Thursday, August 20, 2009

Reflective Synopsis 2009

My humblest apologies to Mr Shakespeare, butwith all the dramas I have had over the past week with my computer crashing last Thursday and now the one I am using is demonstrating similar attributes it feels like I am a part of a Shakesperean melodrama. Through the investigation of all the elearning resources that we have been reqired to undertake and discuss in our 'synopsis'(according to the MacQuarie Student Dictionary a 'synopsis' is 1. a short statement giving a general view of some subject 2. a summary of headings or short paragraphs giving a view of the whole; or 3. the outline of the plot of a novel, play, film, etc.) I have decided to take up the challenge to become a lifelong learner of this medium. I believe the best way for me to be able to implement and/or recommend them in schools is to ensure that I am always using and learning about new elearning resources as they become available.
After many frustrating hours working through the task requirements I am leaning towards the third definition but I know that a more academic choice would be the first or second. So I will use a combination of the two.
I have truly experienced a world of wonderment during the past five weeks and my knowledge base has increased one hundred fold. As a Learning Manager of the 21st Century I agree that to ensure all students are engaged and challenged by their learning is the most important aspect of any teachers job. The tools we have been experimenting with during the first part of this course are all so engaging (some to the point of obsession) that I can see where their inclusion in a learning experience could only be beneficial. In the classroom this year the students I work with do not participate in a lot of computer time but they do access it at home (the majority of them anyway, although not all are allowed to access the internet), so I can see how the use of 'blogs', 'wiki', 'etherpad', and so on down the list would be a wonderful learning journey for the students. Comments from the students about how they would really enjoy being able to work together on line on their homework, lead me to changing my own opinions about the usefulness of ICTs in the classroom.
Through the introduction of such wonderful learing tools the classroom can become a much more enjoyable place, although by the time I graduate I will need to take several refresher courses just to keep up with all the advancements. Now that we have been encouraged to create our 'blog' and 'googledoc's' account it will be so much easier to keep informed. The networking aspect of this resource has been great because I have been able to access the brains of long-term teachers who have given their advice and assistance when I have needed it. I have tried to adapt the attitudes outlined in the Productive Pedagogies manual and the Dimensions of Learning manual to my own learning so that I will have a better understanding of what students actually endure in their everyday school lives. I now know that this links to many of the theories outlined in this course, but especially to the 'Engagement Theory' and the two mentioned at the beginning of the first topic. These of course were 'Dale's Cone of Learning Effectiveness' and the 'Learning Pyramid of Learning Retention'. I have been able to learn more and actually retain it by 'doing' and 'teaching' and 'interacting with my peers'.
I have been very cautious about the sites I have visited since the great crash of '09. I have attempted as many sites as possible but whenever a site seemed to behave in an unusual manner I have quickly closed it down. This has made me more aware of how important it is to monitor the work of students on the internet. Not only for cyberbullying, inappropriate material and all the ethical issues associated with designing learning experiences via computers and the Internet but also for these little nasties that can come attached to emails, and web links. They are usually not detected until it is too late, as was the case with my computer. When I have access to the funds to pay for someone to fix these problems I will be more willing to experiment more with the wonders of Information Communication Technologies and the resources available for those that are willing to access them.
Of all the elearning resources that I experimented with the ones that I enjoyed and had to learn the most about were the ones that I could see being beneficial to studnets. Of course I realise that to each individual this would be different so that is where my training and instruction from the Bachelor of Learning Management course will be implemented. I will be able to profile the cohort to discover just where the individual students interests lie and from this knowledge I can design learning experiences that will include new and exciting learning (to extend and refine what they already know) as well as including aspects that will allow students to show their extensive knowledge through peer teaching. The learning would be more beneficial to the students if they have some input into what they are learning. To do this I would begin by posing questions that get them to analyse or require them to make a judgement about something, this is utilizing Bloom's Taxonomy of Cognitve Domain, in particular the higher order thinking stages. The students can also work collaboratively within the school community, at home and even broaden their horizons to include international links through the use of 'wikis', 'blogs' and 'Google Earth'. The learning becomes not only engaging but more relevant and topical which is the basis of Kearsley & Schniederman's (1999) Engagement Theory and Siemen's (2004) Connectivism Theory, these both support the concept that ensuring a connection between the learning and real life will enable the student to be more informed and it facilitates continual learning.

