Tuesday, August 25, 2009

PowerPoint Quiz- Art History.

I had fun creating this PowerPoint and learning how to add the buttons. It’s an easy process and I believe one which could be effectively utilised by students.
I developed an Art History Quiz based on the art of Michelangelo and added buttons and answers to the questions.

Talking to my Year 11 History class, I found that they are not only very familiar with PowerPoint and using it for their own presentations, they are beginning to become quite bored with it and regard it as passe´. Students continue to use it as a mode of presentation because it’s easier than exploring new and perhaps better, options.

Although PowerPoint has been around for awhile, I still feel that with the addition of the buttons and if constructed imaginatively it has sound learning capabilities. Students are able to receive instant feedback on their answers which helps to consolidate the learning material and keep them engaged in the activity.

Here is the link to the Art History Quiz:




Thursday, August 20, 2009

Reflective Synopsis

At the beginning of this course, I felt I was reasonably ‘tech savvy’ but how wrong I was!
I consider myself neither digital native nor immigrant, but sitting somewhere in between. The course has reinforced for me the need to persevere when a task initially seems daunting, and that a solution CAN be found if you change the strategy you are using to look for it.

I have discovered some fantastic ICT’s for future use in the classroom as well as an excitement and motivation to use them.
During the progression of this course I have come to realise that there are so many Web 2.0 technologies out there and that they are the way of the future for 21st century learners.
It is absolutely vital that teachers are aware of this new technology and how to utilise it effectively in the classroom. Gaining this awareness takes time and a keen desire to keep up with technology. Following blog postings is an excellent way of keeping informed of another’s experiences with new technologies. The opinions and thoughts of peers can be invaluable when evaluating new information and the collaborative element involved in blogging is of much worth.
Blogging is an excellent way for students to learn collaboratively. It also allows them to reflect on their learning and that of others along the way. Engagement is the key word in education & learning today, as without it, students misbehave and fail to connect with their learning.
Master the art of engagement and watch the learning take off.

The fundamental concept underlying Kearsley and Shneiderman’s Engagement Theory(1999 ) is that “students must be meaningfully engaged in learning activities through interaction with others and worthwhile tasks”. The use of ICTs in learning can greatly facilitate engagement and it is imperative that teachers are able to make this connection and learn to use technologies to their fullest potential for their own benefit and that of their students.

By virtue of the simple fact that students are ‘digital natives’ (Prensky 2005), they are demanding. They demand to be engaged or they ‘power down’ in class. These students are often much sharper in the ways they process information, thanks to the digital media they are exposed to each day, yet they are not motivated to use the digital skills they have acquired, in a classroom setting.
Prensky also says that educators need to create engaging curricular game play for students, as their long term engagement depends far more on what they do and learn than on what they see.

Technology has reorganised our world over the past 20 years and according to Siemens (2004) “learning needs and theories that describe learning principles and processes, should be reflective of underlying social environments”. The circumstances and experiences of our students should inform our teaching practice. That which is occurring in their everyday lives and society generally will have a huge impact on their learning.
Working through this course has piqued my curiosity in regard to what other Web 2.0 technologies lay in wait for me to discover in the future. The ICTs I particularly connect with, keeping in mind teenagers are my student group, are WebQuests, Podcasts, Blogs, VoiceThread and Slideshare.

The WebQuest particularly, I feel has enormous learning value and merit. It’s a fun activity which is also engaging and interesting for students. The vital aspect of a WebQuest according to Tom March
(2003) is that newly acquired information transforms within the learner. Transformative learning needs to occur to realise the full potential of a WebQuest. It is an excellent example of learning engagement theory in practice.

My subject areas, English and SOSE, particularly lend themselves to utilising many of the technologies I have just become familiar with in this course. I can’t wait to use Google Earth for teaching geography- students have the opportunity to actually view the locations and situations they are learning about. Some of the new tools have the ability to connect to more than just one subject.

The wide range of exciting new ICTs can help teachers to cater for students differing learning styles. A best match between the needs of the student and what the environment can provide enhances learning and motivation (Dunn et al. 1989; Honigsfeld & Schiering 2004 as cited in McInerney and McInerney)

As educators, these ICT tools open up a wonderful world for us, we just have to reach out and grab it and want to be a part of that world. There is really no alternative if we want to be excellent teachers and engage our students. It’s not possible to stay ahead of our students in terms of being digitally savvy, but I think we should expect and strive to be at least somewhere close to their level.

Often resources are limited in schools and not all of us will have the opportunity or indeed the supportive environment all the time in which to practice all of these ICTs. I have found in my school placement that teachers are having a tough enough time just staying ‘caught up’ with their tasks, but I will have the opportunity of putting some of these tools into practice.

I have really enjoyed learning how the pedagogy ties in with the technologies and honing my skills throughout the course.
Part of the purpose of blogging is to receive feedback and share ideas with others through comments, but disappointingly this has been one aspect of the course that I found lacking. I have commented on others’ blogs, and would have really appreciated some feedback on mine. Thanks Jim for your comments.

