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