Sunday, May 30, 2010

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Reflective Synopsis

Well, this really has been an E-Learning adventure! I have discovered a lot of technology that is really going to be helpful to me in my future role as a Learning Manager.
It is really important in a time of 'education revolution' that we keep one eye on developing technologies which can be used to enhance the students learning experience. During this course I have challenged myself as a 'digital immigrant'. At times it has been extremely overwhelming exploring all the new technologies, especially knowing that I have only scratched the surface of what is out on the world wide web! I am confident I have gained a deeper understanding of these technologies and in turn equipping me with the knowledge necessary to push me into teaching in the 21st century.

Along this journey I have discovered some technologies that are really going to enhance my delivery techniques and foster much more engaging learning experiences, and promote higher order thinking in students. Web Quests, Google Earth, Voki and Music are some of the technologies which I think I would favour as an Early Childhood Educator. It is important to note that the conduciveness to innovative teaching techniques offered by all of the technologies I have researched is not lost on me and I feel that I will in some way incorporate all these technologies into my Teaching in the future. As suggested by Marsh (2008) Teacher talk is common of instruction and can become dull and boring. To fully engage learners, teachers should create opportunities for students to use all five of their senses.

Killen (2006) suggests cooperative learning is a special form of small group work. Learners can gain a lot from working in cooperative groups, they develop the ability to work well together and can have satisfaction in accomplishing a task together.Having used Web Quests in the past, I have found them to be an excellent way of organising group work and having students engaged and excited about what they are learning. As my own capabilities continue to improve I can expect to make more and more engaging Web Quests in the future. It is a time consuming process, but the results are well and truly worth.

Visual engagement through applications such as Google Earth are another great way of exciting a students thirst for knowledge. Maps provide so much information and with Google Earth the possibilities for interaction are almost limitless. It's fantastic to think that a student can have the entire globe at their fingertips in such vivid detail.

Voki Avatars were so much fun! Yet another way to engage students. Initially I thought of voki mainly as a 'hook' to get students interested in subject which was about to be undertaken. After contemplation I realised it could also be a fantastic way to guide a student through a unit of work. From a students point of view Avatars are also a great way of expressing themselves in a creative manner.

As an Early Childhood Educator I feel it is very important to empower a child's own creativity and one of the ways I love to do this is through music. I have always been aware that there are certain implications involved in using downloaded music, and that it is not always legal to simply download something. I didn't realise however, that it was possible to find plenty of music resources on the Internet that are legal to use through Creative Commons licenses. These allow work to be redistributed for non – commercial use, such as in schools.

“Online social networks are an excellent environment for developing and sharing idea and promoting creativity” (O'Connell, 2006). Many of the technologies covered in my E-Learning journey are an innovative way for teachers and students to partake in social networking practises.These networking technologies can encourage students creative thinking by challenging their assumptions, building upon ideas of others and participating in group activities.

All these technologies can promote higher order thinking, assuming that the teacher structures tasks in a way that challenges students to really understand and think about what they are learning. For this reason I see it to be of vital importance that teachers continue to provide students with the opportunity to become really engaged in the process of their own learning.

Overall, this has been an incredibly enlightening experience which has really shown me the importance of teachers continually upskilling themselves and keeping up to date with developing technologies in order to provide students with the best possible opportunity to achieve outcomes. I can now see myself thinking more in the mind frame of a 'digital native' and am beginning to unshackle myself from the limitations of being a 'digital immigrant'.


Killen, R. (2006). Effective Teaching Strategies. Wentworth: Social science press.

Marsh, C. (5th Ed.) (2008) Studies of Society and Environment, Exploring the Teaching Possibilities. French Forest: Pearson Education.

O'Connell, J. (2006) Engaging the Google Generation Through Web 2.0: Part 1.scan,25(3), 46-50

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Slide Share

SlideShare allows a user to upload and share PowerPoint presentations. It can also be used to add a voice over to the presentation, this is then known as a 'slidecast'.

I found the sign up process to be relatively simple, however the process of attaching the mp3 file seemed to be time consuming and somewhat difficult. I feel that I could achieve similar results by using Photo Story, and then uploading into any of my storage files.

From a teachers point of view SlideShare is another way of engaging the students in the classroom, using the right voice over or music could evoke different emotions about the slide being presented and help to provoke stronger opinions, which in turn can lead to further discussion. For the student, SlideShare offers a tool which they can use to make presentations on any given topic.

I have uploaded a simple presentation which I would use for younger students to dance along to, getting them to act out the type of animal that appears on the slide show. This is an extrapolation of my ideas on using music in the classroom, and by adding another medium to the presentation would make it all the more engaging for the students.

Voice Thread

Voice Thread is yet another way to promote collaborative learning, with children being able to comment on pictures, video files and documents from anywhere in the world.

After I had explored voice thread a little and worked out how easy it was to use, I really see the potential to use this to engage students.
Without the use of a microphone i was kind of limited in what could be achieved with this site. However this short presentation points out some features of a cat that might make it a good hunter, then I have invited the students to explore the features of a cat further.

Music on the Web

Royalty-Free music on the Internet is a great resource for teachers. I downloaded some African music which could be used to extend on a students interest in jungle animals, having the students dance to the music perhaps with some simple percussion instruments they could really become engrossed in the cultural experience that the music evokes. This would foster the development of children's movement skills and introduce them to a different culture. They can develop rhythm, time, repetitious patterns. Music like this in a classroom can be a really engaging way to get children interested in the topic.
It's reassuring to know that there is plenty of Royalty -Free music on the Internet as we often here of copyright infringements and need to be careful not to download illegal files.

File Storage

File storage sites, such as MediaFire are a great way to store large files and be able to share those files from any computer.
MediaFire was really easy to use, and I can see great potential to use the site to upload and organise students resources in a place where they can easily access them.

I have uploaded a short video clip to MediaFire, which is an examle of the kinds of resources a teacher could upload to file storage sites for students to access, without needing to download these files onto their own hard drives.


Wikipedia is a free, web-based encyclopedia. Wikipedia has millions of articles that have been written by volunteers around the world. Most of its articles can be edited by anyone who wishes to add to the website, which at times makes its information some what unreliable (Wikipedia, 2009).

I have used Wikipedia often as a way of gaining a general understanding of a topic before researching the topic more thoroughly using other resources. The resources that are available in each Wikipedia article are also very useful to both teachers and student. For example, a quick search of the topic 'pets' brings up an article which includes, pictures, tables and also links to many other articles pertaining to the subject matter.

According to Marzano & Pickering (1997) the most effective learners have developed powerful habits of mind that enable them to think critically. This I believe to be of high importance when allowing students to research using Wikipedia. One way to achieve this is to encourage students to seek accuracy, "any time you receive information that appears suspicious or inaccurate, you should take time to check for accuracy" (Marzano & Pickering, 1997).
What do you think? What highs and lows have you had using this technology?

Marzan0, R., Pickering, D., Arredondo, D., Blackburn, G., Brandt, R., Moffett, C., et al. (1997)Dimensions of Learning, Teachers Manual. Aurora: McRel

Wikipedia (2009). Wikipedia. Retrieved, August 19, 2009, from