Current Trends in ICT

Interactive Whiteboards

 

 

http://blog.teachnet.ie/podcasts/TeachNetPodcasts17.mp3

 

The above podcast has been sourced from http://blog.teachnet.ie and is an interview with Simon Lewis, a Primary school principal and blogger on www.anseo.net, on the rise and popularity of Interactive Whiteboards in today’s schools.

 

PART A

The inclusion of technology as tools in classrooms has picked up steam over the last decade. One particular tool is the Interactive Whiteboard (IWB). Whilst many other technologies have been periphery in the classroom, in many schools the IWB has taken centre stage, becoming the main tool of education.

 

What is an interactive Whiteboard?

An IWB is an ICT tool utilised in classrooms. It is like the traditional whiteboard, with the key difference being the use of a light pen and being hooked up to a computer. These fundamental differences create a new dimension for interactions between students and the ICT, allowing students to not only write on the board but to interact via games and activities.

 

How can it enhance the learning experience?

Kent argues that IWBs in of themselves not going to lead to successful learning. They are merely a tool and are not a replacement for good teaching. They are amplifiers of teaching practices and provide an opportunity for teachers to attain the NSW Department of Education’s Quality Teaching Frameworks of Intellectual Quality, Relevance and Creating a Supportive Learning Environment.

Intellectual Quality is promoted by the use of labelling activities, sorting activities, ordering and sequencing, puzzle, game or simulation activities.

Relevance is obtained by giving students the opportunity to create the content of the lesson and to readily engage the students via capturing and sharing the students’ ideas and comments.

It can also create a supportive learning environment via addressing a number of learning styles in a lesson and fostering a classroom that requires group work.

 

Are IWBs the answer?

Like any other ICT, the IWB is merely a tool. Unlike other ICT, such as mobile phones, lap tops and other mobile devices, the IWB, with its implementation in classrooms across the role can reach a ubiquity that the other technologies cannot.

An IWB creates the opportunity for new interactions between teachers and students and amongst students themselves. It allows greater opportunities for group work, and therefore a greater capacity for problem solving activities, which promote higher order thinking.

That said, an IWB does not provide anything that cannot be done in a low tech classroom. Videos can still be played on a television, songs can be played on a stereo, games can be played on a board and thoughts can be written on a chalkboard. What the IWB does provide however, a focal point and meeting place for these and other activities, forging a sense of continuity and semblance in the learning activities undertaken in the classroom.

And to conclude the most important thing to note, like any tool, the IWB is only as effective as its user. As Kent rightly points out at the outset of his text:

‘The difference between high quality and poor quality teaching with an IWB is not the ICT or the technical competency of the teacher. It is not the brand of IWB being used. It is the quality of the underlying teaching.

 

References

http://blog.teachnet.ie

Kent, P (2010) Secondary Teaching with Interactive Whiteboards Melbourne, Macmillan Teacher Resources

 

PART B

This blog contains a number of multimedia, but this section addresses the inclusion of the podcast at the beginning.

 

Which learning style/s does this ICT support?

This ICT supports an auditory learner.

 

How could this ICT be implemented as a good cognitive tool within the learning environment?

By utilising podcasts or similar sound files, students can be encouraged to listen to them and then report back on what they heard, or create a set of notes

 

How is this ICT enabling the development of creativity?

The podcast provides an example for students to develop and produce their own interview on a subject matter they like or are ‘experts’ in. Students could also create ‘radio’ broadcasts, using ideas from the example given.

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Mobile Learning

Online Quiz – Ancient Greece

http://quizhub.com/quiz/free/f-greece.cfm

The above quiz is found on QuizHub. It is designed to test students’ knowledge of Ancient Greece. The site has a number of educational games, all of which are compatible with the IPad – a form of mobile technology.

PART A

What is Mobile Learning?

MoLeNET is a United Kingdom based collective of about 40,000 learners and 7000 educators who work to propagate the use of Mobile Learning. The MoLeNET programme defines Mobile Learning as “The exploitation of ubiquitous handheld technologies, together with wireless and mobile phone networks, to facilitate, support, enhance and extend the reach of teaching and learning.”

No longer is the humble mobile phone simply there to make calls. It is now a research tool (with internet access), a social networking device and a news feed. With the leaps forward in mobile technology, particularly with the advent of iPhones and similar devices, a whole range of new opportunities in learning have been opened and classrooms should be looking towards exploiting these technologies.

How can the use of mobile technologies be beneficial in our classrooms?

As alluded to above, mobile technologies can be used in a myriad of ways in an educational context. The increase of functions with the increasing ubiquity of the technology means that such technologies can be progressively introduced into the classroom environment.

The MoLeNET site suggests the following uses of mobile technologies in the education process:

  • be used for both independent and collaborative learning
  • help bridge the gap between mobile phone literacy and ICT literacy
  • engage reluctant learners and young people not in education or employment
  • help improve literacy and numeracy and help learners to recognise their  existing abilities
  • help to raise the self-confidence and self-esteem of non-traditional learners
  • take place outside, whilst travelling, in the workplace or in the classroom
  • be used to capture evidence and for assessment

What issues will do we face and are they valid?

The general perception of teachers of mobile technologies in the classroom is that they are a distraction and an impediment to the main work of learning. Of course, like any tool, mobile technology can be used in a negative, time wasting fashion, but as the ownership by students of mobile technologies increases, it is up to teachers to look to successfully integrate these technologies into their classroom. The challenge is broadening the students understanding of the mobile technology as more than just a standard communication or game device, to teach them it has great capacity as a research tool and information delivery service.

There are also issues surrounding Cyber bullying, with bullies capable of tormenting their victims without having to be face to face. Yet again, like the proper use of these tools in the school environment, students need to be educated that bullying is not on, no matter the form it takes. The Australian government’s Cybersmart site has a number of useful resources to deal with bullying.

The below quiz is sourced from the Cybersmart site and tests teens knowledge of cyber safety.

http://www.cybersmart.gov.au/Teens/Fun%20things%20to%20do/How%20cybersmart%20am%20I/How%20cybersmart%20am%20I.aspx

 

The Verdict

Mobile technologies in the classroom open a wide range of educational opportunities. They can be great tools in providing a stimulus for students in the classroom and gives teachers another tool in educating students, via the use of WAP enabled phones and Apps. As mobile technologies become more ubiquitous in nature, educators should embrace these technologies, not see them as a distraction, and implement the necessary lesson plans to integrate them into the classroom.

References

www.molenet.org.uk

www.mobilearn.org

www.quizhub.com

www.cybersmart.gov.au

PART B

Online Quizzes

Which learning style/s does this ICT support?

This ICT supports Active learners, those who tend to retain and understand information best by doing something active with it.

 

How could this ICT be implemented as a good cognitive tool within the learning environment?

It can be used to reinforce and reiterate what has been learnt in the classroom.

 

How is this ICT enabling the development of creativity?

Students can be encouraged to create their own quizzes and give them the opportunity to look at the most successful ways in testing knowledge.

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Pedagogical Belief and ICT Integrations

The picture above shows a vitual classroom and is an example of ICT integration into the education process.

 

PART A

Ertmer

Ertmer’s article, ‘Teacher Pedagogical Beliefs: The final frontier in our quest for technology integration’ looks at the use of ICT in classrooms and the relationship between a teacher’s own pedagogical beliefs. Ertmer argues that the most prevalent impediment to the full integration of ICT into our classrooms are the personal beliefs of teachers, this is despite the fact that frameworks for successful ICT integration into the education process are in place. She suggests a slow introduction of and training of teachers on new technologies, familiarising them with the ICT and encouraging them to integrate its use in their classrooms. It is about the change of teacher practices, to change their beliefs in the effectiveness of ICT in the classroom.

Brown

Brown, in his article The growth of enterprise pedagogy: How ICT policy is infected by neo-liberalism. Australian Educational Computing’ looks to take to task the basic assumptions about the integration of ICT in Australian schools. He suggests that technology is merely a tool for education, therefore not a means to an ends in itself. He bemoans the lack of professional debate around the increase of technology in the classroom, highlighting the policy agendas of government and others as the primary driver of increased ICT use in the classroom. His article does not necessarily advocate the eradication of the use of ICT in the classroom, but to attempt to reclaim the discussion about education of Australian youth and pedagogy for those who are actively engaged in the classroom: teachers.

The Verdict

Ertmer and Brown both look at ICT Integration and the pedagogical beliefs of teachers from two completely different viewpoints. Ertmer’s view that the roadwork, so to speak, has been laid for the integration of high level technology in our classrooms suggests an almost intransigence on behalf of teachers in not adopting the new technology in a slavish, hungry vigour, whilst Brown suggests an almost malaise towards the subject from teachers, arguing the seeping of technology into our classrooms is due to shadowy neo-conservative agendas. But is there a middle road?

There can be no argument that as technology increases, teachers should look at better integrating it into their personal pedagogies. Technology can be utilised as a good cognition tool in educating students. To achieve this, Professional Development should be offered to teachers so that the technology can be utilised in an effective and meaningful manner and technology implementation, particularly when coming from government, should always have ubiquity at heart. But decisions on how technology should be integrated into the classroom should come from teachers themselves. This should be done at both a classroom and policy level.

This does not suggest that teachers should have sole control over the policy debate of the increase of technology in our classrooms. Teachers are one of many stakeholders in our classrooms. Instead, teachers should work together to formulate a viable and clear policy direction that keeps in mind the changes in our technology and the best ways to integrate its use into the classroom. It is not technology for technology’s sake, but utilising all the tools available to ensure that into the future, we can achieve the best educational outcomes for students.

References

Brown, M. (2005). The growth of enterprise pedagogy: How ICT policy is infected by neo-liberalism. Australian Educational Computing, 20(2), 16-22.

Ertmer, P. A. (2005). Teacher pedagogical beliefs: The final frontier in our quest for technology integration? Educational Technology Research & Development, 53(4), 25-39.

PART B

The picture at the beginning of the blog shows three students conversing utilising videoconferencing software. Whilst the picture depicts distance education, it can be used to elicit responses from students regarding ICT integration.

Which learning style/s does this ICT support?

This supports visual learning styles.

 

How could this ICT be implemented as a good cognitive tool within the learning environment?

The picture can be used to start discussion with the students about the use of ICT in the classroom and to think more deeply and debate the pros and cons of the increased use of this and other technologies in education.

 

How is this ICT enabling the development of creativity?

The picture requires the students to think about what is going on in the photo and to develop hypothesis about what is going on and eventually how this technology could be used in other settings.

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ICT as a Cognitive Tool – Webquests

PART A

The following link is an example of a Webquest. This particular Webquest is a commerce one:

http://www.webquestdirect.com.au/webquest.asp?id=791&page=5996

By addressing the key aspects of meaningful learning, a Webquest is a good example of how ICT can be an effective cognitive tool in today’s classrooms.

Why is the use of ICT an effective cognitive tool in today’s classrooms?

In Jonassen et al (2008) article, the author argues a constructivist approach to learning, where meaningful learning is achieved through the students’ undertaking activities or tasks that are Active, Constructive, Intentional, Authentic, and Co-operative. The diagram below demonstrates the interconnectedness of these activities.

There are many ways activities can be constructed to achieve meaningful learning, but the increase of ICT use in the classroom has opened a number of avenues for students to be engaged in meaningful learning. One particular ICT tool that can be effectively utilised in the classroom as a cognitive tool for students and an avenue for meaningful learning is the Webquest, whose model was developed by Bernie Dodge in 1995. A Webquest is an ‘inquiry-oriented activity in which some or all of the information that learners interact with comes from resources on the internet’ (Dodge 1995).  Webquests construct a task where the students actively research a subject matter, learning through discovery. They address each part of Jonassen’s components of meaningful learning. They require Active inquiry from the students. They are constructive in their approach, requiring the students to synthsise and report back what they have learnt. Webquests require students to fulfil a particular task, therefore making them Intentional. Webquests are also Authentic, placing the subject matter in their context, giving the students a real world experience of the subject. Finally, Webquests are more often than not designed to be completed in groups, therefore making them Co-operative.

Webquests, by addressing each aspect of Jonassen’s key criteria for achieving meaningful learning, are an effective cognition tool in today’s classrooms. Furthermore, by utilising other ICT tools, such as Interactive Whiteboards, mobile tools, videos and games, the learning experience can be augmented and made more enjoyable for the classroom.

References

Dodge B. (1997). Some thoughts about webquests. Retrieved from https://blackboard.nd.edu.au/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%2

Jonassen D, Howland J, Morra R.M, Crismond D (2008) Meaningful Learning with Technology 3rd ed Pearson, New York

 

PART B

The above Webquest requires students to explore issues related to employment as part of the Stage 5 Commerce Syllabus.

 

Which learning style/s does this ICT support?

Webquests support a number of learning styles, from visual to auditory, to investigative.

 

How could this ICT be implemented as a good cognitive tool within the learning environment?

This blog deals with the use of Webquests as cognition tools. A Webquest ticks all the boxes when it comes to meaningful learning.

 

How is this ICT enabling the development of creativity?

The Webquest, though giving an initial task and stages, provides students with the scope to take the research into areas of interest relating to the subject.

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Constructivism!

The above graphic organiser is retrieved from Dr Chris Campbell’s Powerpoint presentation Information Technology for Teaching and Learning

PART A

The NSW Board of Studies has taken a stance that learning should be constructivist in its approach. But what is Constructivism, what are the alternatives and is it the right approach for the modern classroom.

What is Constructivism?

Marsh defines Constructivism as, ‘a mode of instruction that emphasises the active role of the learner in building understanding and making sense of information’ (2008, pg. 83). It is a theory of educating that puts the learner at the centre of the learning experience. Understanding is built via activities such as group work, research, simulation games, role playing and other such activities that require the learner to acquire an understanding of the subject matter and construct their own thoughts about it. It focuses strongly on problem solving, exploration and collaborative efforts.

What is the argument for?

A shift towards Constructivist classrooms has occurred over the past decade or so. This move has been predicated by the belief that it is the most optimal form of education. White-Clark et al, in discussing the findings of the learning methods for Math students, in particular the use of Constructivist approaches to Math education, noted that ‘students better understand the relevance of mathematical concepts and become more motivated and interested in their math courses, thereby improving math performance and meeting the standards’ (2008 pg. 41). Further to this, von Glasserfeld, in summarising the psychologist and proponent of Radical Constructivism, Piaget, notes that knowledge is not passively received but actively built upon the learner’s cognition of a subject. In this way, the argument for and the advantage of Constructivist modes of education is a greater engagement from the students and better results, as it is built upon a person’s natural learner behaviours.

What is the alternative?

There are a myriad of different theories of teaching out there, but the method of instruction that is mostly considered the antithesis of Constructivism is what is known as Direct Instruction. Though not diametrically opposed to Constructivism, it does provide the clearest alternative to a Learner based approach in the classroom. Direct Instruction places the teacher at the centre of the classroom, delivering the information to the students in a variety of ways, such as lectures, readings and demonstrations. Marsh notes that its main purpose is to ‘help students learn basic academic content in the most efficient way’ (2008 ph. 71), making it arguably ideal for a ‘teach to the test approach’. Ongoing Direct Instruction can be criticised as monotonous and unengaging for students.

The verdict.

The Quality Teaching Frameworks outlined by the NSW Board of Studies, Intellectual Quality, Significance/Relevance and Quality Environment, all encourage teachers to foster a Constructivist approach in the classrooms. Conversely, the NSW Board of studies also has an Outcomes based curriculum which is measured by standardised testing. Whilst Constructivism fosters quality learning environments by promoting student engagement and seeking relevance to their lives, one could argue that a Direct Instruction approach, via rote learning, would be the most advantageous in students achieving the tested outcomes. In this way, whilst Constructivism is probably the best the method of instruction, a combined approach, one that mixes Direct Instruction with activities that promotes Constructivist learning is probably the way to approach teaching in classrooms. It allows a greater breadth of activities to choose from and gives students the opportunity to find relevance, and develop greater understanding in what they have learnt via Direct Instruction, fostering greater motivation and communication skills in the classroom.

 

References

Campbell C, Information Technology for Teaching and Learning Powerpoint Presentation

Marsh, C (2008) Studies of Society and Environment, Exploring the Possibilities, 5th Edition, Pearson Education, Australia

von Glaserfeld E, An Exposition of Constructivism: Why some like it Radical: retrieved from: www.oikos.org/vonen.htm

White-Clark R, DiCarlo M, Gilchriest N (2008) “Guide on the Side” An Instructional Approach to meet Mathematical Standards, The University of North Carolina Press, retrieved from: http://blackboard.nd.edu.au/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_120723_1%26url%3D

PART B

The above graphic organiser is retrieved from Dr Chris Campbell’s Powerpoint presentation Information Technology for Teaching and Learning.

Which learning style/s does this ICT support?

This ICT supports a visual based learning style that likes to categorise information.

 

How could this ICT be implemented as a good cognitive tool within the learning environment?

It smartly arranges the key information into an easy to discern graphic organiser

 

How is this ICT enabling the development of creativity?

The graphic organiser provides the impetus for students to create their own graphic organisers and provides a good example how to synthesis complicated information into an easy to understand graphic.

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PART B to Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants

This is the second part of the Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants blog. This specifically pertains to the use of ICT in my blog. As you may have noticed, there are three different types of ICT utilised in the blog. There are two video clips, a link to a game and a graphic. This second part of the blog pertains to the first youtube clip, entitled Digital Native, Digital Immigrant. A copy is below:

Which learning style/s does this ICT support?

The video clip suits those learners who are more in tune with visual representations.

How could this ICT be implemented as a good cognitive tool within the learning environment?

The video clip provides a different representation of the information that is provided in written form. It allows the learner to slow it down, pause it and rewatch it as required. A videoclip, even one that isn’t very exciting, is more likely to be engaging than a talking head.

How is this ICT enabling the development of creativity?

This particular clip was obviously done by an individual, so it would probably best be used as an example and encouragement of students to undertake their own projects and develop their own videoclips on a particular subject, even one as dry as Prensky’s.

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Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants

Digital Natives vs Digital Immigrants

The terms Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants were termed by Marc Prensky in his article ‘Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants’ (2001) and that the rise of the former has necessitated a change in the way educational institutions teach.

Prensky asserts that there is a fundamental shift in the students of today from the students of the past. He suggests, quoting Dr Bruce D. Perry of Baylor College of Medicine, that ‘Different kinds of experiences lead to different brain structures’ and argues that this shift has been caused by the explosion of technology over the past thirty years. These students, those born since 1980, are the Digital Natives and are fluent in the tongue of technology. Particular qualities are assigned to these Digital Natives. ‘They are used to processing information really fast, like to parallel process and multi-task. They prefer group work and enjoy instant gratification and rewards and prefer games to ‘serious work’ (Prensky 2001).

The older generation, even those who may proficiently use technology, he terms Digital Immigrants. They may know the language, but ‘speak with an accent’, so to speak. They may know how the technology works and use it successfully themselves, but they did not grow up with the language and as such will always be immigrants, no matter how efficient they are.

Prensky’s Proposal

Prensky advocates a new approach to teaching, one that rethinks the methodology and the content of teaching.

In regards to methodology, he suggests that teachers communicate in the language and the style of their students and to have the Digital Natives guide the most effective methodology in educating them, whether it is by using videogames or social networking functions or other relevant technologies.

In regards to content, he suggests that education should teach both ‘Legacy’ (the traditional content) and the ‘Future’ (digital and technological content) content in a fusion. Classrooms need to learn and strive to teach ‘Legacy’ content in a new fashion so as to hold the attention and engage the Digital Natives.

