Digital pedagogy

So with all of this amazing technology in teachers’ and students’ reach, why don’t teachers embrace it? Why is ICT integration in the classroom so low, despite the fact that it could enhance the classroom significantly?

I think the answer lies in the overwhelming technological overload.

In a few short years, the dynamic of the classroom and the teaching and learning occuring in it has made a staggering change, with new technology with all the bells and whistles forcing its way into our ways of thinking. Students are growing up with technology not just because they want to but because it is demanded in our new world, whether or not it is necessary for effective teaching and learning. So as the students become quickly familiar with all the newest technology, because social disregard awaits them if they don’t, the teachers teaching these kids are left behind as they try to cope with not only the technology but how it is used. All of this new technology may be excellent for use in the classroom but teachers must consider – does it really need to be used? Are the old-fashioned ways so ineffective that we must completely revolutionise teaching and learning?Brown makes the important point in his 2005 article: “most educators know it is technocentric to think that lCT alone can significantly improve learning; it depends on the context” (p. 17). There are many contexts in which ICT is not appropriate, despite its capabilities; for example, the dramatic arts have no real need for interactive whiteboards or iPads in the classroom, as much of it is practical. ICT is revolutionising many areas of modern life but one must consider the old saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” – is it broke?

Teachers are struggling to keep up with new technology because it is moving so quickly, and teachers are both criticised and praised in the media for their overall reluctance or tardiness to embrace information technology. Teachers are dealing with technology applicable to education with the laptops, netbooks, MacBooks, iPads, iPhones, smart-phones, interactive whiteboards, slideshows, electronic databases, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and the list goes on and continues to grow every day. No wonder teachers cannot keep totally up to date – there is no date to keep up to! Teachers must also consider the context of their school environment, as many schools cannot afford to have at least one laptop per a group of students, let alone try to afford interactive whiteboards for every classroom, digital projectors or in our wildest dreams an iPad 2 or iPhone 4 for every student. As good as the technology is, as Brown illustrates, it all depends on context.

Information and communication technology is a wonderful, inspiring revolution to embrace for teachers as it opens worlds of information at their and their student’s fingertips. For a teacher, the wealth of information and application available to them now is a great opportunity, but there will always be issues with ICT integration because it will never stop evolving.

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Resources

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

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

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Adriana Manley – 20100065 – ED4134 Multimedia Blog Assessment

My phone does what?!

Much significant technology has erupted in a very small amount of time, connected to the vast growth in speed and wireless connectivity of the Internet, allowing people to have access to the World Wide Web and thousands of applications for hundreds of thousands of uses at the touch of a screen. I myself have a touch smart-phone and have been astounded at the limitless opportunities that one has at their fingertips.

Such recent technologies with regards to mobile learning include:

– Apple iPhone

– Apple iPad and other tablet PCs

– Smart-phones with Google Android or Nexus technology

and many more on the rise, with features such as:

– Wireless access to the Internet

– HD video and photo storage and viewer

– The ability to store, use and even create apps for thousands of uses

– Text-messaging and email

– Word-processing

– Data storage and viewing with Adobe Reader

and many many more, with more applications and great software being developed every day. It’s no wonder that teachers are struggling to keep right up to date with all of the mobile technology that their students are dealing with, because not only is it costly to continually have updated software, but the technology moves faster than many can comprehend.

Teachers can, if they choose to, engage students in mobile learning in several ways with different forms of technology. Using the Apple iPhone or Google Android technology, teachers can, depending on the year group they are teaching, engage many students using a vast range of applications, or ‘apps’, downloadable either from the Internet or direct to their phones. My smart-phone runs on Android and so searching for educational apps using their Market system, I found applications to teach languages, mathematics, spelling and phonics, human anatomy, colours, shapes – and that’s only in the first few pages! Apps can also be used for older year groups for word processing or email functions, allowing students to work or research on the bus to and from school as well as at home, able to send their work to their teacher or peers through instant messaging methods. Android technology also allows more technologically minded teachers (or those with technological friends) to create their own applications and put them onto the Market, allowing them to have discussion boards, work uploads and downloads, etc., whereas Apple applications require approval from Apple itself before they are accessible to more than one user. This is before we even mention the basic (!) application of wireless access to the Internet, which brings a wealth of information through online texts, information, learning objects, etc. to the palm of a student’s hand. iPads and tablet PCs are the middle road between a functional but less portable desktop computer or laptop and the compact but not always practical mobile smart-phone. They can allow students to see the apps that they have on their phones in a bigger way, read books, draw mindmaps, type documents, learn the periodic table, etc. on a bigger screen and connect to the learning.

