Life should be a breeze.

The article on the use of Breeze in synchronous e-learning provides some thoughtful insights into the advantages of merging synchronous and asynchronous learning environments for students.

Speaking personally, having had a dismal attempt with a correspondence course back in the mid seventies where feedback came via snail-mail, I felt the lack of immediate feedback and class interaction – were part of the reason that five fellow part time students’ and I failed to finish the course.  There was no ongoing dialogue, you felt like you were in a vacuum and you had to wait a month for a face to face tutorial.  The notes were copious but not interactive.

Recently I have tried to set up my computer to participate in an Elluminate (do I mean Illuminate?) conference with interested parties about ESL students. I didn’t get past the downloading of the software as there was no technical support available.  The onus was completely on me, the participant to troubleshoot any technical hitches encountered.  I have no technical expertise and on encountering an unknown term I could go no further and dismissed the whole idea of participating.

The discussion, the exchange of opinion, the teasing out of ideas, are as much a part of the ‘learning’ for students as is the ‘teaching’ component of the subject.  If student feedback and interaction become too disjointed, too much of the students’ interest and the subject’s dynamism is lost.  In synchronous situations the discussion relies on the momentum of the academic dialogue to sustain interest and provide a monitor of student understanding and participation.  If asynchronous situations are to enhance the student’s learning and participation in a subject, the the use of posts on a blog at least allow the participants to re-visit the comments and so build on the conversations, thereby emulating some of the dynamics of a face to face conversation whilst eliminating some of the problems of finding an opening in a dialogue to contribute to the discussion.

The paragraph that cites the work of Lobel (2002) on ‘parallel communication’ makes a point of noting that parallel communication enhances the worth of the group many times over that of the individual.  I think this is because the posts become a reference for the whole group, giving thinking time to respond, and reflect on comments, something that a face to face conversation doesn’t always allow.  The posts can be referred back to constantly and can continue to influence the group long after the initial date of posting.

I felt this article picked up some key points about the structure of the support for online collaborations of students and teachers; namely the technical capabilities of the students and the need for adequate technical support with immediate troubleshooting practices and advice in place during sessions and the need for practice sessions beforehand to ensure the competency of the participants.

Posted in Week 10 | Leave a comment

YouTube, ITube, We AllTube and Saving Face

What a nifty way to inform yourself about almost anything.  You get a variety of skill sessions or information – on almost any topic that interests you.

YouTube has been an invaluable resource for me to find quick tutorials on how to do art related activities; from shibori dyeing to spinning fleece on a spinning wheel to folding origami shapes. I can look for discussions on topics that are socially or professionally engaging.

You do need to critically appraise the quality of the information and I often look for several different viewpoints to verify what I’m hearing.  So if  I need to sort out temperatures for bisque firing or methods of fixing dyes or just remind myself of some skill I haven’t practiced for a while, it’s an easy reference to turn to.

Unfortunately I can’t access YouTube at my school, but I understand there is software that enables the downloading of YouTube videos, so I should be able to sort through any useful sites and use them once I’ve downloaded and saved them from the YouTube site.

Saving Face

I can understand the attraction of the social networking sites such as Facebook but really is it socializing?

I think the initial appeal has been the networking aspect of gaining an audience, one that has the capacity to grow with the popularity of your site. Internet social networking also allows people to broadcast announcements, opinions etc quickly, with one action – they’re not ringing around or sending off cards or invitations to many, just one post and it’s done.

But these internet based communications aren’t referenced as easily with body language or face to face conversation.  Prior to the internet, social networking and personal communication has relied on interpreting and managing verbal and body language cues, such as tone and inflection of voice and facial expression, these cues become redundant with Facebook.

Sure there are new communication conventions being established such as web slang and abbreviated terms or the use of symbols to convey meaning, but as has been shown, these are not as easily interpreted as face to face conversation and they don’t incorporate the nuances of language that we’ve developed culturally and instinctively.

Facebook is a safer option if the people who are part of a Facebook group are known to the host, but when they’re not, that’s where the potential for misleading information or information going viral can stem from.

It’s much harder to verify who you are talking to and whether they are genuinely whom they say they are and whether they are telling the truth.

To me social networking on Facebook requires new communication skills and checks and balances to be employed to keep control of the detail and flow of information.  The written word can’t be undone and there is always a record of your posted history, so caution should be exercised in the information posted and the public access available to it.

Slander and libel laws will have to come to terms with the new phenomenon of social expression as comment and innuendo hide behind avatar pseudonyms.  The public profile of social networking has implications for employee’s work-life balance as they find their private life can impinge on their employment prospects as employers investigate their background.

As the Ultranet approaches the state school system we are being advised about the nature and extent of information that we may choose to put on our site.  We are already very aware of the problems that Facebook has created for some of our students with bullying.  Surely we can prevent this from being the Achille’s heel of the medium, which has such potential to inform so many so quickly.

Posted in Week 10 | 1 Comment

Delicious

us’ as a versatile bookmarking site makes a lot of sense for those of us that have multiple work areas and different roles in our work place.

It means wherever I am, I can access my favourite links and locate information according to my needs.

Currently my core role is as an Art teacher, but I also have an ESL component in my weekly timetable, so my working area can be my Art room or another classroom. When I need to log on to access my files or internet connections, having delicious bookmark the same links wherever I log on, will make it easier for me to stay informed about areas of interest and locate familiar reference sites. I just need to play around with the tools and become more adept at using it.

My delicious URL http://www.delicious.com/jennifermcardle

RSS feeds will be helpful to keep up with the latest news for both work and leisure pursuits, once I figure out how to navigate through all the lead in lines for different articles.  I’ve found that RSS feeds can become quite bothersome, they tend to clog up your space and take up a lot of time leading you all over the place. I seem to remember Vijay had a quick way of vetting the feeds to sort through the ones that were interesting from the ones that were distracting.

Digitial Stories could be used in a number of ways in the Art room.  Students could present compare and contrast work on artists.  They could collaborate on projects showing views of art works that exemplify an art element.  Individual student portfolios could be represented as a personal journey throughout the student’s year showcasing development of their artwork.  Any of these examples could be presented at student /parent/teacher interviews, used at class presentations or be part of an exchange of ideas on a blog or wiki.

Posted in Week 8 | Leave a comment

Instructional Design

“Transferring teaching from the traditional classroom to the distance education “virtual classroom” isn’t an automatic process. It can only happen through skillful training and through rethinking the way in which materials are designed and presented.”

Instructional Design at ICS Teaching and Learning with Technology by Design

From the University of Wisconsin-Extension

© Copyright 2005 Board of Regents, University of Wisconsin
Last Updated: May 2005

I came into this conversation with an idea that ‘instructional design’ was to do with e-learning, but e-learning is just another step in the delivery of education.

Really the whole idea of teaching is:

  • analyse what you’re doing before, during and after your teaching

  • ask yourself why you’re doing it

  • understand the background of your students and their prior knowledge

  • embrace the gamut of presentations available

  • consider the learning preferences of students

  • utilise opportunities to provide timely feedback to encourage and support on-going learning

  • encase your learning and teaching in real life situations or scenarios as much as possible

  • create assessment tasks that provide the student and the teacher with real outcomes that confirm their learning – the basis for all teaching and learning situations.

Instructional design gives all teaching, structure and form and logical, progressive steps to enhance the whole process.

I looked at CathyMooreElearning You Tube – the Big Mistake in E- Learning.  She gave a critical opinion that we too often create courses for the sake of them rather than  sorting out the real issues at hand.  She asks – Is it about disseminating information or educating to effect changes in thinking?

Cathy Moore prefaces course design requests with ” Why?” and tries to narrow the focus of the intended outcomes required by her client. Do her clients need their employees to gain accreditation or just a change of practice?

She had a neat little video that packaged the concepts of ‘instructional design’ succintly although her audio was slow and a little difficult to hear.

Reading the article ‘Quality eLearning: An Instructional design model for online learning in higher education’

http://www.aare.edu.au/06pap/sir06100.pdf

I liked the quote from Greening (1998) “ generally, instructional designers either do not always appear to take advantage of the hypermedia technology, or do so without pedagogical foundation” (p2) .

I’ve found sites that illustrate this, maybe they’re too old and are now outpaced by the zap and pow of other sites that make better use of hot keys and roll overs to ‘activate’ their sites.  One of the education sites was “edumoo”  http://schmooze.hunter.cuny.edu/which seemed really bland with very little interactivity.

Conversely a great Art site http://www.framedbylouie.com/lelias-links/lelias_links.htm used a diverse range of layouts and interactive activities.

One American university was using animation to teach cell theory in biology because it allowed greater scope for illustrating different teaching points. http://www.biocreations.com/pages/bioanimations.html

I really liked the AEG blog Wk 7 references that had a link to the site that teased out Bloom’s taxonomy with verbs that reflected levels of cognitive thinking and nine instructional events  for corresponding cognitive processes.  This site also presented technology based learning activities and interface design to accompany them.  This helps me connect the technology formats to the teaching and learning.

Posted in Week 7 | Leave a comment

Podcasting- “An MP3 a day keeps the worries away.”

This quote from Chan and Lee 2005 isn’t as trite as it first seems.  I’ve been reading Gardner Campbell’s article – Podcasting in Education                    http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ERM0561.pdf

Campbell sees podcasts and blogs as an adjunct to everyday education given the right application.  He relates a fictional situation that puts podcasting in a pivotal position in the education chain of pre and post learning with the central focus still on face to face classes.  He makes a case for piquing the student’s appetite for the upcoming class by providing podcast ‘sneak previews’ of the lesson beforehand and providing avenues of contact with teacher summaries of journal articles via podcasts / blogs etc.   Campbell adds that student interaction through podcasts and blogs can feed the interests of the class by providing peer feedback and encouragement by way of updates on assignments and comments about difficulties and interests from classwork.

Campbell believes that podcasting brings back humanness to the internet.  By hearing the nuances and inflections of the presenter’s voice in a podcast Gardner Campbell reminds us of the  connection that humans have to oral language, the value of an explaining voice as opposed to a flat written text.

To Gardner Campbell a good podcast is like a good teacher it can inspire students.

  • Podcasts have the potential to stimulate and interest the listener, it all depends on the delivery, the bonus is the longevity of a podcast,  Gardner Campbell  alludes to the  ‘long tail’ of a podcast because of the podcast’s  availability well after it is first published, with a potential audience able to upload it in a ‘search’.  He assures us that part of the attraction of podcasts are that they are essentially one-to-one.  The reader is your audience and your voice is the human link to your message.  Some of the fears held about the dangers of student reliance on podcasts are:
  • Attendance- numbers of students to face to face lectures could go down and as a consequence lecturers feel the need to penalise non attendees by springing surprise quizzes or including a class participation mark as part of their evaluation.
  • Accreditation of online courses may affect recognition of awards or credits towards degrees etc, because online courses may not transfer to other institutions.
  • Employers may not recognize certificates etc. such as degrees that can be earned unusually quickly, with no admission requirements or verification of previous academic work, as well as vague descriptions of degree requirements.

Some institutions have created ‘taster courses’ as podcasts that act as a free ad for the institution to attract students to their fee paying courses.  One article asked if we should consider lectures as ineffecient mediaeval technology.  The argument being that they were an outmoded delivery system that was ignoring the potential of  e-learning as a flexible delivery system such as podcasts.

Can I see me using podcasts in my teaching?  Absolutely – part of the reason I’ve taken e-learning this semester is to explore what I can use in my classes.  There’s plenty of potential at http://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/podcasts-for-educators/id74841922

I found a site that is making podcasts as alternative gallery guides for MOMA in New York.  This would be a great model for me to start with.  I came across a great little podcast at http://123listen2me.com/  that had two young children and a parent create a weekly podcast that had ; word for the week– sloe meaning the dark plumlike fruit of a blackthorn, a single word translated into 4-5 languages– ‘angel’ a poem, a slang term– perflippiditty meaning very silly, a Shakespearian insult– “thou roguish pox marked dewberry”, a survey– on dogs, a book of the blog and a what’s been happening this week.

This would make a great model for any grade to investigate and start with.

I now need to work on the How To part of podcasting.

Posted in Week 6 | Leave a comment

On the subject of lurking and Wikis in the Classroom

Lurking

Jacob Nielsen, apparently a guru in all things Internet has an article on ‘Participation Inequality: Lurkers vs. Contributors in Internet Communities.’

Suffice to say I don’t feel so bad about being a lurker.  I’m part of the vast majority.

According to Nielsen’s rule of 90-9-1, 90% of internet users read only, 9% respond occasionally and 1% of users are responsible for most contributions to interactive sites.  He lists a number of incentives that might be employed to entice us – the lurkers, to post responses.  I’m working on it.  To read his ideas follow this link.

http://www.useit.com/alertbox/participation_inequality.html.

Wikis In the Classroom

Wikis can open up our classrooms and give us a wealth of resources to access.  They have the  potential for students and teachers alike to work and learn collaboratively, subject to the design and nature of the tasks that are set.

Currently in my role as a Visual Art’s teacher Wikis could be used to;

  • Link my students to virtual art tours.
  • Collaboratively search for examples of Art elements in works of art around the world.
  • Create a group project exploring a particular artist linking to sites to view the artist’s exhibited work.
  • Post student artwork in an online exhibition.
  • Research artists working in particular mediums.
  • Create online artworks.
  • Work as a forum to discuss mutual art interests.
  • Encourage students to follow artistic pursuits by interacting with like-minded students.

I was surprised that wikis have been around for over ten years and yet they are still being talked about as a new and innovative tool in education sectors.

There were opposing views about the credentials of wikis as an authoritative source of information.  I liked the suggestion that wikis fire off the search and give students/researchers a starting point in their research.  The problem seen with wikis and Wikipedia in particular is  the lack of credentialed research with authentic primary and secondary sources cited.

A problem encountered by many teachers trying to utilize Web 2 technologies is the lack of good, timely technical support and the restrictions placed on setting up software or downloading from the internet.

A great example of a teacher making use of Web2 technologies is Kathleen McGeady from Leopold PS.  She has created a newsletter in collaboration with Simon Collier to encourage teachers to make use of mainly free Web 2 software for classroom use.

Teachers can sign up to have it emailed each week.

http://primarytech.globalteacher.org.au/tech-tools-for-teachers/

PS

I’m still lurking on this site.

An eg of some Web 2 tools suggested on Tech tools to use in your wiki or blog

EMBEDIT.IN

Useful sites to use in the classroom.

www.engagelive.net

www.kidblog.org

www.primarypad.com

Posted in Week 5 | Leave a comment

Blogs as learning spaces in higher education sectors.

I found the exploration of the question posed about the digital generation students’ experience and use of the educational potential of Web 2 technologies as perceived by the general population, really resonated with my own experience.  Social networking and leisure activities such as music downloading and watching videoclips on-line are familiar activities of my own digital natives, my sons and their friends.  In my own workplace I see little evidence of Web 2 technologies being used in an interactive way with our students.  As teachers we hear about great things happening at some other school but in fact there is only 3 out of our staff of over 30 people making any use of Interactive Whiteboards (IWBs) another who is using Skype occasionally and one other who is in the process of making a Wiki for her class to use.

Many teachers show interest in Web 2 technology but time to work on skilling oneself and lack of technical expertise seem to be the blocker to moving into this field of interactive education.

Some of the research pointed out that the current intake of university and higher ed. students are unaware of the potential of Web 2 technology as a powerful adjunct to their studies and research.  They have a perception of the delivery of education from past experiences and are as much a  product of their own educational background as a result.

Interesting to note the progressive success of the Brisbane based on=line course and the tentative acceptance of blogging by the students.

You may not realise the significance of this link http://www.henryfarrell.net/ but it represents a quantum leap of risk taking on my part .  I’ve just successfully added a link to my blog.  I’ve been reading and agreeing with a lot of what has been said in the reading titled ‘Educational Blogging’ by Stephen Downes.  He’s basically saying that we as educators have to use blogs in a truly interactive way, not just ask for prescriptive reflections aimed at an audience of one – the teacher or worse a captive audience – the other class members.  We have to let students use their blogs to search and explore with and then reach out to an interested audience who will interact with each other and LEARN from each other by exchanging relevant links, conferring and questioning each other.  I also read ‘Does blogging actively promote the development of learning communities?’ and Marica Sevelj’s article ‘Weblogs as dynamic learning spaces’.  I concur with their main arguments that when reflection is incoporated in our learning circles and is contextualised in practice our overall learning is maximised. I think I fit the  Bartlett Bragg (2003)  Five Stage Blogging Process.  There was an interesting reference to Richardson ( I shall look up this reference) explaining blogging as a new genre of writing in learning interested me.  He states that blogging  incorporates; 1. reflective thinking and writing, 2. sustained writing over time, 3. engaging sustained writing developing conversation over time, 4. synthesis of disparate learning experiences showing collective relationships and relevance.  He notes when compared to traditional learning experiences in classrooms, blogging can move our learning communities out into the blogosphere and broaden our students’s learning strategies. We need to ensure we don’t contain the potential for this Web 2 technology.

The points about the negative aspects of blogging also rang true for me  ie. actually learning to blog , establishing networks and uncertainty about publicly publishing my thoughts.  I think I’m a ‘lurker’ apparently someone who looks on sites but won’t risk a comment.

Now about this blog http://www.henryfarrell.net/, it’s from a blog called ‘crooked timber’ an educationally connected group, it was a reference in one of the readings, and the author Henry Farrell is commenting way back in 2003 about the uses of blogging as an educational tool for learning.  I jumped around all over the place on this site  and had to get back on track.  I can see how you can get distracted.  One of the contributors to this site recommended using Flickr as a good source of photos.  I shall investigate this more.

Posted in Week 4 | 3 Comments