Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My Refective Sypnosis....

I am not happy to where I am yet....
But I am pleased to have started the journey.

The process of engaging with each of the presented e learning tools has been both challenging and rewarding.
This engagement has been enriched thanks to the contributions of other colleagues’ ideas, applications and suggestions via our professional blogging network. I am amazed at all the incredible e learning tools that are available to use in the classroom. I have developed a passion for reaching today’s learners in ways that engage them – the digital natives; particularly “as the use of ICT continues to grow globally, students will increasingly demand an education that embraces “ICT (Education Queensland, 2009). Due to this voice from students who are demanding ICTs in the classroom, I will discuss the following theories and frameworks that support the incorporation of e learning tools as a means of engaging students and enabling them to reach their potential.
There are many learning theories that are mention here but Oliver’s (1999) Learning Design Framework; Kearsley & Shneiderman’s (1999) Engagement Theory; and Siemens(2004) Connectivism Theory. These will be addressed in the context of three outstanding e learning tools that I have discovered: WebQuests, Mahara ( E Porfolio) and Blog
Firstly, WebQuests, Mahara and Blog are a fantastic tool that scaffolds learning experiences using links to purposeful resources via the Web, underpinned by an authentic task, and promote student centered learning. A well design WebQuest. Siemens’ (2004) connectivism theory; where new “connections between fields, ideas and concepts” are identified, either individually or collaboratively. Additionally, Productive Pedagogies’ higher-order thinking would be achieved as “students manipulate information.
Oliver’s (1999) Learning Design Framework parallels the implementation of a WebQuest. The learning task involves an investigation or problem to solve in relation to an open-ended question; the learning resources are largely provided via links to essential resources on the Web; and the Learning Supports are evident due to the scaffolded learning structure of a WebQuest.
Secondly, Mahara, Moodle, Scholastic, SlideShare are “collaborative, multimedia tool" that can hold images, documents, and videos. Allowing Learning Managers and educators alike to explore and store to leave comments in multiple formats. These are some of my favourites of the many e learning tools presented here. These tools could provide a powerful medium for student reflections, articulating contributions to group projects or assignments.
Sharing files and resources I find daunting experiences at first. Once I understand the concept of partnering, donating and sharing it made me realised that I am now involved and practicing in the concept of connectivism. Using Media fire or Delicious to store my resource and other important documents can make personal resources accessible and can make sharing easier.
Partnering and sharing learning from other school and classes (perhaps in a global scale) will provide students with a voice to share their learning. The thought of making their learning journey visible to parents/caregivers and other relevant stakeholders make me think that learning is about sharing. This learning reflections and contributions can all be shared in one place from anywhere in the world – without the need to install extra software. Problem solving in where to access information and resources is now accessable.
Utilizing Skype and comments through blogging made it so relevant - these tools I find are necessary for collaborative engagement, involving communication, planning and social skills – thus encompassing Kearsley and Shneiderman’s (1999) first principle ‘relate’ of the Engagement Theory. The ‘create’ component could potentially incorporate two creations: creating an assignment (for example) creating the PowerPoint or a digital story to compliment the task or an activity. Secondly, the PowerPoint and digital story both could be ‘donated’ in SlideShare or in a multitude of way, for example to parents/caregivers, peers, a community organisation, relevant stakeholders, a partnering class, or school.
Ultimately, the purpose of the customer is to create a purposeful environment, as “the authentic learning context of the assignment increases student motivation and satisfaction” (Kearsley and Shneiderman’s, 1999).
Thridly, connectivism using e learning tools have made realised that I have now “scratch the surface” of ICT and technology. There is so much to learn. I encountered a number of set-backs during my experimentations. Some of these popular ICT tools like Twitter,made me realised that I still need convincing on how I could use it effectively in the classroom. However, thanks to Skype, Email, Delivery Forum from Moodle, and suggestions on colleagues Blogs I was able to discover RSS to attach and to view my peers comments. Having to actually see who your peers/followers are it made easier to blog. This process of utilizing my networks to locate information illustrates the emergence of Siemens’ Connectivism Theory, where “the connections that enable us to learn are more important than our current state of knowing” (Siemens, 2004).
By exploring and experimenting on posting and editing process, I have been able to successfully posted and donated my own PowerPoint to SlideShare. Now I am able to utilize this tool in the classroom (see ‘SlideShare’ posting for examples).In saying that, I still need to develop various ways to incorporate ICT tools to fully engage students in their learning.
At the same time as, this theoretical perspective of Connectivism needs to be instilled into our students for developing attributes of a Lifelong Learner (QSA, 2006), as they learn to “nurture and maintain connections… needed to facilitate continual learning” (Siemens, 2004). Students today live in a different world in comparison to the industrial-age based school model (Smith, Lynch & Knight, 2007), and their social being and sense of belonging largely exist within digital social networking forums. Therefore, the inclusion of e learning tools for collaborative engagement may contribute to students’ need for acceptance and belonging at their level.
According to Maslow’s hierarchy, this need for belonging should precursor one’s achievement and mastery (Kunc, n.d.). Marzano and Pickering (1997) reflect this belief, articulating that when “attitudes and perceptions are positive (feeling accepted by teachers and peers), learning is enhanced”. However, in today’s schooling practices the hierarchy is often shifted, where “children are required… to learn their right to belong” (Kunc, n.d.).
Through listening to the students’ voice, we as educators can take a step closer to not only engaging our students through ICTs, but foster a sense of belonging and acceptance when we provide the rich experiences craved by learners inside the classroom (Prensky, 2005). The process of this developing this Reflective Blog, I have a sense of expectation. This journey has remarkably boosted my self-confidence and eagerness for utilizing e learning tools with my future learners. I am now motivated and I choose to engage them… (Prensky, 2005).

References used throughout:

Brady, L. & Kennedy, K. (2005). Celebrating Student Achievement: Assessment and Reporting.Frenchs Forest, NSW: Pearson Prentice Hall
Education Queensland. (2009). Smart classrooms rollout to school. Brisbane, Quensland, Australia: Queensland Government
Gonzalez, C., (2004). The Role of Blended Learning in the World of Technology. Retrieved December 10, 2004 from
Google For Educators. (2009). Google Earth. Retrieved Nov. 30, 2009, from
Hartnell-Young, E. and Morris, M. (1999). Digital professional portfolios for change. Hawker Brownlow Education: Australia
Keirsley, G. & Shneiderman, B (1999) Engagment Theory: A framework for
technology-based teaching and learning. Available from http://home.sprynet.com/~gkearsley/engage.htm
Kunc, N. (n.d.) The need to belong: Rediscovering Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Retrieved November 12, 2009, from htp://normemma.com/armaslow.html
March, T (2002-2006) The 7 Red Flags. Downloaded from http://bestwebquests.com/tips/red_flags.aspMcInerney, D & McInerney V (2006) Educational Psychology. Constructing Learning. (Edition 4) Australia: Pearson Education Australia.Oliver, R. Exploring strategies for online teaching and learning. Distance Education. (1999) Vol 20 (2) p 240- 254.Prensky, M (2001) Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. Retrieved November 2009, from http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky%20-%20Digital%20Natives,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdfThe Learning Design Construct. Retrieved November 2009, from
Wenger, E (nd) Communities of practice. A brief introduction Retrieved November 2009 from http://www.ewenger.com/theory
Marzano, R. & Pickering, D. (1997). Dimensions of Learning: Teachers manual, 2nd Edition. Colarado, USA: Mc REL.
New Basics Branch and Queensland School Reform Longitudinal Study. (2002). Productive pedagogies classroom reflection manual. The State of Queensland: Education Queensland
Oliver, R. (1999).Exploring strategies for online teaching and learning. Distance Education, 20(2), 240-254. Retrieved Nov 3o, 2009 from
Prensky, M. (2005). “Engage me or enrage me”: What today’s learners demand. In Educause Review. Retrieved November 13, 2009 from http://www.net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/erm0553.pdf
Queensland School Curriculum Council, (2007). English essential learnings and standards. Brisbane, Qld, Australia: Author.
Queensland School Curriculum Council, (2007). Science essential learnings and standards. Brisbane, Qld, Australia: Author.
Queensland Studies Authority. (2006). The attributes of the lifelong learner. Brisbane, Queensland, Australia: Queensland Studies Authority.
Queensland Studies Authority. (2007). The QCAR Framework — aligning curriculum, assessment and reporting. Queensland: Queensland Studies Authority
Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. Retrieved November 2009, from
Smith, R., Lynch, D. & Knight, B. (2007). Learning management: Transforming teachers for national and international change. Frenchs Forest, NSW, Australia: Pearson Education Australia
WikiPedia. (2009). WikiPedia. Retrieved December 9, 2009, from
Winch, G., Johnston, R., March, P., Ljungdahl, L. & Holliday, M. (2007). Literacy: Reading, writing and children’s literature South Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford UniversityPress.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Twitter: Twit or not to twit?

Twitter scares me. For all its popularity, I thought I need to explore and have a look at it for myself satisfaction.
I think, I am in a minority on this one – ‘The feeling of connectedness’ Twitterers can get trick of the brain into thinking of having a meaningful interaction, while another part of the brain knows something crucial to human survival is missing. (I have to find the theory).
Compare to having coffee with your next-door neighbour could do more for your brain than a thousand Twitter updates. This doesn’t mean there isn’t important issues and news that can be source from twitter. While in the same argument has been going around forever, and is the same claim made about television, that doesn't make it untrue.
Again, this doesn't mean that it's not worth it and highly valuable for people to stay connected to distant family and friends, I'm just saying that it's worth a look at whether that might be lulling some folks into a false sense of "I'm connected" at the expense of real-life connections.

Ironically, services like Twitter are simultaneously leaving some people with a feeling of not being connected, by feeding the fear of not being in the loop. By elevating the importance of being "constantly updated," it amplifies the feeling of missing something if you're not checking Twitter (or Twittering) with enough frequency.

Seimen’s connectivism stated some significant trends in learning.
Many of the processes previously handled by learning theories (especially in cognitive information processing) can now be off-loaded to, or supported by, technology.
Know-how and know-what is being supplemented with know-where (the understanding of where to find knowledge needed).

I like to see twitter and its effectiveness in the classroom. I can use it as a hook- What is on twitter today or let say what people say about this??? If you are also wondering you can also twit me neth967

Cheers Mary-Ann

Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. Retreived November 7, 2009, from http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm

Wikipedia and Critical Literacy

While the term 'wiki' has been credited to Cunningham (1994, as cited by Augar, Raitman and Zhou, 2004), Wikipedia was created by Wales and Sanger in 2001, to be used as a reference tool.

I use Wikipedia as a reference guide, I did not realise the other projects the Wikimedia Foundation also hosted - a dictionary/thesaurus, collection of quotations, a directory of species and a source for free textbooks and manuals to name a few.What I like about Wikipedia is that there is a lot of information readily available at your fingertips, without having to go the heavy encyclopedia of yesteryear. When using Wikipedia, it is to find out a little about a subject, before going to more authoritative sources.

As a Learning Manager/ educator in the classroom This will be a good discussion for older students by comparing source of information through the lens of ‘comparing’ and 'analyzing' which is the more reputable source. Wikipedia has good source to use bearing in mind what is the author’s back ground, reputation, values etc. Again this relates to critical literacy… ( mentioned in my previous postings).
Winch et. al (2004) described Critical Literacy as reading with knowledge of how language works; with an awareness of where the text positions the reader; with perception of ideas and values and attitudes that constitute the implicit framework of the text and out of which the text is generated.
Another way to encourage our students as readers to actively analyze texts and it offers strategies for uncovering underlying messages. Although there are many theories and approaches we can encourage our student to be critical in finding source or information, my favourite, I guess is the questioning approach. According to whom?

Cheers Mary-Ann

Winch G., et.al (2004). Literacy reading and writing and children’s literature (2nd ed.).South Melbourne,Victoria Aus: Oxford University Press.