Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Reflective Synopsis

I decided to submit my Reflective Synopsis in the form of a Wiki.

To have a look, click on this link!

Thanks for following my blog over the past few weeks!

Legal, Safe and Ethical Issues while using ICTs

Like any activity we undergo while teaching students, there are legal, safe and ethical glitches when using ICTs in the classroom. As classroom teachers, we need to be fully aware and actively practice ensuring that students are safe while using these kinds of tools.

As the responsible person in the classroom, we also need to ensure that students stick to the '10 per cent' rule - that is for most websites and CD-Roms, only 10% can be copied, printed, downloaded, published or shown in the classroom and on computers.

Also, we need to ensure that we 'work' correctly with these tools. This entails only using school computers for educational purposes, making sure work is referenced if it is taken from somewhere else, ensuring that we have consent to use students' photos, images, work samples etc for online purposes, using the correct netiquette when using ICT tools and ensuring that students are not able to view sites that they do not need to view (for one reason or another).

By taking heed of these issues when working with ICTs, teachers will be ensuring that students are working in a safe ICT environment.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Images, Music and Creative Commons

Images and music can be obtained for use when creating projects etc online for free as long as they come under the Creative Commons licence. There are four 'conditions' under the Creative Commons licence - Attribution (where users must make attribution to the original author), Share Alike (allows users to edit and remix works), Non-Commercial (users must not use images/music for commercial purposes) and No Derivative Works (where users can only use the original works).

For music, there is a website called Incompetech which has masses of royalty free music that users can use for their projects. The creator of the site only asks that he is given credit for any music that a person chooses to use under the Creative Commons licence. I won't upload a piece of music onto the blog, but if you are searching for music for something you are working on, have a look at the Incompetech site.

As for images, flickr, is not only a place where you can store your images, but you can search for images that fall under the Creative Commons licence. This makes finding images for your given purpose an easier task as you have 'permission' to use them - as long as you give credit where credit is due!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


VoiceThread is another ICT tool that allows for collaborative learning within the classroom. It allows users to have conversations about images, documents and videos. Users of VoiceThread are able to leave their comments in 5 ways - using their own voice (via a microphone or telephone), text, audio file or video (via a webcam). Comments can then be moderated. VoiceThreads can be made public or private, depending on your purpose.

In the classroom, VoiceThread can be utilised in many different ways. Say you are teaching your students about hazzards in a workplace, you could post a photo of a workplace that has a number of different hazzards in view. Students could then leave their comments about what hazzards they can see in the photo. This could then stem off to the importance of workplace safety. A VoiceThread could also be used to evaluate a piece of artwork, whether its a student's or a famous artist's. Or to perhaps decide, based on what students can see in a photo, whether a student created piece of technology would be suitable for the purpose they created it for. In a younger classroom, a teacher could put up a series of simple photos or images and the students could collaboratively create a story to accompany the pictures.

On a professional level, teachers could use VoiceThread as a tool to create presentations for professional development, to share teaching ideas with their peers, debates, as an assessment tool, to communicate with their students and their parents about how the student is performing in class and again the list goes on.

As with most modern day ICT tools, there are some security risks with using VoiceThread but these could be reduced by ensuring that students do not use photos of themselves, their own voices and ensuring they have full permission to use the images they have selected.

VoiceThread is another ICT tools that promotes the Engagement Theory framework, Oliver's Learning Design framework and the Active learning framework by providing students with opportunities to work collaboratively, have control of their own work, allows for multiple perspectives, engages the students and provides the students with an authentic learning environment.


Ning is a social networking site that provides a place for people with a common interest topic to put up their ideas, videos, photos, events etc.

This interactive tool could be utilised by both students and teachers within an educational environment.

Students could collaboratively create a Ning site that is specific to what they are currently learning about. They would be able to post any information they have about their chosen Ning topic and learn from their peers. Students are able to manage who is a member of their Ning, which may limit the occurance of vandalism on their site. Ning also allows users to create their own page (like a profile) so they can connect with other like minded people. Ning provides a way for students to interact with their peers that they may not experience within the walls of the classroom. These aspects of using Ning in the classroom conform to what is suggested in the Engagement Theory, Oliver's Design framework and the Active Learning framework.

In the same way, teachers could make use of the Ning network, providing them with ways of sharing and communicating their ideas in regards to teaching practices, common problems they are faced with in the classroom, unit planning and the list goes on...

As with other networking sites, there is the issue of security with allowing students to use Ning in the classroom. Teachers would have to carefully monitor how their students were using this tool in the classroom.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Leaving Comments

Hey Everyone,

If you get time to read some of my posts, could you please leave a comment or two for me to reflect on.

Thanks, I would really appreciate it!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Interactive Whiteboards

I am yet to use an interactive whiteboard so I don't know a lot about physically using one. However, I have had a little read about them and their uses in the classroom and they look like yet another important ICT tool for use in the classroom.

Wikipedia (2009) defines an Interactive Whiteboard as "a large interactive display that connects to a computer and projector. A projector projects the computer's desktop onto the board's surface, where users control the computer using a pen, finger or other device."

In a classroom, interactive whiteboards are used as a replacement for traditional whiteboards and media systems such as a TV and DVD player combination. "Some interactive whiteboards allow teachers to record their instruction as digital video files and post the material for review by students at a later time. This can be a very effective instructional strategy for students who benefit from repetition, who need to see the material presented again, for students who are absent from school, for struggling learners, and for review for examinations. Brief instructional blocks can be recorded for review by students — they will see the exact presentation that occurred in the classroom with the teacher's audio input. This can help transform learning and instruction." (Wikipedia, 2009)

With all the good aspects of using an interactive whiteboard, there are a few points of concern that have been raised by individuals.

  • Sometimes teachers focused more on the new technology than on what pupils should be learning.

  • The focus on interactivity as a technical process can lead to some relatively mundane activities being over-valued. Such an emphasis on interactivity was particularly prevalent in classes with lower-ability students.

  • In lower-ability groups it could actually slow the pace of whole class learning as individual pupils took turns at the board

In reading this though, particularly points two and three, I think that if the use of interactive whiteboards were not too heavily relied on in the classroom and other strategies were put in place and used to cater for these students, using an interactive whiteboard in the classroom could become a catalyst to engage and inspire further learning for these students.

There are a range of activities available for use with an interactive whiteboard, not only in primary and secondary classrooms but also in early childhood settings. A good range of activities can be found at the EDNA website.

Using interactive whiteboards in the classroom promotes what Kearsley and Shneiderman suggest in their Engagement Theory as well as aligning with Oliver's Learning Design Framework.


Wikipedia (2009) Interactive Whiteboard. Accessed 1 August 2009 on the World Wide Web:


Online File and Photo Storage

Wikipedia (2009) states that online file storage is "a file hosting service, online file storage service, or online media center is specifically designed to host static content, typically large files that are not web pages."

There are many file hosting services available online. These services are aimed at individuals and offer an online storage for back up files, file access, file distribution and a place to store photos. Just a few of these services include:, flickr, snapfish, Telstra Bigpond, and MediaFire.

There are a few advantages and disadvantages to using online storage for files and photos.

Advantages include:
  • Saving disc space on your hard drive
  • No need for storage devices such as flash drives, external hard drives etc
  • Your files are globally accessible
  • Your files are secure from theft, if your computer is stolen

Disadvantages include:

  • The site that hosts your files may close down without notice and you lose your files
  • Security of your files - because your files are online, they are at risk of hackers

As a teacher, I would find online file and photo storage a useful tool in the classroom. These kinds of services would make sharing lesson and unit plans an easy task. Instead of having to physically carry around either paper copies or disc drives, colleagues could share their files online.


Wikipedia (2009) File Hosting Service. Accessed on 1 August 2009 from the World Wide Web:

Web Quests

Web Quests are structured learning activities in which students investigate problems or issues, using the web as a resource. Ideally they engage students in higher order thinking and problem solving and involve them in meaningful, challenging and motivating inquiry. They are structured to provide students with scaffolding (Oliver's Learning Design framework) that direct them to reliable and developmentally appropriate websites and avoid the frustration of time wastage on unproductive searching.

For a Web Quest, students are presented with an authentic situation and a task, which is usually a problem to solve or a project to complete. Although they are scaffolded and support student learning, they still facilitate self-directed learning. They provide an authentic meaningful contextual learning environment, which enhances the nature of learning and thinking, problem solving and the integration of knowledge (Kearsley and Shneiderman's Engagement Theory and the Active Learning Framework).

