Thursday, August 20, 2009
Over the past six weeks I have engaged with various styles and types of tools that have the potential to work extremely well in classroom practices if applied properly. A list of all of the tools that I have investigated throughout my journey can be found by looking at Appendix 1. Each and every one of these tools as mentioned before has potential for enhancing student learning in some way, if used correctly and in appropriate contexts.
Using online tools such as the ones I have engaged with throughout my journey can help teachers to scaffold student learning while at the same time providing students with ownership of their work. Preferred learning styles are also catered for using these tools. This is highlighted by McInerney and McInerney when they state that a student’s engagement in a given activity is based upon how they operate as a learner (McInerney & McInerney, 2006). During my journey and through the use of one of the online tools, I discovered my own learning style. Results show that I best learn in a social context with the use of visual aids. More information on my learning style can be found by looking at my blog- http://amyjo89.blogspot.com/2009/07/style-scores-visual-9-social-11.html.
As a result of this journey, I have discovered that there are many amazing tools out there that are readily accessible depending on your requirements and preferences. Personally, I discovered that I most like blogs, PowerPoint, web quests and the Learning Place. I feel that as a learning manager you really need to find all the sources out there that are available and safe to use and then decipher through them to work out what it is that you feel most comfortable teaching and working with. You then need to identify what tools best cater for your specific group of learners’ needs. As there are so many varieties of tools available, catering for everyone’s needs is now achievable.
Blogs are something that are relatively easy to create, however do come with some safety issues. This is not a major problem however, so long as teachers initially make students aware of the safe, ethical and legal operations involved. Students need to be made aware that anything they take of someone else’s work, whether it be written text, audio or visual that the source must be recognized and reference needs to be made to where it was derived from. This is something that the teachers must continue to reinforce. Blogs are an excellent way of communication between students and can be used to provide peer evaluation. They promote students to use higher order thinking when they are commenting on other people’s blogs also (Eisner, 2000).
PowerPoint is a very basic tool compared to some other available tools; however it is still really excellent in the applications it contains. My favourite thing about PowerPoint is that you do not need the internet. This is such an advantage of this tool as some schools do not have access to the internet or they simply choose to operate using the intranet. The band width of a school is also an issue when it comes to internet and with PowerPoint this is not a concern. PowerPoint can be used in many different ways, whether it is for a presentation, assessment task or for other uses such as photo slideshows to share with friends and family. Teachers can use it to present lessons and then provide students with printouts of each slide, students can use it as an ICT component to an assessment task or they might choose to make a slideshow of recent camp photos to share with the rest of the school on parade. Whatever the use, PowerPoint is easy to navigate and almost all computers have the program today.
The Learning Place is another very valuable and worthwhile resource to incorporate into classroom practices as it caters for not only student learning but also for teacher scaffolding. Teachers are able to access a resource within this site called Blackboard. Blackboard is a tool that I use regularly at University. I do this to engage with course material that is in addition to what I learn in class and also to refer to material that I have been exposed to during class that I made need to revisit. Teachers can upload there notes from class, any additional information about assessment task etc. Options for students using this tool are endless. They have the freedom to engage in learning objects, forums, chat rooms, blogs and much more. Of these avenues all can be seen to link closely to Keirsley and Schneiderman’s Engagement Theory (1999) and also Oliver’s Learning Design Framework (Oliver, 1999). Students are engaged and working collaboratively with the help and scaffolding the teacher provides.
The final tool in which I believe to be essential in a classroom context includes web quests. Web quests are ideal for both students and teachers. I know this as I have previously created a Web quest and the associated benefits were quite clear and obvious. Teachers have the ability to plan ahead and create a web quest for students to undertake that specifically links to the work being studied. Teachers are able to scaffold the tasks and the learning within the web quest to suit the needs and ability levels of their specific group of learners. Students on the other hand have the opportunity to work with multimodal material, either individually or collaboratively with fellow peers. Not only does the site allow teachers to be specific with what information they want the students to view by adding in hyperlinks to specific web pages, they are responsible for the order in which students complete the web quest. This was teachers are assured that the students are taking all of the required steps in a sequential order which means that nothing will be forgotten or neglected.
All of the tools I have investigated and engaged with over the past six weeks have potential to work efficiently in any classroom. I feel that as Learning Manager’s of the future we need to familiarise ourselves with the available tools and be active in identifying new tools that arise with social change. We can no longer bury our heads in the sand and think that someone else will teach our students these vital tools; we need to take charge and be that person! This can be done by working collaboratively with our peers/ co-workers and engaging in discussions. As you can see in Appendix 2 this is what I have done all throughout my learning journey.