My e-learning journey began when I was young after being introduced to MSN by my older brother and sister. I soon learnt this new way of communication. Slowly I got deeper into my journey signing up to Myspace and Facebook and frequently using these communicative tools. It was recently that I took a huge dive straight into the deep end of my e-learning journey to enhance my understanding and knowledge of the e-learning tools. This in turn gave me a new set of skills to enhance the possible learning outcomes in my classroom for my students. This Synopsis will reflect on this E-learning journey.
Throughout this journey I have been given the chance to explore a variety of e-learning tools for example Blogs, Flickr, RSS Feeders, Slideshare, Wiki and Web quest just to name a few of them. I have learnt how to use them and have discovered many applications for them. My task was to discover and research each of these tools and their uses. I evaluated whether the technology could be a useful teaching and learning tool for the classroom. I had to create and research possible uses for the different tools. I engaged in online forum conversations answering a couple of questions that were asked. I thoroughly enjoyed Skype chatting to my class mates. I found Skype very useful but also rather distracting at times chatting to family and friends overseas. This also provided an opportunity for me to work collaboratively with my peers asking questions answering theirs. This collaboration was not utilized enough by me and when I reflect back I see that it is a very beneficial process. I will continue to develop this skill as my journey continues.
As a student teacher on my journey to become a teacher I am keen to use the basic tools. Voki Avotar is one of the tools I am keen to implement into the classroom as I believe it would be a very engaging tool for the learners. Mazarno & Pickering (1997) believe it is important to "use a variety of ways to engage students in classroom task" as it is believed that students learn more when engaged. Through the use of the Voki Avator I would be teaching using a mixture of both the visual and auditory senses therefore catering for the different learners needs. The use of Voki also changes the setting or environment in the class. The students rather then just listening to me speak which they do all day, they would get to listen to an exciting Voki instead. The Queensland University of Technology (2009) believes "students learn best when they are engaged in their learning and when learning activities, resources and materials are presented as part of well designed learning environments". Similarly video and Youtube could be used for the same purposes. Here are a couple of examples of how Voki can be implemented in the classroom. Voki could be used to introduce a topic to the students or Voki could be a Policeman online ready to talk to the class about road safety. There was a lesson I prepared for teaching to a class where I dressed up as a park ranger and videoed myself talking about national parks. It would have been much easier if I had created a Voki park ranger for the class to listen to. There are many uses for Voki. It is another means to communicate with the students.
Another tool I would like to use is Wikis. I would use Wikis because it is an awesome tool for group work. Once I learnt about a Wiki I used it for another assignment. As this was a group work assignment I was able to learn first hand how useful it was when working in groups. An added advantage is that Wiki is a very easy tool to use. Group work is a very important part of learning. Students need to learn how to work together because once they are in the workforce they need to know how to relate to and work with people. Group work helps build up an important set of skills for the students. These skills can be recognized as working through various decision-making steps such as organisation, critical thinking, conflict resolution and reflection (EDU Bennett, 2007). Bennett (2007) believes "this approach follows/models many industry situations, including task forces, formal decision-making bodies, committees and informal interactions". PowerPoint is a great tool and enhances learning when used correctly. Jones (2003) believes there are problems with the use on Powerpoint in education and believes “one of the major problems is that its current use is frequently limited to an information transmission mode, often with excessive content, a usage that obscures the wider potential for diverse professional and pedagogically-sound presentations”. Jones (2003) also believes that the use of Powerpoint can enhance learning. I have been using Powerpoint for many of my lessons and believe it helps me provide framework for my lessons and it helps me deliver the correct content. I also like having the ability to add pictures, audio and video which will help engage the different learning styles. Jones (2003) discusses some good reasons to use Powerpoint. One of these is that Powerpoint can provide support and encouragement to the teachers through the facilitation of the structure of a lesson, also through the use of sophisticated audio and visual aids making the presentation more stimulating.
As I am a newbie to these different tools, I have chosen to focus on a couple at a time. I think that further down the track as I feel more comfortable in the classroom and have discovered the capabilities of the other tools I will implement them into the learning journey. I strongly believe that the E-learning technologies have a lot of potential for enhancing learning. I also believe that it is important for a teacher to find which tool suits them and in which circumstances the tools should be used. As a students teacher I will definitely experiment with the different e-learning tools to assess which tools work for me and which tools work for my students. There are some great tools out there on the World Wide Web and many of them have the potential to be brought into the classroom. While all these technologies and tools for the classroom are great, it is of high importance that the Essential Learnings and Pedagogical ways are implemented into E-learning. The QLD Government Department of Education and Training defines productive pedagogies as the "art of teaching" and encourages teachers to use a variety of different teaching styles and strategies. Let’s embrace this virtual world and use it to enhance our teaching methods, but lets not forget how useful the real world context is as a teaching tool as well.
Bennett, T (2007). Edith Cowan University (EDU). Computer reference, cited 20th Augast, 2009, at http://www.ecu.edu.au/CLT/tips/docs/groupwork.pdf
Jones, A., (2003), The use and abuse of Powerpoint in Teaching and Learning in the Life Sciences, cited on the 07/08/09 at http://www.bioscience.heacademy.ac.uk/journal/vol2/beej-2-3.pdf
Marzano, R. J., Pickering, D. J., Arrendondo, D. E., Blackburn, G. J., Brandt, R, S., Moffet, C, A.,(1997) Dimensions of learning: teacher's manual (2nd ed). Alexandria, VA:
Queensland Government ( ). Department of Education and Training. Pedagogy: computer resource cited on the 20th Augast, 2009 at http://education.qld.gov.au/curriculum/learning/teaching/technology/pedagogy/index.html
QUT (2009). Queensland University of Technology (QUT). Computer reference, cited 20th Augast, 2009, at http://www.fye.qut.edu.au/engaging/