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 http://home.sprynet.com/~gkearsley/engage.htm
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 http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivesm.htm