I have enjoyed reading other posts on various topics and look forward to part 2 of the course.




March, T (2003) The Learning Power of WebQuests Viewed August 10, 2009.

Kearsley, G. & Shneiderman, M. (1999). Engagement Theory: A framework for technology-based teaching and learning. Viewed August 20, 2009

Mclnerney, D. M, & Mclnerney, V. (2006) Educational Psychology: Constructing Learning. Frenchs Forest, NSW, Australia: Pearson Education. Australia.

Prensky, M. (2005). Engage Me or Enrage Me - What today's learners demand. Viewed August 18, 2009. http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/erm0553.pdf

Siemens, G. (2005), A Learning theory for the Digital Age. Viewed August 8, 2009. http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm

Learning Management Systems

Wikipedia defines a Learning Management System (LMS) as “software for delivering, tracking and managing training/education. LMSs range from systems for managing training/educational records to software for distributing courses over the Internet and offering features for online collaboration.”

Blackboard and Moodle are both examples of LMS’s and examples of the two main types, proprietary and open source. According to the courseware, proprietary LMS ( eg Blackboard) are expensive and lack flexibility, but come with good documentation and support. Open source LMS( eg Moodle) are cheaper and more flexible, with many functions but don’t always come with good documentation.

Universities use LMS to support and improve learning for both on -campus and external students but a report by the OECD ( 2005) which can be accessed and read here:


indicates that “universities primarily use LMS for administrative purposes, and that LMS so far have had a limited impact on pedagogy”.

It’s a very interesting report.




OECD (2005) E-learning in Tertiary Education Viewed August 20, 2009.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Slideshare- testing my patience!

What fun! Time consuming though. I had no trouble uploading my power point, but found adding audio a little difficult. I recorded my audio through a program called Record Pad which I downloaded free from the internet.
I saved my recording, but when it came to uploading it, it was nowhere to be found, although I can clearly see it in ‘My Documents’.
With some help, I discovered this was because the file was in ‘wav’ format, not mp3 format. No problem, the Record Pad program comes with a converter!
So I converted my file and attached it. I love a good techy dilemma! Here it is!

Sideshare is a free website where anyone can upload and share presentations with or without audio to accompany them. Groups can be established and files can be made private or public. There are various categories which make finding resources easy. I searched the Education category and found a PowerPoint called ’ English Is Funny’ about the peculiarities of the English language- Take a look.

Slideshare is another easy to use ICT tool and would not only be fun for students, it would also provide them with an opportunity to practice and hone their computer skills.
Students could use Slideshare to create a presentation for the class and then use the IWB to present it. If the class had links to a class from another culture, or even a group of learners in a very different setting eg. Remote communities, indigenous communities, city schools vs country schools, interstate, they would have loads of fun learning through presenting in this way.

SlideShare would also be perfect for use by distance education students to present their work to their teachers, as well as other distance education students. It’s a tool which brings them together and could help them to feel less isolated. The ability to comment on presentations makes this a very functional education tool.

A teacher could use SlideShare to introduce a unit of work, incorporating amusing elements to engage learners, and also to give them a clear idea of just what the topic is all about and what they can expect to learn. There is plenty of resource content on SlideShare for teachers to use, a wonderful time saving application.




SlideShare http://www.slideshare.net/about. Viewed August 20th, 2009


Video is one of the most familiar tools we use in the classroom with students.

I feel videos should be short and to the point- students get bored easily and switch off. The use of video for dissection (as in the course material) is an alternative to the mess and sometimes fear and apprehension a lot of students have when faced with dissecting small animals in the lab. I have seen more than a few students faint at the start of a biology lesson (mostly boys!).

Although science is very much a hands on subject, the use of science concept videos is beneficial when used in a supporting role (Wetzel 2008). Students lose interest quickly after six or seven minutes of viewing a video. Wetzel suggests that the use of short videos is ideal for explaining or demonstrating concepts and allows students to remain focused.

Videos used to enhance learning can be very beneficial to students who have different learning needs. Also, advantages of video usage in the classroom vary according to the subject. For learning a foreign language video can really help to draw links between hearing and seeing the material.

Canning-Wilson (2000) claims ‘that the use of illustrations, visuals, pictures, perceptions, mental images, figures, impressions, likenesses, cartoons, charts, graphs, colours, replicas, reproductions, or anything else used to help one see an immediate meaning in the language may benefit the learner by helping to clarify the message, provided the visual works in a positive way to enhance or supplement the language point’.

Using video in this manner creates links between visual and aural material and these links are essential when learning a foreign language. Visual images can help learners to remember important concepts.

According to Marzano & Pickering (1997), the diversity of interests and abilities among learners makes constructing engaging tasks challenging. Using videos in the in the classroom may increase the number of learners who find the tasks interesting, and so remain engaged.




