Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Well, what a learning journey I have had completing this, my first professional blog! My brain feels like it is overflowing with so much more information and knowledge about so many different technologies that I had never considered looking at in depth before or even heard of. So what exactly have I learnt over the past few months?

In the 21st Century, technology is a large part of society and our lives. Because technology is so relevant now, there is no argument as to why it is being emphasised more and more through curriculum documents and in education as whole. In the Queensland Technology Essential Learnings it describes how students should learn to see that technology has a place in peoples work and community. It also identifies the importance for students to explore the use of technology practices. As teachers it is our responsibility to help students to learn to use tools, technology and Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) to inquire, create and communicate, while also being able to “reflect on learning and consider the uses and impacts of technology in familiar everyday situations.” (Queensland Studies Authority, 2007b, p. 1) “Students live in a technological world where information and communication technologies (ICTs) are integral to everyday situations.” (Queensland Studies Authority, 2007a, p. 1)

This course provided me with a starting point and gave me the opportunity to actually look into and discover many familiar and new technologies. It also made me critically think about how, in my teaching practice, I could utilise these technologies to engage and help all different students, of differing learning styles and abilities to achieve learning outcomes, develop higher order thinking skills and creativity. “Applying ICTs as a tool for learning assists students to become competent, discriminating, creative and productive users of ICTs. ICTs can be integrated in a variety of ways within and across all key learning areas to support thinking, learning, collaboration and communication.” (Queensland Studies Authority, 2007a, p. 1) My somewhat ‘closed mind’ that I had when starting this course, slowly began to be opened and amazed at all the technologies that were available to me. I began to see and realise that so many different technologies would be so great and beneficial to use in the classroom because they provided for real life experiences that students can relate to and help them become life long learners.

So what technologies would I use and how would I use them to enhance student learning and make my teaching more efficient? From all the technologies that I got to experience and practice using, I do have a few favourites that I can see myself using in the classroom to make my teaching more efficient and to enhance my students’ engagement, participation and learning. My specific favourites and ones that I could see myself using in my classrooms are Voki avatars, Flickr and Wikis.

The Voki Avatars, I think are fantastic. They are fun to use and the opportunities are endless as to what characters can be created. In my classroom I would use these as a ‘co-teacher.’ Instead of me (the normal human teacher) giving tasks to students, I would create an avatar that would ‘work alongside me’ to give information and instructions to students. I could see this engaging students better and it would make them want to investigate and complete different tasks because it would be new and interesting for them.

I also loved the capabilities of Flickr. Because Flickr is an online photo management and sharing tool, this would prove to be of great use to recording educational experiences in the classroom. Students like to see what they have done and taking pictures is a way to capture their learning experiences at all different stages. Flickr would work great by having albums of different activities/units students complete. Students would have the capabilities to take pictures, upload them onto the account and then have the opportunity to also be able to add comments and descriptions of what is happening in the pictures and the purpose of them. Ultimately they are sharing their learning journey and knowledge with the class and others.

One more that I can see enhancing student learning and make my teaching more efficient is the use of Wikis. There are many ways that Wikis could be used. As a class, students could create a page to display their understandings and learning throughout a unit of work, utilising a concept similar to a KWL and add different information and questions at different stages of the unit of work. Individually, wikis could provide students with an alternative way to complete assessments such as a report. Instead of presenting their report on a poster for example, students could generate a wiki to display their project. They would be able access it at school and at home to work on it. Through wikis students will have the opportunities to add different fonts, colours, pictures, etc, to ensure that the task is more open ended and appealing.

Throughout using different ICTs in the classroom, the opportunities are endless!!! We just need to get out thinking hats on and design learning experiences that will interest our students and expose them to many different technologies that are readily available to us and our students.

By communicating and collaborating with my peers through the moodle discussion forums and our professional blogs, provided me with the opportunity to professionally collaborate my ideas and opinions, along with concerns and confusions I had. Through expressing them (in the forums and blogs), I learn that a lot of my technical difficulties, questions, fears and worries were very similar to others in the course as well. When peers commented on my professional blog entries, it was great to read their opinions of what I had done, while also providing me with extra points to consider that I would not have thought of if I had not shared my insights and learning with others. By following other peoples blogs that were doing the same course and tasks I was able to see so many different opinions and experiences that people had while learning to work and explore the many different technologies that were unfamiliar to us. It was also a great tool to inform each other of great information/sites/programs that could assist us with our understandings and learning journey.

I have learnt, and now believe that e-learning (technology supported education) enables us to take what is considered ‘normal everyday’ learning experiences and turn them into engaging, fun, interactive and hands on learning that benefits all styles of learners. Technology has a very important place in education! To be efficient and resourceful teachers, we need to be constantly practicing and experimenting with unfamiliar technologies along with applying our knowledge, experiences and different pedagogical strategies in our learning experiences. We need to embrace technology, just as I am finally learning to do myself!


Queensland Studies Authority. (2007a). Information and Communication (ICTs) Cross Curriculum Priority by the end of Grade 3. Retrieved on August 16, 2009, from

Queensland Studies Authority. (2007b). Technology Essential Learnings by the end of Grade 3. Retrieved on August 16, 2009, from

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Everything old is new again for internet-weary young adults

I came across this article on a news website. I found it interesting to read and I was wondering if anyone had any specific thoughts or opinions about it. If you do, feel free to comment! Thanks heaps!,28348,25779367-5014239,00.html

REFERENCE (2009). Everything old is new again for internet-weary young adults. Retrieved on August 15, 2009, from,28348,25779367-5014239,00.html

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Integrating Technology, Higher-Order Thinking, and Student-Centered Learning

I came across on SlideShare a great presentation titled: Integrating Technology, Higher Order Thinking and Student Centered Learning. Through studying this course for the past 7 weeks, it has amazed me how technology helps us to engage, interest, facilitate and help our students develop higher order thinking and creative thinking skills. This sideshow has great definitions, images, diagrams, links and, questions and activities! Feel free to take a look.


Adams, D. (2009). SlideShare - Integrating Technology, Higher-Order Thinking and Student Centered Learning. Retrieved on August 16, 2009, from

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Digital Storytelling

“Digital Storytelling is a fantastic way to engage students. There are many different definitions of "digital storytelling," but in general, all of them revolve around the idea of combining the longstanding art of telling stories with any of a variety of available multimedia tools, including graphics, audio, video animation, and Web publishing.” (Country Areas Program, n.d.).

In YouTube, I came across a great clip called 'Digital storytelling in plain English', that explained what it really was, and its relevance and usefulness in education.

On the Digital Storytelling web page by the Lubbock Independent School District, I found one of the tables of information quite interesting and very relevant to students learning. Digital storytelling isn't just a fun activity that students completed where they require few skills to produce, but instead, it requires a variety of writing, speaking, visual, technical and personal developmental skills. It made me questions, if this is such a great learning tool to use in the classroom that benefits students, then why hadn't I heard of it before or seen it being used in classrooms?

(Lubbock Independent School District, 2009).

So why is Digital Storytelling beneficial to students and how does it fit with learning theories? A document on the Tech4Learning website, titles 'Digital Storytelling in the classroom, directly states that: "Digital Storytelling can be very powerful for many students addressing various types of learning styles and modalities. Digital Storytelling provides meaning to learning through the use of their auditory, visual and kinesthetic skills. Students are also required to use higher order thinking skills in their creativity of their stories. However, much of the power of Digital Storytelling comes from the collaboration and teamwork process. In a collaborative environment, students are actively engaged in the exchange of ideas and are not only responsible for reaching their own academic goals, but the goals of others in the group. This provides opportunity for students to think critically, which promotes life long learning. Digital storytelling is an effective way to engage students in their learning. First of all, it asks for their perspective and validates it as important. Secondly, they get to work in a medium that is relevant and meaningful to their lives (computers). The ability to tell their story in a variety of ways - through sounds, music, graphics, photographs, and original artwork allows them to express their creativity in ways other than just text. The skills used in creating digital stories requires them to build planning, organizational, and time management skills." (Tech4Learning, 2007).


Country Areas Program. (n.d.). What is digital storytelling? Retrieved on August 15, 2009, from

Lubbock Independent School District. (2009). Digital Storytelling. Retrieved on August 15, 2009, from

Sublimities. (2009). Digital Storytelling in Plain English. Retrieved on August 15, 2009, from

Tech4Learning. (2007). Digital Storytelling in the classroom. Retrieved on August 15, 2009, from

PowerPoint Quizzes

I have seen PowerPoint quizzes used before, however I have never attempted to make one myself. A PowerPoint quiz that I remember seeing and liking was a few years ago on a school holidays activity for children where I was volunteering at. One of the activities that the children experienced was a modified version of ‘Who wants to be a millionaire’ that had been created using PowerPoint. All the children loved it as the questions had been created to target their knowledge and understandings; it engaged them and in was interactive! They especially loved that the music of the 'Who wants to be a millionaire' TV show was played at certain stages of the clip, including the drum roll when waiting for the correct answer on the next slide. It made them feel like they were actually sitting on the real millionaire hot seat and they were excited because they had a chance of winning different prizes for reaching different levels of the quiz. The Quiz gave them a fun reason to want to take the questions serious and show that they had the knowledge to answer them correctly. This idea I would love to implement in a classroom one day to make learning fun and appealing for my own students.

When making a PowerPoint myself, I found it a bit confusing and fiddly even with an instruction page open in another browser to refer to. I soon got frustrated after spending some time working on it and needed to take a break and then come back to finish it. I found that the more time i practiced with it and fiddled around iwth different ideas, I began to get faster at making changes and creating a flowing, professional looking and appealing PowerPoint Quiz. If i was to choose to use ClassMarker or PowerPoint to create quizzes I would most likely choose to use ClassMarker because of its ease and because it takes a shorter amount of time to create.

Even though I would choose to use ClassMarker over PowerPoint, I do believe that ClassMarker, compared to Powerpoint Quiz is visually less appealing. With the PowerPoint program, the opportunities to create interesting, interactive and visually appealing slides (to suit the content of the quiz) would in turn make the quiz more appealing to students who need to take the quiz. It also gives them the opportunity to navigate their way through the PowerPoint Quiz depending on how it was created by the teacher. There are fewer limitations when designing PowerPoint Quizzes compared to ClassMarker.

When searching the internet for information about PowerPoint quizzes, I came across some sites that have PowerPoint quiz templates available to download. This, I thought would be a great tool for teachers to look into using if they are having trouble creating PowerPoint quizzes from scratch, however still want to use PowerPoint instead of other programs.

I can see PowerPoint Quizzes being used in the teaching of specific units of work and therefore they could be used for students to practice their knowledge (formative assessment) where students are able to be given feedback and practice their skills without being graded as such. ClassMarker, on the other hand could be used as a summative assessment tool at the end of a unit of work and provide teachers with a clear understanding of what students know and ultimately what they don’t know (more of a formal test/quiz, showing clear results and answers students chose). Oliver’s ICT model shows that in the learning process, quizzes are a tool to use for student learning tasks and can be used as a form of assessment along with tutorials, simulations, worksheets, databases and models. (Oliver, 1999, in AUTC, 2003). Not only can teachers create PowerPoint Quizzes for the purpose of their class, students can also learn how to create them to test each other and engage each other for specific educational units of work and topics.


AUTC. (2003). Learning Design. Retrieved July 30, 2009, from

Voice Thread

After looking at the video under Voice Thread on Moodle, all I can say is that I was overwhelmed. At first, I could not get my head around how so many different features Voice Thread actually incorporates into it. Then it hit me, how would I make something like that??? “Voice Thread is an online media album that can hold essentially any type of media (images, documents and videos) and allows people to make comments in 5 different ways - using voice (with a microphone or telephone), text, audio file, or video (with a webcam) - and share them with anyone they wish. A Voice Thread allows group conversations to be collected and shared in one place, from anywhere in the world.” (Cassinelli, 2009).

I decided to take a look around the site before attempting to create my own voice thread to give me some more ideas about what others have created. I came across a page on the site that listed the benefits of using voice threads in relations to education. It stated: “Voice Thread notes that: Students learn to use technology. Students learn ways to discuss learning outside of school with family and friends. Students learn to use online applications and tools for networking. Students respond to questions and interact in new ways; and, students think critically about what they have learnt in the past.” (Voice Thread, 2009).

I noticed while browsing at different voice threads, that some were more ‘professional’ than others. Some were made for a specific purpose or to discuss or teach a specific topic, however some were not. I liked that there was a digital library to search through different topics of voice threads and was pleased to find that there was an educational section.

Instead of posting my really bad progress and attempt at a Voice Thread (like this specific blog task asked), I thought it would be more beneficial for you who are reading this and for those of you who are wondering about how Voice Thread really could be of benefit in an educational environment, by sharing a specific Voice Thread I came across. This was a Voice Thread that was designed by a teacher for the purpose of explaining a PowerPoint that she used to help her students learn how to use a blog. I thought it was great how she explained in this Voice Thread what she did through her PowerPoint presentation to help her students and explained why she did certain teaching practices for specific reasons/purposes. She also invited viewers of the Voice Thread to give suggestions and encourages us to modify what she did to suit our own classes.

I thought this clip would show a better description of how a presentation can be made, and ultimately how Voice Thread can be used in teaching specific content, compared to the one that I have practiced making.

(Baker, n.d.).


Baker, S. (n.d.). Blogging Tutorial. Retrieved on August 14, 2009, from

Cassinelli, C. (2009). Voicethread 4 Education. Retrieved on August 14, 2009, from

Voice Thread. (2009). Library of Uses. Retrieved on August 12, 2009, from

Using Music on the Web

I could not imagine life without music! I listen to it daily, for many hours and for different purposes. Different genres and types of music, to me expresses different emotions. Music helps me to study and I find that I can concentrate better if I have music playing in the background blocking out all the other sounds around me. Music also relaxes me and makes me feel good!

I am a big kid at heart, so therefore I am one to constantly be looking for and listening to ‘kids’ music. I am a fan of Disney songs and own many Disney Soundtrack CDs and have also downloaded multiple songs that I remember from listening to throughout my childhood such as nursery rhymes. I work in a childcare centre and am hoping to work with young children after I finish my university degree. Music is something that is very relevant and used daily in early childhood settings. When putting the children to sleep we always put on a CD that has calming, soft music that relaxes the children and enables them to fall asleep. On the Raising Child Network webpage, it describes how keeping noise levels in the room where children sleep at a consistent level. Children (especially babies) find it easier to go to sleep when noise levels are constant. Playing soft, low level music can block out sudden noises that may wake or disturb the child/ren’s sleep. (Raising Children Network, 2009). We also use more upbeat children songs (such as Wiggle CDs, etc) for when children are playing. The children love to get up and play dance freeze and musical chairs. In schools, students attend weekly music lessons and there has been numerous reports relating to the benefits of music. “Music is a wonderful skill for any child, but new research shows how learning music can help your child in so many more ways: Improved reasoning capacity and problem solving skills, improve maths and language performance, better memory and greater social and team skills.” (Music Council of Australia, n.d.). The use of music in educational settings, for all aged children is important.

Using Incompetech (Incompetech, 2009) at the beginning was a bit confusing for me. Generally when I download music I use another program and therefore this specific program was very unfamiliar and different to what I am used to using on a regular basis. It was interesting however to read about the Royalty-Free Music (which I had never actually taken the time to listen to in the past), Music FAQ and Music Licences. Most of the songs that I previewed on the site I had never heard of before and it was interesting seeing the large variety of music genres to search through and even the capability to search through the music by ‘feel’. All of the songs I listened to were all instrumental and therefore there were a variety that could be used in a child care setting, especially for rest times.

In regards to using music from the web in the classroom, I would tend to steer away from downloading the music at home and taking it into the classroom because I am concerned about all the copyright laws, regulations and restrictions that I am still very unfamiliar with. However, if I wanted my students to hear a song, I could just as easily find it on YouTube and play it for them, minimising the screen so that only the sound could be heard.


Incompetech. (2009). Incompetech. Retrieved on August 9, 2009, from

Music Council of Australia. (n.d.). Music makes the difference. Retrieved on August 9, 2009, from

Raising Children Network. (2009). Light and Noise. Retrieved on August 9, 2009, from

File Storage (MediaFire)

“Online file storage and sharing allows for easy access to your data in away that benefits you the most.” (Pro Softnet Corporation, 2009). MediaFire (2009) is an online file storage/hosting program that is freely accessible to all people who have access to the internet. “Thanks to a growing range of services, it's now possible to keep all your personal digital information in the Internet "cloud", as they're calling it these days. Everything from documents and e-mails to photos and music can be stored -- often for free.” (Grayson, 2008). One of the benefits of MediaFire is that “you can also set certain folders to be accessible by friends, while keeping others personal.” (Grayson, 2008).

I have uploaded onto MediaFire, a document that I created as part of one of my assessments in Science Curriculum and Pedagogy. As I mentioned in my YouTube blog, the unit was based on the Water Cycle and Water as a resource. This shared file, was a handout that went with the assignment and provided information for a teacher teaching this unit that they would need to know as well as the information displayed in a more basic way for the target audience (grade 2 level). The link to this specfiic file is below.

Personally, I did not like this site to begin with. Many of the pages that I was directed to had advertisements on it and some were very sexualised. I don’t think that I would be sending my students to this site to access any sorts of uploaded files that I want them to view. I investigated how to actually get rid of the ads and it required paying and upgrading to MediaPro. However, overlooking that, I can see how this program would still be very useful. I know that I am very pedantic about backing up my important documents and files that are on my computer. This program can be used as another place to store our important documents. So even if our computer or laptop decides to die and we lose all our files on it, we would at least have the most important ones backed up and available to us online. “The benefits of storing your digital life this way are considerable. You're no longer tied to a particular computer or location, and you can access your data from any Internet-connected device.” (Grayson, 2008). By storing specific documents on MediaFire would also prove helpful being a teacher. If there are documents that you wish to use or share with students, however they are mostly stored or used on your personal computer/laptop, by also storing them on your personal MediaFire account enables you to access them at a computer at school that has internet access.


Grayon, I. (2008). How to store your files online. Retrieved on August 12, 2009, from

MediaFire. (2009). Free File Hosting Made Simple. Retrieved on August 12, 2009, from

Pro Softnet Corporation (2009). Online File Storage. Retrieved on August 12, 2009, from


SlideShare was a program that I had never heard of before. I had never used it and didn’t know of its purpose or capabilities. To test out the program and see what it was exactly about, I uploaded a PowerPoint presentation to the SlideShare account I created. The PowerPoint was written to accompany a group presentation this term (term 2, 2009) for English Curriculum and Pedagogy. I was amazed to find that the PowerPoint, when uploaded onto SlideShare, turned into a clip that I could still navigate through. I thought that this was fantastic. (This clip is also embedded into this blog so you can see what I referring to.) I was also quite excited to find that I could see other peoples public presentations on a variety of educational topics that I could use in the classroom and share with my students.

I know that I sometimes have trouble, especially when working in groups, when I have to try and send a PowerPoint to my group members for them to view it before presenting it as a group. It often takes forever to load, or it just won’t let me send it because the file is too large. I thought that SlideShare could be a way to get around these problems. I would be able to publish it on my account, then navigate my group members to the clip to view and comment on any changes they want me to make, or any additions they want put in the presentation. Ultimately it could be used as a way to communicate with my group members without the face to face contact; however they are able to see exactly what I have done and provide much needed input and feedback.

I did find however some glitches with SlideShare. When the PowerPoint presentation was converted to appear as a clip on SlideShare, it changed some elements of the formatting (moved pictures and cut off words, etc). This annoyed me slightly as I had to then go back to my original PowerPoint presentation make some changes and then reload it onto SlideShare. It just proved to me once again, that sometimes technology isn’t as convenient as we would expect or like it to be. I do however think that it is still a good, simple application to convert simple PowerPoint presentations into a more ‘video clip’ format. It would be appealing to students in the classroom (and simple for them to utilise). And because mp3 files can be uploaded and linked to the SlideShare clips (which I haven’t done for my clip in this blog, but am still working out how to do properly), it could be used as an alternative way to present information to students and for students to present to the class and teacher. Instead of physically standing up in front of a group and presenting a PowerPoint clip accompanied with a ‘speech’ (which can be daunting for anybody at the best of times), by prerecording the audio and adding it to the SlideShare clip, it instead is a much less intimidating way to present information, that is in turn, more engaging, appealing and provides more opportunities for individuality and creativity.


