Saturday, October 3, 2009

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Reflective Synopsis

With the integration of varied technologies into our public, work and social lives, the need to understand the different facets of these technologies has never been more apparent. Over the past few weeks, Managing E-learning has provided us with the opportunity to experiment with many of these technologies and in doing so, has encouraged us to consider how these may be incorporated into an educational context. Experimenting with the technologies investigated in this course has definitely opened my eyes to their suitability for educational use. Although there are some that I do not believe would suit the classroom entirely, every technology explored could be used in some way to facilitate students learning. In the process of all this investigating, I have been able to develop online partnerships, many of which I hope to continue long after the completion of this subject.

Throughout this course I have had the luxury of being a part of a collaborative network of online users that I could use for both support and for general discussions about each of the technologies studied. Siemens (2004) is an advocate for the development of online networks and states that connections between individuals leads to the creation of an integrated whole, whereby the individual has access to the knowledge and capabilities held by the entire group. Albert-László Barabási (2002) agrees with this statement, declaring that links between people represent survival in an interconnected world. This was definitely the case in this subject, where more than once I encountered challenges. In most circumstances I tried to solve the problem independently, in the effort to find a way past the dilemma. However, with some of the technologies, – for example embedding an avatar onto my blog –I struggled to find a solution. If it had not been for the collaborative group and employing the Habit of Mind ‘persistence’ (Marzano, 1997), it is likely that my frustration with that particular technology would have led to me failing to take advantage of it in both a personal and educational setting.

The most influential factors that I believe these technologies would have in an educational context would be in the way that they promote student collaboration and engagement. Kearsley and Scneiderman (1999) recognise the role ICT’s play in these two factors, basing their ‘engagement theory’ on the idea of creating collaborative learning partnerships and the development of authentic meaningful tasks that seek to engage the students. When exploring each of the proposed technologies for their educational uses, these two factors were of utmost importance, along with ensuring that the students’ safety would not be compromised. The following technologies meet these needs and are some of the tools that I will endeavour to incorporate into my teaching:

Blogs: Discussions with one of my peers on my ‘e-learning blog’ led to the general agreement that blogs were a great resource for use in the classroom. Some of the ideas discussed included using them as a means for students to work collaboratively both in school and at home, as well as providing an effective tool for parents to follow their students learning. The posting of homework on to the blogs would also be a way to make teaching more efficient. Using this process, parents could monitor what is required of their child, and it would also provide other means for those students who happen to lose their homework, or claim they did not know there was any. Students learning would be increased through collaboration with their peers, improving on their general ICT skills, and ‘blogging’ has also been found to be a great way for students to share their ideas (DET,2009).

Wikis: The Wiki technology was one program that – at first – I was hesitant about. However after finding out about its ‘user authentication’ application (which prevents outside users from accessing and editing it), I now feel at ease with using them in the classroom. One idea I mentioned in my ‘blog’ was that students could work collaboratively using Wiki to develop a class story. Student learning could be enhanced through this peer collaboration, as well as the sharing of ideas and development of self-editing techniques (Augar, N., Raitman, R., & Zhou, W., 2004). This tool also makes teaching more efficient, as the teacher can monitor what each student is contributing and will be provided with an insight into areas of difficulty demonstrated by some students.

Avatars: An avatar is another technology that led to a discussion with someone from my support network. We both thought that its ability to engage students would be highly successful in the classroom, and I was introduced to the idea of enhancing students’ learning by using it as a means for students to communicate with their peers. The efficiency of teaching could also be improved with this technology; it could be used as an individually controlled literacy activity. This can be implemented during reading groups, allowing the teacher to concentrate on the group they are working with.

WebQuests: WebQuests, in my opinion, are the perfect educational technology, and meet all the requirements I look for in an educational tool. As March (2003) states, a good WebQuest is built around an engaging and doable task that elicits higher order thinking in students, as the task puts more responsibility on the learners themselves. Students’ learning is enhanced through taking on this additional responsibility, as well as through collaboration with their peers. WebQuests also makes teaching more efficient, as they are often designed to include a broad range of learning experiences, and therefore cover a large amount of the curriculum requirements that students are required to meet. The best feature of this technology is that there are numerous sites available that can provide WebQuests on a whole range of topics. Student learning and teacher efficiency is definitely optimised with the incorporation of this tool in the classroom.

