Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Digital Storytelling

Digital storytelling is a fantastic technical approach to improving literacy skills within the classroom. According to the Digital Storytelling Association (2009) is the art of oral storytelling combined with modern digital technologies using media applications such as images, voice and music with the challenge of taking their written ideas and transforming them into a visual medium.

The use of digital storytelling within the classroom would be an effective and engaging tool enhancing their:
Writing Skills - through the construction of a story, its sequencing and proof reading.
Speaking and Visual Skills - through communicating, enunciation and projecting and phrasing.
Technical Skills - through the development of the movie operating a camera, sequencing tools as well as recording and adding voice and music elements.
Personal Development Skills - enhances self confidence and builds relationships.
(Digital Storytelling Association, 2009).

The Digital Storytelling Association (2009) provides educators with easy to follow steps and resources to use when implementing this effective pedagogical tool within the classroom. Through the provision of resources within the four steps of Planning, Production, Presentation and Assessment educators are able to scaffold the students learning journey throughout the task to ensure that it is meaningful (Digital Storytelling Association, 2009).

I would use this tool within my classroom through asking students to create their own story based on Persuasive speech. Students will be given an idea and they will need to take a biased approach and use the persuasive speech they have acquired over their unit to 'win' over their audience. This can be done in a creative fictional or non fiction genre. This would incorporate Kearsley & Shneiderman's Engagement Theory (1999) through the relating phase where students will be given an idea or statement that will be meaningful to them (may be related to current issue within the classroom, school or community) through this they will be collaborating on ideas and planning before they move into their creating phase which would be the compilation and completion of their digital story then they will be donating or sharing it with their fellow classmates.

This tool makes the learning authentic and real to our digital natives and has put an interesting modernised approach to 'story time' making it interesting and engaging.


Digital Storytelling Association. (2009). Digital Storytelling for Educators. Retrieved August 20, 2009, from

Kearsley, G. & Shneiderman, G. (1999). Engagement Theory: a framework for technology-based teaching and learning. Retrieved August 20, 2009, from

Reflective Synopsis

As we are living in a digitally progressing and changing world it only seems fitting that we are surround by a cohort of 21st Century learners commonly refferred to as digital natives (Prensky 2001). These native speakers of the digital language are being educated in a system which is outdated and stiff as todays students are not the people the education system is designed to teach (Prensky 2001). Therefore we are finding that educators who are digital immigrants are talking a completely different language to students while struggling to teach them (Prensky, 2001) in meaningful and engaging ways.

From this we are finding that many traditional teachers are unwilling to accept change and up skill themselves, enraging the students as they are not stimulated, understood or catered for within the classroom (Prensky, 2005), this is making them 'switch off' when they get into their learning environment instead of switching on and being challenged. Therefore there needs to be a shift in the educational paradigm of teacher delivery techniques. This can be accomplished through the implementation of elearning tools as a digital pedagogical strategy that supports current learning theories that underpin their incorporation within the learning design to ensure student success.

I must admit that before I started this elearning journey of technological enlightenment I classified myself as a digital immigrant as I have found that technology has passed me in the blink of an eye and although I am young I am definately not as digitaly savvy as many may believe! So like many others I was gob smacked at the diversity of digital tools that can be applied within the classroom to facilitate and ehnance meaningful learning experiences. Of course it is not soley the job of technology to enhance learning experiences as it only has the ability to enhance learnign if it is accompanied by intstructional designs with a comprehensive strategic foundation (Rosenburg, as cited in Krauss, 2003). So through my learning journey in this wonderful world of ICT based tools I have acquired a deeper knowledge and understanding of digital pedagogical practices and the implementation of these through adapted learning frameworks incorporating technology within education.

During my learning journey I have developed different ideas and strategies to incorporate elearning tools within the classroom through reflecting on the tools pedagogical abilities to promote and enhance higher order thinking skills. For example the creation of a classroom wiki or blog can be a fantastic way to engage and support learners into becoming higher order thinkers. Through the use of Blooms Taxonomy Thinking Skills (Frangenheim, 2005) the wiki can be incorporated into the classroom first through the foundation level where the learning manager is defining what a wiki is and how it is used, describing and explaining wikis to establish understandings and applying this knowledge through brainstorming and demonstrations. Once these processes are completed the next step is the movement into the student directed level which encompasses higher order thinking. This is where students work collaboratively together to analyse, evaluate and create (Frangenheim, 2005) the wiki and the content incorporated within it (an example previously given within the wiki blog was the creation of an online textbook). The following elearning tools can also be used in conjunction with the application of the wiki such as voicethread, slideshare, youtube and many more while embracing the strategy of Blooms Taxonomy Thinking Skills to scaffold the students learning to enhance their higher order thinking abilities.

These pedadagogical strategies encompass and underpin the contemporary learning theories of Kearsley and Sneiderman's Engagemnt Theory (1999) and Siemans Connectivism theory (2004). Through the relating phase of the Engagement theory students are connecting and collaborating to the task through its relation to an authentic problem or question posed. Students are then creating their meaningful project/activity (e.g. the creation of a textbook on the wiki) while embracing the processes of analysing, problem solving in a student directed approach (this aspect also interrelates and connects with Blooms Taxonomy Thinking Skills within the student directed level encompassing higher order thinking skills) and then finally donating it back to their community or school environment (Kearsley & Shneiderman, 1999). These pedagogical tools also intimately relate with Siemens (2004) alternate theory of Connectivism which incorporates learning and knowledge through a diversity of opinions while highlighting decision making as a learning process in itself (Siemens, 2004). This framework follows a student directed approach and can be effecitively used in conjunction with the Engagement Theory as students explore the different possibilities of their learning through enhancing and refining their knowledge and understandings.

There is another important theory actively used within learning designs that support the incorporation of these ICT mediated tools. Oliver's ICT Framework

(as cited in Australian Universities Teaching Committee, 2003) which bases itself on the interconnection of the learning experience, learning resources and learner support frameworks. These enhance the construction

an ICT mediated learning design focuses on scaffolding student success within assessment through the support of the three frameworks. These contemporary learning theory can be easily integrated into the classroom through the use of meaningful and authentic projects that will engage and motivate the learners through savvy technological tools.

Throughout my learning journey within this elearning course I have developed and enhanced my knowledge on not only several elearning tools such as slideshare, voicethread, powerpoints, google earth, class marker and many more but also on the different frameworks and learning theories which drive these pedagogical strategies into creating an authentic and meaningful learning design for students. These knowledges and understandings were developed and refined through the exploration of these elearning tools as well as the collaboration of peers and tutors made available on the Learning Management System of Moodle as well as our professional blogs and emails. This was an important component for myself as through the collaboration with peers I was not only able to network with others but also develop and share pedagogical approaches to these elearning tools and theories while gaining insight and knowledge on what others thought to help me reflect and change certain components within the learning design that may not be suitable.

Overall it becomes evident that within this continuously developing and changing world we as educators must ensure that our skills are continously being developed in order to successfully educate our students. As stated by Kinelev (n.d.) education is the saving grace to this rapidly changing world as it should embrace these changes providing the necessary skills for survival in today's day and age as well as sustaining development within the future. Elearning tools are an important aspect in not only enhancing students knowledge and understandings through its implementatoin of one of the learning theories but they prepare students for a futures orientation and lifelong learning.


Frangenheim, E. (2005). Reflections on Classroom Thinking Strategies. Loganholmw: Rodin Educational Publishing.

Kearsley, G. & Shneiderman, B. (1999). Engagement Theory : a framework for technology-based teaching and learning. Retireved August 20, 2009, from

Kelev, V.D. (n.d.). Education in the ever changing world. Retrieved August 19, 2009, from

Krauss, F. (2003). Instructional Designs for eLearning Approaches. Retrieved August 19, 2009, from

Prensky. (2001). Digital Natives Digital Immigrants. Retrieved August 19, 2009, from,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf

Prensky, .(2005). Engage me or Enrage me - what todays learners demand. Retrieved August 19, 2009, from

Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism a Learning Theory for the Digital Age. Retrieved August 20, 2009, from

A blog full of goodies.....

