Thursday, 12 April 2012

ASSESSMENT 2 - REFLECTIVE SYNOPSIS



REFLECTIVE SYNOPSIS

The rapid developments of digital technology over the last decades of the 20th century has seen today’s students from kindergarten to college having grown up with these technologies as a part of their everyday lives (Prensky, 2001, (1)).   Termed the digital natives, Prensky (2001) explains that, as a result of being surrounded by this pervasive digital environment and the large number of their interaction with it, "... today’s students think and process information fundamentally differently from their predecessors” (Prensky, 2001, (1)).
Due to these continual interactions with the digital environment, Prensky believed that  children have developed different thinking patterns and suggested changes in brain structures (Prensky, M, 2001, (2)).  This notion is supported by the research into Neuroplasticity, which has found that the brain is constantly rewiring and re-organising itself throughout our childhood and into adult life.   Before this was discovered it had been long thought that the brain could not physically be changed based on stimulation received from the outside. 
“Today’s students are no longer the people our educational system was designed to teach (Prensky, 2001, (1)).”  The big difference from today is this:  the kids back then didn’t expect to be engaged by everything they did.  The kids today do, because this is the reality of their digital world, directly available information at their fingertips, instant gratification and frequent reward. (Prensky,2005).  Our students want to be engaged with what they know, the digital world.    E-learning through its student centred, constructivist approach has enabled our students to access, apply and manipulate knowledge in dramatically different ways through multimodal methods of learning.

Digital Pedagogy moves the focus from ICT tools and skills to a way of working in the digital world (Queensland Government, 2008).  The key is to using digital pedagogy effectively, is to support, enhance, enable and transform teaching and learning to provide rich, diverse and flexible learning opportunities for a digital generation (Queensland Government, 2008).  When digital pedagogies are used effectively they become productive pedagogies and can facilitate deep knowledge through higher order thinking. 


Mobile Phone DeBonos Hat Wiki (Constructivist Learning)

My learning journey started with the a group online activity whereby we collaboratively provided responses to the Mobile phones question under the framework of De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats in the Wiki.  I felt that this experience was an extremely positive one for me.   When I first saw the question (Mobile Phone Wiki) I wasn’t sure how to answer it, as there are for and against arguments to allowing the use of mobile phones into the classroom.  However being able to consider this question from the different perspectives supported my learning process and by using the collaborative application of a wiki I was able to understand the question and how to answer the question by considering comments posted by my peers.  Once I got into this activity and started “putting on” the different hats and looking at the question from that specific perspective I felt the freedom of considering point of view and side to the argument that I probably would have disregarded had I not used this Thinking Tool.  My initial reaction was concern relating to the safety, legal and ethical problems surrounding the use of mobile phones in the classroom.   .  It wasn’t until I was given the freedom to relinquish myself from these mental programs and start to consider the question from many different perspectives that I was able to truly understand what the question was asking.  It didn’t matter what we were discussing it was the fact that we were discussing in a public forum (wiki) collaboratively and from different viewpoints combining our programs from religion, culture, parents, school life and other experiences and factors that shape our views of the world.    At the end of this task I had actually changed my initial feelings and beliefs surrounding the use of mobile phones in the classroom and I was onside with this idea, because I was given the opportunity to consider different perspectives in a passive environment.
 I would implement the use of de Bono’s six thinking hats in my pedagogy to assist my students in achieving deep knowledge through higher order thinking.  I would also employ the use of graphic organises such as the Know, Want, Learn (KWL) diagram to help my student structure their thoughts and thinking.
Please refer to my link:( link to blog post on de Bono's 6 Thinking hats ) for further information pertaining to my learning experience from this activity.


GROUP 1 TOOLS

My learning journey followed onto the Group 1 tools which included the creation of a wiki a blogs and a websites.  I explored all of these tools, my blog was essential for my learning as this is where I have completed all of my reflections on the activities undertaken blog (link to: link to blog post on group 1 tools).  I understand the importance of reflecting as both a learner and a teacher.  I also explored the Wiki and I embedded a number of different applications, however the most useful addition I made to my Wiki was to add a page (Link: Collaborative Homework Wiki for Yr 11 Biology Experiment) which I intend to use with my year 11 class for homework.
While I think the wiki, blog and website each has its place in learning, I decided to focus my attention on the website.  The website that I have created is really storage for my resources that I want my student to access.  I know that typically my students would a) not look for this information as it is more scientific based than they are used to, and b) would get sick of having to troll through all of the information to find something useful.  While I have no intention of using these sources for any assessment items, I am instead trying to provide my students with more technical sources of information so that they become exposed to the higher level vocabulary and to ensure that I am catering for the gifted and talented students to ensure they are engage with the content being provided.    I have also embedded a number of excellent YouTube clips as YouTube is blocked from the student’s computers; however by accessing these clips through my website they are still able to view them.  This also gets around a multitude of safety and ethical issues of having students trying to search for YouTube information at home.  YouTube has excellent resource, but it also has a great deal of explicit sources of information that you do not want children to be exposed to. 


GROUP 2 TOOLS

My learning journey onto the Group 2 Tools includes Movies, Images, Podcasts, Voki (on my blog) and Blabberize (Link to Blabberize blog post).  (Please refer to my blog posting for more information: link to blog post on Group 2 Tools, movies, images & audio).
Of these tools, the tool which I would use the most in my pedagogy would be the movies or movie-maker.  I think this gives the students freedom to be creative, to use this tool to produce assessment items for example, I could engage my geography or science students to plan, coordinate, direct, produce and feature in a short movie / information report based on endangered animals and recorded for a primary school audience.  I think movie-maker would be the best application as this is readily available and very easy to use.


 GROUP 3 TOOLS

My journey then led me to the Group 3 Tools, which I think will be quite helpful in designing and organising my lesson plans and the resources for my lesson plans. 
I spent most of my time creating a Prezi zooming poster.  (Link to blog post on Presi zooming presentation )
I also created an interactive PowerPoint presentation (Link to blog post on PowerPoint )


My take home points are from this learning activity are:
1. I like the visual aspects of Prezi it helps me sort my thinking and assists me in relating all of the information back to the big picture by having all the information on one display screen and being able to zoom in and out. I think as a teacher I would be more inclined to use Prezi for my presentations. And I would encourage my students to use Prezi where appropriate.
2. However I think PowerPoint might be a better application to have my students use when designing their presentations as this would be less time consuming and more user friendly.
3. Glogster is a great poster style visual presentation tool and it is interactive as it has animated objects, sound and video / you tube embedding available. However it does have its draw backs as it restricts the amount of information you are able to present in this application. I love the fact that it requires students to be creative and to express themselves.
4. At the end of the day I would have my student play around with each application and I would offer my students the option to choose which visual presentation form they would prefer to use (Prezi, or PowerPoint or Glogster). (Much like this course!).



 GROUP 4 TOOLS

My journey continued onto the group 4 tools which really amazed me. Once I started to explore the Group 4 tools and developed an understanding of exactly what resources are available for my pedagogy.  These tools (see my Blog Posting: Group 4 Tools BLOG for further information and resources) are very engaging especially the simulation tools.  I could stand in front of the class and point at a picture a leaf at the cellular level and try to explain what happens through photosynthesis, or I could give my students a simulator gizmo (providing I also scaffold them appropriately) and give them the opportunity to fiddle and play with the setting to consider what is happening and why and to answer some questions to test that the student did achieve the learning outcomes.  Following on from this my student can then use the knowledge that they attained from the simulation gizmo and apply it to their own experiment, which they are required to hypothesis, design, undertake, investigate and draw findings and conclusions from.  I think this would be a great way of ensure that my students were using Higher Order Thinking and were relating plant physiology to the real world (agriculture). 



As we are transitioning into the next step of our program, moving into the classroom, it is imperative as pre-service teachers that we are aware of what our responsibilities are: 
·         All teachers work within policies that are developed from legislation. Whilst the ongoing consideration of safety potentially limits the freedom of online exploration, it must be adhered to and well managed.
Refer to the below links which will help to ensuring that both myself as the teacher and my student are behaving in a legal, safe and ethical manner. 



(Information sourced from course content: http://moodle.cqu.edu.au/mod/resource/view.php?id=254722)

As an effective eLearning teacher I am required to:
  • have an understanding of the role of ICT for 21st Century curriculum design/interpretation, pedagogy and student learning;
  •  make conscious decisions about student centred learning based on an understanding of digital learners
  • employ a variety of methodologies and current learning theories and practices and
  • demonstrate an ongoing commitment to professional development and collaboration with practicing professionals to share and reflect on learning (Queensland Government, 2008). 
My goal for the next phase of this learning journey is to be an effective eLearning teacher, to systematically explore the students learning capabilities and capacity through the effective use of ICTs in order to structure the student learning with graphic organiser and thinking tools (such as de Bono’s Hats) to promote higher order thinking.  



References:

·         Prensky, M (2001), (1) Digital natives, digital immigrants. Retrieved from www.marcprenzky.com

·         Prensky, M (2001), (2) Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants Part 2: The scientific evidence behind the Digital Native’s thinking changes, and the evidence that Digital Native-style learning works! 

·         Prensky, M., 2005, Engage Me or Engrage Me- what today’s learners demand.,Educause review, September / October 2005; Access from: http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/erm0553.pdf

·         Queensland Government, 2008, Smart Classrooms Bytes – advice for schools on the latest ICT research for education; issue: August 2008, Visit the Smart Classrooms, access from: www.education.qld.gov.au/smartclassrooms