Wednesday, August 12, 2009

My synopsis

Over the last 6 weeks I have looked at and experimented with web 2.0 applications as listed in Appendix 1 and as detailed on this blog. Each of the listed tools offers an opportunity to engage students and enhance their learning whilst using school resources efficiently. Through this experimentation I have discovered many tools that I will utilise in my position as a Learning Manager including, but not limited to: Webquests, wiki’s, blogs, The Learning Place LMS, power points, RSS aggregators, Interactive White Boards, delicious bookmarking tool, mobile phones, online quizzes, bubbl_us, and weebly.
Webquests, being an online tool, will enhance student engagement with the topic (McInerney & McInerney, 2006) and they are a great way to present a unit of work to learners that aligns with Oliver’s Learning design framework. Webquests show the student the entire journey, related resources and, outlines what is expected of them for that unit (Oliver, 1999). Webquests facilitate teamwork and collaboration among students (Dodge, 2001) while teaching students where and how to find information, using connectivism, (Siemens, 2004) to help students construct their learning around the topic (Kearsley & Schneiderman, 1999). A well designed webquest will scaffold the students learning (Dodge, 2001) via background information with a breakdown of the steps required to complete the task and hyperlinks to high quality sites to elicit a high standard of work from the students (Dodge, 2001). Webquests appeal to today’s digital natives’ (Prensky, Digital natives, digital immigrants, 2001) and students have the choice of where they begin their research on the topic, this gives the students some control which contributes positively to their level of engagement (McInerney & McInerney, 2006). An elaborate webquest could be used over the period of a term to develop a deep understanding around the topic and engage students in higher order thinking (Marzano & Pickering, 1997).
For each class I intend to set up a project room within the Learning Place or Ning. Within this project room students will have their own blog for reflection on their learning (Queensland Government Department of Education Training and the Arts, n.d.). I will monitor the appropriate use of these (Churches, The Digital Citizen, n.d.) via an RSS aggregator and I will post questions to students’ blogs to foster higher order thinking (Eisner, 2000). There will be a forum where students can discuss topics, ask questions or chat, and group wiki’s will be established to facilitate student collaboration (Kearsley & Schneiderman, 1999) and work on group assignments. There will be multiple open online quizzes progressively added that students may access multiple times to embed their knowledge on the work covered each term and to provide them with instant feedback (McInerney & McInerney, 2006) on their results and to refresh their memories prior to any exams or tests.
I will use this project room as my virtual class room; I will post assignment details with related criteria sheets and guidelines for completion of various stages, I will post recommended reading and websites, I will post the work that we will be completing/ have completed in class along with resources such as PowerPoint’s, and hyperlinks to files or other media as well as to the class website that I will also set up.
The class website will provide such details as; my contact details, general school contact details, along with links to government sites that outline curriculum requirements, a link to copyright laws and, a link to the school’s homepage and policy information. Now that all of this is in the virtual class room and on the website what will I do in the real classroom? I will utilise bubbl-us with the interactive white board to brainstorm with the students on the given topic. I will give the students the background information they require and I will ask questions of the students to stimulate their thinking and, I will ask if they have any questions. I will provide positive descriptive feedback to the students (Queensland Government, Education Queensland, 2006)and I will encourage students to use creativity and technology in their assignments (Queensland Government Department of Education Training and the Arts, n.d.) and I will give the students guidelines to follow when using the internet (Churches, The Digital Citizen, n.d.). In short, I will provide the students with the assistance they require as they require it to scaffold their learning (McInerney & McInerney, 2006).
The outline I have given above, along with Webquests, allow students to access their class details at anytime, from anywhere in the world as long as they have their mobile phone with them, or access to a computer. This gives students control over their school work and there should be no surprises bar good ones. The use of online file storage, wiki’s and a virtual classroom means that I never need worry about leaving a file I need on the wrong computer or forgetting the memory stick as the information would be available to me online. I would like to utilise the mobile phone as well by using SMS to remind students of when major tasks are due as well as use in the classroom for information searches and data input such as I have described in my blog posting
I have had discussions with my peers in regards to the use of these technologies and copies of these postings are included in Appendix 2, I anticipate these discussions continuing as we each progress towards becoming Learning Managers in different fields and implementing these technologies. To ensure that I stay current with technology and its uses I have subscribed to the blogs of various authors I have citied in this paper and I have subscribed to various e-newsletters and the educational origami wiki, as they each explore technology and its educational uses in depth with many ideas in implementation of web2.0 tools in classrooms.

Here is my complete list of references used.

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