Although there are many other technologies that I would consider using in the classroom, the programs I have listed are the ones that best ensure collaboration, engagement and student safety. These programs are also the ones that could be used across the entire spectrum of year levels, whereas some of them – such as e-portfolios – would be better suited to the upper schooling year levels. Through this course I have learnt to use and have improved my knowledge on many different technologies (such as creating my first Wiki), and in the process I have developed many new technical skills (such as resizing, file conversion and embedding programs). I look forward to continuing in my exploration of these technologies and others; with the continual growth of ICT in the classroom, I feel confident that I will be able to meet the needs of the digital immigrants as they progress in their educational development.


Augar, N., Raitman, R. & Zhou, W. (2004). Teaching and learning online with wikis. In R. Atkinson, C. McBeath, D. Jonas-Dwyer & R. Phillips (Eds), Beyond the comfort zone: Proceedings of the 21st ASCILITE Conference (pp. 95-104). Perth, 5-8 December. Citing computer references. Retrieved August 18, 2009, from

Barabási, A. L., (2002) Linked: The New Science of Networks, Cambridge, MA, Perseus Publishing.
Department of Education and Training (2009). Resourcing the curriculum. Citing computer references. Retrieved August 13, 2009, from

March, T (2003). The learning power of webquests. Citing computer references. Retrieved August 18, 2009, from

Kearsley, G., & Shneiderman, B. (1999). Engagement Theory. Citing computer references. Retrieved August 18, 2009, from

Marzano, R., Pickering, D., Arredondo, D., Blackburn, G., Brandt, R., Moffett, C., Paynter, D., Pollock, J., Whisler, J. et al. (1997). Dimensions of Learning. Teacher’s Manual, Aurora, Colorado,
United States of America: McREL

Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A learning theory for the Digital Age. Citing computer references. Retrieved August 18, 2009, from

VoiceThread is great!!

The technology VoiceThread is a free, online multi-media slideshow that can be used to hold documents, images and videos (VoiceThread, 2009). Using this program is simple. Once a user has uploaded the files that they want to present, he or she can then add comments in a variety of ways including via the use of voice, text, audio and video. When your VoiceThread is complete, you are given the option to share what you have created with friends, family, colleagues and students. They are then given the opportunity to record their own comments, which I believe is one of the best features. In effect, this allows the user to have a group conversation with people from all over the world. This relates directly to Siemens’ theory, as the VoiceThread begins with the individual before developing into a connected support network (Siemens, 2004). VoiceThread allows the creator to have control over whether other users can edit, view or comment on the uploaded slideshow and for this reason it is safe for use in an educational context (Learning Place, 2009)

VoiceThread’s ability to engage students is achieved by encouraging personal expression as well as the opportunity to collaborate with both their peers and teacher – as an educator you can view class collaboration, the feedback that has been given and ensure that appropriate ‘netiquette’ is being adhered to at all times – one of the joys of an interconnected computer program. When experimenting with this technology I decided to create a short digital story that followed my experience of skydiving. In this presentation I included all the pictures, starting with those of me putting my parachute on, right through to those depicting my landing on the beach. Comments were provided throughout about what was happening and my thoughts and feelings at the time. I thought that using VoiceThread for students to create their own digital story would be a very engaging activity and would be very effective in gathering an idea of their thoughts and understandings about a particular theme.

Overall, I found Voicethread to be an exceptional social and educational tool, and I would highly recommend it to anyone. This technology is so simple and offers an engaging, authentic and worthwhile task for students to complete. It is definitely a technology I will endeavour to use in the classroom.

An excellent example of how this technology could be used in education can be found by clicking on the following link:

I have also attached some useful links I have come across and would recommend them to anyone who has further queries with this particular technology.

Tutorial -

Resource for use of VoiceThread in education -

Bacer, K. (2009). UTILIZING AUDITORY AND VISUAL TOOLS TO ENGAGE THE 21stCENTURY eLEARNER. Citing computer references. Retrieved August 19, 2009, from ).

Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A learning theory for the Digital Age. Citing computer references. Retrieved August 19, 2009, from

The State of Queensland (Department of Education and Training) 2009. The Learning Place: VoiceThread Pilot. Citing computer references. Retrieved August 19, 2009, from
VoiceThread. (2009). VoiceThread. Citing computer references. Retrieved August 19, 2009, from

Incompetech – Music for learning.

Incompetech is a royalties-free music website which allows you to legally use music without paying the musicians. In the past I have used music in a dance/drama lesson where students were required to mimic the animal movements used by Aboriginals in their cultural dance. I have also incorporated music into the classroom by using it to assist students in the transition of activities. I found the Incompetech website relatively simple to use, however thought that the layout of the site and the variety of music available left plenty of room for improvement.

The piece of music I selected was a track titled AngloZulu, which was written by the musician Kevin Macleod. The music is described as “a collision of musical traditions put together in an epic theme (Macleod, 2008). The track has quite an ancient sound to it and could possibly be used in a drama piece depicting ancient times.

Overall, Incompetech is not really a site I would recommend or use in the future. The incorporation of music into the classroom however, is something I value highly and will continue to use with students.


Carlton, M. (1997). Music in education:a guide for parents and teachers. Citing computer references. Retrieved August 19, 2009, from

Macleod, K. (2008). Royalty Free Music. Computer citing August 17, 2009 from

File Storage with MediaFire!!

I think this is by far the simplest and best presented technology that I have investigated. MediaFire allows its users to store files and images online in a secure and safe location (MediaFire, 2009). What I really like about this technology is that you can free up space on your computer (something I desperately need to do at the completion of this course), and have the option to keep your files private or make them accessible to others. This free service has quite a substantial amount of space for all of your educational files, but if you find you need more, there is always the option to upgrade.

In an educational context, MediaFire could be used to post homework, assignments and activities. By posting it publicly on to the site, students have the opportunity to work with it both at school and at home. For me personally however, this technology would best be used in the sharing of resources between teachers. The file I have uploaded is a retrieval chart that could be used for students researching Australian animals on the internet. Overall I think that MediaFire has the potential to be a great technology for both students and teachers and, at the very least, it is something that I will use personally.

Until next time,


Please click on the link to access the retrieval chart resource.


MediaFire. (2009). What is MediaFire? Citing computer references. Retrieved August 19, 2009, from

SlideShare - Suitable for Students??

SlideShare claims to be the world’s largest online community for sharing presentations (SlideShare Inc, 2009). It enables its users to upload their presentations and view other presentations posted on their site. SlideShare is a free service and is relatively simple to setup. To sign up for an account all you need to do is select an account name, enter some personal details and then you’re free to upload and view presentations. This site is ideal for social purposes as well as for educators wishing to share their lessons and view others’.

Siemens Connectivism Theory (2004) is an advocate for sites connecting people. It highlights the point that networks function on the simple idea that individuals can be connected in the effort to create an integrated whole. Albert-László Barabási (2002) agrees with this statement, declaring that links between people represent survival in an interconnected world. SlideShare definitely has the potential to be a great teaching resource; and as I found out when uploading my first PowerPoint, it is easy to use. The potential for student usage once again comes back to the issue of safety and whether or not all of the content on the site is appropriate for students to view. SlideShare is a site I will definitely be adding to my Favourites list, and is an application I urge all educators to trial.


Barabási, A. L., (2002) Linked: The New Science of Networks, Cambridge, MA, Perseus Publishing.

Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A learning theory for the Digital Age. Citing computer references. Retrieved August 18, 2009, from

SlideShare Inc, (2009). What is Slideshare. Citing computer references. Retrieved August 18, 2009, from

Wikipedia - Appropriate in Education??

Wikipedia is one technology application I have never really investigated. This is probably due to the fact that from the very first day of university, the lecturers seemed intent on reminding the group that Wikipedia is not a scholarly source of information and therefore should not be used in our assignments. Today I explored Wikipedia properly for the first time, and I have got to say, I am amazed at the amount of content that is available on the site. Wikipedia is the largest online collaborative encyclopaedia in the world, and its database is increasing all the time (Wikipedia, 2009). Siemens’ Connectivism Theory (2004) explains that the cycle of knowledge development allows learners to remain current in their field through connections being made. Wikipedia directly relates to this theory as it allows anyone to edit and add appropriate information to a particular topic and therefore builds on the connections being made. Although this technology is constantly monitored by administrators, the open nature of this technology makes it vulnerable to vandals, who are able to place incorrect or unsubstantiated information on a particular topics page. Because of this, Wikipedia can not guarantee the accuracy of the information provided and therefore the information within it cannot be used or relied upon.

Whilst conducting my search on Wikipedia about food chains, my mind was working overtime about how this technology could be used safely and advantageously in the classroom. Because of the extensive array of knowledge that could be located on this site, and the inappropriateness of some of this content, I can really see no other way of using this technology other than conducting a full class session. Ideally I would like to be able to give groups of students a section of the food chain to research (producer) and let them experiment with this website, however unless there is some safety feature that I am unaware of I do not see how Wikipedia can be used without absolute supervision.


Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A learning theory for the Digital Age. Citing computer references. Retrieved August 18, 2009, from

Wikipedia. (2009). About Wikipedia.Citing computer references. Retrieved August 18, 2009, from