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.

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