Sunday, 26 May 2013

Mobile Learning

What is Mobile Learning?

Mobile learning is when teachers and students take advantage of educational content online through portable devices such as iPods, iPads, iPhones and Laptops. The devices are seen as portable tools and resources available to be used as alternatives to the notepad and computer (Sharples et al., 2009). These devices are also used as a means to connect to the world via the Internet and run a range of Applications and Programs for many reasons, especially for educational purposes.

What are the benefits of Mobile Learning?

Rather than assuming that learning only occurs within a fixed location, such as a classroom, over a bounded period of time (Sharples et al., 2009). Mobile devices will allow for learning ‘on the go’ to travel to and from school and be happening both inside and outside of classroom at any time (Dale & Pymm, 2009).

Most children have access to at least one or more mobile device at home whether it be their parents or their own. Using the technology that is otherwise used for entertainment and socializing does not reduce its value as a tool for learning, but instead helps to bridge the gap between institutional and personal learning (Sharples et al., 2009).  

“The advantage of using the iPod as a learning technology with students is that, though difficult to define why, the devices have managed to retain their coolness in a market where an abundance of music players exists. This has made the iPod socially acceptable” (Dale & Pymm, 2009)

Children will be more motivated to learn and engage with a topic if they are able to interact with it using something they enjoy. There is an incredible range of Applications, videos or even Podcasts available for educational purposes available online.
Find out more about the possibilities by clicking Education - Apps

What are the Possible Limitations of Mobile learning?

Your probably thinking now… “This is fantastic! Why aren’t all schools getting involved in the classroom?!” At this early stage of the introduction of mobile learning, being able to monitor the students Internet access and activity on devices is probably the biggest factor that is preventing schools from participating. It will require upgrades in the technical infrastructure

provided by the school and this is not a cheap exercise (Dale & Pymm, 2009). Is it a Sacrifice that schools are willing or able to face? Even if the technology department investigates an update in Internet security and monitoring. There is no way to prevent students in using their personal Internet for inappropriate behaviors at school.

Some ways to get around this would be to use Classroom iPads/ iPods that are connected to the school Internet. If the Internet security restricts inappropriate use, then it will just be left up to the teacher to carefully monitor students. If students are working in pairs or groups rather than individually, they should be able to monitor students work more closely.

How should it be used in the Classroom?

Teachers should use Mobile technology “not only to ‘deliver’ learning but to facilitate it, making use of the facilities in current mobile devices for voice communication, note-taking, photography, and time management.” (Sharples et al., 2009)
Transforming Education with Mobile Learning

Reference List

Dale, C. & Pymm, J. M. (2009). Podagogy: The iPod as a learning technology. Active Learning in Higher Education,10(1), 84 -96. Retrieved from

Howell, J. (2012). Teaching with ICT: Digital Pedagogies for Collaboration and Creativity. Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press.

Sharples, M., Arnedillo-S’anchez, Milrad, M., & Vavoula, G. (2009). Mobile learning small devices, big issues. In Balacheff et al. (Eds.), Technology-Enhanced Learning (pp. 233-249). doi: 10.1007/978-1-4020-9827-7 14

Friday, 24 May 2013

Assessment using ICTs in the Classroom

Why should we use Information and Communication technologies in Assessment?

Social Constructivist theory suggests that alternative forms of assessment should be implemented in order to obtain a clear representation of the progress in a student’s learning (Rowe, 2006). Kent (2013) explains that in order “to understand the big picture, sometimes we need to examine the small details.” This entails teachers to collect both formative and summative examples of student work on a frequent basis in order to provide feedback in a timely fashion to the student. This also allows opportunity for reflection on your own teaching practices and whether you should make any adjustments. According to Peter Kent (2013), “one of the most effective ways to improve student learning is to use technology in both teaching and assessment”.

Examples of ICTs that can be used for Assessment purposes

·         Wikis can be used to assess student learning as well as collaborative learning. When marking a wiki, you the can look at the history to see what components each student has completed. This allows you to assess individual contributions.
·         Graphic Organizers are a great way to assess the knowledge and understanding of individuals.
·         YouTube is an ideal place for students to place assessment items such as digital storybooks. You can have students create a video on a certain topic and then upload to YouTube where you can then access and mark it.
(Kent, 2013)

Learner Response Systems

Learner response systems which allow for multiple-choice or short responses such as Top Hat Monacle or the program used on the Interactive Whiteboard allow for teachers to attain a response from large groups of students from the Classroom to lecture theatres (Howell, 2012).

Top Hat Monacle is a great program to use with large groups of students such as EDUC1049. The lecturer used this program at the beginning of lectures primarily to check for understanding of key concepts explored in the Flip classroom videos and lectures. This type of program will be able to show students whether they are on the right track or not and give them the opportunity to ask questions immediately comprehend what they will need to revise. The only negative is that technology does not always go to plan and there will always be glitches that require practice to move past.

