Friday, August 21, 2009

Synopsis – My eyes have been Opened!!

Well I can definitely say I have learnt a lot by completing this course. I thought I was using a lot of ICT’s in the classroom with PowerPoint, YouTube and music. How my eyes have been opened! I could not say I am a pro at using any of these technologies but I will adopt a lifelong learning approach to continually develop and expand my skills and knowledge. I understand our students today are all “native speakers” of the digital language of computers, video games and the Internet (Prensky, 2001), and as their learning managers we need to use technology tools that will engage and enhance student learning. The theorists I have been viewing these tools with conclude that that technology can facilitate engagement in ways which are difficult to achieve otherwise (Kearsley & Shneiderman, 1999). Our students do require greater engagement as they just don’t tolerate the old ways—and they are enraged we are not doing better by them (Prensky, 2005).

While experimenting with the technology tools, I have been noting the approach I would like to take with each. I have concluded (and not limited to) that I would find the following tools valuable to enhance student learning and make my teaching more efficient.

Blogs & RSS – I am really excited to use blogging in my classroom. I would like to use it as a journal of students learning in various topics. I also would have a class blog where students can take turns writing a newsletter updating it for their parents. I think by having an RSS Aggregator would reduce the chasing up of assignment submissions and make my teaching more efficient.

Wikis – Learning managers could use this collaboratively with their students to compile information about topic. Students can contribute questions or research findings, photos and links to work together to build a great class site.

PowerPoint & SlideShare – Learning Managers can allow students to create presentations and share them via SlideShare. Students can leave thoughtful feedback and comments about each other’s work directly under the slideshow.

YouTube – This could be used to “hook” students into a topic. YouTube has such a large range of clips, that the learning manager could find one for nearly every topic. It could be to simply create excitement for a topic or a discussion starter. This is a technology tool I will use for a long time.

Voki – The learning manager could use avatars for many types of literacy or counting activities. Students could record themselves as the avatar counting, reading, explaining or journaling. I am excited about using this tool in my classroom, especially for literacy rotations.

File Storage – This would be a great way for the learning manager to have files ready for students and to access whenever they need to and from anywhere. It could eliminate the need to hand in lots of paper for assignments, students could simply upload their file for the learning manager to retrieve and grade. It would definitely make a teachers work more efficient.

I am becoming increasingly aware of the legal and ethical issues which come alongside the technology tools I am exploring. I especially want to be careful when it comes to teaching students how to manage their information and to protect against misuse. The CyberSmart site provides some practical ways to help protect your students. I believe educating them and the staff are a great start to tackling this issue. Also, it can be fun for students to create new identities to use online. Another issue is the vast amount of inappropriate material that the students could be exposed to. This could be material that is sexually explicit or offensive, violent or encourages activities that are dangerous or illegal (Australian Government, 2009). Education Queensland understands that inappropriate content may be potentially harmful or disturbing for their students and have policies and procedures in place to stop any indiscretions.

While there is so much information and technology which is readily available, it has also raised a number of issues related to copyright that must be considered in schools. This Education Queensland policy provides direction on accessing and using ICT’s by defining and promoting best practice for information systems and technology infrastructure (Department of Education and Training, 2009). Text, music, video clips, DVD’s, photos, articles and so much more are covered under the protection of copyright. By using material with a Creative Commons License it gives the public (teachers) permission to copy, distribute, and display material as long as the copyright holder is credited or the work is not altered or used for profit (Creative Commons, 2009).

I feel I have so much knowledge with so little experience. I can’t wait to trial these tools in my classroom. I am keen to explore the technologies more and enhance my knowledge so I can keep up with the digital natives. I really liked the article by Prensky (2005) and hit home that our students need to be taught in a way that will engage them, not by just reinventing the “old stuff”, but by using tools relevant to this generation. So, are you going to engage me today or enrage me? The choice is yours (Prensky, 2005).

Thanks for your time,


Australian Government. (2009). CyberSmart: Retrieved August 21st, 2009, from

Australian Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA). (2008). Smartcopying: The Official Guide to Copyright Issues for Australian Schools and TAFE. Retrieved August 21st, 2009, from,

Creative Commons. (2009). About. Retrieved August 21st, 2009, from

Department of Education and Training: (2009). Guidelines: Retrieved August 21st, 2009, from

Kearsley, G., & Shneiderman, B. (1999). Engagement Theory:. Retrieved August 18th, 2009, from

Prensky, M. (2005, September/October). Engage Me or Enrage Me. Retrieved August 21st, 2009, from

Prensky, M (2001) Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. Retrieved August 21st, 2009, from,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf

Thursday, August 20, 2009

WebQuest - Can I take you deeper?

I am very interested in this WebQuest! I have never seen one before today. However, after researching…a lot, I have discovered that it is an inquiry-oriented activity in which some or all of the information that learners interact with comes from resources on the internet (Wikipedia, 2009).

Students can discover things for themselves which can take them anywhere in the world. I liked that the students can work individually or collaboratively and at their own pace. In my searching’s I discovered that you can create your WebQuest with a “hook”, as a treasure hunt or a game. I can definitely see how WebQuests are designed from the learners point of view and create higher order thinking.

I will be going full force into it as I am to build an Inquiry-based WebQuest with a significant link to sustainability for my SOSE assignment. I understand that I will build it to scaffold the learners towards answering the key question and taking an action. I am very keen in seeing it work in full swing and especially as my inquiry is aimed at a year one class. I am interested to see how effective it will be with this age group considering I will put so much time and research into it. I did think the examples from the courseware were not as engaging as I thought they would be. After experimenting with technology tools for this course, I am keen to include some of them into my WebQuest.

I can see how the three components of the Engagement Theory (Kearsley & Shneiderman, 1999) can be used with this technology tool.

Relate – The students can work in pairs or groups to find a solution to the inquiry.

Create – Students have a problem based task to work at. My year one students will find ways to protect the Australian Wildlife.

Donate – The outside focus will include the year one students hosting a mini awareness fair in the school to present their findings to their peers, staff and parents.

Stay tuned for a link and an update of how I go…

Til next time,



Kearsley, G., & Shneiderman, B. (1999). Engagement Theory:. Retrieved August 18th, 2009, from

Wikipedia. (2009). WebQuests: Retrieved August 20th, 2009, from:

VoiceThread - There's more than the name says!

I have just been playing with my new account with VoiceThread which is a collaborative, multimedia slide show that holds images, documents, and videos and allows people to navigate pages and leave comments in 5 ways - using voice (with a mic or telephone), text, audio file, or video (via a webcam). It also enables you to share a VoiceThread with friends, students, and colleagues for them to record comments too (VoiceThread, 2009). I have been searching through the vast amount of threads and I was amazed at the work you can do with them. I can see it being used in my classroom as a story-telling tool, communication tool or even an assessment tool.

I have embedded a thread called VoiceThreads in Education (Packansky-Brock, 2007), which gives some practical ways to use this tool in the classroom. I particularly liked the example of the learning manager posting a discussion topic and having the students leave their comments. I think this is a great way to engage all students especially the ones who learn visually and allows students who may not like to participate feel more comfortable. The digital natives are used to this type of interactions. They have spent their entire lives surrounded by and using computers, videogames, digital music players, video cams, cell phones, and all the other toys and tools of the digital age (Prensky, 2001). VoiceThread is therefore, an engaging and useful tool for the classroom.

I am still new to this technology tool but am excited at the possibilities for my classroom.

Til next time,



Prensky, M (2001) Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. Retrieved August 20th, 2009, from,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf

Packansky-Brock, M. (2007). VoiceThreads for Education: Retrieved August 20th, 2009, from:

VoiceThread. (2009). VoiceThread About. Retrieved August 20th, 2009, from:

Incompetech – Let’s start the next School of ROCK!

Incompetech is just what I have been looking for!! With copyright lurking around every corner – for music, photos and DVD’s, it is increasingly hard to use them in the classroom. However, with Incompetech under the Creative Commons License, teachers can use royalty free music for transitions, dancing, relaxing, play, pack-up, role-plays, with presentations – there is music to suit your mood and set the atmosphere.

In the popular film School of Rock, Jack Black, as substitute teacher Dewey Finn, leaps to the front of the classroom, whips out an electric guitar, and plays an original Led-Zeppelin-esque tune for his stunned fifth graders. Most teachers´ experiences with music in the classroom are a far cry from Black´s maniacal rock-and-roll antics—they find themselves on easier terms with a paper-towel-tube maraca than with a flaming red electric guitar (Prescott, 2005).

My year one students used music at least three times a day. We found that it calmed them down after a lunch break and it helped time how long they had to pack up. Integrating music with other subjects is one way to use some of its strengths and to enrich the entire curriculum. As one of Howard Gardner's major intelligence areas, music is valuable for its own sake as well as for what it can add to a lesson (Gardener, 2006).

Til next time,



Gardener, H. (2006). Multiple Intelligences: Retrieved August 20th, 2009, from:

Prescott, J. (2005). Music in the Classroom: Retrieved August 20th, 2009, from:

File Storage – The Dog ate my Homework!

“The dog ate my homework” was the old excuse, the new one is now “my computer crashed”. I know of schools having a policy that any “computer” excuses don’t count for extensions anymore. They have taught the students about and encourage them to use online sharing and storage devices. Online storage, such as MediaFire, can forever save the day. Here is a file which I have uploaded for sharing. It is a worksheet I took to school on my USB, printed out, copied and laminated for a Soundwaves activity. (I just realized how much admin we do as teachers).

Thong Words

After signing up for an account it was so easy to upload my files and manage them in folders. I have had problems where I had to delete or clear my USB because the file I needed for uni was too big and I am now so happy to have found this site. Simple to upload, simple to manage and simple to share is MediaFire’s (2009) slogan and I totally agree. This would be a great way for the learning manager to have files ready for students and to access whenever they need to and from anywhere. It could eliminate the need to hand in lots of paper for assignments, students could simply upload their file for the learning manager to retrieve and grade. Our students today are all “native speakers” of the digital language of computers, video games and the Internet (Prensky, 2001). Learning Managers should keep this in mind when approving extensions for the “someone stole my USB” or “my computer didn’t work” excuse because truthfully our students KNOW!!!

Til next time,



MediaFire. (2009). Learn More: Retrieved August 20th, 2009, from:

Prensky, M (2001) Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. Retrieved August 19th, 2009, from,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

SlideShare – Presentation Fun!

I have just created a SlideShare account where individuals & organizations upload presentations to share their ideas and connect with others. Anyone can find presentations on topics that interest them. They can tag, download, or embed presentations into their own blogs & websites (Slideshare, 2009).

I can see how this tool would make life easier. It removes the need for everything to be on a USB. SlideShare stores your slides online; you can embed it onto your class wiki to share with families or for children who may have missed out on the class. I like the fact you can download slides of all topics to share with your students. You could use a picture slide, like the one embedded here, to engage your students into a topic. Or share an information or documentary slideshow with them, a bit like a YouTube clip.

This tool would have benefited my year 7 class, who made and presented PowerPoint displays on Global Economies. Students could have uploaded their slides and presented from the SlideShare site. Instead of students writing comments and feedback to their peers on paper, after watching the presentation, they could jump online and leave comments directly under the slideshow. I like that the Learning Manager can set up a class group on the site and the accounts can be set to private to protect the students’ identities. I also think the students would enjoy putting music or a voice recording with their slides. Prensky (2005) says that all of the students we teach have something in their lives that’s really engaging. So I think it is important to use tools such as this one which can be engaging, has a creative component to it and allows the digital natives some creative freedom.

Til next time,



Prensky, M. (2005, September/October). Engage Me or Enrage Me. Retrieved 19th, August, 2009, from:

SlideShare. (2009). SlideShare, About Us: Retrieved August 19th, 2009, from:

Wikipedia – True or false?

Wikipedia is a free, web-based and collaborative multilingual encyclopedia project. Wikipedia's 13 million articles (3 million in English) have been written collaboratively by volunteers around the world, and almost all of its articles can be edited by anyone who can access the Wikipedia website. It is currently the largest and most popular general reference work on the Internet.” (Wikipedia, 2009)

This kind of knowledge sharing isn't new to education. It's what all of us skilled educators are all about -- it's the format that has shaken up a few classrooms.

According to the Wikipedia FAQ (2009) "Articles may or may not be reliable and readers should always use their own judgment. Students should never use information in Wikipedia (or any other online encyclopedia) for formal purposes (such as school essays) until they have verified and evaluated the information based on external sources. For this reason, Wikipedia, like any encyclopedia, is a great starting place for research but not always a great ending place.”

However, it is a new method for getting information, compared to textbooks and dictionaries, the digital natives are all over this. As a learning manager we should make our students aware of the things to be careful of and let ‘em at it! An idea is to look with the class about their town, city or region and check if the information is right or if any is missing. Then they could work together to create a posting. How exciting for the students to have shared knowledge with the world about their own town.

As a thought maybe to have students create their own Wikipedia word wall via a class wiki. After introducing Wikipedia to them, have students collaboratively write their own encyclopedia according to the unit of work they are studying.

For today’s digital natives, Wikipedia is another tool we can use to present our curricula that engages them (Prensky, 2005). I definitely agree to get rid of those giant dusty encyclopedias and get the students online.

Til next time,



Prensky, M. (2005, September/October). Engage Me or Enrage Me. Retrieved 19th, August, 2009, from:

Wikipedia. (2009). Wikipedia. Retrieved August 19th, 2009, from: