Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Voki Avatars

Hi all,
The focus of this blog is to review and discuss whether Avatars have a place in our classrooms as an effective learning tool to help improve learning outcomes for students. Points I will consider are:
· Would students of all ages find using this technology interesting and enjoyable?
· Is it user friendly?
· How can teachers use avatars to benefit learners with their studies?

In relation to the first question, I believe students of all ages would find this ICT tool interesting and enjoyable. The ability to create and incorporate different human and animal animation characters with audio into learning would engage a majority of students, young and old.
I created an Avatar for myself and found this tool simple to use with straightforward steps and ample options to create different characters. This would be a novel tool to use in classroom PowerPoint presentations to introduce topics.
Further, I believe Avatars could be of benefit to students in online distance education classes. With the use of Avatars, distance education students would have some type of human element to their online lessons. To be able to put a face to lesson instructions would make learning meaningful and more interesting for distance education students (Melbourne Herald Sun, 2009).
As pointed out in a Herald Sun (2009) news article, it is not only schools, but the Air force, Navy and National Guard that are using 3-D character interaction tools to train students.
Thanks for listening.

Melbourne Herald Sun, (2009) Virtual learning gets second wind from second life. Retrieved July 28, 2009. From http://www.careerexpo.com.au/news57.php

RSS readers

Hi all,
Like a lot of you, I was feeling lost when the term “RSS readers/aggregator” was introduced in class or used in an online chat room. After some discussion on this topic with fellow classmates and watching a YouTube clip on RSS readers, not only was the definition becoming clear, but the advantages of this tool were becoming more apparent.
My understanding of this tool is that it is a means of retrieving information automatically and instantly (useful for the user) to one simple to read (and use) web site without attracting such things as spam and viruses.
So using this definition, how would an RSS reader help us as learning managers in a classroom teaching situation? Ideas that come to mind are:
· Retrieving important and useful information on current classroom topics automatically;
· Having students of all ages creating their own classroom blogs and websites and then subscribing to common interest feeds; and
· Being able to notify external learners instantly of new and useful resources.
(Kaplan-Leiserson, 2004)

Relating this to my discipline area of hospitality classes at high school, I could have the students set up a blog page on specific dessert cooking recipes (i.e. chocolate cakes) and subscribe to other blogs or websites of interest to receive useful recipe variations without having to search manually through endless websites.

This is an exercise for you the reader: - In 10 words or less explain in your own words your understanding of RSS readers.

I will be using this tool as a teaching strategy.
Thanks for listening.
Kaplan-Leiserson, E. (2004). RSS: A Learning Technology. Retrieved July 28, 2009, from http://www.astd.org/LC/2004/0504_kaplan.htm

Monday, July 20, 2009

Engagment using Comic Life

Hi again all fellow bloggers,

I just want to share with you a quick overview of an ICT tool I tried. Overall I feel this was a very simple and easy tool that would be helpful in introducing a very fun, engaging and interactive way for students to document learning activities achieved both in class and off school trips (camps). As mentioned this tool is very user friendly which suits all ages, and the only limitations of what you can do comes down to the users imagination.

I put together a quick comic strip of a trip I took to Bells Beach. Primary school students could use this tool to put together a story board of a group assignment to cover their learning journey from start to finish. Even though this tool may be more focused towards younger students, secondary teachers could use this simple software to help engage those students who find working with visual media more appealing and beneficial to completing a particular classroom task.

I recommend giving it a go!


Jim Price

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Technology Barriers

There was a time, not too long ago, when I considered myself to be up to date with new technology. Lately however, I feel as though I have been left behind with the changes and advances in technology. This is for two reasons:
1. I have found it difficult to keep up with the rapid rate at which technology has continued to evolve and find its way into so many different aspects of my life; and
2. I began to rebel against advances in technology generally around the time that mobile phones changed from being a simple tool of communication to a device which took photos (and generally quite bad ones at that i.e. initially less than one megapixel) and began to intrude on basic face to face human interaction.

There are a number of reasons why I am particularly adverse to today’s mobile phones:

  • Many people’s lives seem to revolve around their mobile phone;

  • I am seeing children, as young as 10 years of age, at school camps with mobile phones (when the idea of the camp is to get away from technology and relate to one another and nature);

  • The recent bullying incidents taking place at schools, which are being broadcast over the internet using mobile phone technology.

Whilst I do have a mobile of my own (and I do rely on it more now than in the past when I would leave it in the glove box for emergencies only), I do not allow my life to be controlled by it.

I have recently discovered Facebook, MySpace and now Twitter. Whilst these websites are great for keeping in touch with friends and family (particularly for travellers) and communicating with friends overseas, I believe people are spending far too many hours in front of the computer on these sites. Is it really necessary to spend hour upon hour every day in front of the computer catching up with friends, many of whom that just live around the corner? I say GET OUTSIDE and socialize with your friends!

As illustrated in an article from the International Journal of Obesity (2003), our children are becoming more obese on average. So why are we encouraging them to spend hours utilising technologies that keep them in front of a computer when we should be encouraging them to get outdoors, exercise and interact with their friends face to face?

I believe technology used wisely could be beneficial to children's education provided it is used in moderation.
I would be interested to hear you views on this issue.


Jim Price

Reference source : Hardus, P, M. (2003). Public perceptions of the causes and prevention of obesity among primary school children. International Journal of Obesity, 27, 1465–1471. Retrieved July 16, 2009, from http://www.nature.com/ijo/journal/v27/n12/pdf/0802463a.pdf

Photo: Retrieved August 16, 2009, from www.freedigitalphotos.net