It would also be beneficial for students in the classroom for when teachers normally ask for responses during a discussion it is not possible to get more than a few answers at a time. With the use of a learner response system, every child will have the opportunity for input. There are also some great benefits for the teacher using a program such as this including student feedback.

What does the future look like for Assessment using ICTs?

“Assessment platforms such as are currently an emerging technology, but are expected to be widespread within the coming years.” (Kent, 2013) As technology continues to progress, online programs will be able deliver assessments and frequently collect and accumulate information from these Online assessments. They will also have the ability to combine these outcomes with important student information such as their demographic information, attendance, behavior and standardized testing results (Kent, 2013). This program will prove to be incredibly beneficial to teachers by helping inform teaching practice by presenting useful information back to the teacher in a short period of time.

Reference List

Howell, J. (2012). Teaching with ICT: Digital Pedagogies for Collaboration and Creativity. Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press.

Kent, P. (2013). Technology for Assessment. In P. Kent, & C. Campbell, Macmillan masterclass : assessment for teaching today (pp. 35-43). Melbourne: Macmillan Education Australia.

 Rowe, K. (2006). "Effective teaching practices for students with and without learning difficulties: Constructivism as a legitimate theory of learning AND of teaching?" Retrieved from


Thursday, 23 May 2013

Social Constructivism

What is Social Constructivism?

Social constructivism is a popular theory that has been adopted into the classroom by many teachers and educational researchers (Howell, 2012). The social constructivist theory based on the work of Lev Vgotsky, suggests that without socialization and social interactions knowledge and understanding would not be able to develop (Howell, 2012). According to Kaya Yilmaz (2008) this approach also demontrates how power, the economy, political and social factors affect the ways in which groups of people make meaning of the world surrounding them. The three underlying factors to social constructivism infer that firstly social interaction plays a major role in the development of knowledge (Howell, 2012). The Second understanding of social constructivism states that an individual with a better understanding or higher level of knowledge than the learner (For example: The teacher, parent or peers) is important to learning (Howell, 2012). Lastly, it is understood that learning occurs within the ‘zone of proximal development’. This is the distance between a learner’s ability to perform a task requiring adult supervision or co-working with peers to being able to perform a task independently (Howell, 2012).
How can teachers adopt this theory into their classroom?

A constructivist pedagogy will require “the creation of classroom environments, activities, and methods that are grounded in a constructivist theory of learning, with goals that focus on individual students developing deep understandings in the subject matter of interest and habits of mind that aid in future learning.” (Yilmaz, 2008) Teachers can easily implement this social constructivism theory into the classroom through the use of digital technologies in their teaching pedagogy. Teachers must deliver activities that facilitate students own knowledge and understanding of concepts (Howell, 2012). Examples of useful activities include problem solving, exploration, presentation, authentic activities and collaboration by group work (Rowe, 2006). Lastly, it is important to deliver lessons that foster creativity and also cater for a range of learning styles (Howell, 2012). These strategies should sound incredibly familiar, as they have been explored throughout the technology blogs. Digital Storytelling and Wikis are both great examples that demonstrate a social constructivist philosophy. All of these examples are also ideal and effective teaching practices which are often promoted as the best teaching practice (Rowe, 2006).  

What do teachers need to consider?

When implementing a constructivist theory into the classroom, it is important that teachers carefully consider their role in the learning situation. In order to support a constructivist approach, teachers must adopt a meditational role for student-centered learning rather than instructional role(Howell, 2012). Teachers also must ensure they identify each individual students prior knowledge, scaffold teaching, carefully monitor the development of student understanding (Howard, 2012). We must understand that formative and summative assessment should appear in different forms and contexts such as continuous assessment, group assessment, exams, and online assessment (Rowe, 2006) in order to have a clear picture of a students progress. All of these factors that are recommended to consider in constructivist have become second nature to all inclusive teachers.




Reference List

Howell, J. (2012). Teaching with ICT: Digital Pedagogies for Collaboration and Creativity. Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press.

Rowe, K. (2006). "Effective teaching practices for students with and without learning difficulties: Constructivism as a legitimate theory of learning AND of teaching?" Retrieved from

Yilmaz, K. (2008). Constructivism: Its Theoretical Underpinnings, Variations, and Implications for Classroom Instruction. Educational HORIZONS. p. 161 – 172.


Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Digital Storytelling in the Classroom

What is Digital Storytelling?

Digital storytelling has recently emerged as an effective teaching and learning tool that engages both teachers and their students (Robin, 2008). A Digital Story is a multimedia piece that delivers a message or story that incorporates still images complemented by a narrated sound track (Condy et al., 2012). What many people do not know is that digital storytelling is not a new concept since it was first created in the late 1980’s (Robin, 2008). Yet, the way in which they are created has changed drastically alongside technology. Today, there are numerous programs that can create digital storybooks such as movie maker, powerpoint and photostory (Howell, 2012).
Why is it important to include Digital Storytelling in the Classroom?

Digital Storytelling allows digitally fluent students to become creative storytellers through a traditional process (Robin, 2008).

1.      Select a topic
2.      Conduct Research
3.      Write a script
4.      Develop an interesting story
5.      Combine with various types of multimedia
    • Pictures
    • Recorded Audio
    • Text
    • Video Clips
    • Music
6.       Share with peers
(Robin, 2008)

According to Robin (2008), through the process of creating a digital storybook both the necessary 21st century skills and old literacy skills will be reinforced. There are a number of literacy skills that encompass digital storytelling ranging from researching, writing, organizing, presenting and problem solving. The 21st century skills promoted include cultural literacy, information literacy, visual literacy, media literacy and more (Robin, 2008).
“Students live in a technological world where ICTs are integral to everyday situations” (Essential Learnings, 2007). Therefore, there is an expectation that teachers allow students to both express their knowledge and understanding through a relevant portal and also learn how to create a deep and meaningful understanding of the storybooks produced by peers.

Is Digital Storytelling to advanced for early years students?

Digital storytelling fits nicely into the early years pedagogy, supporting fundamental learning activities such as creativity, play and experimentation. Even in the Early Years, students are quickly developing their digital fluency. This means that most Early Years Students will have already attained the basic skills and experiences required to create something such as a Digital Storybook (Howell, 2012). Please find below an example of a short information report in the form of a digital storybook that looks at the explorer James Cook.

According to Howell (2012), the types of skills that would be required include:
  • How to Operate the program you are using to create the your storybook (For example : Step by Step instructions to use Photostory)
  • How to load images, add sound files, re-order images, add title and credit slides, add text/ voice narration.
  • How to export your storybook into a format that can be used (a common movie format)
  • How to transfer your storybook onto a USB device
Teachers may be required to support this activity through thorough scaffolding and modeling of the task. It would also be beneficial for the students to work in pairs or small groups, as they will be able to support each other in peer-mediated learning. This type of interaction would allow for an engaging learning experience for both teachers and students.

Reference List

Condy, J., Chigona, A., Gachago, D., & Ivala, E. (2012). Pre-Service Students' Perceptions and Experiences of Digital Storytelling in Diverse Classrooms. Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology , 278-281.
Howell, J. (2012). Teaching with ICT: Digital Pedagogies for Collaboration and Creativity. Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press.
Queensland Studies Authority. (2007). Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) Cross-curriculum priority by the end of Year 3. Retrieved April 25, 2013, from
Robin, B. R. (2008). Digital Storytelling: A Powerful Technology Tool for the 21st Century Classroom . In B. R. Robin, Theory into Practice (pp. 220-228). Houston: Routledge Taylor and Francis Group.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Wikis and Collaborative Learning

A wiki is a website or blog space that is collaboratively edited and maintained by a group of people (Maloy et al., 2011). Wikis allow for groups both small and large to coordinate their efforts to complete the set task. The blog will explore some of the main reasons why Teachers should use Wikis as a collaborative learning tool in the classroom.
Collaborative learning is a form of peer-mediated learning, which involves students working together in small groups to accomplish shared goals. In regular group cooperative learning activities, teachers are required to consider influencing factors such as group size, composition of ability and gender and ways to enhance group discussion (Pagliano & Gillies, 2012). Effective groups are suggested to have 3 or 4 members to ensure that all students are actively involved not able to slip through the cracks (Pagliano & Gillies, 2012). It is also preferred that teacher arranges groups of mixed ability and genders as they will more likely promote productive discussions among students. If the teacher was to implement Wikis into the classroom, these influences would need to be considered. But then again with the opportunity to involve large groups of students, it is anticipated that there will be a range of genders and learning abilities to compliment each other.

Students require a range of social skills to facilitate cooperation in a collaborative learning situation. Such as learning how to work well with one another, understanding other people’s perspectives, being able to positively receive and give feedback to group members (Pagliano & Gillies, 2012). Some students that would normally be too shy to express their own opinion and play an active role in a collaborative learning situation will probably be able to express their ideas more freely and confidently through a Wiki.

Class activities and assignments take on new meaning when students realize that their work is going to be seen by more people than just the teacher (Maloy et al., 2011). Students are found to be more motivated to contribute to Wikis not only because of their familiarity with the Internet (Teehan, 2010). But also because it gives them a chance to publish, collaborate on, and share information they deem as valuable. Teehan (2010) states that wikis introduce students to a new level of exposure, and students see the creation of a wiki as a real-world, noteworthy, and grown-up endeavor.  Subsequently, students put more effort into not only the grammar and spelling, but also ensuring they display originality, and higher-level thinking skills in the investigation and organization of the content (Teehan, 2010).