The downside to mobile learning is the same downside experienced by all ICT in the classroom – it’s a distraction for students, as they do have applications for games, chat, text-messaging, emails and the dreaded Facebook and Twitter. However, I believe that mobile learning is less distracting than learning on a standard PC or laptop, as there is not the option to run several applications at once without there being consequences to battery life or functions, and as we know, younger people would rather have their phones after class than for them to die during class. The interconnectivity is mindblowing.

So next time you’re struggling to think of a lesson plan, just think – there’s an app for that.

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Adriana Manley – 20100065 – ED4134 Multimedia Blog Assessment

Social constructivism

Social constructivism relates to the idea that people learn most when they interact with others, sharing ideas and creating understanding based on a collective knowledge. It represents student-centred group learning and understanding with teacher or “expert” assistance, rather than traditional models of teacher-centred rote learning. This theory was created and developed by Lev Vygotsky, who asserted that because children are in constant contact with their parents, teachers, peers, friends and relatives, their cognitive development and schema are influenced by social interaction (Marsh, 2008, p. 23). Woolfolk and Margetts define the sociocultural theory as “[emphasis on] the role in development of cooperative dialogues between children and more knowledgeable members of society. Children learn the culture of their community through these interactions” (2010, p. 51). The key theories involved in Vygotsky’s model are the Zone of Proximal Development, scaffolding and the development of private speech.

Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development involves the idea that learning takes place when a student is pushed beyond the boundaries of what they already know and have already achieve, into the area named “Zone of Proximal Development” (ZPD). The ZPD represents the space between the known and familiar, and the student’s overall potential point, beyond which they can never reach. Defined by Vygotsky (1978, pp. 86-87, in Woolfolk and Margetts, 2010, p. 55), the ZPD is:

“the distance between the actual development level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers. The zone of proximal development defines those functions that have not yet matured but are in the process of maturation.”

Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development 

Once the student’s potential has been discovered through discussion, assessment, etc., it is useful for a teacher to push beyond the boundaries of what the student knows and can achieve already – as if to make them uncomfortable with the content given to them. The teacher is to assist them, being the More Knowledgeable Other or the Expert, and give them guidance into understanding the content and achieving the goal. The More Knowledgeable Other may not always be the teacher, as understanding can also just as much come from a more knowledgeable peer or a parent who may know about the content. It aligns somewhat with Piaget’s theory of the accomodation and adaptation of schemas, encouraging students to go beyond what they know already to find new and greater learning and understanding. This is done through scaffolding – giving children structure to their learning and assisting them to discuss, collaborate and create through their learning. Development of inner speech also assists this theory, in that students are egocentric through their earlier stages of development and talk them through problem solving. This sounds like a childish concept but remains throughout our lives as a crucial way of understanding the world around us. Who hasn’t asked themselves – “Why is this so?” “How does this work?” “Where can I find the information?” “Where are my keys?” This inner speech comes through our outer speech, determining how we feel whilst combining it with how others feel, and our understanding grows from this interaction.

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Resources

Marsh, C. (2008). Becoming a Teacher: Knowledge, Skills and Issues. Frenchs Forest: Pearson Education.

Woolfolk, A. Margetts, K. (2010). Educational Psychology. Frenchs Forest: Pearson Education.

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Adriana Manley – 20100065 – ED4134 Multimedia Blog Assessment

Keeping the kids on track – WebQuests as a cognitive tool

One of the most significant problems with relation to using ICT in the classroom is keeping students interested and engaged in their tasks, particularly when they have access to their own laptop or computer and when that computer has access to the Internet. Giving students a research task using the Internet and their own computers seems like a great idea – they can work independently and quietly to form their own judgements and create a document or presentation as an assessment of understanding. Sounds like a perfect task, right? Wrong. More often than not, teachers who attempt to give their students a harmless online research task along the lines of “find out as much as you can about ____________” end up with this –

Modern teacher's worst nightmare. From: http://www.versatables.com/gallery/images/ctl72_2.jpg

A room full of Facebook! If not Facebook, then the students will have one tab/window open to YouTube, one tab for a game, one tab for MSN or instant messaging to the students sitting next to them, with one little Google page with a search on the topic and an empty Word document, posied to open the Google tab when the teacher walks by, glad to see the students working so hard at their task. I have been a student in the last five years – I have performed this ritual myself and so I understand the frustrations that teachers find at the end of the lesson when students have either plagiarised Wikipedia or the first Google response, or have a rushed half-hearted response with nowhere near the level of depth the teacher expected.