Prensky also advocates ‘edutainment’, particularly around the use of video games for educational purposes. Below is a link to a game from the www.games2train.com website founded by Prensky. This game, moveit, is in a board game format, where the player roles the dice and is then asked multiple choice questions on their subject matter.

http://www.games2train.com/games/moveit/moveit.html

The Bennett, Maton and Kervin Critical Review

Bennett et al take to task the conclusions and assumptions contained in Prensky’s work, looking critically at the terms Digital Native and Digital Immigrants. It suggests that Prensky’s work has created a ‘moral panic’ amongst the academia, where there are suggestions of wholesale changes to the method of education used for the Digital Natives. The article uses empirical evidence to conclude that there is no evidence to suggest that there is a strictly homogenous group of Digital Natives. Skill sets and digital literacy differs amongst the ‘Digital Natives’ and as such there is no clear need for the current education principles and methods to be rejected completely out of hand and replaced with a new way tailored to the Digital Natives. It effectively argues that there is no singular Digital Native group and that to cater for a group, in reality whose digital literacy and access to technology greatly differs, is tantamount to hysteria and throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

The Bennett et al article calmly looks at the claims of Prensky and debunks them systematically providing evidence and research to back up their criticisms. They rightly assert that Prensky has not backed up his arguments with hard evidence and strengthen their own by researching the empirical evidence available. This paper’s strength comes from not dismissing the need to improve or alter parts of our educational approach, particular when it comes to ICT, but rather looking to quell the ‘moral panic’  that suggests a complete overhaul of the education system to cater for a group that does not definitively exist.

My opinion

One could argue, cynically, that Prensky, as an author on Digital Learning and founder and CEO of companies and organisations that specialise in game-based learning, has identified or created a need, via a ‘moral panic’ around the changes in technology. Of course, this is not to completely discredit his arguments but to suggest that perhaps by being in the business of digital education, Prensky himself can either be considered a holder of intimate knowledge on the subject or, conversely, that he holds some bias in the educational qualities of ICT.

Whether teachers like it or not, the nature of the classroom, teaching and student-teaching interactions are going through change. There are more and more academics and teachers lending their voices to the need for educators to begin tailoring their lessons to a new generation of learners. Prensky’s article articulates this growing need, and, despite the basis of his argument resting heavily on his personal experiences as an educator, he has a point. Does it require a complete overhaul on how teachers educate as he suggests? No. What it does require, as Blackall (2005) suggests, is a greater concentration on Digital Literacy, either in conjunction with or as a part of the traditional literacy of reading, writing and arithmetic, recognising the growing impact that technology has on our present and our future.

As for Prensky’s distinction of Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants, growing up in a certain era should not be taken as a determinate for ones digital literacy. There are many people born post 1980 who struggle with technology, whilst there are many born before 1980 who are adept, and expert, at using new technologies. Bennett et al put up a convincing argument for there being a non-homogenous group of ‘Digital Natives’, that to consider them highly involved with technology is to only look at a small cross section of students and that interactions with technology are facile for many students today. Whilst technological advancements are less shocking to those who are born with them, it is false to say that a Digital Immigrant cannot be a fully immersed Native, especially if they were the ones who came up with the language.

To conclude, there is definitely a need to address the growing technology and the changing needs of students in the classroom. This does not suggest a complete overhaul of the education system, but a growing recognition that to effectively educate new generations of students, ICT and technology should be blended through educational interactions and delivery. This shouldn’t be done due to some moral panic, but to provide information to students that they are both familiar and comfortable with. As digital literacy grows, then the use of technology should with it. As per the findings of Bennett et al, there is nothing to suggest that even all the Digital Natives speak the tongue and that interactions with technology are for many purely a tool based relationship. With that said, it may be some time till we have a generation of undeniable Digital Natives.

References

Prensky M (2001) Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. Retrieved from: http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky%20-%20Digital%20Natives,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf

Bennett S, Maton K, Kervin L (2008) ‘The Digital Natives Debate: A Critical Review of the Evidence’, British Journal of Educational Technology, 39(5), 775-786

Blackall L, (2005) Digital Literacy – How it effects teaching Practices and networked learning futures – a proposal for action research. Retrieved From: http://networkedlearning.wikispaces.com/digital+literacy+and+how+it+affects+teaching+and+learning+practices

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