Education Technology tools

Posted on September 20, 2010

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At the moment I am complete a unit as part of my Graduate Certificate in Tertiary Education called Education Technology through CQU. The unit is interesting in that it has exposed me to a few new elearning tools I was not aware of. elearning tools continually evolve, and effective networks will no doubt be the best way to keep on top of them. In a way, this is my contribution to that network. In this post I’m reflecting on a number of elearning tools and how they fit with active learning and ICT learning design frameworks.

In my reflections I have included a bit of a key to give you a quick idea of my thoughts. Number of *’s = my idea on teaching usefulness, and ‡ means I already use this in a teaching setting. Of course, this is just a few of the many tools available online.

**** ‡ Blogs

I guess blogs can be used in two ways, to help deliver content and share ideas, reflection etc from the teacher or network, but perhaps more effectively to synthesize concepts and ideas and to donate this back to the world. This last point in particular increases the learner’s engagement in accordance with Kearsley and Shneiderman (1998)’s Engagement Theory. I would like to use learner blogs in particular for reflection. I don’t see blogs as being the main place where students primarily create a resource to share, but rather reflect on the resource and/or it’s creation. This sharing in itself allows for a student’s own self reflection as well as a sharing of the process or learning that took place. Valuable in itself.

***** ‡ Aggregators

I love aggregators. I use google reader, and whilst I don’t have a particular affinity to it, it seems to do the job well. I like aggregators because they save time and allow me to stop on top of new research and ideas that I’m interested in. I have written about this previously in a wiki about “using the internet for learning and research“. I don’t think they play a particular role in enhancing learning, it’s pretty easy to disengage from them, but they can assist teaching as a way of ensuring content is up to date and contextualised.

**** ‡ Wikis

I must admit I have a particular affinity to wikis at present. I have used them in and outside of work and have a number of units that I am developing on Wikiversity (Exercise and metabolic disease and Sport research). I believe this work will really integrate the Engagement Theory and I will write more on that in the near future.

The RecentChanges Wiki conference I attended increased my understanding tremendously and I learnt quite a bit by talking with others.

*** ‡ Webquests

Webquests (such as webquests.org) clearly fit the ICT learning design framework for enhancing learning, i.e. webquests encourage the creation of clear learning tasks, resources and supports. When I first became aware of the concept it made tremendous sense to me, and whilst I like the idea of the concept traditional webquests seem a bit clunky and old. I aim to use webquest based concepts of learning tasks, resources and supports on other platforms such as wikis and blogs.

** ‡ Lecture style presentations utilising product tools like powerpoint and  keynote and sharing them via slidecast and slideshare are another way to assist in the delivery of unit content. Although this may assist in catering for increased flexibility and learning styles (which are important) they do not necessarily support engagement theory concepts, similar to traditional lectures. So some thought needs to go in to it. As examples, Jess Parker alludes to how powerpoint can further engage the learner, and the creative alternative and interactive Prezi may do so also (see this example we created).

*** ‡ twitter teaching and twitter.

I use twitter, and have discussed this previously, twice. There is no doubt more opportunity for its use (see below).

** ‡ facebook

Facebook is limiting. I find it hard to utilise for teaching or learning, perhaps I just haven’t worked it out yet. The problem is lots of people are on it, so is the best you can do just use it to catch people attention? There is this though – teacher experimenting with FB (thanks Leigh). I need to think more.

***** ‡ delicious

The best tool ever? Tagging relevant material from anywhere on the web, sharing the resources in all sorts of ways… I love it. Not as good as being able to annotate the same sites and share that as well though, even across a whole class or more… check out Diigo. Diigo could be used very effectively in a tutorial setting and certainly meets many of the principles of the ICT learning design framework and engagement theory through its primary role to collaborate and develop on existing content. Here is a useful post about Diigo and education.

**** voicethread

In a similar way to Diigo, voicethread offers a great opportunity for tutorial settings where students cannot be on-site for tutorials. I won’t repeat a good post I have seen about voicethread on Jess Parker’s blog.

** Virtual worlds

Thanks to the influence of Leigh again, I have been lucky to get along to a talk about the use of Second Life in teaching. The talk focused on work conducted in New Zealand, specifically about the use of this virtual world in midwifery.  It is clear to me how the creation of scenarios in such a world could assist in the immersive education of students. There is however a lot of work required unless you can find a relevant existing and open resource. Admittedly though, I’m not sure about the best ways to find existing second life places and scenarios.  I do think this will be used more in the future however, in part addressing the difficulty institutions often have in meeting course placement requirements.

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