Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Journey thus far

It has been one of the most interesting journeys I have ventured on since beginning my degree. There has been frustration towards digital technologies that has been fathomless. Throughout Managing e.Learning evidence of my Digital Immigrant status has been proven time and time again, although I must say this: "Never give up never surrender".

Mastering digital technology is achievable and attainable. My thoughts are that perhaps if there was less of a time constraint, the frustrations about navigating through the course activities and assessment may have been less. With the frustrations, it must be mentioned, have come moments of victory that have left me speechless, pumping my fist in the air, or even brought me to tears. It has been interesting to say the least. Stretching the boundaries of my learning and understanding has certainly enlightened me to the way new students must feel, or students with English as their second language experience as they experience new environments, culture and education structures. Initially there is fear and trepidation, and with experiences such as victories and losses alike, certainly a deeper understanding, and may I say respect, is achieved.

Experiences are not all enjoyable although many can be profitable to varying degrees. As my journey continues to different courses for the next few years, I will reflect on my learning in my blog.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Student Centred Learning

There is definately a great deal of importance in student centered learning. The Relate-Create-Donate concept (Kearsley & Shneiderman, ) is a great argument for engaging students in their learning journey. Learning has to be related to real life concepts or ideas and this in turn generates interest and engagement by the learner. Having learners then create for assessment or for enjoyment further defines the learning journey and comprehension of the task.

As Learning Managers, focus needs to be on making learning fun, interesting, engaging and real. What I have learnt through my own journey is that as I lay my hands on to different technologies and programs, I have greater understanding of how and why these technologies benefit. The challenge therefore is when and how to implement this learning into the classroom, making it real and pertinent to the learner, making assessment purposeful and importantly making it fun.

Kearsley, G. & Shneiderman, B. (1999). A framework for technology-based teaching and learning. [electronic version] Retrieved August 12, 2009 from

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Synopsis - Sumo vs Small Fry or David vs Golliath?

This picture demonstrates how I envisioned my technology driven journey to be. When I first read the Course Profile and viewed the Moodle website for Managing eLearning I was completely and utterly overwhelmed. Digital Immigrant that I am it at times took all my strength not to throw my arms up in the air and leave.

What I have learnt along this journey is that there is a wealth of resources and endless possibilities through technology driven learning. After reading Prensky (2001) I gained a greater understanding of where I and students of today stand when it comes to technology. He argues that students thinking patterns have fundamentally changed. This is important to remember considering the Digital Natives : Digital Immigrants found in most classrooms.

Kearsley & Shneiderman (1999) further consider that students activities should involve active cognitive processes such as creating, problem-solving, reasoning, decision-making, and evaluation. This inturn correlates with the productive pedagogies found in Dimensions of Learning by Marzano & Pickering (1997) in that life long learners develop into complex thinkers, creative individuals, active investigators, effective communicators, reflective and self directed learners, participant in an interdependent world and a knowledgeable person with deep understandings. This is achieved through engaged learning where students are motivated to learn due to the meaningful learning environments and activities summarised by Relate-Create-Donate (Kearsley & Shneiderman, 1999).

This is certainly true in my own learning journey. The learning was engaging and often confronting in its complexity, although there was a definate journey taking place with myriads of learning experiences. It was interesting to answer questionnaires that investigated personality types, strengths and weaknesses. This is an informative tool considering the diversity of learners. I must note that according to the Jung Typology Test I was assessed to be introverted, which is entirely correct, and because of this, dealing with public forums caused me some angst. It was quite difficult for me to offer opinions and put myself in a vulnerable position to be challenged, criticised or judged concerning my own opinion, although it is also important to note that the audience were themselves in the same position.

It is on these public forums that Netiquette and Cyber bullying need to be monitored and managed. There is risk when allowing students to access the internet and ensure that they are on safe websites with significant protection. With a large debate about how to protect students when using the internet at school, the Australian Government has developed The National Safe Schools Framework and is already addressing these issues. According to Safe Schools, the Government strongly ‘believes that all students have the right to learn in a safe and supportive environment that is free from bullying and victimisation’ so they are developing a pilot program that addresses these issues. There is comfort in knowing that changes will occur within schools.

As a Learning Manager I was incredibly excited about the technologies and resources available. Having access to sites with free registration makes the journey easier than first realised. Sites such as Flickr, Picnik, Wiki, ClassMarker, Slideshare, MediaFire, Wetpaint and Blogspot, to name just a few, certainly create engaging tools and a safe environment for learners.

Of concern is the issue of access. My personal computer was unable to download some of the tools and did not have access to some of the hardware. This needs to be a focus when considering learning in the classroom. Not all children will have the technologies required or requested, therefore modification needs to occur. While most schools already have access to these sorts of technologies not all schools will.

Through the use of technology there is certainly a need to be creative thinkers. Flickr, Picknik, and YouTube are great tools for students to communicate their ideas. For those learners that are shy or reserved, introverted possibly, these technologies are a great resource. The only issue again is access. During my portal task I evidenced students accessing different sites to document and research myths and legends. In my own classroom students would gather information and then generate their own myth or legend, document it using video and create a link to a classroom Blog. Through the use of Flickr or Picnik, students could document a school camp and create a newsletter for parents/caregivers. This would engage the student through real life interactions and connect to a real audience.

Vygotsky (1978) affirms that relationships and cultures impact on a learner’s cognitive development. By engaging the students in pertinent and reflective endeavours and assessment pieces, student will refine and extend their knowledge and understanding (Marzano & Pickering, 1997). So as a Learning Manager I hope to encourage interactions between the classroom and the home.

Throughout my degree I have been challenged through technology, to think outside the box and consider new and inventive ways to present information. Developing a WebQuest at first was incredibly exhausting, although when the project was completed there was great satisfaction. As a Teacher Aide it was necessary for me to create powerpoints for various activities throughout the school. Attaching music files and voice thread was part of the journey. Having access again to free downloadable tracks and software made the job incredibly easy.

This technological learning journey for me was one of the hardest I have experienced to date. It required me to involve all of my cognitive processes. It certainly was a Sumo verses Small Fry scenario in the beginning. There was much advice on the forums about taking it step by step, and to not look at the whole picture, rather at each piece. Sound advice!

As a creative person I can envisage the technologies addressed in Managing eLearning in Art, the challenge is using it cross curricular. Of a great and satisfying surprise was the amount of support given to educators and parents via the internet. One can Google or Bing search and find access to great resources and educational support. Technology is all about engaging the learner to the world around them. The internet has made the world smaller, why not use such a powerful resource and have access to a wealth of experiences?

Computers and programs still hold a healthy fear for me. It is too easy to press a button and lose an entire document, never to be seen again. Viruses, hackers and content also hold concern, although there is strong evidence of change in regard to these issues. At this point in my journey, my attitude towards technology has changed. I will never become a Digital Native although I can certainly evolve my Digital Immigrant status. The term lifelong learning has never been witnessed as much as the progress made through this subject material.

So where to from here. I am so excited about developing units that engage learning through the use of technology. The range of free websites and free registrations certainly makes it more enjoyable although there are some sites such as Picnik where it is worth paying for full registration. Now at the end of my introduction to new technologies I consider that my journey has evolved from Sumo verses Small Fry to David verses Goliath. In the end David won.

Australian Government (2008). The National Safe Schools Framework. Computer citing August, 12 from

Kearsley, G. & Shneiderman, B. (1999) Engagement theory: A framework for technology-based teaching and learning. [electronic version] Version 4/5/99.

Marzano, R. & Pickering, D. (1997). Dimensions of learning: Teacher's manual. Colorado, USA: McRel.

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. [electronic version] MCB University Press, Vol. 9 No. 5, October 2001)

Picutre Modification

This is a picture taken on a digital camera and manipulated through Flickr. I love this technology because it makes something simple into something quirky. The only suggestion I could make is that most of the "free registration" has very limited choices and it is very worthwhile in purchasing a full registration. There are more options this way and when it adds up it is a small price to pay.

This type of program allows students to be as creative as they need to be. It's a great way of expression because there is no 'right' answer or 'right' way of doing things. This could be used for students in creating an advertisement to sell an idea. Imagine students trying to sell the importance of mathematics. They would be asked to develop an ad that will generate interest or engagement in a mathematic problem such as digital vs analogue time pieces. Pictures of digital and analogue clocks could be photoshopped and placed in brochures debating the importance of or the non requirement is up to the individual. Not only will it engage them but also challenge their own thoughts and ideas about maths.

File Share

Below is the link to a couple of valuable resources students have shared with each other over the last year or so. These are only a very few although I endeavour to add more as my degree continues.

Why I chose to share these is because during last term it was necessary to profile our learners while on our Portal Task. There were many different issues arising from this and a template was found that suited everyones needs. It can be manipulated according to everyones needs. I hope you find it helpful.

Google Earth/Podcast

I was unable to access some programs due to the capacity of my computer. This is where as Learning Managers we need to consider diversity within the classroom when it comes to technology.

Not all students will have access to technologies such as ipods, computers, iphones, or even the internet so we must modify the learning experiences to suit. Prensky (2005) aruges that we need to make education and learning engaging, and that students of today already have access to technologies. He continues to ask the question "Where is the programming, the genomics, the
bioethics, the nanotech—the stuff of their time? It’s not there."

Therefore, how do we further engage students who have no technology in their lives because of the socio economics? We can also bring Mazlow's Theory into play. What happens when we have students in our classrooms that don't have a shelter or have food everyday? Extreme as this may sound it still happens.

So where to from here? Managing diversity within the classroom not only from culture, language, socio economics or technology is of paramount importance. According to the Department of Education and the Arts Inclusive Statement (2004):

"Inclusive education ensures that schools are supportive and engaging places for all students, teachers and caregivers. It is about building communities that vlaue, celebrate and respond to diversity. It is underpinnned by respectful relationships between learners, teacher and caregivers. It is about shaping the scoiety in whch we live and the type of society to which we aspire."

I was unable to download Google Earth, although I could download a podcast, I was unable to present to a class as I am not doing a Portal Task, although I was able to upload powerpoints, photos, create a wiki, a blog, an avatar and all the other requirements for my elearning. This is where I believe that I am part of the diversity due to abilities, or understanding, or to my own available technologies. Therefore, as a Digital Immigrant, I am very aware of the diversity that introducing technologies can impact on ones learning and will endeavour to take these experiences with me into the classroom.

Department of Education, Training and the Arts, (2006). Inclusive education policies. Retrieved March 20, 2009 from

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives digital immigrants. [electronic version] On the Horizon (MCB University Press, Vol. 9 No. 5, October 2001)

Prensky, M. (2005). Engage me or engrage me: What today's learners demand. [electronic copy]

Music Downloads

What a great website for music!!!
I downloaded a piece of music entitled Celtic/Folk. In grade 7 students have just completed a Medieval Unit complete with Banquet and dress up. Students dressed as maids, princes, princess, knights or knaves and feasted on typical sweets of that era. During the banquet music played in the background as it would have played in days of old.

Being able to access a larger range of music and for free is a great way of generating the climate or feel wanted in classrooms. Through music we can further engage students in activities because music takes us to places in our minds.

Accessing free downloadable music is just wonderful....