Through viewing other peoples motivational, creative and insightful blogs I have felt a conviction to continue my journey into learning as much about this form of learning as possible. I firmly believe that we should always continue learning (or as the theorists, and Queensland Studies Authority like to phrase it) become 'life long learners'. It made me ashamed in a way to think that I could ever assume that I would be good enough to be a teacher, but then I stepped outside the box and thought of all the teachers that have motivated me most in my life. They were all teachers who were williing to admitt mistakes and to grasp every learning experience as not only one for their students but also for themselves. The comments that people (or should I say at this stage, person) have posted on my blog have been encouraging and at the same time indicated that there was a lot that I still need to learn. From this experience I can see the importance of ensuring each student in a class is encourage to visit each member of their cohort and comment at least once before they form a 'group' as we were encouraged to do. This allows a student (in this case me) to feel that even though new to the campus there are some willing to give up their precious time to give me some encouragement and insightful comments.

Blogs I have followed and been inspired by (commented on):

Dale's Cone of Learning Effectiveness retrieved July 25,2009, from

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

MacQuarie School Dictionary 2nd. ed. Milton, Qld: Jacaranda

Using the Web at School.

After our last face-to-face session before the big day, I can see the infinite amount of information, requirements, concepts etc. that need to be remembered before any of these elearning resources could be implemented in a school. From the minor aspect of computer access per ca pita, I know that even with only one computer the learning can be engaging and challenging (just means more rotations per lesson) to the major problems (and these will change from one persons view point to an others) of inappropriate material and parental permission. Some issues that I had never really considered before are those of storage available at the school you are employed at, never assume it is endless. The aspect of whether parents actually have and/or allow their children to access the Internet is also something that needs to be considered and not just assumed when planning lessons. Some elearning resources that we have experimented with would be difficult to include in school learning but with careful planning they could be offered as extra incentives for those students who are working beyond the expected requirements and also have parental permission. To ensure that all the learning is safe and secure for all students teachers need to explicitly teach the correct procedures to follow when using the "Web". It should never be assumed that just because students are as outlined in the Prensky article (2001)'Digital Natives' they are aware of all the aspects of computer safety, just as young children need to be taught about 'stranger danger' and 'road safety' and many other things that adults take for granted. Even teaching students to be diligent about updating anti-virus software and ensuring their computer is as protected as it can be. No computer is ever totally protected but they need to understand the problems that can be associated with computer usage.

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives or digital immigrants. Retrieved July 31, 2009, from


What another great site, how I am ever going to find the time to investigate all these wonderful resources as well as complete my studies in other courses? That is the question I have to ask myself every time I begin to look at a new topic. How much more interesting is this than just sitting in lecture and listening to someone "blah blah blah" and if I feel this way about the subject I can only believe that the students in a classroom would be that much more interested in learning if some (or most) of their lessons were to include the use of ICT's. Truly engaging tasks can be created and with the introduction of a initial problematic question the students could be lead on a journey researching the information they need to complete their set tasks. Next term the class I am currently working in are required to create an electronic board game, it is a task that has been implemented every year for the year seven classes. This year they could actually take a step into the 21st Century and the students could do most of their work on-line. They could use this site to investigate the necessary criteria (as outlined on their task sheet/criteria sheet) and other e-learning tools to complete some of their other requirements. These will (or have been) mentioned in other posts. The following are just a few links that the students could follow, of course if Iwas designing the unit I would include these on a "Wiki" (similar to the one I have previously mentioned designing for a maths unit). They would then be able to do group work and edit each other posts and contribute without being together all the time. - -

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Podcasting: Sounds like something farmers do when planting new crops>

Throughout this assignment I have found that many of the tools we are investigating take a lot of time to 'play with'. When if I had been smart I would have followed the steps outlined for each task, I know sometimes I should read the instructions before going at it guns shooting. I know that I am not a very patient person and I am very (x1000) slowly learning to do what I should and one day I might even learn to do it the first time. But please do not hold your breath waiting for that to happen. I have already posted 12 'insights' about the tools previous to this one and this is the first time I have attempted to follow the steps. As a Learning Manager I should know better and I am trying. It is very important to encourage children, who like myself, to manage impulsivity which is outlined in our Dimensions of Learning Manual in Dimension 5: Habits of Mind (Marzano& Pickering). Oops first hiccup of the night but I will keep trying so that I can show the students that it does pay to keep at something until you reach your goal. I can see how these would be excellent tools to use in a classroom to assist auditory learners as they can be downloaded onto an iPod or MP3 ( MP3 is an audio-specific format that was designed by the Moving Picture Experts Group. The group was formed by several teams of engineers at Fraunhofer IIS in Erlangen, Germany, AT&T-Bell Labs in Murray Hill, NJ, USA, Thomson-Brandt, and CCETT as well as others. It was approved as an ISO/IEC standard in 1991.) and the individual student/s could listen to aspects of a lesson that they need further instruction in or to extend their knowledge base. By engaging students in this manner it once again makes the learniing more relevant to the world they live in as well as making it more interesting. They percieve themselves as someone that the teacher wants to learn and they gain a sense of ownership about the tasks they participate in.

Learning Management Systems??????

Hi Faithfull Followers,
Yes here I go again with some useful information from 'googling' a term and discovering something new. To be honest how did we (Digital Immigrants, or as I like to refer to myself "the oldies") ever get through our many years of schooling without this wonderful tool to do all the hard work for us.
"A learning management system (LMS) is software for delivering, tracking and managing training/education.......Most LMSs are web-based to facilitate access to learning content and administration. LMSs are used by regulated industries (e.g. financial services and biopharma) for compliance training. It is also used by educational institutions for enhance and support classroom teaching and offering courses to larger population of learners across the globe." (many thanks to that wonderful, if not quite academic, source of information, Wikipedia)
Learning as much as I have in the last eighteen months I have still be able to learn more with each task that is required for this course, before this I had never even heard the term 'Learning Management System' and now I discover it is the tool we have been using from the beginning of our studies. Blackboard is a LMS as is Moodle and many others. There have been times when I have experienced difficulties with both of the previously mentioned systems and I realize that as with any new technology there will always be 'bugs' that need to be identified and corrected. These forms of learning design tools enable a teacher to closely monitor (Moodle does, but not BlackBoard) a students participation and consequently the teacher can provide immediate feedback about tasks, questions and the overall performance of a cohort. These areas are extremely important in ensuring students are learning and being challenged and engaged in the learning.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Each New Day Brings a New Joy!

Get a Voki now!

I have been learning so much and my grand daughter really loves the Vokis that everybody has been posting on their blogs, so I have decided to have another go at creating a series of them that I could use in class to encourage the students with their Maths investigation that they are currently doing. They are up to the stage where they need to investigate the different types of holidays that they can choose from. For this section they will be using a Dimension 3 Complex Reasoning Process as outlined in the Dimensions of Learning Manual (Marzano& Pickering) They will be learning and applying the process of comparing. I thought that by introducing certain aspects of the learning through the use of Avatars the students would see that they could use this tool to perhaps present some of their information back to the class. The students would be encouraged to think seriously about using this tool to enhance their presentation. Of course they would need instruction in how to complete this, or there maybe students in the class who already have the prior knowledge necessary so they will be able to assist with the teaching. By implementing the lesson in this manner the students who are assisting acquire a feeling of self-worth and a satisfaction in a job well done, whereas the students who need the instruction will get a better understanding of what is required because those delivering the instructions are speaking in their language and at their level (unlike some teachers who try to talk in academic terms and fail to notice that not all students are comprehending the message). According to Kearsley & Schneiderman (1998) in their Engagement Theory if students are truly engaged in learning experiences that relate to the real world and offer authentic problem scenarios through interaction with others and worthwhile tasks they will value the outcomes and be capable of linking the learning to areas outside school.

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

Marzano, R.J., & Pickering, D.J. (1997). Dimensions of learning: teacher's manual 2nd. ed. Colorado: McREL.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

YouTube - exposure to inappropiate material.

The more I discover about the wonders available the more my mind boggles. The infinite supply of resources available means that all that is necessary is a simple 'google' search and the world is at my fingertips (literally just about). YouTube, Podcast, Google Earth, the list goes on. Just these three alone can assist with learning experience design in a way that would never have been possible in my past. The students of this millennium are so advantaged that sometimes I believe that they do not always appreciate what they have to learn with. When I was at school learning french, I imagine how much easier it would have been to have access to the resources that can be found via the Internet. A YouTube clip like this one to assist with the learning especially for students similar to the one in my class at present. The student is from Thailand and extremely shy and introverted. The student works well on the computer and only requires the assistance of a peer for minor technical aspects that may be in English to difficult to comprehend.

Here is a link that I have stumbled across on my journey into the wild "YouTube" jungles:
Of course as with any site accessed through the Internet there are issues that need to be remember. It has been pointed out to us at University that we need to ensure that only the actual YouTube we want the students to view is included in the power point or other site that we create (Web Quests can contain YouTube as well) as there may be ethical and inappropriate materials associated with the overall site. I quickly browsed through the above link and did not see anything that would not be labelled as educational, but it was a quick look, so I would suggest if you want to take a look remember to utilize 'keepvid' site for any that you find that you may want to use in the future. Here is to many happy and beneficial hours of 'YouTube' viewing to be had by one and all.

A Real Seniors Moment: or Boy I wish I had a Brain.

Welcome back to the Seniors Moment of the Century.
In my first year at Uni. I often heard the term "Interactive Whiteboard" mentioned, and being old (now I can label myself a Digital Immigrant thanks to Marc Prensky) I thought they meant a whiteboard that all students were allowed to come up to and work on. Only after getting up the courage to ask someone did I discover to my amazement that it was actually a tool of the new millennium. Yes a fantastic invention that allows teachers to connect their computer to a whiteboard and the children can interact with the learning experience. How engaging is that. This is wonderful and from the few I have been privileged to view since I can see that the students thoroughly enjoy the lessons they participate in when they get to use this tool. Just like many of the other tools that I have had to investigate over the last five weeks this was an interesting and exciting new experience for me. I could see how these could also be just as interesting and exciting to the students (maybe not the die-hard Digital Natives out there) who have never experienced the wonders that I.C.T's now provide. There are so many areas to explore and the list of wonderment just keeps on getting bigger, I do not feel I can do any of them justice in the few short weeks that we have before this assignment is due. But I will experiment with all on the list and hope I can remember to comment on them all appropriately.
Interactive whiteboards surely engage the digital natives of today and so help to alleviate the enragement aspect of learning experiences that are not designed to cater for all. As outlined in one of our first readings, the one on Dale's Cone of Learning Effectiveness/Learning Pyramid of Learning Retention, the more students participate and experiment with the tools and learning the more they will retain. They will feel they are teaching each other as well as learning from each other and this can often lead to a sense of achievement and accomplishment.

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives or digital immigrants. Retrieved July 31, 2009, from

Dale's Cone of Learning Effectiveness retrieved July 25,2009, from

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Suddenly Seeking Digital Natives!

Welcome to those who like me are willing to seek assistance from those wonderful Digital Natives out there. I am still reading and re-reading Prensky's article and each time I read it I discover something that I can see relates to many classrooms of the 21st Century. Many of today's classrooms are controlled by teachers who have little understanding of this new technological age. Or maybe they have too much knowledge and inadequate funding so they resort to not trying to teach to the students, rather they are satisfied with just achieving the basics. Are they really willing to let children move on to the next year level (or graduate) without attempting to instill in them a thirst and hunger for learning. The underpinning message behind all of the Key Learning Areas in the Queensland curriculum is that all students should be life long learners and this is only possible by designing learning experiences that are engaging to all students (Queensland Studies Authority2004). Students also need to feel they are part of the learning and I feel that there is no better way than to let them assist with the learning (design and implementation). Personally I have very minimal knowledge in the area of Information Communication Technology and to have the assistance of a more knowledgeable person (younger or older) is always welcome. This can only make the learning experience more engaging for both the students and the teacher (me).

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives or digital immigrants. Retrieved July 31, 2009, from

Queensland Studies Authority. (2004) Mathematics: Years 1-10 Syllabus . Retrieved June 13, 2008, from

Monday, August 3, 2009

WebQuests are great ways to engage and extend

Hi all future Learning Managers, Web quests even though they are a challenge at times to create (I am sure with practise I will get better, maybe I should apply Maslow's Pyramid to my own learning as well as to the students I hope to work with). They are an excellent way to engage students in learning and ensuring the use of I.C.T.s in learning design. A easy way for learning managers to monitor the sites visited by students so they can feel reasonably safe in letting students work independently on tasks. To be honest I wish that the school that I am in at the moment had more access to computers for the students so that I could have made the maths lesson I am teaching at the moment a Web Quest rather than just pen and paper. A lot of the Internet research has to be done at home and I realise that not all students have access to the Internet at home. Not all students want to do more school work after hours either so it always feels like they are being sectioned out in class, if they could do this task on line in class time would improve their learning. So I will create a Web Quest for my Imaginary fantasy class to complete and I am sure they will be thoroughly engrossed and extend themselves through the learning. I feel that all good learning experience design must include in part snippets from more than one theorist if you are to truly profile each individual student as we are supposed to. I have seen in the classrooms that I have worked in that there are students who fit each and every one of Gardiner's Multiple Intelligences (McInerney &McInerney 2006). As well as many different and mixed learning styles evident in all the students. So in reality we should be looking at more than one theory when we are designing our learning. Behaviourist, Constructivist and Social-Behaviourist, theories all come into play in a classroom. Through the use of Web quests (as well as many other of the tools) student's learning can be challenging, engaging, relevant and motivational. By providing learning experiences which require the student to participate from the very beginning and to be in control (to a certain extent) of the speed at which they learn and the content they are investigating. I have been 'surfing' and discovered the following Web Quests that I think would be great to use in the class room that I am currently teaching (or pretending to teach in actually) in, and of course to paraphrase and most probably misquote:"If it isn't broke why fix it" or as our lecturers are continually saying "why re-invent the wheel' , so for the purposes of saving time and my sanity I have not created one of my own but used the ideas of more brilliant and talented people.
Many minutes later: I have discovered that due to a lack of knowledge on my part I am unable to access many Web Quest sights without belonging to many of the sights I am unable to attach them to my blog. I think that this will change when I am actually employed as a teacher and can pay the subscription fee attached to many of the useful links. This applies to not only Web Quests but to many other useful tools that I would like to implement in my classroom of the future. So I will just have to be satisfied at this point in time with the knowledge that out there there are many wonderful tools to be use by people like me. To be honest though it really comes down to the fact that I can not remember the site that we used last year for S.O.S.E. to create our Web Quest free and even after many hours of 'surfing' I still can not find it. So I have decided that my time is better spent doing another task and maybe coming back to this one at a later date.

McInerney, D.M., & McInerney, V. (2006) educational psychology constructing learning. 4th. ed. Australia: Pearson.


Fantasy Flight Investigation:
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I have decided to 'delete' the view I had previously posted as it was written in the heat of the moment and I have been able to complete the task after much frustration and pulling out of the hair.
After viewing other blogs and seeing that through perseverance others have managed to complete this 'simple' task I have decided to give it another go. Networking is a great motivational tool. So through the use of blog sites such as this and 'wiki's' I can see how students who would other wise give up without trying can be encouraged to give everything another try until they have exhausted every possible option. So to set a good example for my future students I will keep trying until I master this (hopefully before the due date of this assignment).

Yes! After following the gifted instructions of a fellow BLM student (no names mentioned Rhonda) I have been able to finally link my quiz to my blog. Yes it does help to "keep on trying when at first you do not succeed" (yes I will 'google that saying to find out where it originated so that I can reference it correctly) ( I 'googled' and discovered many have said it so I will choose W.C. Fields, famous American comedian) I have really enjoyed creating a quiz that can be used as a diagnostic or summative form of assessment while at the same time the learning is done in such a way that the students are not just sitting at their desks working of the board or out of a text book. The best aspect of doing on-line quizzes is that the environment is being cared for, we are not using paper which is a non-renewable resource, so we could link this form of learning to a unit of work on caring for the environment and the students would feel that in a small way they have made a contribution.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Picnik by the duck pond

Discovering the wonderful things that can be done on this site is like opening Aladdin's cave. I think that students who are given the opportunities to manipulate images as I have done would find themselves totally engaged in a learning experience that doesn't really feel like a lesson at all. A Learning Manager could easily give students tasks that require them to take digital photos of their school and then in groups they could work on creating a photo wall to put on display in the library or in the foyer of the office for all to see. This was so much fun I even felt myself becoming somewhat addicted to the site and had to set a timer so that I could complete other task requirements. So I suppose students would have to be monitored to ensure they were not doing the same thing. Great fun for the whole family just like a picnic.