Friday, August 21, 2009

Reflective Synopsis

This synopsis will examine and discuss my views on specific technology based educational tools used to support and develop appropriate pedagogical teaching.

During the course of this task I investigated, reviewed and discussed with peers the importance of e-learning tools in education. My aim was to gain an understanding of the capability and usefulness of these tools in promoting student active learning.

Before this journey began my views on technology and its usefulness (in particular mobile phones) both generally and in the classroom were not positive. Barriers to my acceptance of technology included; inappropriate use of technology in the educational environment (cyber-bullying) and health and social issues (students’ lives revolving around technology). However during this intense but insightful journey I began to discover and develop an attitude of acceptance towards these digital tools.

Technology is evolving at a rapid rate. We as Learning Managers need to not only keep up, but to understand and appreciate the advantages associated with technology so that we can convey their importance to our students (Smith, Lynch & Knight, 2007). By adopting an open minded attitude I believe that, as a Learning Manager, I can learn to use these tools to the advantage of both myself and my students.

My e-learning journey started with the creation of a blog. When students collaborate, they become engaged and motivated with learning (Kearsley & Shneiderman, 1999). Through my blog I was able to network socially with my peers (and the world) and review, reflect and discuss the importance of available e-learning tools. The ability to communicate and collaborate with peers on topics of interest allows us to gain knowledge through access to diverse views and opinions (McInerney & McInerney, 2006).

The importance of considering different learning styles is documented by Guild (2001) and Felder (2005) who states, by being aware of individual learning styles, educators are able to implement learning/teaching practices that will achieve positive learning outcomes. I, for example, am a visual learner and found many of the tools to be interesting and engaging, particularly the digital tools which involved the use of video, animation and audio e.g., YouTube, Voki Avatars, simulations, VoiceThreads, etc.

Through collaboration with other peers I discovered many useful interactive websites and tools with the capability of storing/sharing valuable information which could be retrieved and implemented safely in classrooms at a later date. By reading my peer’s blogs and commenting on them I became aware of the many additional benefits and applications that these websites had to offer. In fact it was from reading a peer’s blog that I became aware of the importance and use of e-learning tools for distance education students. Whereas in the past these students were limited to the information provided to them by teachers, these students can now have access to the views and opinions of their peers and become motivated through the use of animated tools such as Voki Avatars and Animations/Simulations.

Without access to the views of my peers I could not have gained such a depth of knowledge of the many uses of the available technologies. I would like to thinks I also helped others (Format Factory). Some of the sites most beneficial for this purpose were; Wiki’s, Podcast, Wikipedia and Mahara’s e.Portfolio.

During this journey I experienced both highs and lows. A high point was the discovery of the e-learning tool WebQuest. I found WebQuest to be a powerful active learning tool, capable of challenging students to take responsibility for their own learning by motivating them with meaningful topics. For example, as a high school hospitality student teacher I intend to break the students into groups with the task of working together to create a restaurant of their choice. Each member will choose a different role in the restaurant and use a variety of e-learning tools to enhance their project and create a successful business plan i.e. to collaborate the students can use Wiki and for presentation the students can use PowerPoint.

The low point in my journey was the barriers I encountered along the way i.e. a hesitancy by some established teachers to introduce new technology and the lack of time allocated by some teachers to incorporate these tools into lessons. Overall I had little success in convincing my teacher to implement basic e-learning tools into classroom lessons. However, in time, as the benefits of technology become clearer I feel I will have greater success. Smith, Lynch and Knight (2007) identify factors such as a lack of development and support for teacher training as significant barriers to the effective introduction of ICT tools into schools.

In conclusion, whilst I found a majority of the e-learning tools to be beneficial and effective, I am of the view that optimal active learning will not take place if they are used in isolation as a teaching tool. Rather, optimal active learning is far more likely to be achieved if the appropriate e-learning tool is implemented by a skilled Learning Manager within a structured learning environment.

Jim Price (S0175671)

Reference list

Felder, M., R. (2005). Understanding student differences. Retrieved August 3, 2009, from

Guild, P.B. (2001). Diversity, learning styles and culture. New Horizons for Learning. Retrieved May 5, 2009, from

Kearsley, G. & Shneiderman, B. (1999). Engagement theory: A framework for technology based teaching and learning. Retrieved August 13, 2009, from

Marzano, R, J., & Pickering, D, J. (2006). Dimensions of learning: Teacher’s manual. Heatherton, Vic, Australia: Hawker Brownlow Education.

Mclnerney, D. M, & Mclnerney, V. (2006). Educational psychology constructing learning. Frenchs Forest, NSW, Australia: Pearsons Education Australia.

Smith, R., Lynch, D., & Knight, B, A. (2007). Learning management: Transitioning teachers for national and international change. Frenchs Forest, NSW, Australia: Pearson Education Australia.

No comments:

Post a Comment