Sunday, 30 June 2013

Final Course Reflection!

"Remember, it's not about the technology. It is about good learning and teaching first. the technology is merely a tool to enable us to achieve our goals." - Matt Wells (based around  the work of Helen Christou).

Consider the iLE@RN skills that need to be addressed prior to students using Web 2 tools:

  • The iLE@RN skills to be addressed to ensure effective use of Web 2.0 tools for learning seems to naturally marry with the National Curriculum's General Capabilites, particularly in regard to: 'Literacy', 'Information and Communication Techology capability' and 'Critical and creative thinking'. The iLE@RN pedagogical model considers the skills students require not only to support their learning and engage in optimal learning experiences when using Web 2.0 tools but are also the skills that are desired of our current and future Nation's workforce.

Do you find this adaptation of Blooms to digital technology helpful in planning your curriculum?
  • Personally, I feel that Bloom's revised taxonomy aims to illuminate the expanded opportunities for students to create through use of ICT tools. It also serves as a reminder to seek opportunities when planning that will allow students to apply a range of thinking skills within learning experiences that will eventually lead students towards creating for meaning, purpose and neccessity.
    Where would you place other tools such as Second Life, Picasa or Glogster on this map?
  • Although, Bloom's Taxomony ranks skills from lower order to higher order skills, it is essential to recognise that all skills are imporant as we move up and down along this scale and/or use multiple skills simultaneously on a daily basis. As a result, it is impossible to place such tools on Bloom's Digital Taxonomy map becuase they can be applied to develop and enhance a range of thinking skills. When using these tools, educators should consider the purpose of using the tool - which thinking skill/s are the focus of this lesson? If the use of Web 2.0 tools for learning is selected and planned for thoughtfully, they should be able to support thinking skills in all areas of this map, depending on one's purpose.

Personal Learning Reflection:

Although I have reached the end of the course, this is only the beginning of my journey of incorporating Web 2.0 tools in my contemporary teaching practise. Prior to starting this course I had no idea of  how limited my knowledge  of Web 2.0 tools was or what was out there in the first place!

The key lesson that I have learnt from participating in course is that I can't afford to rest on my laurels by not making an effort to explore Web 2.0 tools. This course has opened my eyes to some of the many valuable tools available to support teaching and learning for the 21st century and as the ten modules held my hand at the very beginning of my journey, it is now time for me to guide my own exploration into this world. From reading other's blogs and learning with and from other teachers during Techie Brekkies at school, I've realised that even though I have completed the course, I am not on this journey alone as I have the support of other educators around me. A great benefit of this course was that it allowed me to connect with other teachers outside of school through blogs and Twitter. By expanding my connections with other teachers opens new windows of opportunity to discover, learn and share with others.

As I so recently discovered (in maths lesson using Google forms and spreadsheets), this journey isn't going to be easy. There will be times when things will go wrong and don't work, regardless of how well you have prepared to incorporate these tools into your lessons. Yes, there are risks but the gains have the potential provide effective and possibly even phenominal results. I'm prepared to experiment through trial and error, experience failures and just simply "wing it" and ask for help when things go wrong.  As scary as these situations can be  they can eventually lead towards many improved,  successful, engaging and meaningful learning experiences for our students.

Since (and prior to) participating in this course our 5/6 team have attempted to use the following tools:
  • Twitter (to network with other educators)
  • School Blog (to communicate with with the school community regarding learning experiences and key school events)
  • Wikis (to upload resources and lessons for student use)
  • Google Docs (to allow collaboration opportunities for students and teachers)
  • (to brainstorm ideas and showcase/reflect on learning)
  • Social bookmarking (to organise web resources and share with other teachers)
  • Prezi (to present information to the students through a different and engaging format)
Following this course I aim to continue discovering and playing with Web 2.0/ ICT tools in the following ways:

  • Attending PDs (such as Techie Brekkies run at our school) and conferences  (such as the 'ICTEV2013: IT Takes A Village State Conference' we attended in May)
  • Reading educational blogs and actively connecting with other educators on Twitter
  • Learning from other teachers around me and asking lots of questions
  • Searching for tools and resources using search engines such as Google 

Thank you to all who took the time to join me on the beginning of my journey. Wishing all participants good luck and hope that you all get as much (if not more) out of this course as I did.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Module 10: Learning Communities, Constructing Knowledge Together in Wikis.

Cross (1998) addresses the question, "Why Learning Communities? Why Now?" She gives three reasons: "philosophical (because learning communities fit into a changing philosophy of knowledge), research based (because learning communities fit with what research tells us about learning), and pragmatic (because learning communities work)." - Cross, "Why Learning Communities? Why Now?" About Campus, 1998, p. 4.

Just learnt that Wikipedia is a Wiki site. Can't believe I didn't realise this! Thanks for clearing this up Module 10.
This year, we made a big push with using a Wiki site with our students. It has become an integral space for our learning needs. I can't imagine how we could survive without the 5/6 Wiki, especially with the 1:1 laptop program. There is rarely a day when we don't use or at least refer to the 5/6 Wiki page. It has become a place to upload lesson content, resources, downloadable learning activities, due dates and important events.
Things I love about our
  • It is simple to use: although I'm still familiarising myself with using our Wiki, it isn't particularly challenging to edit, upload items and use the Wiki.

  • Overall the students have grasped using the Wiki fairly quickly.

  • Once information/uploaded content is placed on the Wiki it is accessible to both teachers and students. This elimatinates the process of e-mailing out content to teachers and the SUPER-LY ANNOYING process of students typing links incorrectly!

  • The content placed on the Wiki is accessible to everyone 24/7. This eliminates the problem of students loosing sheets/forgeting to take home work and allows children to access the work if they are absent for a period of time.

  • It gives parents/guardians more insight into what the students are learning about at school , key dates and to the students' dismay - homework activities and due dates.

  • Links to our school blog, Google Apps, Mathletics and other study resources to support the students with their learning.
From this module I learnt that a Ning is a place to develop social networks and discovered Google Sites. I've developed a curiousity about Google Sites and I'm keen to have a go at building my own site in the future (when report season is over). I may experiment creating a Google Site by basing it on our Inquiry Topic for Term 3.

Overall, Wiki Sites are a great educational tool and I'd encourage any educator to get on board.
For those who are using Wiki Sites with their students, how have you been using your site?
Have you noticed any other benefits of using a Wiki Site?

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Module 9: Networks on the web – professional and social.

"This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box." - Edward R. Murrow.

I've always almost had a negative attitude towards social networking sites, mostly caused by my irrational fear of turning into a pouting princess in a toilet cubicle. "I refuse to be suckered into that Facebook fad, you know, in a year or two everyone will be onto something else just like Myspace so what's the point? If I want to catch up with friends I'd rather call or see them in person." - Bianca Raux, 2007. As friends continued to upload photos from different events post invites and connect with old and new friends, I realised that not joining Facebook (especially for someone of my generation) is ultimately social suicide. You don't sign up - you miss out! Now that I have a smart phone, I'd be lying if I didn't say that I didn't go on Facebook everyday. 

I held a similar attitude towards Twitter, I couldn't see the point of it considering I could write a post on Facebook and not be limited by characters. Also, I had no interest in following    famous people. Last year, our level coordinator suggested that we join Twitter to create a professional account. I reluctantly joined up and had a little play around. I could see the value in twitter from a professional perspective. With tweets being hash tagged, it was easy to find tweets with great resources, already trialed out and recommended by other teachers. Also, you could pose a question to hundreds of other teachers out there asking for ideas. I'm still coming to terms with using Twitter to its full potential, since I'm not much of a 'tweeter'  but I'm getting there. Although I explored LinkedIn as a part of this module, I don't think I'm ready to start using it yet as I'm feeling a little overwhelmed exploring and attempting to  use these Web 2.0 tools. 


Is this tool more appropriate for social (personal) purposes or professional (work-related) purposes, or both?

Second life: It is extremely obvious why people would use this tool socially but I can see how this website could provide many educational opportunities for students to immerse themselves within and explore the world - past, present and future. 

Facebook: Although, I know this social networking site has been used for educational purposes, I still would only use Facebook for personal purposes only. I like being able to keep my Facebook separate from my professional life as I like to use it purely for social purposes. I think it is important to draw a line somewhere between one's personal and professional life.

Twitter: This site could be used both personally and professionally but I tend to use it purely for professional reasons.   

LinkedIn: From reading the information provided in this module and visiting the web site, it seems that this site would be more appropriate for professional purposes. 

What applications might this tool have in my school? My classroom?

Second life: This would really engage the 5/6's in their learning particularly if we used this tool in History Inquiry lessons. I imagine though there would be much planning to do prior to using this with the students i.e. safety concerns etc. but I think it would be worth it to have a go.

Facebook: Working in a primary school, the students are not legally old enough to have a Facebook account and considering that we have a school blog and just recently student Google accounts, I don't really see a need for Facebook as a learning tool at our school.  

Twitter: Again, working in a primary school doesn't allow us to use this tool with the students but I don't really feel a need to use it in this way with our students. Despite this, it is particularly useful to inspire and support teachers as well as collaborate with other educators. 

LinkedIn: If I were to sign up with LinkedIn, I imagine that I would use it in a similar way to Twitter to connect with other educators to gain inspiration and ideas and develop network connections with educators who have a significant influence in the educational world. 

How does the use of these tools impact my "Digital Footprint", or the digital footprint of my students?

Due to the 1:1 laptop program being introduced, we have had many discussions about our 'Digital Footprint'. Once you place something on the internet it can never be truly erased. It is crucial that all teachers and students are aware of this, therefore, one must think before they act (a good motto to live by both off and online) by not putting anything online that you wouldn't want a current/prospective employer, family or certain others to see.  It is also important to emphasise the importance of thinking about how certain actions can affect other people online. The students have had a good opportunity to explore these issues while obtaining their Laptop Learners' Licence. The Webonauts Internet Academy web quest was an excellent activity within the Laptop Learners' Licence course to raise students' awareness of their digital footprint and how it could impact themselves and others. 

If you are already have a Twitter account or are interested in creating a professional account for educational purposes please follow me @BiancaRaux so I can follow you too to continue sharing some great ideas and resources. 

Happy Networking Y'all!

Picture source:

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Module 8: Managing your flow of information on the Internet.

"The demise of Google Reader, if logical, is a reminder of how far we've come from the cuddly old 'I'm Feeling Lucky' Google days, in which there was a foreseeably-astonishing delight in the way Google's evolving design tricks anticipated what users would like." - James Fallows.

Luckily, we had a Techie Brekkie on Friday morning about RSS feeds becuase I had absolutely no idea what an RSS feed was or where to go next since Google Reader will be no longer available after July. Apparently, when Google announced that Google Reader wouldn't be available mid 2013, Feedly has gained immense popularity with the web site crashing multiple times due to the demand for a new reader. The good news is, Feedly has considered this and has allowed Google Reader users to make a seamless transition to Feedly - avoiding the tedious process of re-adding and re-organising each blog and web site from scratch. On Friday's Techie Brekkie, I was introduced to Feedly - another option for current Google Reader users and future RSS users, so I'll be trialling Feedly instead. 

From what I've seen, Feedly reminds me of Blogger's reading list, which brings up the most recent blog posts from my colleagues who are partcipating in this course. Rather than scrolling through and clicking on each teacher's blog, it is much more efficient to have recent blog posts pop up on my blog and I can read them at my leisure. As a result, I can see the benefits of using an RSS personally and professionally as it would work in a similar way but on a much larger scale, where I can organise various feeds from Web 2.0 course blogs to other Educational blogs and sites.

At this point in time, I can't really envision using RSS with the students but I can see myself using Feedly to help me stay connected and updated in the educational world. The fact that Feedly brings blog posts and articles to you when available, means that the ease of access will encourage me further to read educational blogs and articles - for some extra professional development.

Source: Technology Tell

Friday, 3 May 2013

Module 7: Building Online communities.

"We're helping those children who cannot help themselves and giving a push to those who can. We've done it by working together for a common purpose. I see no reason to stop now." - Jane D. Hull.

So I'm at school, on a Monday and it's 5/6 planning day. An idea pops into my head and I know I've seen/used a relevant web site somewhere before. No worries, obviously I bookmarked it *searches through bookmarks* ... but of course, I didn't bookmark it on my school laptop. Maybe my PC? What about my personal laptop? Then as the clock ticks on, I painstakingly sift through Google, searching for that web site of whose title I cannot remember. Naturally, being one of those people who finds it difficult to let things go, I struggle to pull myself away from the search and continue working productively. 

Welcome to my world, Diigo!

Delicious and Diigo seem to be very familiar in terms of their function and most features offered. I was quite undecided about choosing which social bookmarking web site to use but ended up registering with Diigo simply because I was swayed by the '10 reasons to use Diigo' article. In hindsight, I wish I snooped around and asked my colleagues which bookmarking site they were intending to use so that we could make optimal use of the 'groups' function to collaborate with each other; nonetheless  I'm - in - LOVE! Ever since I joined Diigo I've developed an addiction for tagging web sites for both personal and professional purposes. It's so tidy and effortless! 

My favourite part about Diigo is Diigolet button on the toolbar. It makes the process of saving and tagging web sites very efficient. It's also great that you can join groups with similar interests and view their bookmarks. Building such online communities through Diigo is a fantastic way to connect with other teachers to inspire and enlighten one another. I haven't yet played with the 'annotate' tools yet but I've got a feeling I'm going to like this feature. 

 Robie Jayawardhana's suggests setting up a group with your students, allowing them to share their bookmarks with other students. What a great way to make learning more student-centered. This would be particularly useful during Inquiry lessons, where students can begin to collaborate by sharing their research with each other. My question is, is there a way to organise a group with an administrator to authorise bookmarks to ensure that only appropriate, relevant and quality web sites are bookmarked? 






Friday, 26 April 2013

Module 6: Exploring photos and videos on the web.

" A picture paints a thousand words." - (Chinese proverb, adapted and coined by Frederick R. Barnard). 

"A picture paints a thousand words" a famous proverb but often taken for granted. Generally speaking, this increasingly becomes apparent as we progress into adulthood as at times we tend to forget the power of imagery. In our CAFE Readings and Daily 5 reading program we have begun to emphasise the importance of reading texts in three ways: read the words, read the pictures and retelling/summarising the text. Making a concerted effort to read the pictures with the students has helped to shift the students' mindset of perceiving images as only having aesthetic value to viewing images as one valuable component of a whole text, that further support and add meaning to written text. After exploring Picasa, I think this tool has the potential to support the development of students' visual literacy skills.

Being able to create web albums on Picasa is particularly useful for storing, organising and sharing a range of photos. These features would be helpful when students are working on a project together, making it easier to collaborate as everyone in the group can access photos anywhere, anytime; furthermore, with the photos being stored on the web reduces the risk loosing photos or corrupted in comparison to being stored only on a camera or hard drive. 

Overall, I found Picasa fairly simple to use and would present minimal difficulties when implementing use of this tool with the students. Despite this, I did have extreme difficulty incorporating a creative commons licence and tagging my photo for some reason, even after using the 'help' option.  

Below, I have created of possible ideas Picasa could be used as an educational tool at St. Mark's. 
How can Picasa be used as a learning tool in our school?