An issue that all teachers must consider when introducing students to online programs is that they are guaranteed a safe and secure environment, protected from online predators and unsuitable materials (Teehan, 2010). Teehan (2010) suggests that teachers must explain to parents how and why their child will use a collaborative wiki to ensure its success. Safety will not be an issue with Wikis because you can choose to make student wikis private, “only allowing access to parents, peer and teachers authorized to collaborate with students” (Teehan, 2010).

As Teehan (2010) states that there will always be a “bottom line” when it comes to education. It will require a fair amount of additional work on the teacher behalf but it is all worth it knowing you will provide opportunities for a great collaborative learning experience.
Learn more about using Wikispaces Classroom


Maloy, R., Verock-O'Loughlin, R., Edwards, S., & Woolf, B. (2011). Communicating and Networking with Websites, blogs and more. In Transferring learning with new technologies (pp. 206-239). New Jersey: Pearson.

Pagliano, P., & Gillies, R. M. (2012). Inclusive Teaching Practices. In A. Ashman, & J. Elkins, Education for Inclusion and Diversity (pp. 244-248). NSW: Pearson.

Teehan, K. (2010). Wikis : The Educator's Power Tool. Calfornia: ABC-CLIO.


Monday, 20 May 2013

ICT Current Trends : Interactive Whiteboards in the Classroom

Technology has transformed the classroom over the past decades unraveling more and more possibilities to further enrich our students’ education. However, these potential opportunities are not attainable merely by introducing technology into the classroom. Teachers are required to first of all build an understanding of the technology and then how they can use it to build an effective pedagogical tool (Gage, 2006).

In recent years the interactive whiteboard (IWB) has become one of the most valued technologies used within the classroom. As it’s name suggests, an IWB is a large interactive display that connects to a computer and projector. A projector displays the computer’s desktop onto the board’s surface, where users control the computer using a pen, finger, stylus or other device (Howell, 2012). Howell (2012) suggests that the potential use of Interactive Whiteboard is limited only by your confidence as a teacher. The introduction of this new technology has gradually replaced ordinary whiteboards and overhead projectors, as they are no longer an effective method in delivering content knowledge to students (Gage, 2006).

If used effectively, IWBs have the capability to stimulate high levels of intellectual quality. Activities that promote intellectual quality include labeling, sorting, ordering and sequencing, puzzle, game or simulation. (Kent, 2010) These sorts of activities assist in promoting higher order thinking, authentic discussions, and creating problems for students to solve that are open to multiple interpretations (Kent, 2010). Considering time is precious in the classroom, using an IWB assists by increasing the pace and depth of lessons and giving more time for discussion and questioning (Gage, 2006). This technology allows teachers to share the learning experience with their students. Whilst, also giving students the chance to take on the teachers’ role in demonstrating their knowledge and understanding of concepts to their peers (Gage, 2006).

An IWB will be able to cater for a diverse range of learning styles (Howell, 2012). For instance, Visual learners will be able to engage with the content through the use of colours, pictures, graphs, mind maps (Gage, 2006). Kinesthetic learners will benefit from the use of videos and animations and being able to touch and move things on the board (Gage, 2006). Lastly, Auditory learners will be further stimulated by audio and video files can be used to supplement classroom discussion (Gage, 2006) The example provided of a learning object found on the educational website ‘Scootle’ exhibits all of these elements.

It is ultimately up to the teacher as to how they utilize the IWB in their classroom. Teachers often choose to use the IWB for whole-class teaching or for working with groups of students around the board. Gage (2006) states that critics are concerned the IWB may encourage direct instruction in whole-class learning situations rather than broaden their approaches to include more student-centered, inquiry-based approaches.

“In Education’s pursuit to take advantage of the enormous potential of computers we seemed to lose sight of what fundamentally underpins successful schools, that is, quality teaching.”
(Kent, 2007, pg.4)

According to Kent (2007), Pedagogy comes before technology therefore teachers must ensure their teaching approach is catering for learners before an IWB can be introduced as a tool to enrich learning. And most importantly, technology should be able bring the topic alive for the students (Gage, 2006).


Reference List

Gage, J. (2006). How to use an interactive whiteboard really effectively in your secondary classroom. In J. Gage, Pedagogy (pp. 17-30). London: David Fulton.
Howell, J. (2012). Teaching with ICT: Digital Pedagogies for Collaboration and Creativity. Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press.
Kent, P. (2010). Promoting Intellectual Quality with an IWB. In P. Kent, Secondary Teaching with Interactive Whiteboards (pp. 12-40). South Yarra: Macmillan Education Australia.