Thursday, August 20, 2009

Reflective Synopsis

My intention is to lecture and perhaps teach school, preferably History and Literature so the use of Moodle is very relevant to me. As an external student, it works very effectively, given that I completed two subjects and achieved did very well despite not ever meeting a lecturer or attending one lecture. This doesn’t allow personal interaction, face to face, which I feel is a very important part of the learning experience for many people, especially for young people where the need to learn personal and interaction skills is very important. Actually I did download lectures via the Windows download tool but this can be done with You Tube as well. Online communication fora are actually more time consuming and online tutorials through skype or another application are good but difficult to organize given that so many University students also have work and family commitments so for many external students the experience is a self motivated one to a large extent. I’m surprised that I haven’t heard mention of School of the Air so far in this course. I feel that if we ignore the decades of work that School of the Air has done then we run the risk of reinventing the wheel. The link below leads to a good general description of what they do and has links to more specific information and pedagogical applications.
Anecdotally, at least, it appears that people use technologies as they see a use for them. It’s not just young people who use communication technologies like myspace or facebook etc. A quick Google search of networking websites will demonstrate that as will a look inside most modern cars where you’ll find GPS navigators, Bluetooth and DVD players. There are usually generic processes that can be used across the various applications and with application and device convergence we will see more linkage of devices like computers, phones, mp3 players etc generally and, more specifically in education.
By far the most useful ICT that I saw in this course was the wiki URL. I can actually see a use for it both as a tool for setting up learning programs or even where students can have input when developing learning processes and outcomes. I feel that we should be careful of falling into the trap of being driven by technology and having to pander to the whims and fancies of students desire to live in a virtual space. We need to be across these technologies and be able to use and demonstrate them and use them to engage our students but learning is a great deal more than playing with iphones. The wiki or even the mahara can be used to bring all the other technologies into a focal point, much like moodle does for Managing E-Learning. Without that focal point the various applications become unwieldy and lose their effectiveness. It’s up to the teacher to establish the use of a given technology by linking it to specific learning outcomes and processes. From there you can link to the blog, utube, have your rss aggregators etc. The advantage of an application like VoiceThread over say PowerPoint is that it allows ‘real time’ interaction even if it is recorded and displayed later. The wokis are fun but after you’ve seen it a couple of times it becomes redundant. They may capture the attention for a short while and like all of the ICTs it would really depend on the imagination of the teacher.
When I taught adult students to use computers with Learning Network QLD I used the interactive whiteboard all the time. It was fantastic for ‘real time’ demonstrations of accessing and using applications and on more than one occasion it was a learning process for both teacher and student. As I mentioned in an earlier blog I found the Gizmos and the WebQuests very useful and again are only limited by the extent of our imaginations. I feel that the teacher must be organized and have the structure and process parameters firmly set before attempting to deliver learning programs. Students need to be aware of and be able to use various ICTs as they are so pervasive in the modern workspace but they are most effective when they are the form that enables the learning of the content.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Orwellian Terminology

I probably should use ‘learning manager’ or ‘pedagogy enabler’ but my indoctrination is not yet complete. Where is Orwell when I need him?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Fish

A word on the fish, if you hover your mouse over the pond they will swim toward it. If you click your mouse over the pond fish food will appear and they will eat it. Please don’t over feed my fish or I will have to clean the filter and change the water and I’ll have big fat fish and have to buy a bigger tank and it’s not good for them. But aren’t they great. Susan showed me how to get them there.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Webquest and Gizmos.

That's the link for my test. It's not the most challenging test in the world but classmaker is a very helpful tool. I keep thinking of 'school of the air' and think that they must be all over these technologies. Enabling is the word I would use for them but there is a process that begins when you first encounter each new ICT. My initial reaction will be either, 'mmm that's handy' or 'yeah, I've seen it and I don't think so'. If it's the former then you begin to use the aid to create components for a learning plan and find other uses for them along the way. Each process seems to offer a new door.
I had just such an experience with gizmos on the ExploreLearning site. With some imagination and tweaking you could deliver very useful, practical or theoretical (or both) learning outcomes. They cater for all learning types with a 75% on the Learning Pyramid retention rate. To see more on Dale's Cone and the Learning Pyramid visit the ACU Adams Centre for Teaching Excellence here:
I can remember when I was introduced to computing, in the early 90s, that virtual science experiments would be a great thing. Now I realize that I was a bit short sighted. There is no reason why these can't be used at all levels of learning. From preschool to Tertiary. I'm going back for a play.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Watch out for that link, it'll bite ya. Flickr, Picnik, whiteboards, power point. I've been using PowerPoint presentations for many years. I actually use it for word processing and resumes as it often has better watermark colours and text control than Word. You really need to be creative to construct a PowerPoint presentation that isn't corny and too often people rely on them too much rather than delivering the learning package. They can be a useful visual aide but not an adequate substitute for teaching activities.
When I worked with Learning Network Queensland, delivering basic computer courses to the public, I used interactive whiteboards all the time. They're great for demonstrating I.T. processes. It was, in effect, a large desktop and because it was touch sensitive I could walk students through processes step by step in real time.
Flickr and Picknik are fun and can be used in many ways to add content to learning plans. The only limit is our imagination. I don't use these very often if at all. I process images on my laptop and store them on my Yahoo email folders. If I need to use them I can just cut and paste them into presentations. Video is much the same. I made a video on my phone to promote my music business, edited it and added text (all on my phone) and uploaded it to myspace. The possibilities are not endless but they are vast.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Will, thunks to the kuds from utube. Theer you hiv et.
I love Dorky. She's so tongue in cheek. I wish you could add more text. It really only works as an intro for subjects or sections of study. I know the younger students would get a lot out of Voki. The older students too but you would have to work hard not to end up with Dorky.


My Mahara view is open to the public. I have not got a clue how it works or why it exists but I suspect I will soon. I forgot my password etc and took ages to find the right combo. I'm looking at the portfolio video at the moment so I dare say I will get some insights from that.

Monday, August 3, 2009

OK. Wikis are are a very cool bit of kit. The uses for these are almost endless. On a personal note I can see this being very useful for my music career where I can promote myself with a free website.
But back to the subject at hand. How could this be used in the learning environment?
Well sites like Wet Paint would tie in well with the RSS Aggregators. Group projects could be set up on a wiki and contributed to by students and monitored by as well as added to by the teacher.
I haven't full explored the capacity of this technology but it is one that looks exciting. The wetpaint site appears orderly and easy to navigate. It actually looks like fun. Students would be contributing and benifiting from the experiances of others at the same time. Each student contibution would build on that of previous students.
More soon.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

RSS Agrigators

It’s been a while but I’m working through the various technologies. This post will about the RSS Aggregator. Well it took a while but I got it sorted. I chose Google Reader because I already had a Google account. I now have accounts all over the web. It’s just a simple cut and paste of someone else’s blog or home page and your monitoring their activity. You could use this in a couple of ways with students. One way would be to set up a group project with students contributing individually to construct a communal website. As the students contributed to the site you would automatically be updated on the progress and who was contributing.
George Siemens quotes Karen Stevenson in Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age when she says ‘I store my knowledge in my friends.’ RSS Aggregators fit neatly into Connectivism Theory. Siemens asserts that, according to Connectivism, learning rests in diversity of opinions and continual learning is facilitated by nurturing and maintaining connections.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

e-learing 1st Blog

It's not even start of term yet and already I feel like I'm behind. My teaching experience is limited and the first challenge I see is finding the happy medium between what are often fractious dichotomies. I believe them, in many, cases to be false dichotomies, like that between nurture/nature and that a balance must be struck nut without rigid, unchangeable parameters.My problem is that I have little experience of either the academic (theory) or the delivery (practical). This of course will come with time. I have in my limited time as an instructor with Learning Network QLD encountered the three components of Engagement Theory as describe in the article Engagement Theory: A framework for technology-based teaching and learning, by Greg Kearsley & Ben Shneiderman, e.g. group and project based and outside or practical use, and found them to be very useful and practical.
As I progress in the subject my blogs will become more informed and, with luck and a solid work ethic, more enlightening.