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 These native speakers of the digital language are being educated in a system which is outdated and stiff as todays students are not the people the education system is designed to teach (Prensky 2001).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 http://home.sprynet.com/~gkearsley/engage.htm
Kelev, V.D. (n.d.). Education in the ever changing world. Retrieved August 19, 2009, from www.unesco.org/webworld/infoethics_2/eng/papers/paper_22.rtf
Krauss, F. (2003). Instructional Designs for eLearning Approaches. Retrieved August 19, 2009, from http://ideas.blogs.com/
Prensky. (2001). Digital Natives Digital Immigrants. Retrieved August 19, 2009, from http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky%20-%20Digital%20Natives,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf
Prensky, .(2005). Engage me or Enrage me - what todays learners demand. Retrieved August 19, 2009, from http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/erm0553.pdf
Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism a Learning Theory for the Digital Age. Retrieved August 20, 2009, from http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm