 2009). An ePortfolio is basically an extension of the paper based portfolio and comprises a collection of personal reflections and digital artefacts that can be accessed from anywhere that has Internet access (Mahara, 2009). For $5 a year this information is safely stored in a central server.

Within the classroom the the use of Mahara can be easily managed by the Learning Manager and enables online communities (groups) to be formed based on shared interests, research or study. During units of work, ePortfolios provide a place that learners can access services, store work, demonstrate their learning and development of new skills, and record their achievements
(Mahara, 2009). Through active involvement in their learning students gain a better understanding of how they are progressing and, due to the meaningful nature, are more motivated to learn.

Mahara is an eLearning tool that is learner-centered but also promotes interaction within group contexts. With a focus on learning that is creative, meaningful and authentic I believe it is consistent with the ideas expressed by Kearsley and Shneiderman's (1999) Engagement Theory. This theory highlights the important role that technology-based environments have in regards to 'human interaction and evolution' (Kearsley & Schneiderman, 1999).

From a pedagogical perspective Mahara can be used effectively to facilitate social networking and reflective learning, and provide challenging and authentic tasks.

CTER. (2009). Mahara tutorials. Retrieved August 1, 2009, from

Kearsley, G., & Shneiderman, B. (1999). Engagement Theory: A framework for technology-based teaching and learning. Retrieved July 25, 2009, from

Mahara. (2009). About E-Portfolios. Retrieved August 2, 2009, from


My journey so far has been rewarding and as a 'Digital Immigrant' (Prensky, 2001) I continue to surprise myself with the new skills that I am acquiring. These skills are vital for my future as a Learning Manager in the 21st century and with such rapid changes in technology the notion of lifelong learning comes in to play.

A wiki is a website that allows users to add and edit content in a collaborative manner. It can be set up so that everyone has access to it or kept closed so that only members can make changes. When used within the classroom environment access should be limited to members only (students and teachers) to protect the safety and well being of learner's.

To create my wiki I used Wikispaces and by following the instructions found the process quite easy. I have decided to include some useful transitioning activities and quieting techniques that might benefit my colleagues who are placed in schools this term. While aimed mainly at the early years it may be helpful to others also.
My wiki can be found at

Unlike emails, wikis provide a one-stop-shop for members to interact and they allow easy coordination of content around a given topic. I believe that Learning Managers would find the use of wikis as a valuable tool to engage students in learning activities relating to the current unit of work. Through collaboration with peers a 'community of learners' (Kearsley & Shneiderman, 1999) is formed and student's are more likely to experience success and achieve the desired outcomes (Kearsley & Shneiderman, 1999).

Kearsley, G., & Shneiderman, B. (1999). Engagement Theory: A framework for technology-based teaching and learning. Retrieved July 25, 2009, from

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. Retrieved July 21, 2009, from,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf