Two of the most valuable resources during this course were the step by step instructions on moodle and the forums. The instructions on moodle were very clear however at times I got a little confused and could not do what I was being asked. But this is where the forums really helped. For example when I was unable to embed my Quiz into my blog page I asked on the forum for help and within a short period of time someone had explained how to do it. This feedback not only helped me solve my problem but gave me a chance to communicate with others that were experiencing the same sorts of difficulties. The communication with your peers gave you a sense that you were not alone and that help was available.
Throughout our learning management course we have learnt that today's world is changing rapidly. It should then be no surprise that the way in which we learn is also changing. Teachers in classroom's today are being challenged by students who know more about technology than they do. So it is vital that teachers make an effort to stay up to date with the latest technologies available so they are able to design learning experiences that relate to students real life interests and skills. 'Lifelong learning is a key element of a new view of education' (Latham et al., 2005) and technology will certainly play a large part in students lives. For these reasons it is vital that teachers design curricula that is useful, engaging and relevant to all students needs.
Kearsley and Shneiderman's Engagement Theory (1999) suggests that students will only be meaningfully engaged in learning activities through the interaction with others and worthwhile tasks. Further to this they think that although learning can occur without technology it can facilitate engagement in ways which may be otherwise difficult to achieve. The technologies that were explored during this course, when used meaningfully and in the correct context, allow teachers to engage students in meaningful learning that connects with students real life experiences and skills.
Technologies such as Wiki's, Blogs and WebQuests, to name a few, all provide opportunities for teachers to scaffold learning experiences that encourage students to take more responsibility for their own learning and to collaborate with peers. These technologies are very consistent with the Active Learning (2000) approach where the objective is to stimulate lifetime habits of thinking. Activities are designed to encourage students to think about how as well as what they are learning and to increasingly take responsibility for their own education (2000). Wiki's, Blogs and WezQuests can offer opportunities for students to work independently within collaborative teams that provide a comfortable environment for growth and exploration of ideas and knowledge. These three technologies can also be associated very closely with Kearsley and Shneiderman (1999) engagement theory as teachers can use them to create projects 'that are meaningful to someone outside the classroom' and that are connected to the real world . For example a WebQuest may be developed where the solution to the problem involves the student's sending their idea's to their local council. These three technologies are defiantly things I would use in my classroom as I think they would allow me to create learning experience that encourage student independence, peer collaboration, engagement in activities and links to their world.Technologies such as Voki's, Interactive Whiteboards, YouTube, Podcasts and Google Earth are tools I would defiantly use in the classroom. I think they are an excellent way to engage student's and allow the teachers to introduce knowledge and ideas in a different exciting way. YouTube, Podcasts and Google Earth allow teachers to bring things and places into the classroom that they usually could not. For example, YouTube could be used to actually show students a Tsunami and Google Earth could be used to explore a local waterway. These learning experiences would reflect Kearsley and Shneiderman's Engagemnet Theory (1999) as they facilitate a level of engagement that would otherwise have be impossible to achieve.
Another important factor I have learnt while exploring these technologies is how they can be used within collaborative teams. This was something that I especially liked as I think students are able to gain a wide range of life skills when working with peers. Most of the technologies can be used so that learning activities are completed in pairs or groups. Kearsley and Shneiderman (1999) suggest students learning is enhanced as the emphasis on communication, planning and social skills is higher within team collaborations. These technologies also allow communication between team members as well as other peers within their learning cohort and people within the community. I think this is a great way to engage learners as they are given opportunities to engage in active feedback and conversation about not only their own knowledge and understanding but that of others as well.
The following technologies are what I will defiantly use in my classroom as I believe they will enhance student learning and make my teaching more engaging and efficient.
Blogs/Wiki's- I would use these in my classroom to so that students were able to construct, display and share their work. It will also be used facilitate the sharing of knowledge and ideas, feedback and communication between fellow peers, teachers and outside facilitators.
Interactive Whiteboards- After undertaking some training I would love to use this piece of technology in my room. I think it would allow me to introduce and use a range of other technologies and resources in the classroom to create engaging learning experiences. I would also encourage students to become actively involved in using the whiteboard during learning experiences. For example getting them to move things around or explain how something works.
Quizzes- I would like to use these Quizzes in my classroom as formative pieces of assessment. They would allow me to pose questions about topics that indicate the level of understanding a students has. Although they would essentially be tests I think students would find them much more engaging and challenging compared to the normal paper based tests.
YouTube/Podcast- I already use YouTube in the classroom. I think they are an excellent way to engage learners at the beginning of the lesson or to explain something that would otherwise be hard using traditional methods, such as texts. Podcasts are something I start exploring and using. There are so many things in the classroom you could do with them and I think they would be a technology the students would really enjoy and get allot out of.
Google Earth- I already in my lesson plans for the next unit of work. I think it is a fantastic technology that can be applied and used over a variety of key learning areas. This may include mapping and griding their local area to exploring the Australian outback. It is a technology that brings the real world into the classroom and is an excellent way to engage all learners in authentic learning experiences.
WebQuests- This is defiantly a technology I would use for older students. I like the way that teachers can design and adapt them to what they want the students to learn. I also like the fact that students are given the responsibility for their own learning and that a WebQuest can bring real life problems to the classroom.
To finish off I think that technology is a great way to engage learners using a variety of exciting and fun tools. Technology brings to the classroom what students today are interacting with on a daily basis. Technology allows teachers to enhance students learning by bringing a variety of stimulus and challenges to the classroom that relate to their real life experiences and skills.
References:Latham, G., Blaise, M., Dole, S., Faulkner, J., Lang J., & Malone, K. (2006). Learning to teach:New times, new practices. South Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press.
Kearsley, G & Shneiderman, B. (1999). Engagment Theory: A framework for technology-based teaching and learning. Retrieved July 29, 2009, from CQUniversity e-courses, FAHE11001 Acitive learning & learning diversity.
ACU Adams Center for Teaching Excellence. (2000). Active Learning Online.
Retrieved August 19, 2009 from http://www.acu.edu/cte/activelearning/whyuseal.htm