Are all ICTs okay for schools?

This evening, I read a post by my fellow student on their blog Whiteboard Whispers, which talked about mobile phones in the classroom. 

It got me thinking about whether there are some ICTs that should be kept out of the classroom. For example, mobile phones have long been banned from many classrooms, but recently some teachers have begun using them as educational tools.

Conversely, iPads have been heralded as great educational tools, but they are all too easy to be misused and used as activities for free time, rather than as learning tools.

In my opinion, all ICTs have the potential to be an excellent teaching tool, provided they are used in the correct manner, and all ICTs have to potential to be simple diversions or ‘fun’ activities for free time in the classroom.

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Catering to digital natives

The twenty-first century truly is the digital age. We have a digital device for nearly anything we can think of. We have Kindles for reading, watches that track our pulse and heart-rate, technology that allows us to control our televisions or computers with the wave of our hand.

Amidst all of this technology we have a whole generation of students who are being raising with this as the norm and are becoming literate with these ICTs as a natural part of life. As teachers, we  have the added challenge of updating our pedagogy and ICT literacy to cater to this  new, more technologically literate generation.

My fellow student Lily put it best when she said ‘In some instances they (students) are usurping adult knowledge of the internet and technology.’

But how can we keep up? This website has some great ideas for incorporating new technologies, including writing stories on Twitter and creating viral videos. To keep up, I constantly research new technologies, websites and devices and read other’s opinions on their educational merit. What are some other ways that we can keep up with new technology?

Assignment One – Finished and complete!

After four weeks of work, my online artefact is finally complete! I’ve developed a website with several resources which was created to demonstrate to parents why my future classroom will use ICTs to teach students. Hopefully my assignment reflects the time and effort I put into creating it!

In my artefact, I chose to include creations from Powtoon, Bubbl.us and Piktochart, which was great as I developed my knowledge of  the effective use of each of these programs.

So here it is! My finished and complete artefact!

And just for good luck: http://prplppleata.wix.com/ictseducation

Good luck to everyone who is still working on their assignments!

Reflecting on Week Three

Friday morning and I’m finally finished the week’s content! There’s so much to do! Blogging, learning paths, assignments, tutorials and lectures take so much time that it’s hard to fit anything else in!

We’ve learnt about RAT – a framework that along with SAMR is used for assessing how ICT is being used. I can definitely see myself using this on prac and in the future as an educator to assess my use of ICT.

Then there’s Dragonbox, a game for teaching students about algebra in a fun and engaging way. This fabulous game is incredibly fun and slightly addictive – I found myself spending over an hour playing it, and gaining quite a bit of knowledge in the process!

We also explored Scootle – a website with a large compilation of resources for teaching in schools. This is invaluable! I’m so glad that we are able to access this as pre-service teachers.

Finally, there was a section about copyright. I was horrified to find myself clueless about some of the laws and regulations in Australia, and so I immediately set out to learn about how I can ensure that I am using resources legally.

What have you learnt this week?

Dragonbox. (2013). Dragonbox. Retrieved 20 March 2015 from http://www.dragonboxapp.com/

SMARTboards in Education

Walk into any classroom in Australia and you’ll find many things in common. Desks, chairs and whiteboards can be found in every classroom, along with the usual pens and paper. In the centre of every room, you can usually find a SMARTboard, an interactive whiteboard which connects to a computer and allows students to interact with the content via a touch screen interface. But sadly, in many classroom this valuable resource is underused. SMARTboards are an incredibly useful tool that can change the way that information is presented to our students.

But how precisely can they be used?

This website recommends using SMARTboards to take notes, brainstorm, play educational games and display data of many kinds – visuals, audio, videos and text to name a few. Another website uses the boards to save student work without taking up space, create bright and visual displays, research on the internet in a way that the whole class can participate, and to ‘flip’ the classroom, an innovative teaching technique which involves the teacher creating a digital ‘lesson’ where learners review the lesson at home, before coming to school and working on problems and practical tasks relating to the lesson.

I personally have used SMARTboards to compile student ideas, create interactive powerpoints, display videos, and create stories that have input from the whole class.

There are many other ways to use these boards in the classroom, and with a little creativity and ingenuity can become a essential part of any classroom.

Professional Learning Board. (n.d.) Using smart boards in the classroom. Retrieved 20 March 2015 from https://k12teacherstaffdevelopment.com/tlb/using-smart-boards-in-the-classroom/

Concordia Online Education. (2013). Teacher’s Guide: How to use the smart board in the clashttp://education.cu-portland.edu/blog/educator-tips/teacher-s-guide-how-to-use-a-smartboard-in-the-classroom/sroom. Retrieved 20 March 2015 from

Are we too dependent on technology?

Earlier this week, I was interested to read a post by Tegan, about going without ICT for an hour. It caused me to think about my own ICT habits and how dependent I am on them. I was discouraged to realise just how big a part of my life they are. I always have my phone next to me, and if I don’t I’m on my laptop or my tablet, or on a Nintendo 3DS connected to the internet.

According to the experts, Tegan and I are not alone. For example, data from Techcrunch shows that American Facebook users now spend up to 40 minutes per day using Facebook. That’s just one platform! Imagine if those same users also use Twitter and Instagram! As a society, we are so dependent on our technology in our everyday lives, I have to wonder if this is such a good thing. What’s your opinion? Are we too dependent on technology?

