Virtually interesting…

Virtual worlds in education. I must say that at first, I had my reservations about how applications such as Second life may be useful in education. However, this view may have been shaped by my first experience in Second life, where I wasted one hour of my life trying to figure out a way to rid my avatar of the horrific knee Hugh combat boots which came with the hair style I wanted. I would be lying if I said I eventually solved this problem, but hey, at least I am working on developing my problem solving skills right?

After becoming sick of the sight of my avatar’s combat boots, and beginning to think that using a virtual world in a classroom would not be worth the trouble, I decided to do a google search (thank god for google right!).

I found the above video whilst looking for some useful ideas involving the use of virtual worlds.  The video presents several ideas which I can see being useful in an educational context. A main one being the idea of using virtual worlds to explore sustainable living. I find this to be interesting, as it not only works on developing environmental awareness, but also develops problem solving skills.

“When a student is engaged with one of these environments, they are not just working out the answers to problems but they are actually actively projecting themselves into the virtual environments in a way that personalizes the conflicts involved and causes them to become mentally and emotionally invested in the resolutions” (Barab et Al., 2009, p.6., as cited by Makosz.org (n.d.)).  I found this to be an interesting statement, and I can certainly see how a well created virtual world with a relevant environment and scenario would benefit the learning of students.

http://www.opencolleges.edu.au/informed/features/top-20-uses-of-virtual-worlds-in-education/

The above link is to a webpage outlining a range if uses for virtual worlds in education.  I love the idea of being able to engage students in scenarios which they may encounter in real life in a safe and controlled manner.

After undertaking my own research, I can see the possibilities for the benefits of using virtual worlds. After my experience in Second life, it is evident that in order for these virtual worlds to become a useful resource, the teacher themselves must have a thorough and deep understanding of how they work. This is something I will have to work on…. A lot!

First I have to change my shoes.

Reference List

Barab, S. A., Dodge, T., Ingram-Goble, A., Volk, C., Peppler, K., Pettyjohn, P. & Solomou, M. (2009). ‘Pedagogical Dramas and Transformational Play: Realizing Narrative through Videogames Design.’ Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 59(15), 332-335.

Makorsz. (n.d). Why use virtual worlds?. Retrieved from http://www.makosz.org/index.php/why-use-virtual-worlds/

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Digital Citizenship…

“Basic skills and using technology to learn are still high priorities but we need to move to the next stage of digital citizenship. This includes media literacy and empowerment of young people to better manage online risks such as cyber bullying and self destructive online behaviour. It recognises young people as stakeholders in positive Internet use. The rules are the same for being a good real world citizen: Obey the law, have respect for others, act civilly and sensibly” (O’Brien, 2010, para. 2).

This quote sums up my ideas in regards to digital citizenship, and the usage of technology in education. It is not enough to simply provide students with the opportunity to use technology. They must also understand the issues surrounding current technology. Whether this be cyber-bullying, digital relationship or digital footprints. All too often we see in the media reports about young people who have been cyber bullied to breaking point, or have sent a certain picture without thinking through the consequences of who may access it. With the introduction of social media into the education system, the responsibility of creating good digital citizens falls on the teachers.

These days you would be hard pressed to find a high school student who did not use some form of social media, so why not utilize this interest to create engaged students and lessons. Two social media sites which I have experience with are Moodle and Edmodo. Sites such as these, which have been created specifically for an educational purpose should be utilised. It allows students and teachers with the opportunity to learn to use social media in a safe and controlled environment.

For those who do not have experience with Edmodo, the above video gives a quick spiel about what it is and how it may be used. I LOVE Edmodo because it not only proves to be useful in the teaching of students, but also for the sharing of ideas between other educational professionals.

Overall, technology should be seen as a blessing in schools, students and teachers should enjoy using it, in a safe and supportive manner.

Reference List

O’Brien. T. (2010). Creating better digital citizens. The Australian Educational Leader, 32(2). Retrieved from http://www.digitalcitizenship.net/uploads/Creating_Better_Digital_Citizens_ACEL.pdf

Education in the 21st Century

 

I can remember when I was still in school, I am 23 and graduated in 2008, so it really was not that long ago. Don’t worry, I am not going so start with “back in my day” speech. However, after undertaking two practicums, I have been able to see the changes which have occurred in this short period. At my high school, we had three computer labs, each with about 30 computers in them and you were lucky if you had one scheduled computer lesson per week. Interactive whiteboards (IWB)… definitely not. Now, students from year 9 and up have their own laptops to bring to class, in one school, every classroom had a computer and either an IWB or a projector. I felt completely out of my depth knowing that I was expected to use these resources.

 

I most certainly believe that technology has its place in the learning environment. We need to ensure that “when students leave school they will be confident, creative and productive users of new technologies” (Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA), 2005, p. 3). However, I believe that technology should not be the only teaching pedagogy used. My ideal 21st century learning space is very similar to that depicted in the image above. Yes, technology is important, and should be utilized in education when it is beneficial to both the students and the teacher. For example, when teaching maths, I have witnessed students struggling for half a lesson trying to figure out how to type an equation into a word document. Yet, they insist on using their laptops. Is this usage of technology a benefit, or a hindrance? That being said, I have also witnessed the usage of technology in a PDHPE classroom which resulted in complete engagement of all students. Students were able to watch YouTube clips on the IWB, and then complete their own research on their laptops. Brilliant.

 

 

The above TED talk presents an interesting idea. Although it was used on university students, it shows how online lectures may be personalized to give a one-on-one feel. How exciting to think that these methods may be used with “connected classrooms” to have guest speakers, or teachers from other schools give presentations.
I think that technology is a highly important aspect of education provided it is not seen as the ONLY aspect.

 

Reference List
Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA). (2005). Contemporary Learning: Learning in an Online world. Retrieved from http://www.curriculum.edu.au/verve/_resources/Contemp_Learning_Final.pdf