SlideShare Inc. (2009). SlideShare Present Yourself. Retrieved on August 12, 2009, from


I love Wikipedia! Now this is a site that I refer to very frequently, probably even once or more a day. If I am unsure of what something is, or just want to find more information about things I am interested in (particularly TV shows for me), I tend to go straight to Wikipedia to find out as much information as I can (even find out what happens in a movie or who wins a series because I just cant wait). It always has the information that I need and even provides me with information I had never considered! Before learning about Wikis and their capabilities I did not know that Wikipedia actually was a wiki. (Oh the shame). Let me explain my apparent dumbness to you all… I knew that people could go and add/swap/change elements and information on the Wikipedia pages, however I never knew the term for this type of a site was a wiki. Now that I fully understand what a wiki is, I can now see why this particular information site is called Wikipedia! Because Wikipedia can be changed by practically anyone accessing the site, it is very understandable that we cannot use it as a reference in academic pieces, and we should therefore stress this to our students as well. Even though, this information may be slightly incorrect or misinformed, Wikipedia, I believe is still a great resource to use to find out information quickly and allows us to make understandings about different topics that can then be researched further to check its reliability.

After Googling, ‘education benefits of Wikipedia’ to find out if there were others that could tell me about the benefits that I may have overlooked or not considered, I funnily enough, found a Wikipedia site that described and gave a definition for educational technology. And forgive me for doing what we have been told not to do, but I am going to refer to a quote from Wikipedia, however in this instance I think it is ok…. I hope. “Educational technology (also called learning technology) is the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using and managing appropriate technological processes and resources. The term educational technology is often associated with, and encompasses, instructional theory and learning theory. While instructional technology covers the processes and systems of learning and instruction, educational technology includes other systems used in the process of developing human capability. Educational Technology includes, but is not limited to, software, hardware, as well as Internet applications and activities.” (Wikipedia, 2009a). What I got from this statement is that Wikipedia itself is a form of education technology.

Because I am studying Early Childhood, I thought it would be appropriate to see if I could find out some information that is relevant to me to share on this blog. In studying the set Early Childhood courses, I have discovered what the Reggio Emilia Approach is. I remember when I first started making my understandings about this new concept I had never heard of and I referred to Wikipedia for some clarification. For those of you who have no idea what it is about, this is the definition that is given by Wikipedia. “The Reggio Emilia Approach is an educational philosophy focused on preschool and primary education. It was started by the parents of the villages around Reggio Emilia in Italy after World War II. The destruction from the war, parents believed, necessitated a new, quick approach to teaching their children. They felt that it is in the early years of development that children are forming who they are as an individual. This led to creation of a program based on the principles of respect, responsibility, and community through exploration and discovery in a supportive and enriching environment based on the interests of the children through a self-guided curriculum.” (Wikipedia, 2009b). I know that after just reading this first few sentences about the Reggio Emilia approach, I had formed some understanding of what it was, and therefore could go on and research it further to find out a lot more information that is available on the internet. To me, Wikipedia is a great way to provide students with a starting point when learning something new, and as teachers we need to be able to guide our students to use other educational technologies to find out more information. We also need to be able to show and teach our students about how to determine if sites are reliable (or not) and stress the importance to our students to research topics thoroughly and use a wide variety of sources.


Wikipedia. (2009a). Educational Technology. Retrieved on August 9, 2009, from

Wikipedia. (2009b). Reggio Emilia Approach. Retrieved on August 9, 2009, from

Google Earth

“Google Earth is a satellite imagery-based mapping product puts the whole world on a student's computer. It enables users to "fly" from space to street level to find geographic information and explore places around the world. Like a video game and a search engine rolled into one, Earth is basically a 3D model of the entire planet that lets you grab, spin and zoom down into any place on Earth.” (Google, 2009).

I have had a little bit of experience with Google Earth, however just for personal use. The thought of using Google Earth in the classroom never occurred to me until I read it was a topic to research and discover throughout this uni course. Over the years I have used both Google earth and just recently, have begun to use Street View, to look up places that are familiar to me, places that I have to work out how to get to and just to see everything from a different perspective. I found both Google Earth and Street View fun to use, and quite easy to work. The way it shows whereabouts places and landforms are in relation to different countries and regions on the globe, along with how it ‘flies’ you to the destination that has been entered, really fascinates and amuses me. I also like the fact that it shows if there are other suburbs or places in the world with the same name as there is in Australia.

On the Google for Educators site, where it describes Google Earth, it pointed out a variety of ideas of how to use Google Earth in the classroom that I would have never thought of by myself. Apart from using Google Earth for geographical purposes, my ideas were very limited. This site suggested that Google Earth can provide for many different learning experiences. The site states: “From literature to environmental science, Google Earth can help you bring a world of information alive for your students. You can use Google Earth demos to get your students excited about geography, and use different Google Earth layers to study economics, demographics, and transportation in specific contexts. For instance, you can use real-time coordinates to demonstrate distance calculations and verify the results using our measurement tools, view tectonic plate-shift evidence by examining whole continents, mountain ranges and areas of volcanic activity and/or study impact craters, dry lake beds and other major land forms.” (Google, 2009).


Google. (2009). Google for Educators: Google Earth. Retrieved on August 8, 2009, from


From researching WebQuests, I have learnt that this is an educational tool utilising the internet to engage learners and to cover many different educational topics. “A WebQuest is an inquiry-oriented lesson format in which most or all the information that learners work with comes from the web.” (Dodge, 1995). “Teachers have embraced WebQuests as a way to make good use of the internet while engaging their students in the kinds of thinking that the 21st century requires.” (Dodge, 1995). I found so many WebQuests on the internet by just typing ‘WebQuest’ into my search browser. One result link took me directly to a directory where teachers can search for different WebQuests that have been reviewed and/or rated by other teachers. (WebQuest Direct, 2009). Although this site requires a fee to access it, it is available for schools to purchase and subscription and therefore many WebQuests can become accessible for teachers to utilise different for their classes.

I asked myself when reading about WebQuests, what makes them so appealing to students and important in relations to education? I then realised that the answer to this question, actually relates directly to Kearsley and Shneiderman’s Engagement Theory, where it states that “students must be meaningfully engaged in learning activities through interaction with others and worthwhile tasks.” (Kearsley & Shneiderman, 1999). WebQuests are inquiry based and therefore enable students to remain engaged with the content through completing a variety of steps, stages and learning activities. One inquiry model that I am familiar with thanks to studying last years SOSE course is the TELSTAR model which I think is a great model to use when designing a WebQuest. (Tune in, Explore, Look, Sort, Test, Act, Reflect.) (Gordon, n.d.).

A site I came across listed many benefits of WebQuests that related to Kearsley & Shneiderman’s theory also. The benefits they listed about WebQuests are:
• “Students confront a complex and controversial real-world issue
• Students grapple with a central question that truly needs answering
• Students utilize real world, up-to-date resources on the Web (from experts, current reporting, and/or fringe groups)
• Students assume roles and must develop expertise
• Results of student work can be posted or sent to real people for feedback and evaluation.
• Based upon elements of cognitive psychology and constructivism. You provide guidance on the thinking process you want your students to follow. (Prompting or Scaffolding). Students are exposed to a broad range of information, examples, and opinions; they construct their own meaning which connects with their prior knowledge and experiences. (Constructivism)
• Contain concrete instructional objectives and tasks.
• Students must transform information in some way, exercising higher order thinking skills like error analysis, comparison, and synthesis.
• By taking on roles, students become experts on a specific aspect of a large and complex topic.
• The students work in groups to solve problems, utilizing their different areas of expertise. (Similar to work situations in real life.)
• The work of individual students is important, as it adds to the quality of the group's solution.” (March, n.d.).

In SOSE, we were required to create a WebQuest on a sustainability topic. When creating the WebQuest, I did encounter some issues that I considered might be an issue or concern that teachers may face also when creating WebQuests to be used in their classrooms. I found that:
- I had limited knowledge of how to actually create one that was usable for the internet
- It was somewhat time consuming and very fiddly to get different elements of the WebQuest correct and look appealing
- It required extensive research and planning to correctly design the WebQuest (in relations to curriculum) for the target audience and outcomes that needed to be met during and at the end of the WebQuest.
In short, it wasn’t such an easy task as I thought it would be and was more complex and intricate than I first thought.

