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

Interactive Whiteboards- IWB

I have had a lot of fun using an interactive whiteboard (IWB) in schools over the past few years. I have been fortunate to see it used in a primary as well as secondary setting and from my experience, I have found that younger children respond very well to it and are very engaged by the technology alone.

Younger children seem to respond with wonderment, perhaps because some of them may have little or no experience with a computer outside the school setting and the whiteboard represents something new and exciting in the learning setting. I have seen it utilised in prep for teaching the alphabet and to draw each letter. Smith (2001) found that using the IWB to support younger pupils’ handwriting skills improved their handwriting on paper. Another benefit for small children is that the whiteboard employs their gross motor skills, where a traditional computer mouse may be difficult to operate.

I believe it is probably underutilised in secondary schools, simply because teachers are not motivated to become more digitally native and learn some new skills which will in the long run improve their teaching. Often teachers don’t receive adequate and ongoing training in new technologies and whilst they may initially be full of enthusiasm, it quickly wanes when they find it just takes more time and causes disruption to the class. Perhaps some ongoing teacher training in new ICTs would be beneficial for teachers.

As Interactive whiteboards are a relatively new technology to teaching, it will be some time before adequate research into their effectiveness emerges. Certainly they encourage participation in the lower grades.

One very obvious advantage of IWBs in the classroom is the opportunity they provide for the teacher to use a wide range of multimedia to present learning material. An IWB really lends itself to subjects such as history and geography where the use of visual material enhances the learning. In foreign language subjects, Thomas (2003) reports that the ability to combine visual and aural information facilitated the learning process as learners were able to make connections between seeing and hearing.

Interaction is a major advantage of using IWBs and Becta (2003) states that this very interaction is motivating to students, they ‘enjoy interacting physically with the board, manipulating text and images.’ It is also noted that older secondary students may be reluctant to move from their seat in the classroom, which could be a drawback.

In this social constructivist model, Wiggins & Ruthmann (2002) see the teacher in the classroom as a mediator between the students learning experience and the computer. The IWB allows for much more discussion and ‘presence’ by the teacher, rather than the old days, when the teacher would have their backs to the class writing on a board.

Another advantage and probably the most supported by research at this stage is that IWBs motivate students because lessons are more interesting and enjoyable which results in improvements in attention and behaviour. Students have reported that their lessons are more fun and faster paced; they don’t feel bored and are therefore engaged.




BECTA (2003) What the research says about interactive whiteboards. Viewed August 18, 2009.


Smith, H. (2001) SmartBoard evaluation 2001: summary. Viewed August 18, 2009.


Smith, H. Higgins, S. Wall, K. & Miller, J. (2005) Interactive whiteboards: boon or bandwagon? A critical review of the literature. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning 21, pp91–101.

Viewed August 18, 2009. http://faculty.ksu.edu.sa/yousif/590/interactive%20whiteboards%202005.pdf

Thomas A. (2003) Little touches that spell success. Times Educational Supplement, 23 May 2003. Viewed August 18, 2009. http://faculty.ksu.edu.sa/yousif/590/interactive%20whiteboards%202005.pdf

Wiggins J. & Ruthmann A. (2002) Music teachers’ experiences: learning through SMART board technology. Viewed August 18, 2009. http://faculty.ksu.edu.sa/yousif/590/interactive%20whiteboards%202005.pdf

Static Websites

A static website is one which has web pages stored on the server in the format that is sent to a client web browser (Wikipedia, 2009).

I sought out this definition because I really wasn’t certain just what a static website is. As it turns out, I have been viewing them for years!

The information on the website is presented to the user in a simple format with pre defined information. An example is a company using a static website to advertise its products and services using a variety of text, pictures, video and audio as well as interactive menus.

The information is the same for all users of the website and they must be satisfied with whatever content is on offer at the time. It is similar to a printed brochure and most businesses and services find it essential to have at least this presence on the web. When changes need to be made, generally the owner of the website will need to employ a graphic artist or similar web designer to make those changes.

An engaging task for students, particularly secondary would be to use some of the excellent products available to build a website. With set templates, students are able to tackle a task which they may have initially considered to be beyond their capabilities. Whilst building their webpage, they are also honing their IT skills and engaging in learning. Gratification is instant and fun.

Economics students could design and build a website for a local business as part of their assessment. They would be required to research the business and what its needs were in relation to building a static website and then progress through the steps to build it, with regular consultation during the process with their chosen small business. The teacher could organise some resources beforehand for students to access, and store them on line.

According to the theory of constructivism, learners create knowledge as they attempt to understand their experiences (Driscoll, 2000.) and they are actively attempting to construct meaning from the task. The above activity allows students to create knowledge as they work through the process of designing the website. The ‘customer’ for whom they are creating the web page represents an authentic purpose and outcome.




Driscoll, M. P. (1994). Psychology of learning for instruction. Viewed August 17, 2009.

Image http://www.kettlewoodweb.co.uk/website_design.html

Wikipedia Website Viewed August 17, 2009 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Website

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Initially I couldn’t get my head around this ICT as quickly as most of the others, but after watching the instructional video and having a play around the site, it all became clearer to me.

I uploaded some holiday pics and added comments to them, and then I added recorded comments. I found this incredibly easy and lots of fun. Embedding it into my blog was easy too, I love this tool! Students will love it too, although speed of internet access in schools could be a drawback.

I performed a search using ‘education’ as the keyword, and came up with 56 pages of Voice threads, but the one I particularly liked and thought would be very pertinent was one I was not able to use!
It is in the Library under ‘Education’ and called ‘Higher Ed from Della Curtis’ and shows the collaboration in a Voice thread between colleagues. It’s definitely worth looking at, so search for it.

I have posted the Voice thread below which displays some of Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous work. It’s worth a look just for the sheer visual pleasure of it!

And here is mine.

Whilst searching for more information about Voice Thread and how to use it, I found a fabulous Wiki where educators share their examples of Voice Threads and how they are using them in the classroom. There are some wonderful models on this page so take a look.


I think this technology is perfect for students to use when they want to explain a project, not just to display it. They can talk the viewer through why they included certain aspects/ideas, offer different perspectives and encourage comments.

If a class could establish a link with another class in a different country on a common project/theme, imagine the endless possibilities for utilising this technology. It would provide a fantastic opportunity for students to really understand the perspective of students from another country and how they look at and evaluate similar projects.
This ties in with Engagement Theory (Kearsley and Schneiderman , 1999) as not only are students receiving different perspectives, but they are receiving those perspectives from around the another part of the world and another culture.

Another use for secondary classes could be as a pre information program about an upcoming topic to be studied. Students could get a feel for the topic before they plunged into it in a new term, and (maybe!) even have some prior knowledge to bring to the classroom.

The teacher could also upload a picture or video and ask all students to analyse and leave their comments for homework. This would be a great collaborative project.

A Grade 6 teacher in the US, Bill Ferriter, found that using a Voice Thread, more of his students participated more actively on line than in the classroom. Some students are unwilling to put up their hand in class, but were more than willing to participate vigorously via the Voice Thread. They also felt that it gave them time to think about what they wanted to say.

An interesting point he makes is that students said they liked the fact that multiple conversations could happen at once, whereas in class only one conversation occurs and if it is boring to the student, they disengage.

Engagement and motivation are the two most important challenges facing educators today. Digital natives are already using the technology, the trick is for teachers to use it to capture and hold student’s interest.

Kathleen Bacer (2009) states that in the online learning environment it is ‘essential to focus on effective utilization and implementation of any online tool to break down the barrier between the curriculum, instructor, and colleagues for the engagement and enrichment of the empowered learner.’
She further states that although it sometimes requires a considerable investment of time by the teacher to create these feasible learning settings, “the presence and voice can make the environment rich with constructive opportunities to engage in the learning process”.

The rewards of an engaged student group far outweigh the initial effort involved in construction.



Bacer, K. (2009) Utilising Auditory and Visual Tools to Engage the 21st Century e Learner
http://dev.caudit.edu.au/educauseaustralasia09/assets/papers/tuesday/Kathleen-Bacer.pdf Viewed August 16, 2009.

Kearsley, G. & Shneiderman, B. (1999), Learning Engagement Theory: A framework for technology-based teaching and learning.
http://home.sprynet.com/~gkearsley/engage.htm Viewed August 15,2009.

Voice Thread https://voicethread.com/#home Viewed August 15, 2009

Weir, L. (2008) Voice Thread Extends the Classroom with Interactive Multimedia Albums
Edutopia, The George Lucas Educational Foundation
http://www.edutopia.org/voicethread-interactive-multimedia-albums Viewed August 16, 2009

Using Music on the Web

I believe that music can be used in many facets of teaching and that it is probably not used often enough outside the music room.

Music certainly engages and calms students as well as creating an atmosphere in the classroom. The type of atmosphere depends on the type of music.

I searched the Incompetech website for a piece of music which could accompany a presentation on Vietnam to link in with the senior’s trip next year.
I found a piece called ‘Cambodian Odyssey’ which perfectly suits the Eastern theme. It uses flute and percussion to create a dark, mystical and eastern feel. It was written specifically for a documentary on Cambodia, so couldn’t be more ideal.

Using music in the primary classroom is the norm, especially in lower grades, but not so much in secondary school where the learning can become routine and predictable.

Purcell (1992) says that regularly incorporating music into the learning can help to reinforce important curricular factors such as ‘skill development, grammar and vocabulary acquisition and cultural sensitivity.’ He further states that the use of music adds the dimension of right brain (or creative/emotional) activities to the curriculum and helps the learner to use another method of processing new information.

This is an important point, as all learners have different needs, and it could be a way of catering for students who learn differently, using their creativity or emotional aspects of their personality to enhance their learning.




Cambodian Odyssey, Macleod, K. (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons "Attribution 3.0" http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/"
http://incompetech.com/ Viewed August 15, 2009.

Purcell, J.M. (1992) Using Songs to Enrich the Secondary Class, Hispania, Vol. 75, No. 1 (Mar., 1992), pp. 192-196 http://www.jstor.org/stable/344779 Viewed August 15, 2009

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Media Fire - One Line File Storage

Well, this one was certainly easy to use and I can see its versatility in storing files and images on the web. Unlimited storage space and accessible from anywhere in the world. It’s also very user friendly, a very simple upload process and free to use.
It’s very attractive to me as a location for storing documents which I wouldn’t want to lose eg. School work, as a back up to my laptop as well as to keep my laptop from ‘clagging up’ and running slowly from the huge volume of files. It means I wouldn’t always need to carry the computer to school; they could be accessed in the classroom, even by students when required, and I would always have access to them providing I have internet access.

In the classroom, students could use on line file storage to access resources placed there for them by teachers, for various projects. It also means that valuable and productive resources are available to all students. Groups of students could work together on a project and add resources to a folder within the file storage as they came across them in their research.

The greatest advantage for teachers is the flexibility of having the documents at your fingertips. You don’t need to panic if something is left at home as you have easy access to it in the classroom.

Online file storage helps to “tackle barriers of time, place, and money in school” ( Dimeropoulos 2003). Teachers can’t always get together as often as they would like for discussions on tasks, and having documents or lesson plans stored on the web, enables teachers to collaborate effectively.

As always though, students have varying levels of access to the internet and indeed computers, and this needs to be kept in mind when creating learning materials and using file storage programs.

Here are the links to files I have uploaded:

http://www.mediafire.com/file/j34gnig1jf1/bali 022.JPG




Dimeropoulos, K (2003) Online File Storage for Teachers
http://iteslj.org/Articles/Dimeropoulos-Storage.html Viewed August 14, 2009

Thursday, August 13, 2009


When I started thinking about Wikipedia, I was reminded of an instance in Hawaii with my kids a couple of years ago. They were taking their time disembarking from a bus and the Hawaiian attendant said “Come on kids, wiki wiki!’ They looked at her blankly and she explained that it meant “hurry, hurry”.

Wikipedia is a free web based encyclopaedia which is contributed to and edited by any member. My teenagers have been using Wikipedia for school assignments for a few years and I see it as a useful tool as a starting point for new information. It provides a good basic overview of information on a topic, but I am never fully satisfied with its authenticity. I rarely reference this material, unless I check the sources first.

Constant updates mean that the information should be current, but it tends to be fairly broad.

I like the History Portal, as it takes the viewer to relevant links without wasting too much time searching. WikiProjects are linked to these pages and I enjoy browsing through them for specific information on a topic.

A WikiProject is a “collaboration area and open group of editors dedicated to improving Wikipedia's coverage of a particular topic, or to organizing some internal Wikipedia process” (Wikipedia)

I also discovered the Wikipedia sister projects which have some worth, particularly WikiVersity, WikiSpecies and Wikibooks.

I conducted a search for Vietnamese historical sites with the senior’s trip to Vietnam next year in mind. The results produced history, architecture, art, language and references to the war.

Wikipedia allows collaboration and a sharing of perspectives and that is certainly beneficial. Students can submit their work to Wikipedia and see their work benefitting from input from people around the world.
Another important skill which students are learning when they use Wikipedia is neutrality and the ability to present all sides of an argument. Bruns and Humphrey (2005) maintain that Wikipedia’s Neutral Point of View policy “teaches students the value of objectivity and the collaborative process of negotiating over the content.”

I have found that students, in a general sense, accept what is on Wikipedia and don’t go searching for other sources. This is not the fault of Wikipedia however.

According to Rosenzweig (2006) students have had an appetite for ‘pre digested and prepared information’ since the days of the family encyclopaedia. He further states that more time should be spent teaching the limitations of information sources and stressing the skills of critical analysis of primary and secondary sources.

Wikipedia: School and University Projects is a listing of schools and universities from around the world, using Wikipedia in their classrooms. This site offers advice, examples and free templates for creating wiki syllabi. It is very valuable when considering Wikipedia for teaching purposes.


Bruns, A. & Humphreys, A. (2005) “Wikis in Teaching and Assessment: The M/Cyclopedia Project”.
http://snurb.info/files/Wikis%20in%20Teaching%20And%20Assessment.pdf Viewed August 11, 2009.

Konieczny, P. ( 2007 ) Wikis and Wikipedia as a Teaching Tool, International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, Vol.4 No 1.

Rosenzweig, Roy. (2006.) "Can History Be Open Source? Wikipedia and the Future of the Past". Journal of American History. 93:117-146. http://chnm.gmu.edu/resources/essays/d/42
Viewed August 10, 2009.

Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page Viewed August 11, 2009.


Like so many of the wonderful ICT’s I have recently been introduced to during this course, the term ’ WebQuest’ was on my periphery, but I had no idea what it was, other than that it sounded like a fun journey.

After some searching and reading I have discovered that a WebQuest is “an inquiry-oriented lesson format in which most or all the information that learners work with comes from the web.”

( Webquest.org). This website further states that WebQuests are a way to utilise the internet while engaging students in specific thinking required for the 21st century.
Any tool which prepares students for more advanced thinking into the 21st century is a very valuable one and most certainly one to use in the classroom.

An authentic WebQuest is designed around a task that is interesting and achievable. It requires higher order and critical thinking, analysis, problem solving and creativity. Use of the web should be central to the quest, but just visiting websites and ‘playing around’ is not part of a WebQuest.

The structure is: Introduction, Task, Process, Evaluation, Conclusion and (in some cases) Resources.

I explored this topic with SOSE in mind and found a WebQuest via www.webquest.org .
It is American themed, but nonetheless very worthwhile as an example.

Take a look:


The class is divided into small groups; each member of the group has a specific role within the group and is responsible for different aspects of research. Working separately, but collaborating with the group regularly. The task cannot be completed successfully unless each member completes their task and communicates effectively.

The emphasis is on group work here and according to the basic principles of Engagement Theory( Kearsley & Shneiderman 1999), this activity motivates students to learn ‘due to the meaningful nature of the learning environment and activities’. This is an engaging activity as all students are involved in active cognitive processes.

This WebQuest involves activities which occur in a group context, it is project based and it has an authentic focus. It culminates in a presentation to the class.

It could also be said that this activity promotes a community of practice, a term used by Etienne Wenger to describe “a shared domain of interest" where "members interact and learn together" and "develop a shared repertoire of resources."

I have to say I love the WebQuest activity for secondary students, but the time involved in creating one would have to be weighed up with resources ie. computer access and benefit in mind.



Downes, S. (2005) http://www.downes.ca/post/31741 Viewed August 10, 2009.

Kearsley, G. & Shneiderman, B. (1999), Learning Engagement Theory: A framework for technology-based teaching and learning. http://home.sprynet.com/~gkearsley/engage.htm Viewed August 10,2009.

WebQuest http://www.webquest.org/ Viewed August 11, 2009.

Wenger, E. (2000) Communities of Practice, a brief introduction. Viewed August 9, 2009.from http://www.ewenger.com/theory/index.htm

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Google Earth

Using Google Earth in the classroom for learning and engagement is an exciting prospect for a future SOSE teacher. It is a spectacular resource for geography lessons which allows students to explore their world in 3D, on their own computer.

It’s particularly useful for visual learners and extremely user friendly.
Students can fly across the earth, pinpoint important historical sites, explore locations or cities of interest and visit places they may have only dreamed about. Different layers available offer enormous scope and links to other subjects such as economics, demographics, history, space, astronomy, maths and geology. It’s excellent for viewing the impact of natural disasters and the progress of human civilisation. It is only limited by your imagination.

The sunlight feature is fun, you can see sunsets around the world!

Google Earth has the potential to cater for all learners in the classroom and the teacher can adapt projects to suit different learning styles and levels.

Imagine using Google Earth to investigate a school trip prior to embarking upon it. My secondary Modern History class are travelling to Vietnam next year for 10 days. Students could begin researching the country using Google Earth.

They could:

1. Find Vietnam on the map to begin and plot its co ordinates and distance from the Sunshine Coast.

2. Fly to Ho Chi Minh City and take a good look around, taking note of the landscape and architecture. They could also locate their hotel and take a look at it, its surrounds and where it is located in relation to sightseeing they will be doing.

3. Find the distance between cities and sights they will visit as well as use it to take a good look at the environment. I have found from speaking to the students, that their preconceived ideas of Vietnam are very different from the reality and that they are nervous about the unknown. A trip via Google Earth may help to allay their fears.

4. Use Google Earth to view and learn about major attractions they will be visiting.

This task sits well with Oliver’s learning design framework with a task that learners are required to do, resources to support the task and support mechanisms from the teacher.

Google Earth would also mesh well with podcasts and video clips to support the task and provide extended information.


Google Earth www.earth.google.com

Oliver, R. (1999). Exploring strategies for on-line teaching and learning. Distance Education, 20(2), 240-254.
http://www.learningdesigns.uow.edu.au/project/learn_design.htm Viewed August 9, 2009


I searched iTunes under K-12, but found a podcast which better suited my purpose under the general education category.

I have downloaded podcasts to my iPod on many occasions, I find them a wonderful tool to utilise when I walk my dogs! I love the versatility of listening to documentaries on subjects of interest or news feeds etc.

iTunes is a podcatcher, which enables the listener to subscribe to his/her favourite podcasts, which are then automatically downloaded to the computer at a suitable time.
Podcasting has the potential to be not only one of the most exciting ICT’s for students, but one of the most engaging learning tools. What is the one electronic device that almost all students use daily? An MP3 player. The potential here is enormous. Students are already active users of the technology!

I can think of many applications for learning, particularly with secondary students.
A teacher could record an outline of a lesson/ assignment and broadcast it as a podcast prior, to pique students interest, keep them updated or just prepare them for the material they will be learning. It could also be personalised by the teacher with a greeting, another connection to learning. If students are presenting material in groups, they could podcast a brief outline of their presentation for each member of the class, or a quote or anecdote related to their presentation- students could have a lot of fun with it.

One of the aspects I like the most about this technology is that students can receive feeds, say from a teacher or classmates, from the same medium that they receive their music/entertainment. It’s blending school life with everyday life. Vygotsky (as cited in McInerney & McInerney p 60.) believed that formal learning and everyday learning are interconnected and interdependent, that through using everyday concepts, students make use of scientific concepts. I can see this aspect of his theory put to good use here.

The link below makes very interesting reading. It details a program in the US where iPods are used in helping bilingual school students learn English. It also states that universities are using iPods in many courses.


Brian Brooks, associate dean of the Journalism School at the University of Missouri says:

“There’s a lot of theory out there that says what you want to do is engage students in realms where they are already comfortable, and we know a lot of students are already familiar with iPods and iTunes so we want to get into that space and take advantage of that”.

Lectures are recorded and can be downloaded to media players through iTunes U.

A study conducted by the Centre for Educational Multimedia in Middlesex UK ,(2007) found that undergraduate students believe that podcasts are a more effective revision tool than textbooks and that they are more receptive to the learning material in the form of a podcast than a traditional lecture or textbook.
Flexibility is a huge advantage as well. Podcasting has significant potential as an innovative learning tool for students in secondary school as well as university students and adult learners.


Evans, C. (2007) The effectiveness of m-learning in the form of podcast revision lectures in higher education.
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6VCJ-4R2Y44V-1&_user=10&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_searchStrId=978125038&_rerunOrigin=scholar.google&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=4f125044fd9a46e282da962ec5bc26b0 Viewed August 12, 2009.

Hu, W. (2007) In Some Schools, iPods are Required Listening. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/09/education/09ipod.html Viewed August 12, 2009.

McInerney,D.M.& McInerney,V.(2006) Educational Psychology- Constructing Learning, Pearson Ed. Frenchs Forest, Australia

Rivera, B.G. (2009) School of Journalism to require iPod touch or iPhone for students.
http://www.columbiamissourian.com/stories/2009/05/07/school-journalism-requires-ipod-touch/ Viewed August 12, 2009.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

You Tube and Teacher Tube

I love this video I found on TeacherTube- it will be fantastic to use with my Grade 11 Modern History class.


Most students will be familiar with the song and even if they aren’t, it’s catchy enough to get them hooked immediately. The best aspect of the song is the story it tells - a perfect snapshot of modern history from 1949.
This video utilises a catchy song full of relevant and interesting information, along with images and titles/year, students learn so much in 4 minutes! And (I hope) it will leave them wanting to know more.
I would use this video to begin the lesson and then brainstorm to find out what students knew about any of the events depicted.
In small groups (2 or 3) students would then choose an event to research, focusing on the significance of that event and why it was included in the song.
The groups would then present to the class.

This activity sits well with Kearsley & Shneiderman’s engagement theory:

‘By engaged learning, we mean that all student activities involve active cognitive processes such as creating, problem-solving, reasoning, decision-making, and evaluation.
In addition, students are intrinsically motivated to learn due to the meaningful nature of the learning environment and activities’

Video is visual and can be entertaining and engaging if used correctly.



Kearsley, G & Shneiderman, B 1999, Learning Engagement Theory: A framework for technology-based teaching and learning.
http://moodle.cqu.edu.au/mod/resource/view.php?id=641 Viewed August 11, 2009.


Class Marker Quiz

ClassMarker is very appealing technology which would mesh well with other educational ICT’s in the classroom. The use of on-line quizzes by students also encourages familiarisation with the ICT environment.

Quizzes can be used for fun or as a tool to gain an insight into prior knowledge a student or group of students has before beginning a topic. With this information, the teacher can better prepare and cater for all learning needs. A quiz can also be used to lead students to questions for further investigation. Quinn and Reid (2003) state that quizzes assist learning by determining where a student’s current understanding is sitting and then moving them forward from that point. Another useful purpose for a quiz would be to test for knowledge after finishing a topic.

An on-line quiz could be engaging for students if composed thoughtfully around the learning. It can also be used for self-assessment- the student discovers not only what they know about a subject, but also what they don’t know.

The advantages for teachers are obvious- time saving!

ClassMarker allows the teacher to see the quiz results, export quiz results, set a time limit and add feedback.

Research conducted by Woit and Mason (2000) with computer science students, compared the effectiveness of using quizzes to the alternative of using marked laboratory assignments. The results found that student learning and retention increased using on-line quizzes. If a quiz was to be administered and marked in the traditional manner, it would be impossible to make them available for students learning. 54% of students who participated said that the online quizzes enabled them to learn more and 46% said that they believed the on line quizzes enabled them to achieve a higher mark.

Log in with username- student 6799 password-ftpsxut

And try my history quiz.



Quinn, D. & Reid, I (2003) Using innovative online quizzes to assist learning

http://ausweb.scu.edu.au/aw03/papers/quinn/paper.html Viewed August 11, 2009

Woit, D. and Mason, D (2000) Enhancing student learning through online quizzes.


Viewed August 11, 2009