Web Quests can be utilised in a number of ways in the classroom. They could be whole class, individual or small group work, where each group member has a specific role. They could be used to conclude a unit of work where students are able to have the opportunity to clarify what they have learnt during the unit and apply this knowledge in activities within the Web Quest that require critical thinking. Web Quests could also be used at the start of a unit to engage the students in a new area of learning.

Setting up an e.portfolio

An e.portfolio is a collection of work or information that can either represent a person's efforts, progress and achievements over a period of time.

An e.portfolio may be a showcase of students' work, show how proficient a student is in areas of their education, a collection of records of experiences or steps needed to complete a project or a professional portfolio that allows for compiling resumes, cover letters and lists skills for potential employment.

e.portfolios can be used to enhance professional practice, social learning and provide another way to assess students' learning. They can also act as a way to support students in self-directed learning. e.portfolios also provide opportunity for self-reflection.

'Mahara' is just one of the systems available to allow users to create their own e.portfolio. Mahara is a user centred system that also allows for users to give 'permissions' to viewers to only be able to view parts of their portfolio (which would be handy in a job application situation). Mahara is simple to use as it provides all of the required tools to upload documents and artefacts that you want to include in your e.portfolio.

e.portfolios are yet another useful tool in an educational setting that can replace the need for a paper based folio of a student's work and engages students by providing a different platform for presenting work.

My E Book

My E Book is an online tool that allows users to create, publish and share ebook content online. Users can upload documents or create an ebook from scratch with their easy to use publishing tools that are available. Users can create ebooks on any topic they want and share with anyone who may be interested in reading what they have to say.

In a classroom, students could use this tool to research as they would in a library. Instead of having to borrow out books, students can download their books and view them at home. Like Wikipedia, students would have to be aware of the validity of the information contained within the ebooks that they choose for their research.

There is a huge selection of ebooks available for viewing at this site. When I searched "ICT", an ebook called 'ICT and a person with Special Needs' came up. This ebook contains how a person with special needs uses ICT to help her study while she is at school.

Myebook - ICT and a Person with Special needs - click here to open my ebook
My E Book - another useful tool in a contemporary classroom!

Learning Management Systems

A Learning Management System (LMS) is defined as "a software application or Web-based technology used to plan, implement, and assess a specific learning process." (TechTarget, 2003).

These systems, such as Blackboard and Moodle, provide teachers or instructors with a way of providing course content, monitoring participation by individual students (with forums etc) and a way to assess student performance. LMSs also provide students with the opportunity to participate in discussions and video conferencing with their teacher and peers. All of these features are centralised for easy access by students and teachers alike.

Although the implementation of LMSs offers flexibility for both teachers and students, I personally prefer the interaction of a classroom where a teacher can physically interact with their students and provide the necessary information for their education. However, there is definitely a place for these learning systems (perhaps for upper secondary students who may want to study extra subjects that are specific to their chosen career path). In a primary school setting, teachers could perhaps use a learning management system as a place to keep their planning and assessment but then use more interactive means to supply their students with necessary knowledge and skills.


TechTarget (2003) Learning Management System. Accessed 1 August 2009 on the World Wide Web:,,sid182_gci798202,00.html

Animations and Simulations

Animations and simulations are becoming very popular as a way of teaching students in schools. This creative way of conveying information can be used in all areas of the curriculum. These tools provide authentic situations in which students can learn about a variety of topics.

EdHeads is an educational website that contains animations and simulations that are designed to make hard to teach concepts understandable by using interaction that only the internet can provide. Edheads have created innovative learning experiences that motivate students to learn. Activities such as designing a cellphone, deep brain stimulation, virtual hip replacement and virtual knee surgery allow students to learn and explore in areas that they would not be privy to in a 'normal' classroom. These kinds of activities engage students beyond the walls of the classroom.

As a teacher I would find activities such as the ones found on EdHeads, extremely useful in providing activities to challenge the thinking of my students and to provide a different teaching strategy that will engage students, provide an authentic platform for learning, give multiple perspectives on topics and encourage complex learning processes (Kearsley and Shneiderman's Engagement theory)


Wikipedia - the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit.... says a lot doesn't it!

Wikipedia is collaboratively written by anyone who wants to add their two cents worth about a particular subject. While articles may have been written by people in the know, there is a chance that not all information is accurate. When using Wikipedia as a research tool, users need to be sure of the validity of the information. This can be sought by viewing the source of the information and interpreting the accuracy of the author. Allowing anyone to edit and update information, makes Wikipedia susceptible to vandalism and unchecked information.

In the classroom I would still encourage my students to use Wikipedia as a research tool. I would, however, ensure that they are aware of the possibility of inaccurate information and make sure that they are checking for validity of their information.

You Tube and Teacher Tube

The creators of YouTube (2009) say that, "YouTube is the world's most popular online video community, allowing millions of people to discover, watch and share originally-created videos. YouTube provides a forum for people to connect, inform, and inspire others across the globe and acts as a distribution platform for original content creators and advertisers large and small."

Users of YouTube are able to search for videos about their hobbies and interests, first hand accounts of current events, share their own videos and make comments on other user's videos that they have viewed.

In the classroom, aside from using YouTube as a research tool, teachers could video their class and make it available for absent students to view at home. Students could also use YouTube to broadcast their own videos to the world to receive feedback. In doing this though, teachers would have to be aware of exactly what their students are broadcasting to the world. They would also have to make the students aware that they may receive some unwanted feedback by making their work available in such a public arena.

TeacherTube is an educational version of YouTube. TeacherTube provides an online community to share instructional videos that are educationally focused. It also contains a number of professional development videos for teachers. Just briefly looking around the site, I found a number of videos that I would use either in the classroom to teach students or videos to enhance my teaching.

Here is a link to video of an approach that one teacher took to try to get their students to listen to the school rules:

Not sure if I would take that approach, but hey, anything is worth a try!

(I tried to embedd this as a video but there was something wrong with the codes grrr)


YouTube (2009) YouTube Fact Sheet. Accessed 1 August 2009 on the World Wide Web: is a simple and free web application that lets you brainstorm online.

Using you can create colorful mind maps online, share and work with friends, embed your mind map into blog or website, email and print your mind map or save your mind map as an image. takes away the mountains of paper that traditionally comes to mind when someone says "Let's brainstorm about.....".

In a professional context, teachers could use it as a collaborative planning tool for planning units of work. Students could also use this tool to collaboratively work on concept maps when they are planning for assessment pieces (which aligns with Kearsley and Shneiderman's Engagement Theory as well as Oliver's Learning Design and the Active Learning frameworks).

Personally, I find this tool a huge improvement on 'traditional' brainstorming. It makes ideas clearer and less chaotic than if you were using paper to brainstorm. However, if computers were in short supply in the classroom, may not be appropriate for small group brainstorming.

A '' on Autism

Static Websites

A static website is one that has web pages stored on the server in the format that is sent to a client web browser. They are a simple and effective way to get your message out. Static websites are quick to set up and should require almost no maintenance.

One site that allows you to create a free static website is Weebly.

Weebly is a free drag and drop website editor. Videos, pictures, maps, and text are added by simply dragging them to your website. There are many professional looking designs available for use to create your website and a variety of elements you can add to your site depending on your purpose.

Both teachers and students alike would find Weebly a useful tool in the classroom. Teachers could use Weebly to publish a Webquest (more on these later) for their students. Students could use Weebly to create simple, yet effective websites for just about any purpose they desire. They could be 'selling' products, advertising events in the classroom, responding to a Webquest, anything really.

Because of its simple layout and ease of use, students from just about any age could utilise Weebly. Another added bonus is no advertising!

The use of static websites such as Weebly for projects in the classroom provides another platform for students to learn within the frameworks of Kearsley and Shneiderman's Engagement Theory, Oliver's Learning Design framework and the Active Learning Framework.

Image Manipulation AKA Picnik

Picnik is a photo editing tool that available for use online. A bunch of Picnik's editing tools are one-click fixes, including auto- fix, exposure, colors, and red-eye. And the others, like rotate, crop, resize, and sharpening, can be controlled with easy-to-use sliders.

The above manipulated image of my kidlets has been taken from a black and white image and transformed into a pencil sketch with a simple frame and text. To make these changes was a quick, straightforward task.

In the classroom, students could use Picnik to manipulate any image for any purpose. They may want to change colours, textures, features to make images more individualised and suitable for their purpose. However, students who may not be competent users of Picnik may accidently lose their original image if they overwrite their original image with their manipulated one (depending on what online photo storage application they are using).
This is another tool that fits well with both the Engagement Theory and Oliver's Learning Design framework in that it allows for student choice, is multimodal, provides an authentic platform for students to base their learning on, engages the students in ways that 'traditional' teaching methods may not be able to achieve and gives the students opportunity to control what/how they learn.