"If we teach today's students as we did yesterday's, we are robbing them of tomorrow." (John Dewey, n.d.)
The 21st century, is an ever-changing environment. New and exciting technologies are created every day, and tech savvy students increasingly are using these technologies to assist them with educational tasks. Marc Prensky writes, “Today’s students are no longer the people our educational system was designed to teach.” (2001).Thus, as educators we must ensure we are engaging students by incorporating these new tools. The old traditional teaching methods are fast becoming redundant and it is up to us as educators to embrace change, not fear it. Prensky divides society into two groups, ‘Digital Natives’ and Digital Immigrants’ (2001). Digital natives are the learners and users. They were born into and have grown up with new technology. They see it playing a crucial role in their lives. I am a digital native. My day to day activities revolve around the use of technology. I speak, live and breathe communication technology. I believe this puts me in a good position to implement eLearning into my teaching and learning practice.
It is important that educators alter and adapt their methods of teaching. Teachers must ensure they continually investigate and utilise a broad range of technology and ensure they scaffold and structure their teaching to suit the needs of their students. According to the Australian Flexible Learning Framework,
“e-learning is a broader concept [than online learning], encompassing a wide set of applications and processes which use all available electronic media to deliver vocational education and training more flexibly. The term “e-learning” is now used in the Framework to capture the general intent to support a broad range of electronic media (Internet, intranets, extranets, satellite broadcast, audio/video tape, interactive TV and CD-ROM) to make vocational learning more flexible for clients.” (Australian National Training Authority, 2003)
Educators must understand that it is effective implementation and design, combined with effective pedagogy and learning theories (Behaviorism, Constructivism and Cognitivism), which will enhance learning. This is where educators must explore the Technology, Pedagogy and Content Knowledge (TPACK) framework. I believe that teachers must ensure that technology does not distract from the content, instead be used to enhance it.
In 2004, Siemens developed the learning theory, Connectivisim. This coupled with Behaviorism, Cognitivism and Constructivism helps mould the way we teach. Siemens believed that, “The capacity to know more is more critical than what is currently known. Knowing where to find information is more important than knowing information” (Siemens, 2004). My blog posting on Connectivisim outlines the learning theory and my opinions. Connectivisim will allow students to develop skills for life, ensuring they know where to locate information and use that information positively. It is an action which should promote life-long-leaning.
The first activity we were asked to participate in was a scaffolding activity in a Wiki. In this topic we discussed our personal views on the use of mobile phones in education. At first I was hesitant as I had never used a Wiki before and I did not understand how or where to start. After spending some time experimenting, I had a basic understanding of what to do. I found it to be engaging and allowed me to see others insights about the topic. The scaffolding used was De Bono’s Thinking Hats Theory. I was able to think about the subject more in-depth and understand multiple views on the subject. In my reflection posted on my blog, I described a range of new possibilities using this e learning device in my classroom. However, I also realised the importance of having well scaffolded and structured activities to ensure effective learning. I believe students can use this tool for practice quizzes, listening examples and as a collaboration tool for assignments, homework and class work.
During the past 3 weeks we were asked to explore and reflect on 4 Group Tools. These included online spaces, multimedia presentations and applications.
Group Tool 1 was investigating the effective use of Blogs in education. Blogs are, “a personal website or web page onto which an individual records opinions, links to other sites, etc. on a regular basis” (Oxford Dictionary Online, 2013). I found blogs to be useful in this context. It allowed me to reflect on my opinions and it encouraged me to think deeply about how I teach and myriad possibilities to create effective learning. Blogs are also a great tool to gather information in one location for viewers to see. It was great seeing other student’s blogs to understand their thoughts and gain fresh ideas about how they would incorporate new technologies (ICTs) into their teaching. Successful teachers work together, sharing ideas and concepts to improve their teaching styles. Blogs help teachers share ideas and create more effective teaching and learning practices.
Blogs are a great source of learning design to incorporate in the classroom; however it is essential that correct pedagogy and structure is employed to ensure students are learning appropriately. When using blogs as a reflective tool, it is best to scaffold an activity, which helps engage higher order thinking (HOTS). Activities such as De Bono’s Hat Theory, PMI and SWOT analysis, and KWL tables will all help improve in-depth analysis. An example of a SWOT analysis can be seen in my blog posting on blogging. In my teaching I can organise activities for students to reflect on content, gather media and information that they find interesting from sources to show their understanding of the content, post music assessment, and collaborate with other students about their thoughts, ideas and compositions/performances. This should encourage students to embrace learning and allow them to employ higher order thinking, communication skills, and take pride in their work as they post their opinions.
Group Tool 2 was Discovering Multimedia. It included images, videos, audio and podcasting. Images are important sources of curriculum delivery in 21st century education. Images can be used across all learning areas to express meaning that words often fail to describe adequately. They help students make sense of the words and can inspire creativity, imagination and higher order thinking. They can be an engaging tool, especially to those who are visual learners; however we must ensure that activities are structured to ensure students are learning effectively. When planning, teachers should always refer to the Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) to ensure progressive and effective teaching and learning. By catering to multiple learning styles, we as teachers are facilitating the best possible learning outcomes for our students. Further investigation and reflection on this topic was added to my blog.
Group Tools 3 explored presentations. Presentations can be created in multiple programs and applications. They can be used online and offline and can incorporate multimedia. Presentation programs, such as Microsoft PowerPoint and Prez’s can then be used to create hard copy presentations or can be placed on line spaces, such as blogs, wiki’s and websites.
Microsoft PowerPoint was created in 1996 and is one of the most common and available presentation programs used in schools. It is a useful tool which can present information to students in exciting ways. Teachers can paste headings and important information into the pages reducing textbook reading for students. Users can also import multimedia images, music and videos. However, without the tools and knowledge to create engaging presentations, teachers may hinder the learning outcomes of students. All teachers, myself included, must always refer to the TPACK framework to ensure we have a thorough understanding of the program and use it affectively to ensure presentations are engaging and interactive. If teachers model this behaviour, students should reciprocate creating interesting PP productions of their own.
Prezi’s are the improved, 21st century presentation application. They are more appealing, animated and engaging. Prezi’s are extremely easy to use which saves time for students and teachers. They also allow the importation of PowerPoint presentations and multimedia. However, Prezi’s are a presentation tool only, not an interactive device. I have created a very basic Prezi, which I have posted in my blog along with a more in-depth reflection of MS PowerPoint and Prezi’s.
Tool 3 was flexible- our choice. We were encouraged to reflect on and explore any other digital tool. I decided to choose a tool which is extremely essential within my field of music teaching. ‘Sibelius’ is music notation software, which helps students present notated music, play back and create midi recordings. I used this program in high school and throughout my undergraduate degree in Music. After learning and experimenting with the program, I found it easy to use with endless opportunities. It is a useful tool to present legible assessment, listen to compositions and keep a log book of work. In my classroom I will introduce short, well structured activities which will engage students and allow them to learn about the program. I will encourage them to use it for assessment, private composition work and all forms of self directed music studies. Although the program is quite expensive, most schools have a school edition which is available for use by students and teachers. Introducing Sibelius into schooling prepares students better for a musical journey beyond school and universities. I have further reflected on this issue in my blog.
An important factor when using all online learning tools is student’s safety, ethics and legalities. It is extremely important to protect the well-being of all students and to ensure all ethical and legal guidelines are followed. As a teacher it is my responsibility and I must ensure that I lead by example. I have included a segment on this issue in my blog. I have included resources, which I found useful.
By exploring multiple technologies and digital tools, I have gained insights into the possibilities for my future teaching and learning practice. This assessment has allowed me to discover ways I can implement these tools into my classroom and the positive ways they can engage students. I will continue to experiment and learn about these tools to ensure my students have the best possible learning experiences. I accept the dynamic nature of our changing technological school environments and will eagerly embrace new opportunities to engage students with multi-technologies in my classrooms.
Oxford Dictionaries Online. (2013). Blog. Retrieved from
PBS Programs. (2010). Digital Media: New Leaners of the 21st Century. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/programs/digital-media/
Prensky, M. (2001). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. Retrieved from
Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivisim- A Learning Theory for the digital age. Retrieved from http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm