Thursday, August 20, 2009

E-learning Reflection Synopsis

This course has radically changed my behaviour and ideas as I have explored educational technology. The amount of new knowledge I have been forced to consume has been a huge challenge but with each task there has been a new skill and a change in the way I operate as a “digital immigrant”. The speed with which I am gathering and assimilating information is disconcerting but also empowering.

Ideas such as the “half-life of knowledge” Gonzalez (2004) are confronting and a new realisation that has to be experienced to produce change. The software and skills required for today’s tasks may be obsolete in a couple of years. As the understanding of using Blackboard has morphed into Moodle, so typing may disappear as voice recognition takes off.

I feel I am different as the “basic architecture of the brain is modified by learning” Lynch & Nichols et al (2007). To find myself at a computer with multiple windows open, parsing off information on several topics at one time and with three types of media seeking my attention is unsettling for someone whose first blog stated he was “sceptical about new ideas or models”. Though not quite thespontaneous formation of well organized structures, patterns, or behaviours, from random initial conditions.” as self-organisation is defined by Luis Mateus Rocha (1998). I have nonetheless evolved in my skills, thinking and study habits when compiling information from the web

It is very difficult to identify which technologies I would use to enhance student learning and how I would use them as each technology could be of service due to the diversity of learners and the breadth of curriculum.

Young (P-3) learners would benefit from simple audio applications such as Podcasts for modelled reading in groups or even tailored to individual levels from ESL to advanced. Image technologies such as Comic Life would aid in exploring literacy genres, presenting a recount of holidays using photos for example. These are standard practices but could be enhanced and more individualised with the improved technology. Being an early childhood educator I valued Antoinette’s suggestion for using Voki to let students express themselves in creative ways. Their own voice reading poetry through a horse’s head would be very engaging I am sure. Also her thoughts on using music especially the endless examples of royalty free music for its simple and repetitious beat to teach rhythm and percussion had not occurred to me.

Years 3 and 4 would benefit from, and be engaged by, the Webquest format in a Voicethread to explore rainforests and critical literacy. I liked Andrew’s idea of using Voice thread to include family members in reflections and then donating the presentation to the family.

Years 5, 6 and 7 would benefit from the wiki and blog format as the skill levels of learners increased in not only accessing but creating their own spaces. Groups setting up their own projects on a science or SOSE topic could work collaboratively and make their own choices on the technologies they employ.

I took on board Jim’s example of using Slideshare for cooking demonstrations and can see the applications in a Special Education unit of being able to have images detailing the steps on a laptop which the student could use as a self check in following the steps at the press of a button.

It is hard to get away from the typical scenario of using video (YouTube, Teachertube) only as a lesson “hook” which it does extremely well, I have never seen any cohort not focus exclusively when the lights go down and the sound comes on for at least two minutes. Amanda’s suggestion that it be shown to groups adds a scheduling and reward element sounds interesting.

The use of blogs and RSS feeds as an assessment tool was highlighted by Bethanie. Effective feedback and reporting should be timely (imagine nightly) and “involve parents and peers”. In fact all the “Principles for reporting” set out by Brady and Kennedy (2005) can be achieved more effectively using online tools.

A unit of work I have been focussing on during this course is Australian democracy in the SOSE stream for a Yr 7 cohort. The this course in conjunction with the traditional learning journey I have seen employed has awakened me to the potential of a blended unit of work that I am sure will be a richer experience for future learners. SOSE is especially aligned with e-learning as stated by Gilbert (2004)” SOSE is; action-orientated, inquiry based cooperative... It involves students constructing their own learning.. SOSE pedagogy involves students in making personal connections”.

The ability to access the Parliament Education Office interactive website, the websites of important and local politicians, observe Youtube clips of current debates and have a wiki where students can cooperate and share their own understandings and research would be a much richer experience than the posters and photocopied sheets of the traditional unit. Students whose public speaking skills are uncomfortable could find a new voice in creating an avatar of a fictional politician to make a speech on an issue. Designing a Powerpoint including graphic organisers for assessment purposes could be posted to a site for all stakeholders to appreciate. Blended with in class activities and experiences, the outcomes would be rewarding for all involved.

Brady, L. & Kennedy, K. (2005) Celebrating Student Achievement: Assessment and Reporting Australia: Pearson Education

Gilbert, R.,(2004)Studying Society and Environment, A Guide for Teachers South Melbourne:Thomson

Gonzalez, C. (2004) The Role of Blended learning in the World of Technology. Retrieved August 18 2009 from

Lynch D., Knight B.A.& Smith, R. (2007). Learning Management: Transitioning teachers for national and international change: Pearson Education Australia. p 28.

Rocha, L. M. (1998). Selected Self-Organization and the Semiotics of Evolutionary Systems. Retrieved December 10, 2004 from

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