Interactive White Boards

Interactive White Boards (IWB) are an effective resource and learner support (Australian Universities Teaching Committee, 2003) which are commonly replacing the old chalk and blackboard method of delivering knowledge. IWB's or also commonly known as 'smart boards' combines a computer, projector and whiteboard together to transform your classroom into a dynamic learning environment (Interactive White, 2009) through its endless possibilities in creating an interactive and engaging learning design within the classroom. During my first year of prac I had the opportunity to work with an IWB and found it amazing to use especially throughout my lessons. On many occasions I used a virtual game online (which related to learning content) e.g. In grade one I was teaching students how to sort objects according to attributes, using a venn diagram in a virtual game I was able to check for the students learning and understandings. The use of IWB within this learning experience underpins Olivers ICT learning framework (as cited in Australian Universities Teaching Committee, 2003) through the effective use of a resource which complemented the development of the learning design through creating an interactive and fun activity for students to participate within, collaboratively help each other when having troubles while enhancing and storing the knowledge they have learnt.

Learning Management Systems

Within many educational environments we have seen a shift in the method and delivery of learning resources and knowledge from the paperback ways to the digital age. Within many highschools and universities there has been an increase in the use of Learning Management Systems such as Blackboard and Moodle to enhance student knowledge and promote aspects of student directed learning through scaffolded learning experiences (modules) through the provision of an online learning environment. This software designed for "delivering, tracking and managing training/education" (Wikipedia, 2009) can be implemented under the learning resources and learning support frameworks within Olivers ICT learning framework (as cited in Australian Universities Teaching Committee, 2003). LMS provide students with an easily accessed program which enhances collaboration between peers to gain understandings of a certain topic/aspect, self directed learning through allowing students to work at their own pace as well as the opportunity to extend and refine their knowledge through scaffolded and structured modules. It acts as a resource by providing students with the information needed to develop skills and knowledge within a particular topic/aspect while giving them the opportunities to extend this resource through the ability of researching outside of the LMS. While it supports the learner through instructional processes and a framework scaffolding their learning.


Australian Universities Teaching Committee. (2003). Learning Design. Retrieved August 19, 2009, from

Interactive White (2009). Smart Board Interactive White Board. Retrieved August 19, 2009, from

Wikipedia. (2009). Learning Management System. Retrieved August 19, 2009, from

Friday, August 14, 2009

Mahara......documenting lifelong learning!

Finally I have reached the point in tackling Mahara! Although I have accessed Mahara and uploaded files previously I still felt unsure and nervous as I didn't quite comprehend what Mahara was and the various applications it holds. Now the fear is gone and I have explored Mahara and seen its various features and have absolutely loved its potential for not only myself but for my students within the classroom.

Mahara is an online eportfolio which allows you to store and document your learning journey. According to Brown, Anderson, Simpson & Suddaby (2007) it can be described as "an online collection of reflections and digital artifacts that students can use to demonstrate their development over time to various audiences." It encompasses a variety of applications such as a weblog, resume builder and social networking systems which connects users creating various online communities allowing the user to network with others (University of Ballarat, n.d.). While exploring the many aspects of Mahara and its uses I realised that this effective program can be utilised to promote the users journey of lifelong learning through the provision of "tools to create a personal and professional learning, development and showcasing environment" (Brown, 2007). According to Brown et, al. (2007) Mahara's sole purpose was to enhance a lifelong learning and development application through the collaboration of a media rich ICT mediated program which personalises learning. It becomes evident that this goal has been achieved through the development of the various programs which allows the user to not only keep track and document their own learning and successes but also allows them networking opportunities through the blog application.

Mahara can be used within the classroom for all ages. Although for lower grades I would suggest it be kept and maintained by the teacher who may allow students to choose what they would like to document on their own learning portfolio, then as they progress into the upper primary years they are given control of their portfolio and taught how to manage and use this safely. This incorporates Kearsley & Shneiderman (1999) theory of Engagement. The use of a portfolio emphasises meaningful learning and student directed learning (Kearsley & Shneiderman, 1999). The creation and continuation of a eportfolio is based around the students being able to relate to this authentic means of learning through collaboration and networking with others as they create and enhance their knowledge within Mahara while sharing and donating their learning experiences and knowledge to others within the online community.

Overall the incorporation of an eportfolio within the classroom can prove to be effective educational program as students take hold of their own learning and immerse pride and motivation into their creation. It provides students with the abilities to watch the progress of their learning and help to evaluate their own journey making decisions and changes where they feel necessary. Although for this to be incorporated and used meaningfully within the educational context, a "cultural and philosophical shift in the mind of the student and the teacher to truly value reflective practice over a more traditional competitive and grade orientated approach to learning" (Brown et, al., 2007) In other words we as educators must make the shift from the traditional means of assessment to authentic means of assessment which encompass elements which are of importance to the students and within today's day and age a digital approach seems to be an interesting, engaging and prospective pedagogical approach.


Brown, M., Anderson, B., Simpson, M. & Suddaby, G. (2007). Showcasing Mahara: A New Open Source Portfolio. Retreived August 19, 2009, from

Kearsley, G. & Shneiderman, B. (1999). Engagement Theory: A framework for technology-based teaching and learning. Retrieved August 19, 2009, from

Universtiy of Ballarat. (n.d.). Mahara. Retrieved August 19, 2009, from

Exploring the possibilities of VoiceThread...

VoiceThread a web based technology, is a collaborative multimedia slideshow that holds images, documents and videos allowing other users to leave comments in five different ways (Dierolf & Frazier, 2008). This web tool has endless possibilities as it encompasses the use of endless slides, allows users to doodle on the slides, includes pictures and typed documents as well as having the ability to be "embedded or exported to other destinations and multiple identities can be created under one account" (Dierolf & Frazier, 2008). Not only does VoiceThread have many features it also allows the user to have control over their privacy settings, allowing them to choose whether to make their files public, allow others to provide comments on the slides while being able to monitor the comments that are posted on the slides (Dierolf & Frazier, 2008). Another fantastic aspect about this program is the application dedicated to educators providing them with various resources and interesting applications to enhance their learning designs within the classroom (Dierolf & Frazier, 2008).

The use of VoiceThread within the classroom can be an effective and engaging tool for students to support them in their learning journey. Students can not only load their own work or presentations up onto the program but can also work collaboratively with others on pre-existing pieces of work. This allows students to comment on each others work helping to enhance the quality of information being presented through expressing new ideas, making corrections and providing/receiving constructive feedback. Students can also create their own story books while providing various effects such as narration. It becomes evident that the use of VoiceThread within the classroom is underpinned by Kearsley & Shneiderman's Engagement Theory (1999). Throughout the use of the web tool students are continuously engaging with each other collaboratively, sharing their ideas and expressing feedback to each other on certain aspects of the presentation. During this students are creating their own understandings and applying this within their project (slide on VoiceThread) (Kearsley & Shneiderman, 1999). Then finally they are donating this to the wider community through making it available to others to access and learn from (these may be other classes within their school, friends or family) (Kearsley & Shneiderman, 1999).

The use of this tool within the classroom also takes a constructivist approach as the learning and knowledge that is being undertaken is resting within a diversity of opinions (Siemens, 2004). This can become evident through the diversity of opinions and knowledge that may be expressed by others on a particular topic presented within the VoiceThread, these opinions can then spark new interests or learning paths. This is allowing students to make decisions about their learning, choosing what to learn and how to acquire the information and knowledge needed (Siemens, 2004).

VoiceThread proves to be an effective web tool that can be introduced within the classroom. Although when doing this the educator must ensure that students are safe and create the one account that the students can access and have their own identities under this. This means no photographs of the students (if made public) and continuous monitoring must be done!

I have quickly done up a slide comprised of photos that were used within a recent unit on "Natural Disasters." There is no audio due to my lack of microphone, so I have just played around with some of the applications!


Dierolf, D & Frazier, M. (2008). Voice Thread in the Classroom. Retrieved August 18, 2009, from

Kearsley, G. & Shneiderman, B. (1999). Engagement Theory. Retrieved August 18, 2009, from

Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. Retrieved August 18, 2009, from

INCOMPETECH.....Music on the web!

Downloading music becomes a hassle this day and age due to the current copyrights that are in place. This can prove to be difficult for schools and teachers to use current music, video materials for learning experiences and school performances. Incompetech provides users with a royalty free music library where users can download and use music pieces for free (Incompetech, n.d.). This royalty free music is licensed under the Creative Commons Agreement which allows cover for individuals to download music from this site (Incompetech, n.d.). They offer a variety of music for individuals to download and to use whether it be for schools, film makers or for your enjoyment.

While exploring this site I decided to download a piece of music called "Sunshine." This piece of music was beautiful and relaxing and made me feel like I wanted to just lie out on the grass and watch the clouds slowly drift across the sky. So I thought that this would link in perfectly with a current grade 6's project where they are currently creating a healthy yummy biscuit to sell at the tuckshop, they are to create a package to sell it in. The use of this web tool could be incorporated within an extension project where students can create an advertisement for their biscuit. The use of this music would be used to depict a feeling to relate to the biscuit they have made to try and sell it to the judges. I mean who wouldn't want to just lie on the grass watching the clouds while eating a yummy and nutritious biscuit?

Incompetech could be effectively be introduced within the classroom and could be used in several different instances e.g. have calming and relaxing music playing after the lunch break to relax the children (great for lower grades!), can be used effectively in school presentations and performances as well as music lessons.


Incompetech. (n.d.). Music FAQ. Retrieved August 18, 2009, from

File Storage....the new USB!

This effective and easy way to store and share your files is a fantastic place to go if like myself you experience computer problems each and everyday! There have been many times my computer has decided to crash only days before an assignment has been due and I have lost count of the times I have had to rewrite important documents and assignments! MediaFire is the online program to go to create a file storage, as it enables you to store all your files in a secure online environment while allowing you to distribute and share these documents with various people without slowing down your internet or clogging up your email systems (MediaFire, 2009).

Creating an account was easy to do (probably one of the easiest places to sign up and navigate around by far) and allowed me to upload some templates and information in which I find useful and use on a daily basis. While on prac I have created several lessons and decided to share some of the lesson resources in which I have used during a mathematics lesson. These documents are 'shopping' activity cards which hold addition and subtraction word problems. These were used as a group rotation activity in conjunction with a shopping activity where students were in pairs and took on the role of a 'customer' and a 'register operator.' Each student was given a job to do and steps to follow to complete the activity (in our REAL life shop!). The students LOVED both these activities and worked for over an hour (a record for maths lessons!) without even complaining!

This program allowed me to upload these documents and easily send them to my mentor teacher without having the issue of my email slowing down the computer and clogging up my inbox. This is a great source to use for students within the classroom as well. These files can be shared anywhere with anyone and can be embedded within classroom webpages, blogs and wikis. These documents can take the role in limiting paper and photocopying expenses and wastage through supplying these online for the students to access and download. This can be effectively used as a learning resource and support tool for students when it comes to final exams or assessment pieces. Therefore underpinning Olivers ICT frameworks (as cited in Australian Universities Teaching Committee, 2003) of learner support and resources as it guides the learner through their learning journey while providing the appropriate resources and support needed to succeed.

Here are the links to my files below! These were created for a year six class and yes I know there is a mistake in two as my students kindly pointed out to me :) ! Sorry didn't have time to fix it! See if you can find them!


Australian Universities Teaching Committee. (2003). Learning Design. Retrieved August 18, 2009, from

MediaFire. (2009). What is MediaFire? Retrieved August 18, 2009, from