That’s where cognitive and scaffolding tools come in, allowing teachers to give assessment-like manual tasks to give students clear guidelines, time limits and assessment criteria for their work. An example of this is the recent development of the WebQuest as a cognitive tool, having set structures to guide students through a research task using the Internet. Dodge (1997) defines a WebQuest as “an inquiry-oriented activity in which some or all of the information that learners interact with comes from resources on the internet”, and details two distinct types of WebQuest for teachers to use. The first is a short term WebQuest, seeking to achieve knowledge acquisition and integration, detailing that it should last one to three lessons and leave the learner with a sound understanding of information presented to them. The long term WebQuest in understood to take from one week to one month to complete, extending and refining knowledge for the learner and giving them a thorough depth of understanding. WebQuests, when followed like a lesson plan, follow the same line of structure: an introduction to the topic; an overall task set for students; a description of the process that learners should follow; smaller activities to allow the students to either achieve small goals on their own or create roles and responsibilities within a group; an assessment to give the teacher an indication of understanding and knowledge; and a conclusion to allow the student to fully understand their work. WebQuests allow for group work as well as independent research, give motivation and structure for students and give the teacher some peace and quiet in the structure of the WebQuest, having the back-up of a solid response to the Facebook epidemic. So you’ll be hearing less of this – Facebook Chat Sound – and more quiet working.

An example of a WebQuest can be found here to give you a guide.

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Resources

Dodge, B. (1997). Some Thoughts About WebQuests. USA: San Diego State University. Accessed March 2011 from: http://webquest.sdsu.edu/about_webquests.html

Adriana Manley – 20100065 – ED4134 Multimedia Blog Assessment

Speaking the digital language – digital natives vs. digital immigrants

Is this a familiar situation?

If you recognised and are familiar with the technological jargon that Taylor produced, you would be considered by Marc Prensky, in his 20o1 article, to be a ‘digital native’. If you are more familiar with Mr. Snailsworth and old-fashioned learning methods of books and manual study, you would be considered a ‘digital immigrant’. It is very clear the difference between the technological skill of Taylor and Mr. Snailsworth in this video, but what does being a ‘digital native’ or a ‘digital immigrant’ mean for the classroom?

It is considered by Bennett, Maton and Kervin (2008, p. 776) that the generation born roughly after 1980 are considered ‘digital natives’ or the ‘Net generation’ due to the fact that they have essentially grown up with information and communication technologies throughout their lives. They are familiar with and reliant on many forms of modern technology unprecedented by former generations, such as using computers at home and in the office, smart-phones, social networking, digital music players, etc. They are often good multi-taskers, find individual work easier, expect learning to be fun and are dependent on technology for communication with others, i.e. email, text-messaging, Facebook, etc. These people, born and bred in the technological age, are then going to school with this new technological skill and appreciation and being taught by a large majority of ‘digital immigrants’.

‘Digital immigrants’ are those born pre-1980 who have not been familiar with modern technology for all of their lives – rather, are thrust into a brand new world and are forced, in order to keep up, to familiarise themselves with an entirely new language of technology and communication. Digital immigrants still rely on older forms of learning and communication, such as using books and encyclopaedias for information, using letters or ‘snail-mail’ rather that instant messaging, and believe that lecture-style learning is still the most effective pedagogy. Prensky (2001, p. 2) details some common “accents” in the way ‘digital immigrants’ attempt to learn the new technological language – printing out emails, need to print documents to edit them rather than editing on screen, and calling to ask if a colleague has received an email. It is clear to see the disparity between natives and immigrants with relation to speaking the new digital language, and therefore it is also clear how the disparity affects the classroom dynamic.