Marzano, R.J & Pickering, D.J. (1997) Dimensions of Learning: Teacher’s Manual. McRel, Colorado. USA.

Wetzel, D.R (2008) Teacher Tube - Science Videos Support Learning Using Short Videos from Online Resources Reinforce Content Knowledge Viewed August 19, 2009.

Viedo Image http://www.vision54.com/vision54/pages/onlinelearningcenter/

Image Manipulation

The ability to manipulate images in various ways is an essential skill for the learning manager. There will be many occasions when it will be necessary to crop, sharpen, add brightness, correct red eye and add text or graphics to images for use in the classroom.

Sometimes images need to be reduced or enlarged and Picnik is a perfect, free and super easy program to use. Students would have a lot of fun with this ICT. The function of adding graphics and doodles will really appeal to students, it helps them to personalise their photos.

I uploaded a photo of the Pink Palace Hotel in Hawaii and it looks just like it would have in Elvis’ day! The original of this photo is very modern looking although it’s an old hotel. I was able to manipulate it to appear as it would have perhaps 50 years ago. I love it!

I also uploaded a photo of our dog Monty and his thoughts on cats. This one was just for the fun of it everyone loves a dog picture, don’t they? I also sharpened and added contrast to Monty.

Another important point to note about Picnik is that the site itself has visual appeal; it even looks user friendly to me, a digital immigrant! I think the fact that it immediately looks like anyone can use it is one of its strengths, it is non -threatening and not too high tech for students. I feel that Photoshop is probably too sophisticated for students to tackle first up, but Picnik would be a fabulous point of entry into image manipulation for them.

All the little add-ons are great too, links to flickr, My Space and Facebook- teenagers expect to be able to connect immediately to social sites and Picnik caters for that expectation.




Picnik. (2009). Picnik. Veiwed August 20,2009.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Indigenous Education

Indigenous education has for a long time, been a worrisome issue in this country. It is of utmost importance that teachers strive to bridge the gap between indigenous understanding in the non-indigenous population.

Uncle Ernie’s framework is an excellent beginning towards embedding indigenous perspectives into an indigenous learning situation. I am a huge supporter of the holistic approach to education and only wish it could be incorporated more into the traditional western method of teaching.

Uncle Ernie’s framework and related materials should become part of the teacher training in all University courses in Australia. Improvements will only come through teachers being made aware of the desperate need for them and being willing to undertaking a program of change, which will involve more work on their part. The teacher is central to the success and transformation here.

Non-indigenous students have much to gain by learning and understanding more about the culture of their indigenous friends. This understanding would help to improve racial and prejudice issues in Australia, and give our young people the tools to make the changes in the future. This understanding would enrich their lives and help to bring indigenous and non-indigenous people together.

Chris Sarra is a perfect example of a teacher who affected change and proved to Australia what could be done to turn around a situation viewed by many, as hopeless. He implemented the ‘Strong & Smart’ program at Cherbourg State School and undertook a program of reversing the thinking that underachieving was a means of fitting in.

Student’s thinking was that to be Aboriginal, they needed to ‘aspire downwards’. Of course this program was not to everyone’s liking, and many teachers left the school in the first year. That exodus provided Sarra with the opportunity to find teachers whose thinking was more in line with his own.
He was able to construct of group of likeminded people with the same goal - successful outcomes for indigenous children.
But as he said there is no miracle cure, just “hard work and attitudinal change”. A strong and positive sense of what it means to be Aboriginal in Australia today is the precursor to good academic outcomes for the future.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs comes into play here, as often the basic needs of indigenous children are not being met. How can an Aboriginal child even begin to think about learning without the basics of food and a safe home?
These are two elements which are commonly absent from an Aboriginal child’s daily life.
Maslow also stressed that self esteem develops only when we are anchored in community- an assurance of our own worth as individuals ( Kunc 1992).Chris Sarra achieved this, as once the students need for self esteem had been met, they were able and keen to achieve in school.

Students need to believe in themselves and have those around them believe in their abilities before they can hope to start achieving.
Sarra's won’t -take- no- for- an -answer attitude changed the outcomes for students and gave them the promise of a future, unheard of prior to this program.

There is much for teachers to learn from Sarra’s hard work and achievements, but courage is required to implement this learning into schools today.

There is still a lot of resistance to change in schools and many of the ‘at risk’ students at my teaching school are indigenous. Their disengagement is reflected in their behaviour, but nothing is really being done to cater for their needs.
Teachers are at the frontline in this situation and are armed with the tools for change.
E learning could open up a wonderful new world for students in indigenous communities, it would not only deliver the world to them, it would provide them with engaging methods of learning.




Sarra, C. Strong & Smart (2003) Viewed August 19, 2009

Grant, E. (1998) My Land My Tracks: A framework for the holistic approach to indigenous studies. Viewed August 18, 2009.

Kunc, N. (1992) The Need to Belong: Rediscovering Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Viewed August 18 2009 http://www.normemma.com/armaslow.htm