Comments between myself and my peers on blogs and in forums were certainly helpful. As a student with no teaching experience, it was certainly an added bonus to be able to read another persons opinions and ask questions for clarification. Including this as part of our assessment has ensured that our own learning journey has been a collaborative one, in which we can draw experiences from for our future careers.
Out of all the technologies I have analysed, I found most were very entertaining and engaging to use, and are tools that I would love to include in a curriculum. Each of the tools provided us with a way that we can speak our students' language. "Teachers today have to learn to communicate in the language style of their students" (Prensky, 2001)
iTunes and Podcasts, Picnik, Flickr, Wiki's and Blogs are all tools that I am sure many of today's students are already using at home. They are a surefire way to engage our students, as we are finally speaking their language. "Today's average college grads have spent less than 5,000 hours of their lives reading, but over 10,000 hours playing video game" (Prensky, 2001) If we want to get our students attention, then we have to change the way we are presenting our information to them. WebQuests would be a great tool for doing this as they can engage our students by being presented as a quest or 'mission' that they must undertake to seek out answers, much like the video games that are so popular among today's youth. An opinion shared with a few of my peers was that WebQuests may be quite time consuming. View comments on Tony and Jess's Blogs.
Using Blogs and RSS aggregators would also work well in today's classroom. Using RSS aggregators, teachers can monitor their students work, and ensure that their students blogs are being used lawfully and following Netiquette guidelines. Clicking on the following link will take you to an interesting discussion I had with Jess regarding this topic. Using blogs has also allowed me to discuss certain challenges I have faced with my peers and in turn, we have supported each other throughout our learning journeys. Examples of these can be found at the following links:-
Tony's Slideshare Story
Tony on YouTube
Touching a little more on RSS aggregators, this tool would not only serve teachers, but could also be used by students. It would be a way that students could subscribe to further academic information. Handing a student a text book and asking them to do further readings in today's classroom would result in an enraged student; however, asking a student to subscribe to a particular Blog may encourage them to participate. RSS aggregators help us engage our students by providing "...access to databases, websites and discussions that were previously unavailable" (Blackmore et al, 2003)
Wiki's are also a great way for students to collaborate together. Although they can not be monitored with RSS aggregators like Blogs, they are still easy for teachers to monitor. "The fundamental idea underlying the engagement theory is that students must be meaningfully engaged in learning activities through interaction with others and worthwhile tasks." ( Kearsley & Shneiderman, 1999) I believe that all of the ICT's I have mentioned agree with this statement.
One of the aspects of using ICT's in the classroom that I thought may require more research was being able to find relevant and reliable information within them. As written in my posting titled Flickr & Wikipedia, Friend or Foe? I have brought up this issue with reference to these particular sites. Although these sites do seem to provide an abundance of information, and having the added feature of being very up-to-date, my experience was that there were two key issues when using these sites, relevance & reliability. Wikipedia has a statement on their site in relation to referencing and citations, "For many purposes, but particularly in academia, Wikipedia may not be an acceptable source" ( Wikipedia, 2009) Although it is of great use as a dictionary, academically, I would be cautioning my students to check the reliability of information sourced from this site.
As with all of the ICT's I have explored, there seem to be two key factors that make these tools important for today's students. The first is that they provide the opportunity for students to learn anywhere and anytime. Students are able to have access to learning regardless of their location, and optimistically, regardless of their socio-economic situation. It has been expressed by some that the use of ICT's "can compound disadvantage as many students in low-income families and communities do not have access to computers either in school or at home" (Blackmore et al, 2003). It is not audacious to say that there are serious holes in the way in which government funding is divided between schools. Perhaps the use of ICT's in the classroom will eventuate in significantly highlighting these funding errors, resulting in a fairer funding plan.
In my opinion, when using these ICT's, our students are learning relevant information in real life situations, ensuring that they are set on a path to become life-long learners, and I certainly intend to make full use of them in my future career.
Blackmore, J., Hardcastle, L., Esme, B., & Janet, O. (2003). Effective use of information and communication technology to enchance learning for disadvantages students. Commonwealth of Australia. Retreived August 14th, 2009, from http://www.dest.gov.au/sectors/school_education/publications_resources/profiles/effective_use_technology_enhance_learning.htm
Flickr - http://www.flickr.com
Kearsley, G., & Shneiderman, B. (1999, May 4). Engagement Theory: A framework for technology based teaching and learning. Retrieved July 4, 2009, from http://home.sprynet.com/~gkearsley/engage.htm
Prensky, M. (2001) Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. Retrieved July 04, 2009, from http://marcprensly.com/writing/Prensky/Digital Natives/DigitalImmigrants/Part1.pdf
Prensky, M. (2005) Engage Me or Enrage Me - What today's learners demand. Retrieved July 3, 2009, from http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/erm0553.pdf
Picnik - http://www.picnik.com
Wikipedia. (2009, April 16). Citing Wikpedia . Retrieved July 29, 2009, from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Citing_Wikipedia#A_caution_before_citing_Wikipedia