  • A tool to gather evidence: students could take photos of themselves developing a new skill, working on a project to show their learning progress. This can be easily organised according to date and category using the functions provided by Picasa. The benefit of this, is that it would allow students to reflect on their own learning progress, to develop pride in their achievements and help discover areas for improvement. 
  • A tool to capture key events: Students can combine and share photos from excursions, incursions and special school events. Students can create collages or 'photo movies' to share with the school community, for example, on our Kids News program or uploaded onto the School Wiki. Another way for students to practise summarising events and working through the editing process. 
  • A storytelling tool: Using photography students can retell or create a story through photography and create a movie with their pictures. Students can take advantage Picasa's editing tools to create the desired effects and add text to enhance their story. 
  • A tool to support visual literacy through the arts: Students could create photos that incorporate different media techniques (such as taking pictures from different perspectives and angles), focusing on body language, facial expressions and colour to express emotions. These visual elements can then be analysed and interpreted as a class.
It will be interesting to see if and how Picasa will be used in our school once the 5/6 students receive their Google Accounts. I wonder if any other teachers have used Picasa as an educational tool and how they have used it? Please share if you have any ideas!

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Module 5: Creating and Communicating Online.

"I'm a great believer that any tool that enhances communication has profound effects in terms of how people can learn from each other, and how they can achieve the kind of freedoms that they're interested in." - Bill Gates.

Too many times over I have heard people complaining about technology taking over our lives and education. Concerns regarding technology's (and more specifically, social media's) impact on students' ability to communicate are far too many! If we had this attitude about all technology should we not then ban the use of cars as they are they are one of major causes of death rates and contribute to the ever increasing obesity epidemic? Technology is not the problem but rather how we use it. When used thoughtfully and respectfully technology has the potential and power to enhance communication skills, expose new avenues to communicate through, broaden options in the ways we choose to communicate and expands our audience! Exploring, Glogster and Prezi has made this clearly evident to me.

During my teaching course I used a program similar to but never really incorporated into my teaching. Once I got started on my brainstorm in, I was smittened! It was so easy to use - almost instinctual and made it so clear to visualise the connections in my thinking and learning, and in turn, it prompted new thoughts and connections I had never made/thought about before (plus, I'm a real sucker for pretty colours and clean and tidy lines). 

If using this program had this impact on me, imagine how this tool could deeper learning for students by allowing them to make and see their own connections and prompt new ideas or ways of thinking. The ease of using is key to being a quality educational tool as it would allow students to focus primarily on the learning task not about becoming familiar with it's functions.  As I'm sure you would've all experienced, there are two types of students: those that complete their work in a blink of an eye but have put minimal effort into the presentation aspect of their work and those that seem to spend all of eternity straightening every line, colouring every gap and continually revising the layout of their work. With students can present their thinking in a manner that is clear and aesthetically pleasing - and best of all it allows students to do all of this efficientlyOne challenge I had with using was trying to unpin and re-pin bubbles to a different area. This might be frustrating for students who wish re-organise their thinking. 

Our 5/6 team at school, have already planned to use this tool as a part a pre and post assessment task as a part of our inquiry unit to compare how much they knew about the topic prior to the unit and how their knowledge has developed and/or thinking has changed towards the end of their inquiry. 


Although I loved the variety of images, headings, backgrounds and the ability to make the poster multi-modal (through incorporation of images, text, audio and video), I found it challenging to use this tool. It took me a little while to get my head around incorporating a Youtube clip into my poster and organising the different components on the page as I wanted   i.e. placing an object behind or in front of text. Despite this, I can imagine that students would love to use this program to present their assignments, especacially those who find working on the aesthetic aspects of their work to be tedious. One thing that I particularly liked about Glogster is that it allows students to incorporate videos and audio of themselves on the poster, therefore, providing multiple ways in which students can express their understandings and ideas.


Using Prezi felt like working with an upgraded version of PowerPoint. It was really simple to use the program and made my work look professional. I chose to create a presentation on the Holy Spirit as it may come in handy while preparing Year 6's for their Confirmation. I would definitely like to trial using Prezi with the students at school to provide them with another option to present their work. Using programs such as Prezi are also a good opportunity to discuss the improtance of incorporating quality content and considering the aesthetics of  your presentation in order to grab and maintain our audience's attention. When using Programs like Prezzi or Glogster with my students I think I will ask them to work on the content on Word or PowerPoint first becuase once you start playing with the different features of this text it becomes very challenging to be produtive!

Have you been using these tools with your students or have any new ideas? If so, I would love to hear from you!