Saturday, June 5, 2010

A Change in Mind Set

From the early days on this course, I feel I have made a significant shift in my thinking around e-learning in my classroom. Initially, it all seemed very difficult and something that other people were good at. This course has made me appreciate that many e-learning tools are not difficult to use, you just need to spend some time becoming familiar with the programmes.

Now I can successfully navigated Moodle which seem like another world when I started. There was many times in which giving up seemed like the preferred option. I now feel completely comfortable with the Moodle set up and have really enjoyed the ability to work on my course material and assignment at a time that was most suitable for me. This has become one of the most beneficial aspects to many of the e-learning tools I have been reseaching, the ability to study at anytime and from anywhere. How wonderful for those students who have; missed the lesson or need extra time to absorb material.

In addition to this I have set up this blog. When I started, I was so anxious about every word I wrote, it took a long time to post anything. Now, I can set down and write as though I was having a conversation with a college.

I have also successfully used podcasting with my class. Each student has created a podcast of a journal book. This resource is now available to the rest of the school where teachers can use it in may ways. The students adored this experience. They practise the story until it was able to be read aloud with excellent expression, pace etc. This has had a positive effect on their reading, not only on their chosen podcast story but through their reading at school. In addition to this, the ICT skills have improved. Having had the opportunity to use Audacity where they were able to added special effects to their stories to add interest to the audience.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Podcast in Primary School

The progress on podcasting in my classroom has been very slow. Students have needed a lot of time to practise what they are reading so that it is clear and has good expression and pace. There are a number of students who are now ready to start their first attempt. I am hoping to get started on this in the next couple of days.

Even though I have another specialist teacher with me, it is still very difficult to manage the process whilst continuing to running shared reading and guided reading sessions. I don't really know how I could do this without another teacher. This leads me to wonder how some teachers appear to do amazing IT in their rooms. Is something else being left out? Am I particularly bad at organising the session? Is it inexperience on my behalf? The jury is still out on this.

Anyways, I am really looking forward to getting the first podcasts up and running. Using Audacity has been hugely motivating for the students and they are really having fun with the process. I believe it is a step in the right direction for the students in my class who are digital natives and working like this is a step into their world.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Podcasting in a Primary School Classroom

The focus of my second assigment is the introducation of Podcasting in a primary school setting to motivate students and improve students learning and outcomes in both reading and oral language.

As part of this process, I have decided to trial it in my own classroom. I am lucky enough to have our resident e-learning expert working alongside me for the term. So she has been able to make suggestions, offer advise and assist with the implementation.

Initially, we discuss this with the students and gave them an opportunity to 'play' with Audacity. The students absolutely love this and it had a huge motivating effect on them. We are trying to make a resource for the school, where students can access stories at home and were teachers can use them in the classroom situation.

The students are now working on practising their stories. They have a pathfinder which will help them with this. They are also thinking of special effects they will be able to layer over the text to add interest to the audience etc.

So far so good, but it is early days. Only being doing it since the beginning of the term and we have had lots of interuptions to our programme with EOTC, cross country, appraisals etc. Hoping to get into it next week and make some good progress.

Friday, April 30, 2010


As the focus of my next assignment, I was thinking of writing an action play to implement Podcasting across the school. This would be used as a daily news broadcast that would highlighting all the important information needed by students. I was thinking of writing the action play for the staff of the school, to convience them of the possible benefits.

My intention is to back up my action play with research which highlights the advantages of such a system as a tool to help student learn. The origins of Podcasts can be traced back to approximately 1994 the terms iPod and broadcasting began to be joined together. Hence the concept of being able to upload audio content onto the web with relative ease was born.

I think that the motivational aspect of content being upload onto the web in a school-based situation is a signigicant factor. Student can be in control of this situation and the information can be access not only from our school but at any time and from any where.

My concept has now grown into creating a resource for the school. Studnet in my class will read stories at different ages levels onto the web. This will be able to be access by all areas of the school and can be used as part of a reading tumble (listening post). Students can also listen to the stories at home.

Some of the benefits for students in my class will be that they have the opportunity to become familiar with a new technology, their reading aloud skills will be refined and improve (expression, projection etc) and they will also have the satisfaction of creating a resource for the school which will hopeful benefit others.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Blended Learning vs. E-Learning

It has been really exciting learning about the advantages and disadvantages of both Blended Learning and e-Learning. There are many definitions for e-learning. Nearly every article you read has a slightly different one. I am talking about e-learning that is totally web-based, just like the course we are doing. Blended learning is also described in a variety of ways. I am thinking about a blended learning environment that draws on the strengths of both a traditional style learning and e-learning.

I started out thinking that e-Learning had some advantages but that my assignment would also highlight lots of disadvantages. I was wrong! Most of the readings I have read highlight lots of strengths which I wouldn’t have thought of such as the reduced costs to the institution and how it gives students the chance to work at their own pace.

None the less, I still believe that Blended Learning is a more favourable approach. Research strongly indicates that face-to-face interaction between a student and an expert or co-learners remains critical to learning and has a significant impact on it. If a blended learning programme is design well, it can draw on the strengths of both e-learning and traditional learning.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Equity and e-learning

As I have been struggling to set up a blog, something that to many is as really as easy as turning your computer on and as I have been reading the course material. I have began to think about the issues relating to equity of access to the technologies and learning we are beginning to expect as part of our extended classroom learning.

Already in the school I work in students are expected to access information about the school and classroom via the web. I just wonder if we are going back to a time when not all students have the tools available to them to access all learning. Are we therefore beginning to marginalise some students? Is this related to economic background, cultural importance, gender, ability/skill level of the caregive etc.?

I think educators are beginning to make the assumption that everybody has equal access to a computer in their homes which just isn't true. If there is a computer available, in reality it may be used for a whole host of reasons and the student may have no or very limited access to it. This may have the effect that some students are moving ahead faster. An example of this is mathletics. A web based maths program used in my school. The teacher sets tasks for the week which student are intended to do in class. They need to complete this before they can use live mathletics which helps students with instant recall of basic facts. Some student who have free access to computers at home, complete all tasks before Monday, even before the teacher has the opportunity to discuss it with them. Other students need to use all their computer time in maths sessions to try and complete the activities. Therefore staying behind!

20th April 2010

I did a survey on my class recently and was astonished to discover the following.

20% of students had as much access to the household computer as was necessary for school purposes.

36% had to share the time available to sibling who were studying for exams in colleges and they appoximated that they had the computer 50% of the time they would like it when doing school based activites such as mathletics or

28% of students had very limited access to the household computer when doing school based activities.

The remaining 16% of students had no computers in the home and therefore no access to it to complete school-based activities.

This added to my concern that some students will be marginalise due to the lack of techologies in the home and that we as educators need to be fully aware of this so that we can address the gaps.