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

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