I do believe that because there are so many WebQuests available on the internet that can be used, if teachers do not feel they have to capabilities, confidence or time to create a WebQuest themselves, this can be useful to them. By using WebQuests in the classroom, students are able to be exposed to useful information and resources utilising the internet and therefore creating a less ‘traditional’ learning experience than being given tasks to complete that are not so engaging and do not utilising any ICTs.


Dodge, B. (2007). Retrieved on August 8, 2009, from

Gordon, K. (n.d.). Inquiry Approaches in Primary Studies of Society and Environment Key Learning Area. Retrieved on August 8, 2009, from

Kearsley, G. & Shneiderman, B. (1999). Engagement Theory: A framework for technology based teaching and learning. Retrieved July 29, 2009, from

March, T. (n.d.). WebQuests for Learning – What are the benefits of WebQuests? Retrieved on August 8, 2009, from

WebQuest Direct. (2009). The World's Largest Searchable Directory of WebQuest Reviews. Retrieved on August 8, 2009, from

Monday, August 3, 2009

Educational Podcasts (iTunes and others)

I was not very familiar with podcasts when starting this topic. I had listened to some during uni tutorials that the lecturer had played through iTunes, however I had never knew that there were many more sites that had podcasts to listen to, such as ABCs Ed Pods.

After now understanding that there are many podcasts on the internet on a range of diverse topics, I began to think about and see how podcasts could be used in education settings to benefit students. Because students nowadays seem to be so techno savvy and most students in the older grades have mp3/mp4/ipods and other devices, the use of podcasts would be relevant, engaging, beneficial and ‘technologically up to date’ for them. Kearsley and Shneiderman (1999) indicate that “an ICT environment, is best suited to providing a meaningful and authentic experience for students, one that can be configured to simulate the kinds of experiences students will face outside of the classroom.” (Kearsley & Shneiderman, 1999, in Marshall, 2007).

Because podcasts can be downloaded and then added to these devices, students could be given an educational podcast relevant to a topic/activity being discussed at school to look up, upload and listen to at home. I am aware that not all students will have an mp3/mp4/ipod or will have limited access to the computer/internet at home due to parent preferences and home rules, so therefore teachers would need to come up with an alternative for students to be able to listen to set podcasts at a given time during school and/or make parents aware of the intentions and use of podcasts in learning experiences at school and at home. Working with the parents to understand the benefits of podcasts for their child’s education can create a collaborative relationship with parents of students in your class and even get parents actively involved in their child’s learning at home.

When researching podcasts, I was surprised to find that students and teachers could create them at schools/in the classrooms. “Podcasts can be created from original material by students and teachers or existing audio files can be downloaded for classroom use. Creating a podcast allows students to share learning experiences. It provides them with a world-wide audience that makes learning meaningful and assessment authentic. Teachers can use the technology to provide additional and revision material to students to download and review at a time that suits them. The flexibility that such time-shifting offers makes podcasting a valuable educational tool.” (Western Australian Department of Education and Training, 2009).


ABC. (2007). Ed Pod. Retrieved July 30, 2009, from

Marshall, S. (2007). Engagement theory, WebCT, and academic writing in Australia. Retrieved on July 29, 2009, from

Western Australian Department of Education and Training. (2009). Podcasts in the classroom. Retrieved July 30, 2009, from

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Kearsley and Shneiderman (Engagement theory)

I thought that I would post these links of the engagement theory and design model by Kearsley and Shneiderman. If anyone is like me, and had to be reminded that this was a conceptual framework to be referring to in our blogs, then these just might help you! (I am pretty sure that one of these is already placed on the moodle site, however i will find it easier to access myself if it is on my blog) =)


Kearsley, G. & Shneiderman, B. (1999). Engagement Theory: A framework for technology based teaching and learning. Retrieved July 29, 2009, from

Marshall, S. (2007). Engagement theory, WebCT, and academic writing in Australia. Retrieved on July 29, 2009, from