Thursday, August 20, 2009

Reflective Synopsis

The learning journey I have been completing over the past 6 weeks has been faced-paced and full of discovery. I now have a much bigger understanding of the potential uses of ICT's in today's classroom, and the 'cherry on top' is that most of these ICT's are really fun and engaging to use for both teachers and students.

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
Courtney's Journey

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

Flickr -

Kearsley, G., & Shneiderman, B. (1999, May 4). Engagement Theory: A framework for technology based teaching and learning. Retrieved July 4, 2009, from

Prensky, M. (2001) Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. Retrieved July 04, 2009, from Natives/DigitalImmigrants/Part1.pdf

Prensky, M. (2005) Engage Me or Enrage Me - What today's learners demand. Retrieved July 3, 2009, from

Picnik -

Wikipedia. (2009, April 16). Citing Wikpedia . Retrieved July 29, 2009, from Wikipedia:

Monday, August 17, 2009

Students & Flickr

As I do not have access to students or a classroom, I can not undertake a task for this part of the module, however I can see the benefits of asking our students to use Flickr.
As the old saying goes, 'A picture is worth a thousand words'.
At the start of the year with new students, I would ask them to go to Flickr and chose a picture that describes what they feel this course is all about, and accompany it with an explanation. This would possibly outline my students strengths and weaknesses in understanding the course and its desired outcomes. It would also give me an opportunity to look through these pictures and possibly find out what makes my students tick. It would, optimistically, give me a rough idea of who I am dealing with throughout the course, and how I will best cater to their learning styles. Some may ask if I could really achieve all of this from one picture? If I was teaching a younger class, and they topic was Flora and a student gave me a picture of a Koala, I would know that they are a little confused between the two words, Flora and Fauna, and could ensure that the definitions and differences were made clear at the start of the class. If I hadn't undertaken this task, this student may never have spoken up, and struggled along until the penny dropped, if at all.
The second part of the task is asking students to upload their own photos and share with their peers. This is a great task for introducing themselves to each other. Not only do they get to show their favourite photos, but it may allow some common ground to be found with students who may never have known they had any.

'A picture is worth a thousand words' and I plan to take advantage of that.


Flickr - Retrieved August 4, 2009, from

Students working with WIKI's

My task for students to populate a public WIKI would start with students working in pairs of 4 or 5 and deciding on a few different topics to search for in WIKIPEDIA. They would be required to report back to the class on the topic that has the least amount of relevant and up-to-date information. Each group would then present their findings to the class. Once each group has presented their topic, the class would vote on which topic they would chose. Once this is decided, the original groups of 4 or 5 would each have a particular part of the topic to research.
By letting my students decide on what topic they will research, I believe I would have them engaged from the get go. For this kind of task, I think the actual subject they are researching is irrelevant, its the process in which they would be learning the most valuable lessons. This means they could chose a popular movie star or sport as their topic. Researching would in this case, involve looking at statistics, popular culture and geography. The students would also have to qualify their findings to ensure validity. Students would also have to ensure that the information they are preparing for publication is written academically and adheres to Netiquette guidelines.
It is a task that has all the components of the Engagement Theory, "Engagement Theory is based upon the idea of creating successful collaborative teams that work on ambitious projects that are meaningful to someone outside the classroom" (Kearsley & Shneiderman, 1999)
Upon completion of this task, students would a real sense of achievement, as their work is published for the world to see, and will be meaningful to people in the 'real world'.

Please post comments on my idea, good or bad, as I am yet to get into a classroom, so I am keen to know if this is an idea that would work in the 'real world'


Kearsley, G. & Shneiderman, B. (1999) Engagement Theory: A framework for technology based teaching and learning. Retrieved July 4, 2009, from


Digital Storytelling

Digital Storytelling is certainly going to be a fun task for students to undertake. Not only is it an extremely engaging tasks, but it also helps to refine the following skills:-
  1. Writing Skills.
  2. Speaking and Visual Skills.
  3. Technical Skills.
  4. Personal Development Skills. ( Dyck, 2005)
These are all skills that are imperative to our students throughout their educational journeys.

Completing this type of task is a great example of Kearsley and Shneiderman's Engagement Theory. "The fundamental idea underlying engagement theory is that students must be meaningfully engaged in learning activities through interaction with others in worthwhile tasks" (Kearsley & Shneiderman, 1999) Students can complete this task collaboratively by working together or by reviewing each others work. Digital Storytelling is a form of technology that "provides an electronic learning mileux that fosters the kind of creativity and communication needed to nourish engagement" ( Kearsley & Shneiderman, 1999)
From what I could see on the Digital Storytelling Site, there are a variety of free software downloads that students can access, so all of our students should be able to create these 'stories'. There should be no disadvantages relating to software. These stories are encouraged to be 2 -5 minutes long, so they are short and concise. This helps keeps the audience ( in this case, their peers) interested.

In my classroom, I would ask students to re-create an Aboriginal dream time story using Digital Storytelling. This is a way that students can appreciate how one of the oldest form of learning can be linked to their digital world.

Digital Storytelling is certainly a task which allows students to be as creative as they like. In his article, Engage Me or Enrage Me, Prensky ( 2005) states, "All the students we teach have something in their lives that's really engaging...something that has an engaging, creative component to it". I believe that by making this 'something' a task within the classroom, you would be very successful at engaging your students, and your class would most likely be one they look forward to coming to. More than likely, teachers would find that they had less disruption in their classroom, as their students would be immersed on the task presented to them. In my experience as a Mother, kids are always looking for ways to express themselves and their personalities. The traditional methods of teaching do not seem to cater for this. It is not surprising that our students are not listening. "the T-shirt i recently saw a kid wearing in New York City: "It's not ADD - I'm just not listening!"" (Presnky, 2005)
And why should that student be listening to us if we refuse to listen to him/her? We expect our students to listen to stale and sometimes out of date information. How frustrating it must be for our students to sit in a classroom and listen to information that they may have recently discovered on the Internet is out of date? And how embarrassing for our teachers!


Digital Storytelling. Retrieved August 17, 2009, from

Dyck, Brenda. "Digital Storytelling: Igniting New Life into Writing."Classroom Connect Newsletter (2005): 16-17. Retrieved August 17, 2009, from

Kearsley, G. & Shneiderman, B. (1999) Engagement Theory: A framework for technology based teaching and learning. Retrieved July 4, 2009, from

Prensky, M. (2005) Engage Me or Enrage Me - What today's learners demand. Retrieved July 3, 2009, from