The key characteristics of digital natives and digital immigrants

Prensky (2001, p. 3) believes that this issue is the “biggest single problem facing education today”, but Bennett, Maton and Kervin (2008) argue that not all students coming through this digital age are as adept as Prensky believes them to be, determining that there is as much disparity within the generation as there are between generations (p. 779). Whilst a survey conducted in the USA (Kvavik, Caruso and Morgan, 2004) found that 93.4% of responders own a personal computer, 82% owned a mobile phone and 99.5% used word processing and emailing, Australian studies (Kennedy, Krause, Judd, Churchward and Gray, 2006; Oliver and Goerke, 2007) found that, out of the respondents, only 21% maintained a blog, 24% used social networking technologies and 21.5% downloaded podcasts (Bennett et al, 2008, p. 778). Those figures would be much different today with regards to social networking, with the outbreak of the juggernaut of Facebook, but the idea remains the same – the newer generations may have access and be more familiar with modern technology, but they may not be masters of every single form. It is naive to assume that everyone under the age of 30 is familiar with making a movie and uploading it to YouTube, manipulating HTML to produce a website, building a computer hard-drive, navigating Wikipedia to find basic information, etc. However, ICT technology on this basis of the growing trends should definitely be considered and included into the classroom dynamic as it enriches the classroom setting and learning in the 21st Century.

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Resources:

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants in On the Horizon, 9(5), pp. 1-6. MCB University Press.

Bennett, S. Maton, K. Kervin, L. (2008). The ‘digital natives’ debate: A critical review of the evidence in British Journal of Educational Technology, 39(5), pp. 775-786.

Image – http://www.impressionsthroughmedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/12/digital_natives.jpg

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Adriana Manley – 20100065 – ED4134 Multimedia Blog Assessment

Trends in ICT – Interactive Whiteboards

One of the most signifcant recent trends in the wave of information communication technology is the growing use of the digital Interactive Whiteboard, a device beginning to eclipse the old-fashioned chalkboard and even the more recent whiteboard. The use of the Interactive Whiteboard opens up a wealth of information and technology to the every day classroom and finds many uses among kindergarten through to university classes alike. They allow access to the Internet, learning objects and game, notes and articles, videos, images and many other learning tools unprecendented by any other technology. The Interactive Whiteboard (IWB) surpasses the use of individual laptops for access to Internet and computer learning, as it brings the focus back to the central teaching style and allows for greaterĀ  movement and focus in the classroom.

The IWB technology, often referred colloquially to as the brand SmartBoard, uses a computer or laptop connected to a projector with the projector connected to a large, chalk-board size tablet mounted on the wall acting as a touch screen. The beauty of this technology is that, if you want it to, it acts exactly just a digital whiteboard for scribing notes and making mind-maps, but it also allows you to do so much more. A teacher, with the use of the IWB technology, can produce documents, show slideshow presentations, watch DVD videos, use computer programs; without even mentioning access to the Internet which in itself brings a plethora of teaching tools, such as access to Google, YouTube, learning objects and games, online encyclopaedias, online texts, blogs, WebQuests – the list goes on. This technology allows teachers to have access to the World Wide Web and computer software without the difficult technological management of using a projector and computer and without the dispersing of focus to individual or group computers amongst the students. The IWB technology brings the focus of the room back to a central point, either the teacher or the IWB itself, while still using up-to-date technology to engage the digital language today’s students are familiar with.

The software attached to the IWB is also fairly easy to use if you already know your basic way around a standard computer. To use the IWB without using the attached software, you can navigate with a pen or a touch, depending on how recent it is or the brand of whiteboard, around the system in the same way you would use a mouse on a desktop computer or laptop. Use of the Internet, opening documents and slideshows, watching DVDs or videos, etc. is all the same, given you know how to use those programs on a PC. The software attached to the IWB itself however may prove a bit more tricky for those with less computer experience. I tried my hand at the program called ActivInspire, used with Promethean’s ActivBoard (another very popular brand along with SmartBoard). If your needs were limited to using the board as a digital whiteboard, then the program is quite straight forward and easy to figure out. However if you, like many other brave teachers, want to use the software to its full potential, you may struggle with learning the tricks. Some of the tricks are difficult to navigate without several attempts of trial and error, and even then may never be fully understood by some less technologically inclined educators. However, there are many tutorial videos and documents available on the Internet to allow teachers to improve their skills. There are many resources available to teachers over the Internet in the form of lesson plans, learning objects and games, and tools to assist them to integrate the IWB technology into the classroom. It is clear to see that the Interactive Whiteboard technology is revolutionising the classroom dynamics and bringing modern technology in a focused way to teaching and learning.

Link to learning object example – The Learning Federation Learning Object perfect for use on an IWB

 

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Adriana Manley – 20100065 – ED4134 Multimedia Blog Assessment