Stephan, T. (2015). Could you live without modern ICTs?. Retrieved 19 March 2015 from https://teganstephan.wordpress.com/2015/03/17/could-you-live-without-modern-icts/

Constine, J. (2014). Facebook Beats in Q2 with $2.91 Billion in Revenue, 62 % of Ad Revenue From Mobile, 1.32B Users. Retrieved 19 March 2015 from http://techcrunch.com/2014/07/23/facebook-q2-2014-earnings/

Postman – Technology is a trade-off

I’m sure many of you have seen Neil Postman’s 1998 ‘Five Things We Need to Know About Technological Change’If you haven’t , it’s well worth the time. During our course work, we were asked to consider one of his ‘5 things’ and share an example of it.

I chose to use his first point, that ‘Technology is a trade-off’. The example that came to mind for me was social media. It’s a great tool that allows us to immediately speak to and contact others all over the world whenever we want. We can connect with family and friends in other countries and time zones, and have a conversation. We can stay in contact with many people, far more than we could if we were restricted to face-to-face meetings, phone calls or letter writing. However, it comes at a cost. For me, it means that far too often I replace face-to-face meetings with superficial, short 5-minute conversations over Facebook, and tell myself that I’ve stayed in touch with them. I might stay in touch with many people, but these connections are shallow and meaningless. For me, social-media has great advantages, but there are also some distinct disadvantages.

Is technology making us antisocial?

meetandtweetmariascrivan

Antisocial Networking [image]. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.mariascrivan.com/panel-cartoons#/id/i4136984

Practically every child in Australia has some access to technology, whether it’s a computer, smartphone, tablet or something else. Many people claim that technology is making us and our children antisocial. The above image is an example of how many people see these devices, a simple way of ignoring others. But is this really the case?

The Viewpoints:

There are about as many viewpoints as there are devices when it comes to this topic. This article discusses how technology has altered the way our children communicate. The perspectives differ wildly, with one man calling smartphones ‘toxic’, and claiming that they are stopping kids from developing empathy, while others claim that they raise self-esteem and confidence.

The Implications:

As educators, we are required to incorporate ICTs into our classrooms. As an extension of that, we need to be literate in these various devices and technologies that our students will be using. No matter what our viewpoint is, we have to have an understanding of how technology is used, and more importantly how our students are using it.The limited verbal or face-to-face communication of some students is a valid concern. Are there skills that students are lacking? If so, what can we do about it?

Helping students develop communication skills

One suggestion that the article has is using a ‘class meeting’ to encourage students to voice any concerns or comments they may have about events that are important in their lives. Students can have a discussion while developing important conversational skills. This can assist students in developing an emotional vocabulary which can in turn assist them in situations that occur online as well. There are also games that can assist students in developing problem solving skills that may not be gained through online communication.

The bottom line:

Technology is a great tool that is revolutionising the way we communicate. We can speak to others on the other side of the world in a matter of moments, all with the click of a mouse (or button). There are so many positive aspects to this, but as with everything, there are also plenty of downsides.

What’s your opinion? As teachers (or future teachers), what can we do to ensure our students are set up for success?

Are we really using ICTs effectively?

Here we are again! Week two, and I am finding this course very challenging, but also incredibly fascinating and relevant to my own education. This week, I’ve been considering how we use ICTs in the classroom.

Earlier this week, Amanda wrote this post about a TED talk she watched, all about how technology should be used in the classroom. I decided to watch the TED talk, and it was absolutely amazing. Like Amanda, I looked over my own use of technology on practical experience, and I too was digitizing traditional teaching methods – or simply converting conventional methods to the digital realm, like a photo scanned into a computer.

I had to sit back and think about how I can change the way I implement ICTs. Creating powerpoints with pretty images but essentially the same information I could share with a traditional whiteboard is not using ICTs to their fullest. It will take significant thought, planning and collaboration to redesign the way we teach in our classrooms to ensure we are using ICTs to the fullest, and not simply digitizing traditional teaching methods.

The TED talk is embedded below, I believe it’s definitely worth watching if you want to challenge your own ideas about what ICTs in education look like.

Using the TEST Framework

During this week’s content, we looked at the TEST framework, and how it can be applied to our studies. You can read about the TEST framework at this website.

Problem: How can I keep up with all of the work for this course, and at the same time keep up to date with my other subjects?

Task: I need to decide on an effective study schedule, and prioritise university over other things that may take my time, but that might not be as important, and maintain my motivation.

Environment: I study both at home, and at the Springfield campus of USQ. At home, I usually study in the lounge room, with the TV on, which can sometimes be a distraction and sometimes helps me stay focussed, depending on the task. On occasion, I will also be studying at the Ipswich campus library. Both libraries have the issue of noise from other students, which can make it difficult for me to study.

Skills: I’m confident in the use of ICT, so I don’t have as large a learning curve this semester as some of my peers, however there are still a lot of challenges for me. I have good time management when I need to, so this will help me finish all of my work.

Tools: I have a good knowledge of many ICT tools which will help me achieve my goals. Websites such as Twitter, Diigo and Feedly are all extremely useful to me. Additionally, timetable websites will be helpful for me to develop a functional study plan.

Hopefully the TEST framework will be helpful to keep me on track for this semester!