Wednesday, August 19, 2009
I am amazed at the diversity of the many elearning topics that I have covered over the last few weeks. Tools that I didn’t even know about made me sit back and think ‘wow – this would be a great resource’. As with any resource, time and money play a huge factor, and unfortunately, computers and staff training don’t seem to be at the top of the list for the majority of schools. One of the largest hurdles I have been trying to overcome in schools is their band width and student access. Education Queensland computers are notoriously slow, and if an entire class is trying to download at once, more often than not, the system crashes. Having one computer room for a school of 700 means a 40 minute window each week for a class, and at least 10 minutes of that time is taken up in logging on. McKenzie (1998, p.1) states that using technology “only pays off if we provide enough computers, enough staff development and a combination of powerful tools with rich information.” Grove, Strudler and Odell’s (2004, as cited in James, 2006, p.1 ) further add that as more technology is available, “the need for knowledgeable teachers to use these tools effectively becomes a pressing issue.” Having four computers in each of our classrooms seems a great idea, but when there isn’t a projector hooked up to one of these, they may as well not be there.
During this task, I have had many conversations, both online and face to face with my peers that have enlightened me to new ways of thinking and using these elearning tools. They have always been light and social and extremely helpful, the course coordinator and the tutors at our campus have been speedy in their replies to the cries of help from myself and my peers. The discussions that we have been having have created a large collaborative tool of learning and resources, as my peers and I have shared our fears, ideas and triumphs. We have, without realizing it, been using Kearsley and Shneiderman’s (1999) Engagement Theory through these discussions alone. The three components of Relate, Create and Donate, have been covered by our Managing eLearning course group, which can then be divided into flex and on campus students, then campus sites, and then friendship and study groups; the create aspect is shown through our task of establishing our professional blog and reflecting on tools and our peers blogs’; and our outside ‘real life’ focus is fulfilled through the main aim of this course – to help us gather knowledge on many tools and use them in our classrooms.
Using these elearning tools correctly gives students “engaged, meaningful learning and collaboration involving challenging and real-life tasks” (Jones, Valdez, Nowakowski, and Rasmussen 1995, as cited in James, 2006, p.1). This statement also links with the Engagement Theory mentioned above.
Of the numerous elearning tools that I have briefly delved in to, I will aim use quite a few of them in my teaching. These are:
- PowerPoint: through the use of SlideShare so that these presentations can be completed in the students own time and individually.
- Google Earth: I would like to introduce a new place to travel to at the start of each day, linking it with the students’ current unit of work, and allowing them to explore with the help of this tool, I believe this is a great way to ‘hook’ students in at the beginning of the day.
- Class blog or wiki: To develop collaborative learning and reflection on tasks and for students to have the ability to show family and friends what they are completing in class
- Avatars: A fun way to engage students, to help present information and notices.
- ClassMarker: For students to complete online quizzes instead of the traditional ‘pen and paper’ style tests, and even create their own for the class.
- YouTube: An easy resource for students to use, with parental guidance they could each have turns in selecting an interesting clip, based on the current unit of work, to show the class – replaces the traditional ‘show and tell’.
- WebQuests: I will endeavour to create challenging, informative and fun WebQuests each semester, and will instruct the students on how to create their own.
- Wikipedia: A truly under-rated resource that is easy to navigate for students, use of this as a research starting point in classrooms is essential.
- Voice Thread: Collaborative learning at the highest point, even better than a Wiki, it is easy to use, monitor and embed into a class blog or wiki. Students can add their comments on the Voice Thread to enhance their learning and that of their peers.
Using these technologies within the classroom will take time and effort to establish, but once they are used regularly, they will become like second nature to the students, and the teachers. In conclusion, I will strive to overcome the hurdles of using elearning tools and bring technology into the classroom, so that we can open our mind through travels to distant lands; empower our thoughts through collaborative class blogs and wikis; and use the extensive resources that can be found on the internet to their full potential.
- James, W. (2006). Just Plugging In: A Critique of Mentoring Toward Technology Use. Retrieved August 19, 2009, from
- Kearsley, G. & Shneiderman, B. (1999). Engagement Theory: A framework for technology-based teaching and learning. Retrieved July 17, 2009, from
McKenzie, J. (1998).The WIRED Classroom: Creating Technology Enhanced Student-Centered Learning Environments. Retrieved August 19, 2009, from
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This is just one simple way to use this technology. There would be countless others, and they would all have the same aim - to get students thinking and working collaboratively, one of the engagement theory's components.
I didn't know about royalty free music before this course, but it would have come in handy for this, and for our recent ESS presentation where we used music to enhance our survey results in Windows Movie Maker. After reading about licences, I now understand that Moby (whose music we used) could have actually fined us for using his music in this presentation.
The music that I downloaded of Incompetech was described by the website as an "erie, relaxed and somber" piece (Incompetech, 2001-2009). I decided to use this as a response to Melissa's comment about possibly getting my year fours to create a photo story on images they found of the effects of disasters on people. I feel this music would have been very useful as an overlay to the images. The piece is written by Kevin MacLeod and is named Unpromised it is the first piece on this list. It comprises of vocals, harp, flutes and percussion. I tried to find a way to upload the music to this post or the blog - but I couldn't! Does anyone know how to do this?
I will definitely use this tool from now on. It is another way of storing those important files that you have worked so long on - saving them from the inevitable hard drive crash! My mentor teacher recently had her USB stolen at school. Unfortunately she had years worth of work on it - including unit plans, a week long PD on Grammar (which she was going to share with me!), and countless lesson plans and ideas. She hadn't saved these anywhere else - so they are gone. Apart from the fact that she should have backed them up somewhere - I will be reccomending MediaFire to her!
I have uploaded a Maths investigation lesson plan which I used in Prep last semester, as well as a great resource for handwriting that I created. There are so many of us in Prep at Noosa, so I figured that these would be a worthwhile resource. Check out my files
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
I am going to (when I have time) choose my best photos of the kids and use this site to share them with my family and friends. You can choose transitions, music and speed - a great way to give your photos that special touch!