Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Reflecting Back...

As this week I was unable to attend the lecture and as we approach the due date of our Wikis I have decided to reflect back on my journey so far through ED3441. It is interesting to see if I have met any of my goals for the subject, or if it has been what I expected it to be like.

My main initial goal was to become more confident in experimenting with different ICTs that are unfamiliar to me. I feel that through each week of being exposed to different ICTs in our tutes my confidence has slowly started to increase. One program I particularly enjoyed playing with was Audacity. I had heard of this program before but didn’t actually know what it was or how to use. Max showed us how to download a simple music file from the Internet onto the software. From there we were able to cut bits of sound from the music piece, we explored mixing two pieces of sound together and generally just had a play around to discover the different features of Audacity. Previously I would have never had the confidence to do this and brushed it off as being too hard, but through this exploration, Max helped me see just how easy it is to play around with new programs.

Has anyone else achieved the goals that we set for ourselves way back in week one? I would love to hear if you have!

Throughout the subject I have also learnt new ways of incorporating ICTs into my classroom. I didn’t realise there were so many suitable tools accessible to us at just a click of our computer mouse! Great programs web tools I hope to use in my class lessons one day include Bubbl.us, Wordles, Scratch, Flickr, the list just goes on and on!! I have only had limited chances to play around with the tools so far but every time I do I see just valuable they can be to teachers! 280slide is another awesome web tool that students can use. Instead of just creating a powerpoint presentation using Microsoft Office, students can create a powerpoint which they can then share with everyone via their own personal wiki, a class wiki etc. This way tasks can seem more authentic to students as they are just not doing work just for the teacher. They are doing work that everyone can see.

Good luck to everyone in the coming weeks as we all frantically try to finish creating our Wikis!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Standards, Models and Integration Frameworks

Integration of technology into classroom lessons is a key theme evolving from the current curriculum. As a teaching in the making, it is important that I have met a number of Graduate Attributes that allow me to have the knowledge on how to do this successfully. Week eight of ED3441 provided us with a number of different theoretical frameworks and practical planning models to ensure we have the right tools to succeed.

Fluck (2001), discusses the three phases of integration of ICTs in schools.

- Phase One: students in school first use computers to allow ICT to become a curriculum choice in schools
- Phase Two: ICTs are used in classrooms to enhance learning opportunities
- Phase Three: the curriculum includes topics of study that require the use of ICTs and would not exist without them.

These three phases seem to be the path of future education. Every subject we study at uni requires us to think in depth how we can incorporate ICTs into our lessons to enhance learning, especially in this technological world we currently live in. I am lucky in the fact that on my last professional experience, I had a SBTE who wasn’t afraid to explore different technologies in her classrooms and wasn’t scared of failure. Even though she wasn’t always 100% sure of what she was doing, she still took risks, and I saw how well students responded to it. Some of the things she did were as little as using her iphone to film short scenes the students had to perform. She was then able to email the clips to her laptop and project them up onto the screen for all to easily see. Will you be the kind of teacher that takes risks with technology or are you happy to cruise along with just what you know now? Remember all of our actions and attitudes towards technology are going to affect any students that we teach in the future.

Once again, I was really challenged by Max in our weekly tute. Every week he throws at us a different concept that we need to take into account when creating our own Wikis. This week it was about what kind of learning tools are we going to have our students use as part of the main learning activity. How much scaffolding are we going to provide? What efficiency do students already have in using these learning tools? I had not previously realised just how much thought had to go into something as simple as picking a learning tool for our students to use. Max provided a model from NETS – National Educational Technology Standards for teachers. This model made me realise that every learning activity I have my students do falls under one of the following four categories: begin, develop, proficient, transform. Each of these four stages requires different levels of teacher scaffolding, and it is important to recognise what stage my learners are at when developing the activities for them to complete. As we are nearing the due for this assignment I just want to wish all my fellow ED3441 classmates the best as they are completing their Wiki because I know how much of a struggle it has been for me!

Indigenous Issues in ICTs

Our lecture for week seven focused around issues Indigenous students have involving ICTs. Indigenous students are significantly behind other students with their progress in ICTs. It is important for us as future teachers to recognise this and come up with efficient strategies to bring all students up onto a similar level. This may be hard due to students having limited access to technology due to location and poverty. Students may have no access to technology due to living in remote locations or be unable to afford equipment like computers and Internet. It is time to start thinking now though, what we can do to help Indigenous students gain the skills and proficiency in ICTs they require in order to succeed in their schooling. Our current generation of students are living in a world that revolves heavily around technology so it is important that we all talk the same language.

As suggested in the lecture notes, a way to close this technological divide is to provide Indigenous content when as a way to encourage ICT usage in the classroom. By providing students with learning opportunities that are of relevance to them, it is more likely students are willing to give technology a go. Teachers have found, when they work closely with students, providing scaffolding to their learners, students are less likely to feel threatened by the thought of ICT usage. A challenge to all us educators/future educators is to ensure we are aware of issues in our classroom that affect Indigenous students using ICTs and then we need to continually come up with ways to support and encourage their use and development of them. What can you do?

The tutorial for this week made me aware of all the ‘little’ things I can do to my Wiki to create one that is most effective. Max suggested we do five main things. These include: using descriptors to describe any resource links to websites, using images on our pages, using bold to highlight key words, using hyperlinks and creating a glossary page. At this stage in my Wiki development, I am still learning how to do these things, but hopefully over time and with Max’s and my fellow ED3441ers help, I will be able to achieve these on my own Wiki.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Ethics, Issues and Sustainability in ICT's

Before week six’s lecture I didn’t realise how big of a role ethics and sustainability played in ICT. I am now starting to think of the issues that surround ICT’s such as energy consumption of ICT’s, plagiarism, validity and online safety of students. Max spoke about various frameworks for thinking ethically in the lecture. The stand out source of ethical standards to me is the Utilitarian Approach. This approach is about ensuring there is a greater balance of good over harm. This approach deals with consequences. Therefore it tries to increase the good and reduce the harm done to others.

As a future teacher, I understand that my students will be at vulnerable ages and therefore do not need to be exposed to material that is above their age. This means it is important to ensure online safety for all students. There is so much inappropriate content on the internet that students have access to so it will be my job to limit this as much as possible. By creating Wikis such as the one I am doing for my ED3441 assessment, we can provide safe environments for our students. These sites give students access to a large range of content and resources that are appropriate to the their learning age and current learning needs.

On the note of Wikis, I feel like I am slowly starting to understand more as to what is expected for our Assignment 2. For me it is largely based on trial and error as to how to create my site. For example, my friends and I had trouble creating our pages in the order we required and were unsure how to reorder them. In the end, my friend came up with the solution of numbering the pages so that they were in the correct order in the sidebar. This subject is definitely about drawing on our fellow classmates knowledge as much as we can to assist us. This is new to most of us and we are still learning what to do. I cannot wait though til I have finished my Wiki because I know it will be a great sense of achievement for me as technology is not a strong point of mine.

What are Web 2.0 applications?!?

Previously up to week five, Max had spoken numerous times about Web 2.0 tools however he had never really gone into detail other than to give us a few examples such as Facebook and online blogs. During week five we further explored what Web 2.0 tools are during the lecture as well as discussing how it will affect our classrooms. In the tutorial on Tuesday we were given the opportunity to investigate various ones for ourselves.

I had heard and seen of some of these various teaching and learning strategies before this tute but I did not realise they that they were specifically Web 2.0 tools. Web 2.0 tools are different from other computer applications such as PowerPoint because it gives students the opportunity to not only produce quality work but to share it as well on their blogs, wikis, websites etc. The following website has a comprehensive list of Web 2.0 applications if anybody would like to further explore and investigate for themselves.


A number of these applications stood out to me in particular as being ones that I can see myself using to help students develop and consolidate their learning. My favourite application from this site is ‘Wordles’. Wordles are a fun way of expressing ideas that have been gathered from students in a way such as a survey. Wordles are word clouds that show popularity of the specific ideas by creating words varying in size. Large words equal most popular done to the smallest words being the least popular. Another application I would like to use in my classroom in the future is ‘Bubble.us’. This is an application that allows students to easily produce concept maps in a clear way. Concept maps are an excellent tool to express ideas and content in an easy to read and understand way.

At the end of week five, I feel I am more confident to try and incorporate Web 2.0 applications into my lessons. By doing this, students will be more engaged in lessons as they are not just using pen and paper to express ideas.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

It's all starting to become clearer now!

Week Three and Four of ED3441 have been really helpful in helping make sense of how to create Blogs and Wikis that we are to do for our assessment. Before this I had no idea how to create either of those. Now I have successfully created a blog and have discovered how to invite followers. I was very excited the first time I discovered I had followers. While this may seem like an easy task for some, it is my first experience with blogs so I am still yet to learn the finer details of them.

Discovering how to create a Wiki was the next major milestone I have achieved so far in the first four weeks of this subject. One Max first mentioned that we had to create our own Wiki for our Assessment 2, my first thought was there is no way I can create a Wiki! I don’t even know what a Wiki is! After this weeks tute I have now made the first step in creating my Wiki by signing up for a Wiki and inviting fellow ED3441 students to be my followers. I didn’t even know before the tute that you could have followers. Hopefully, in the weeks to come, I can further develop my knowledge about Wikis and learn how to add content to the pages.

Monday, August 16, 2010

My experiences so far!

My name is Rachel Mills.  I am a 3rd year Primary Education students and have just completed my prac at St Anthony’s Catholic College in a grade 5 class.  During this time I was exposed to a small amount of various ICT’s.  The school does not have any permanent smartboards, but during my final week there, my classroom was given a movable interactive whiteboard.  Even though the software wasn’t installed yet, I was still able to use it as a data projector and type the answer of the worksheet up on the computer as we were working through the activity as a whole class.  Once a week, the class had one and a half hours in the computer lab to work on assignments.  During my time there the students were using Microsoft Publisher to create a web page and feature article.

My personal experience with ICT’s is very limited.  I have never been technology savvy.  The main reason why I shy away from using ICT’s would be because I am scared of them.  I don’t like not having a firm grasp of how to use them so instead of learning through experimentation I stick to what I know.  Although once I am shown how to use a program, I am confident to continue to use.  I am just not good at experimenting with new programs on my own.

I am really excited about the opportunity to complete ED3441 as part of my education degree.  I have a number of goals that I hope to achieve during this subject.  I would like to know what a Wiki is, I want to become a little less afraid of experimenting with different programs and I would like to be able to learn new ways of incorporating ICT’s effectively in the classroom.  I am looking forward to achieving all these goals so I can be a more proactive ICT teacher.