Twitter in the hosiptal…

June 2, 2011 at 11:24 pm (ecavey - blog)

Just one more thing – i found it very fitting after doing this ICT assignment that on the next Grey’s Anatomy episode i watched, they are all using Twitter! In the operation room, the surgeons were twitting and connecting with fellow surgeons from all over the world, giving advice and learning from the procedure that was taking place. Being a TV show, something went wrong, and surgeons from nearby hospitals were able to Tweet that they had some equipment that would help, and arranged for a delivery to assist with the operation taking place.


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The Marvels of the IWB

May 29, 2011 at 7:55 am (ecavey - blog)


The Interactive White Board (IWB) is the new ICT trend that is being implemented in schools.  Gone are the days of the teacher turning her back to the class to write on the board and having the marker run out or erasing content before it is copied or learnt.

I have read two enlightening readings on the use of IWBs in schools:

‘How to use an interactive whiteboard really effectively in your secondary classroom’, by J. Gage;  and

‘The use of Interactive Whiteboards in schools’ by R J Tolley.

They both outline the benefits of the IWB and touch upon a few of the numerous fascinating features these IWBs can do.  But they also comment on how not all teachers use these IWBs effectively and don’t make use of the interactivity available.

The main use of an IWB is that everything can be prepared beforehand.  By means of a ‘flipchart’ teachers can write down notes that would otherwise have been written on the board by hand.  They can save links, images, audio sounds, videos to be easily accessible during the lesson, allowing the teacher to concentrate more on teaching the subject content and engaging the students.

An IWB is like an extra large plasma TV mounted on the wall.  If the flipchart is designed in an invigorating way by including sounds and engaging images, with care taken to ensure all visual aspects can be seen and understood from the back of the classroom, then all students will have a point of focus during the lesson.  This will draw the students attention to the subject matter so more of it will be absorbed and retained (Gage, 2006).

What makes an IWB interactive?

The screen of an IWB is similar to an iPad whereby you can touch the screen to drag, drop, or select objects.   This feature allows the students to be more involved during the lesson and promotes interaction between the teacher and the fellow classmates.

There are many interactive educational software programs available for IWBs.  I have the Music Daydream software which provides interactive activities to involve the students and provides a means of formative assessment.  For example, each section of the music subject has a corresponding quiz, students can come up to the board and select or drag what they believe to be the correct answer.  This allows students to observe their peers and for the teacher to assess how the students are retaining the information in a fun and unpressurised environment.

However, teachers use the IWB at different levels of interactivity as explained by Tolley.  Some teachers often use the IWB as just a fancy projector to display their power point presentations.  There is no point in having the expense of an IWB installed if you are only going to use the IWB feature of clicking forward and black through your flipchart.  Not only is this a wasted opputunity, a jazzed up  teacher-directed classroom environment is produced (Groundwater-Smith, 2009).  Teachers need to utilise the IWB effciently to engage the students and promote interactivity to avoid this setup.  They can use hyperlinks, external sources, skype, interactive activities, allow various presentation means from the students via the IWB, and use the IWB to return to saved previous work to refresh the students’ memory.  All which achieve high levels of interactivity and promote a student focused classroom environment (Tolley).

What learning style does an IWB support?

An IWB can cater for a variety of learning styles. For visual learners colours, photos, graphs and mind maps can be incorporated into the lessons.  For auditory learners, sound and video files are beneficial.
For kinaesthetic learners, videos, and touch screen activities can be implemented such as this online quiz:

As long as a teachers doesn’t stick to one operational means of the IWB but incorporates a variety of features in the lesson via the IWB, then all the students in the class will benefit.

How do I feel about IWBs?

The IWB has the danger of promoting a teacher-directed environment,  the teacher may just use the features of the IWB to dish out their instructions in a fancy way.   To avoid this teachers have to know and utilise the IWB features properly to engage and promote interactivity within the classroom.

As long as the IWBs are used to enhance the lessons and the students are activly learning, then I’m all for them.  But if they are over-used and the teachers spend far too much focus on the features available that attention is drawn away from the actual learning process, then the purpose of the IWB is tainted.

There also needs to be more support for teachers in the use of the IWB.  It’s one thing to say all that can be done and how IWBs make teaching more efficient, but teachers need to be shown.  It is a large, alien, technical devise which many teachers cannot operate without guidance and clear instructions.  Without this, the IWB is just a very large TV screen mounted on a classroom wall that is used to display power point presentations – the money would be best invested elsewhere.

I personal have used an IWB once during uni class.  At my 1st school immersion there was not one classroom with an IWB so my plan to practice in recess and lunch were thrashed.  How am I going to learn all the tricks and features that make the IWB what it is and engage the students effectively?

If there are no IWBs at my second and final practical, I may never learn before I am up there in front of a class teaching.  One of the Professional Development courses I will put myself on is training on the IWBs as there are so many gadgets and cool features I could utilise such as ‘freeze-screen’ facility, handwriting recognition, NetOp, interactive voting tools, Spotlight tool and so much more.


The interactive online quiz can be used on an interactive whiteboard during a geography lesson or any other subject that requires students to learn the names of countries around the world.

Which learning style/s does this ICT support?

An interactive online quiz supports active and visual learner.  They can retain and process the information better when actively testing their knowledge and when content is presented in a contextual format.

How could this ICT be implemented as a good cognitive tool within the learning environment?

Quizes can be used as formative assessments to see what the students have retained from the lesson.  They can also be used at the beginning of teaching a new subject so the teacher can have a clear idea of what the students already know.  It can also be a fun way to reinforce the content previously covered.

How is this ICT enabling the development of creativity? is a easy to use website where one can invent and create their own quiz.  Students can use this to create their own quiz on a particular subject and test and present in a variety of ways.


Gage, J. (2006) ‘How to use an interactive whiteboard really effectively in your secondary classroom’. London: David Fulton Publishers.

Groundater-Smith, S. (2009) ’Secondary Schooling in a Changing World’. Australia: Cenage Learning

Tolley, R. J. ‘The use of Interactive Whiteboards in schools’. Retrieved from

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Mobile Learning

May 29, 2011 at 7:32 am (ecavey - blog)


What is mobile learning?

Mobile learning to me implies simply – learning that can be done on the move.  And with technology advancing as it is, that’s not too hard.

Computers used to be something stationery, stuck on a table in your study at home or in the computer lab at school.  Then along came the laptops – a great novelty to be able to whisk out on the train or in a coffee shop.  But now we have iPhones, iPads and Netbooks – some so small they are always in your pocket and always turned on.  There is always a continuous source of information and a means of learning – wherever you are; ‘with technology getting smaller, more personal, ubiquitous, and powerful, it better supports a mobile society’ (Kaleidoscope, 2006).

Who learns from mobile learning?

Generation Z are those born between 1995 and 2009 and they are the most technologically literate generation of children ever (generationz).  They have been born and raised in this culture of mobile learning and so are accustomed to an immediate source of information and the impersonal nature of social networks.

I have always said I would never let my children watch TV, play games or use the computer as much as children do today.   When do they socialise?  Doesn’t it make family meal times meaningless if everyone sits there on their mobile phones or rushes to be excused to watch Top Gear or play Halo?

Handal states Generation Z children read at home less and instead watch TV, play games, email, text or visit social media sites (Handal).  I have sworn to myself I shall encourage my children to read every night before bed.  Is this reasonable or am I enforcing unnecessary rules and an outdated tradition on my children due to my beliefs in culture and learning?

Are the future generations destined to have a simple task such as reading eradicated from society?

With all the controversy about the frequent use of technology today, I feel that one has to acknowledge that the younger generations are accoustomed to this.  Rather than attempting to engage them in school through traditional methods, why not engage them through a means that they are familiar with.

There are some teachers out there today who are really passionate about engaging their students through technology.  I feel inspired by these teachers and feel we just need to accept this change in society and move with the times.

Where do we see mobile learning?

The most popular devise for mobile learning would be the iPhone.  I believe they are the most amazing thing to have been invented.  Well I think so anyway – phones have come a long way from my Nokia 64!  It’s not just a phone anymore – it’s a mini computer in my hand, it’s has my entire life on there, it’s my way of communicating with my friends and family all over the world!

Despite this, I have to admit I still do not use mine to its full potential.

Firstly, there is an abundance of ‘cool’ stuff one can do on the iPhone – they provide immediate access to the internet, email, word processor, calculator, stop watch, videos, voice recorder and more. If you think it might rain, you can open ‘Oz Weather’ and check the radar to see if there is any rain heading your way.  If you want to get the train, you can open ‘TripView’ and see how many minutes till your next train, what platform and at what time you will arrive at your destination.

These are all applications or ‘apps’ that one can download onto the iPhone.  I have hundreds but now only really use the apps that are on my home page as I ‘forget’ they are there…

Let’s have a look at some of the apps that are educational to students and can be used as tools for learning in the classroom.  Click on the image to be taken to the apps home page.

Students can search categories and find ‘how to’ segments on any subject such as mitosis or learning how to knit.  They can then share these videos with their friends.


Allows you to see images from anywhere in the world and then by selecting a particular point on the map, you can place yourself on the street, walk down it and check out the surrounding area.


A homework application which helps students to be organised, plan their school days and their homework.

and there are many more…

One doesn’t need a special app to learn though.  I taught myself how to make a 2 tiered cake through videos on youtube and tutorial websites.  This saved me hundreds of dollars on taking a course.

Through mobile learning, one can really maximise their time.  I use my iphone during adverts and waiting for trains to search the net or watch videos.  Rather than wasting 5 mins during the add breaks – why not learn something instead?  This is a very Digital Native attitude and one that Generation Z children will most definitely have acquired since having this constant stream and access to information makes us impatient and greedy for more.

Mobile learning also occurs through the social interaction available on facebook, twitter and forums – people are always connected and view and disclose personal information – I get a pop up on my iPhone screen whenever someone comments on my status and I, being sad and vain, check facebook on my phone about 10 times a day.

This immediate connection with people can be very helpful.  In a moment of crises such as my white chocolate ganache splitting – I have gone on my iPhone and asked for help on the Planet Cake Tea Party forum and have had immediate response.

So isn’t this immediate access to information good in schools?

There are definitely moments in a classroom when this immediate access to information would be beneficial.  Such as if a student asks a question and the teacher is not sure, they can ask a student to look it up on their mobile and discuss the answer there and then in the classroom.  Therefore, learning is not delayed; it is addressed immediately and is extended beyond the classroom, while still in a classroom environment.

Social interaction isn’t just about facebook and twitter.  Students can learn from other cultures via technology and find out information they would only know via first hand experience or by reading articles.  For example is a site where students from all over the world can post a podcast about the city they live in.  Have a listen to this one about Sydney:

Download: Sydney.mp3?sid=d896bbcc30971d8adc35b26b7127b9ec&l_sid=24255&l_eid=&l_mid=2195548

Should mobile devises be allowed in schools?

Having access to iPhones and other mobile computers in the classroom can make the kids more excited to come to school as they know they would be learning via a means that is relevant and useful to them.  However,  teachers must be in control of this use of mobile devises.  They must ensure students are not distracted by other features on their devises, and that the technology is used to improve the students learning and not just because they consider it to be ‘cool’.

It is natural for people to have different opinions on the subject of ICT use in schools.   The advantages would be that it extends learning, keeps them engaged, helps struggling students, and allows exposure to multiple sources of information.

The disadvantages could be that kids may be distracted in the classroom, they may cheat, abuse the technology or cyber bully.  It also is not fair to assume that all kids have and know how to use technologies for learning (Groundater-Smith, 2009).  The majority of classrooms are multicultural so there may be students from cultures that don’t use technology at home, or from poorer backgrounds who quite simply can’t afford the most recent technological devises.  Therefore how can we expect to implement the use of mobile learning into the classroom and expect them all to learn equally?  This differenciation in digital literacy between students (and teachers as per earlier posts!) is something that needs to be considered by academic governments and schools when implementing this form of learning into the classroom. 

My major concern is – does this mean there is no need for teachers?  It is a feasible worry when there are so many ways to learn online and at the rate that technology is increasing – who knows what features may be available in 2017!  A stimulated classroom where kids could learn from home on a computer?  I hope not.  Teachers are needed in a classroom to motivate the students to learn and although technology may assist in this learning process, it should never control it.

My opinion

After reading Boris Handal’s presentation on ‘Mobile Learning in Schools’ I feel quite daunted by the prospect of all this ICT in the classroom.  As mentioned in previous posts, I am not a confident Digital Native.  Nor do I feel a Digital Immigrant but somewhere in the middle.

I remember an ex of mine refused to open a hotmail account and have an email address.  He thought that if people wanted to get hold of him for a gig they could call.  I often wonder how he is copying in this fast paced digital world and if he finally realised an email address isn’t so bad after all.  But by then his ICT knowledge would be severely limited and typing skills non-existent that it may just all be too daunting for the poor guy!

School is for learning, and if children are learning at home via their mobiles and are not allowed to learn through these devises at school, then we are dampening and restricting their learning.  Yes there are pros and cons to using mobiles in the classroom, but with technology as it is today, surely there could a restricted network that blocks calls and text in the school grounds?  I would like to think I will be open minded when I get in the classroom and not restrict a way of learning that is so efficient and invaluable.


The podcast in this blog is an excellent educational example that connects students from around the globe.  Students from different cities produce a podcast describing the city they live in and post it to the website ‘Learning in Hand’.  These podcasts are accessible by anyone who has access to the internet.

Which learning style/s does this ICT support?

A podcast is a sound recording so this supports an auditory style of learnig.

How could this ICT be implemented as a good cognitive tool within the learning environment?

Podcasts can be created by anyone and a site like ‘Learning in Hand’ is excellent for the students as they can upload their work, listen and criticise similar works from other students.  It gives them a sense of pride and purpose to their work and they can learn from listening to other podcasts in the process.

How is this ICT enabling the development of creativity?

A podcast is just a sound recording and the students can do this in any way they like via music, speech, rap, or group presentation.  Once they have recorded their work as a podcast, they can then upload it to the internet, making it public for the world to listen to.


Groundater-Smith, S. (2009) ’Secondary Schooling in a Changing World’. Australia: Cenage Learning

Handal, B. ‘Mobile Learning’ power point presentation.  Retrieved from

Kaleidoscope (2006) ‘Network of Excellence Mobile Learning Initiative’. Retrieved from

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Pedagogical Beliefs and ICT Integration

May 29, 2011 at 6:56 am (ecavey - blog)


‘Teacher Pedagogical Beliefs: The Final Frontier in Our Quest for Technology Integration?’ By Peggy A. Ertmer

Although this reading goes on for 7 pages (front and back!), it was a rather intriguing read once I had deciphered all the intellectual words and navigated round the numerous, unnecessary brackets interrupting the flow of text….

Main gist?

Ertmer discusses the problems that are arising with the integration of ICT into the classrooms and how teachers’ beliefs are affecting this amalgamation.

ICT in the Classroom

Since the digital revolution, ICT is considered an integral part of providing a high-quality education to students and has been incorporated into the syllabus content of the NSW Board of Studies.  ICT is thought to promote student-centered leaning, problem-solving and social interaction which compliments a constructivist teaching style as favoured by educators today.

Schools are now required to implement the use of ICT in the classroom and the different school systems have done so at different levels.  Department of Education Schools have gone as far as giving every student from Year 9 upwards their very own laptop to keep and use in class (NSW Department of Education and Training).  In some schools Interactive White Boards (IWB) have been installed in classrooms, internal school portals are becoming popular and online tasks and assessments are being utilised.

I had my first immersion at a Catholic School and there were no IWB’s and the students did not have laptops in class.  There was however access to school laptops at the teacher’s descression, and occasionally, the teacher used their own laptop to show a power point presentation or youtube links.

Whatever the ICT availability, most teachers lack training and therefore would use ICT at a low level due to the fact they do not have the skills or confidence to integrate ICT at a higher level.  Teachers who implement more impressive technology such as spreadsheets, digital imaging, WebQuests, online tests and impressive presentations provide the students with a more constructivist classroom setting.

Teachers and their beliefs

Many teachers grew up with limited access to technology in schools and so may hold negative beliefs about their own technical capabilities in the use of ICT.  Ertmer describes beliefs as being something that develops from memories, experiences, and perception on events (Ertmer, 2005).

Ertmer states that ‘beliefs are far more inflectional than knowledge’ (Ertmer, 2005), indicating that for technology to really excel in a classroom, teachers need to believe in the results it produces, and that knowledge of this is not enough.  For example, a teacher may understand that producing data in a spread sheet is more presentable, but do they really believe that by extending its use and applying it to a variety of sources promotes student-centered learning?  If teachers do not believe in this digital revolution then they will not be inspired to learn and experiment with implementing technology into their teaching strategies.

Beliefs can be highly personal and negative experiences with technology can cement beliefs that are hard to change.  If teachers have such beliefs about technology, how can they change these to embrace the progression of ICT?  When one was brought up in a school with no computers, how can they build new beliefs? Ertmer goes on to explain how teachers need to be taught about the uses and gains from technology and how it can be an aid to teaching in the classroom.  By doing this they will build new memories, reassess their beliefs and develop new ones that hopefully will allow them to embrace this digital revolution.

It is true though that not all teachers lack ICT skills.  The young student teachers that are entering the education system today will have many more memories and encounters with the use of ICT throughout their school life which they can apply to their teaching.  It is the teachers that prefer the teacher-directed approach that need to adapt and change their beliefs if this digital change is to have its full effect in the classroom.

What can be done to help?

For teachers who fall in the Digital immigrant bracket, the concept of ICT in the classrooms can be hard to grasp as to them it is a new and foreign language that is constantly changing.  How can they be expected to incorporate ICT into their classroom when they do not fully understand it, when they have been teaching for years in a way that they are comfortable with and produces results?

Ertner explains that this ICT integration needs to be done slowly so as to not pressurise the teachers into fully changing their pedagogy (Ertner, 2005).  The teachers need to be shown how technology can be used to help their individual needs, and to fully realise and appreciate its use before adopting it into the classroom.

Training needs to be provided and teachers persuaded to undertake regular courses.  For high-level use of technology there is a lot to learn.  ‘It takes five to six years for teachers to accumulate enough expertise to use technology’ (Ertmer, 2005) so time, effort and money needs to be invested to improve teacher capabilities and promote this change.

When are teachers meant to learn all this?

Teachers lead busy lives and as mentioned above it can take a long time to acquire this knowledge.  It has been suggested that teachers learn about technology, via technology, such as a WebQuest or online tutorial, which can be done during their own time at home or in school, and with an online support system to guide them.

Ertner also suggests that if given the time, teachers should learn through social interaction with other teachers, via exploration and observation in groups and frequent discussions to re-assess beliefs.  This is a very constructivist approach to learning and should bring those teachers stuck in their old fashioned teaching styles to realise the benefits of constructivist learning.

My opinion

This reading brought on a mixture of dread and anticipation.  Why? Because I know my knowledge of technology is average and that I may be criticised for my method of teaching.  However, I also know that there is a strong supportive network amongst teachers.  Just from this first Semester at uni I have learnt more through discussing experiences with fellow classmates and discussing answers and approaches for assignments then I have from the teachers.  I know once I’m out there I will have access to the wide range of Professional Development Programs that are out there and IT courses will be one of my highest priorities.  I want to give the students I teach the best chance in learning, and if that means I need to learn new skills and implement them in my teaching strategies to promote high-level learning then I will make the time to do so.

‘The Growth of Enterprise Pedagogy: How ICT Policy is infected by Neo-liberalism’ by Dr Mark Brown

Firstly, what is neoliberalism?  ‘A political movement beginning in the 1960s that blends traditional liberal concerns for social justice with an emphasis on economic growth’ from the free online dictionary (the free dictionary).

Basically, Brown talks about how the ICT policy and the propaganda that technology is the way forward in learning is effecting teachers and students in schools.

One of the concerns is that technology is developing really fast and new technology devices are being produced constantly.   Therefore, is it really right for schools and the government to invest in this technology when in 5 years time it is considered out of date and worthless?

The Digital Resolution has sparked a rush and panic in schools to catch up and implement ICT use in the classrooms.  ICT Integration has changed significantly the classroom environment from that of a teacher-directed one to that of a more student-centered one by giving them means to learn themselves over the internet and produce their work in a format of their choice.

I was shocked when I watched the video below as the students all have their own laptop that they can use in every lesson.  Rather then taking notes, they can type into their laptops.   I was shocked because it is very different image from what I conceive a classroom setting should be.

Is this the right way to learn?  Will they never learn how to write neatly by hand and construct essays?  Are they paying attention during the lesson or playing solitaire?

There has not been conclusive research into whether students learn sufficiently from this profound use of ICT and therefore why should we experiment on the current students by enforcing this approach?

As I mentioned earlier teachers can hold a set of beliefs that are not supported by this ICT integration.  ‘Learning requires hard work and discipline’ (Brown, 2005) and some believe that the use of computers can ‘dumb’ the brain and portray education as just an excuse to play games and mess around.

I agree with this.  Word processor means that you know longer need to be able to write by hand or learn how to spell.  My spelling mistakes are corrected automatically.  On my Iphone, I don’t even have to type all the letters, predictive text provides me with the word it assumes I’m trying to write!  This makes me worry….

However, there is an importance to ICT.  It IS used a lot in the workforce and it IS going to progress and advance and students need to be set up for this in schools so that they are ready for jobs when they leave.

Brown does agree with Ertmer that teachers need to embrace the use of ICT in the classroom but he stresses that they should not let it overpower the lessons and their style of teaching. They should use it as a tool to assist them in the classroom, but stick to what they know works well with the students in reagards to their teaching method.  After all, as long as the students come away from the lesson having learnt and retained something, that is all that matters.

My opinion

It seems to me that there needs to be some consistency within the education system.  How come students that go to a Department of Educatoin school have constant access to their own personal laptop, and others at some Catholic schools do not.  Do those with laptops finish school with a better understanding than those who don’t or vice versa?  And if this is the case then shouldn’t action and policies be set up to ensure all students are achieving the best in their education?

I think it is worth investing the money in ICT.  It will require a lot of money, not just on the technology products but the regular training involved for teachers on how to use the new ICT devices and systems that are released.

I had to teach myself how to touch type and get my speed up to 60wpm in order to get a job in administration when I first came to Australia.  Having never owned a laptop or even joined facebook, my IT skills were quiet inadequate.  If I had been exposed to ICT more at school perhaps I would have progressed further in the work force so therefore, I am a supporter of the use of ICT in schools.

However, I am still limited with my ICT knowledge and do feel pressurised into incorporating it into my lessons.  I will need to teach myself to use Finale and Cubase (the 2 main ICT programs used in Music) before I walk into a lesson and instruct my pupils to use them.  After all, one of the requirements of the Institute of Teachers of NSW is that ‘teachers know their subject/content and how to teach that content to their students’ (NSW Institute of Teachers).


The images in this blog highlight the subject matter and the video included describes the NSW Department of Educations policy in regards to ICT integration in schools.

Which learning style/s does this ICT support?

The images support a visual learning style and the video supports both visual and auditory.

How could this ICT be implemented as a good cognitive tool within the learning environment?

The images can promote a discussion from the students in particular the mouse image – why is this humorous? What is ironic about the lady being scared of the computer mouse? Is she a Digital Native or Digital Immigrant?

The video clearly outlines the concept being discussed and from the use of clear images, catchy music, and quotes from other students it engages the students in the video and puts what is being said into context.

How is this ICT enabling the development of creativity?

The mouse image can encourage the students to think of other ironic cartoons that they could draw to represent the topic being discussed.

The video involves students of their age, if they can star in a video, so can they.  This encourages them to think how they could create a video to represent an idea of subject.


Brown, M. (2005) ‘The growth of enterprise pedagogy: How ICT policy is infected by neo-liberalism’. Australian Educational Computing, 20(2), 16-22.

Ertmer, P. A. (2005) ‘Teacher pedagogical beliefs: The final frontier in our quest for technology integration?’ Educational Technology Research & Development.

NSW Department of Education and Training (2009), ‘Digital Education Revolution – NSW Policy’. Retrieved from

NSW Institute of Teachers ‘Professional Teaching Standards’.

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ICT as a Cognitive Tool

May 29, 2011 at 6:00 am (ecavey - blog)


Digital Immigrants may doubt how one can learn from technology.  However, there are numerous ways in which students can gain and extend their knowledge via the use of technology.  Here I shall focus on the cognitive tool – the WebQuest.

WebQuests are a fantastic way to assess students learning whilst extending their knowledge and directing them to solve problems of an authentic nature.

What is a webquests?

What this short video to find out:

In order to ensure students do not idly surf the net and waste their learning time, WebQuests are designed to set out clear instructions that ‘achieve efficiency and clarity of purpose’ (Dodge, 1997).  This is achieved by setting clear sections to the WebQuest:

  1. Introduction
  2. Task
  3. Resources
  4. Process
  5. Evaluation
  6. Conclusion

Particular links and online resources are suggested to guide the student through the task and the WebQuest can be undertaken during class or as homework.

WebQuests are highly constructivist based – they initiate problem solving tasks that require the students to think for themselves.  They can be done in groups which promote social interaction and the tasks are designed to build on prior knowledge of the students.

The questions directed at the students encourage them to research and apply ‘fresh thought’ (McKenzie, 2000) so that the students are not simply finding and copying facts from the internet.  They are in fact worded in a way that promotes higher order thinking and requires them to gather, analyse, synthesize and evaluate their findings before reporting their answers in the WebQuest.

This diagrams shows the research cycle which McKenzie suggests students follow to help them to stay on track during the webquest:

It shows the depth in which students are encourage to organise their research and re-assess their findings.  The outcome should not be a simple copy and paste job from Wiki, but an in-depth, meaningful research and construction of original ideas.

Does ICT promote meaningful learning?

The NSW Quality Teaching Framework states that intellectual quality, a quality learning environment, and significance are required in order to increase student outcomes (NSW Department of Education and Training, 2003).  Does technology promote these criteria?

Technology can be very engaging for students as they are familiar with it and use it on a regular basis.  If technology engages a students then meaningful learning will occur (Jonassen, 2008). WebQuests will engage a student if it is designed in an authentic and intriguing way and the questions directed in a manner that extends the students thinking.

Being constructivist based, WebQuests involved tasks that require intentional, active, constructive, cooperative, and authentic learning processes which Jonassen outlines to be qualities that promote meaningful learning (Jonassen, 2008).

My opinion on the use of ICT as a cognitive tool

Although I have not undertaken a WebQuest myself, or used computers at school to research for assignments, I do believe ICT is a valuable cognitive tool.  The internet is a wealth of information and if used appropriately and efficiently, one can find out anything they need to and apply it to everyday life scenarios.

Not only can one learn from the internet, but one can learn from others via the internet.  For example is a site where children from kindergarten to year 12 can publish their school work and be assessed by people all over the world.  It provides them with a different means of learning and a purpous when they can receive feedback about the work they’ve put their time and effort into (Patty, 2011).

Can it negatively effect learning?

The technology used in a classroom cannot govern the lesson, it must be used to develop and strengthen the student intellectual qualities.   Groundwater-Smith states that technologies in the classroom are only as good as the teaching and learning environments (Groundwater-Smith, 2009) so it is fundamental that teachers use ICT as a tool for assisting in learning, and not controlling it.

I will most definitely be implementing WebQuests as a means of assessment into my classroom to extend the students and promote meaningful learning.


The above video is an initial instructional approach for those wishing to learn how to construct a WebQuest. 

The simple flow diagram from McKenzie outlines the process in which students should attempt to complete a WebQuest.

Which learning style/s does this ICT support?

As mentioned before, a video is very visual and auditory.  It provides a step by step approach to attempting a WebQuest.  The flow diagram supports those with a holistic and sequential learning style.  It shows the scope of what is required and provides a scaffolding on how to reach this.   

How could this ICT be implemented as a good cognitive tool within the learning environment?

The video is a great cognitive tool as it provides simple instructions on how to approach a new task.  This form of ICT is beneficial for distant learning where students are unable to attend a classroom environment.

The flow diagram is similar to a scaffolding system which can be used in class to assist those that find difficulty in organising their time to complete tasks or find it hard to listen and follow directions. 

How is this ICT enabling the development of creativity?

Simple videos like the one in this blog can be created by students and used as a means of presentation of their work.  When attempting a large task it may be beneficial to the student to create their own flow diagram on how they intend to approach the task to provide them with a structure and to refer to if they head of course.


Dodge B. (1997). Some thoughts about webquests. Retrieved from

Dodge B. (1997). Some thoughts about webquests. Retrieved from

Groundater-Smith, S. (2009) ’Secondary Schooling in a Changing World’. Australia: Cenage Learning

Jonassen D, Howland J, Morra R.M, Crismond D (2008) Meaningful Learning with Technology 3rd ed Pearson, New York

J. McKenzie (2000) ‘The question is the answer’. Retrieved from

NSW Department of Education and Training (2003) ‘Quality teaching in NSW public schools’.

Patty, A. (2011), ‘Beyond the blackboard’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 2011

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Social Constructivism

May 29, 2011 at 3:45 am (ecavey - blog)


What is social constructivism?

Have a quick look at this video which outlines the key points of social constructivism.

‘Translating Constructivist Theory into Practice in Primary-Grade Mathematics’ by Jody Brewer and C.J. Dane is an interesting read on the insight of constructivist teaching within the classroom.  It outlines the results of research conducted on a group of mathematic primary school teachers who believe they are constructivist teachers.

This reading describes the main concepts of constructivist learning to include:

  • An importance on process;
  • The exchange of differing points of view; and
  • An emphasis on problem solving.

The teachers participating in the study formed a team called the ‘Explorers’ through which they could provide support and bounce ideas around to trial and test new constructivist techniques in the classroom.   During the research, data was obtained from various sources and produced the following results:

  1. Learning is an active, constructive process;
  2. New knowledge is built on prior knowledge;
  3. Autonomy is promoted; and
  4. Social interaction is necessary for knowledge construction and active learning.

The final point, social interaction, can be created by allowing students to discuss with each other the answer to a question and in particular, how they arrived at their answer.  This social interaction enables students to express their ideas in a risk-free environment, build on prior knowledge from themselves and fellow classmates, and establish a new understanding from the outcome.  These outcomes are what constructivists aim to promote through their teaching method.

The NSW Board of Studies believes that constructivist teaching produces the best results from the students in regards to their level of understanding and learning development.  They are attempting to implement a shift from a teacher-structured approach to a more student-centered, constructivist approach throughout all schools in NSW.

Is social constructivism working?

There are still teachers who resent this shift and continue with the traditional practices of teacher-structured learning.   This I believe is because taking a constructivist approach requires them to step out of their comfort zone.  For example, to create autonomy in the classroom, students need numerous opportunities to make choices and to think for themselves without relying on the teacher to make their decisions for them (Brewer and Dane, 2002).  Allowing the students to govern the lesson and take direction in their learning eradicates the control of the teacher.  If the teacher has been teaching for many years in a teacher-directed context then moving to this constructivist approach requires a big change that may seem risky and unreliable.

Brewer and Dane state that many teachers profess to be constructivist teachers since this is a popular concept being promoted by the teacher education programs (Brewer and Dane, 2002).  Teachers may undertake activities that they believe create a constructivist environment when in fact, social interaction and constructivist learning does not occur.

This video clip shows a small class being instructed in a constructivist setting.  Watch out for the key points involved in promoting constructivism.  Look at how the tables are set up and how the teacher directs her questions.

What are my opinions on this reading and social constructivism?

Although I understand the concepts of constructivist learning and can see the benefits involved, I am aware that not all students will feel comfortable with the social interaction involved.  Some kids who are reserved or are the victims of bullying from other classmates may feel threatened and alienated when instructed to form groups with their peers, discuss ideas and solve problems.   In certain circumstances, the social interaction required may result in them becoming more withdrawn and less engaged during class.   It is therefore a teacher’s responsibility to be alert and aware for this social dynamic between the students and take control in areas such as the formation of groups or even being involved in the particular group discussion to encourage those students to speak out and feel included.

ICT is a fantastic tool in the implementation of constructivism within the classroom as there are various forms of social media one can utilise such as blogs, podcasts, youtube clips, forums, instant messaging etc.  WebQuests are considered a great constructivist tool in the classroom as they provide a fantastic means to problem solving via ICT whilst incorporating authentic elements into their learning.

Have a look at this WebQuest Planning a Garden.  It really encourages the students to think outside the box, discuss with their fellow classmates and apply practical mathematic skills to problems that can be encountered in real life.

I believe both constructivist and teacher-directed learning is required in the classroom to achieve a balance between the different learning styles and group dynamics, and to ensure content is covered and retained.


This blog entry includes two videos which highlight the characteristics of constructivist teaching, and a WebQuest sample, an ICT tool often used in a classroom as a means of assessment.

Which learning style/s does this ICT support?

Videos support visual and auditory learners by engaging them through the images and sounds of the videos.  WebQuests support various learning styles including visual and auditory.

How could this ICT be implemented as a good cognitive tool within the learning environment?

Videos as ICT tools are a great way of getting out of a classroom environment and exploring the content in a different setting.  They can make connections with the outside world and form meaningful connections with what they are learning.

WebQuests promote problem solving and interaction between students, encouraging them to apply their knowledge in a ‘real life’ situation, thus creating meaningful learning.

How is this ICT enabling the development of creativity?

Videos expand a student’s knowledge by introducing them to concepts and scenes they may have never witnessed.  It takes the context out of the classroom and allows students to explore its meaning with a variety of sources.  This WebQuest provides the students with a clear set of rules in which they can then explore and create a meaningful project which can be presented to their fellow classmates.


Brewer, J. & Dane, C.J. (2002), ‘Translating Constructivist Theory into Practice in Primary-Grade Mathematics.  Retrieved from

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Digital Natives vs Digital Immigrants

May 29, 2011 at 3:17 am (ecavey - blog)


In this blog entry I am going to attempt to outline my understanding on the ‘Digital Natives Debate’ based on a few readings I have been so fortunate to have read.  I shall then decide which side of the debate I support and whether I am in fact a Digital Native or a Digital Immigrant!

 ‘Digital literacy and how it affects teaching and learning practices’ – Leigh Blackall

This article was particularly hard to read, the use of language and context very sleep inducing!

Digital literacy is the ability to access the Internet, join in communications, engage with an online information and communications network and find, manage and edit digital information (Blackall, 2005).  Digital literacy is increasing throughout the population and is becoming an important tool in education and learning for students.  It is therefore essential that teaching practices adapt to accommodate this new form of literacy.

In particular, Blackall praises the use of ‘FOSS’.  Although age wise I fall into the digital native bracket, I show my digital immigrant side by not knowing what on earth ‘FOSS’ is!  For those other digital illiterate persons out there this is what I discovered from the internet:

FOSS = Free Open Source Software, or Free/Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS), or Free Software, or just Open Source Software.

FOSS is released under a license which makes it available to anyone to use, modify, and distribute as they wish at no cost, provided they agree in turn to make it available to others to use, modify, and distribute as they wish at no cost.

Basically, it’s a free software program that is more adaptable then the standard Microsoft Office.

This article stresses the fact that students use FOSS at home and unless schools keep with the times, the students will find school resources limiting.  By implementing FOSS into schools, it will broaden the digital literacy for staff and students.  Schools need to be aware that technology is fast advancing and that the younger generations are using it more frequently, therefore, free and independent use of software may be beneficial for the students and their learning.

My opinion on this reading

I did not really enjoy reading this article and I am still unsure what FOSS actually is, even after my research on the internet I am not entirely sure, maybe it would help if I was to use and explore it myself.  This just cements my opinions that I am just not ‘with it’ and too much of a digital immigrant.  I feel I would benefit from going on a refresher course – especially if teachers are expected to know and use technology at the same level as their students.

From the conclusion of this article it is clear that schools need to support the fast development of digital literacy, and it is evident from my perspective that the older generations need to do regular research and training to keep up with the children we are teaching.

‘Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants’ by Marc Prensky

I actually quite enjoyed this read – the language was a lot more manageable for my illiterate brain!

What I got from this article was that today’s children have been brought up in a world with a high usage of technology and to them it is a normal existence.  Prensky suggests that today’s students ‘think and process information fundamentally differently from their predecessors’ (Prensky, 2001) and that they may even have a different brain structure from the different experiences they have acquired through the use of advanced technology and communication.  This mindmap outlines the differences between a Digital Native and a Digital Immigrant:

Most teachers today are Digital Immigrants, or are on the bridge between the two (like I predict I am).  With less experience in the world of technology, we may have a different digital ‘accent’ compared to our students.  How then are we supposed to instruct and guide our students if they are better equipped and accustomed to this digital language then we are?

The attributes of Digital Natives are that they are used to receiving information very fast, can multi-task, prefer graphics before text, thrive on instant gratification and frequent rewards, and prefer games to ‘serious’ work.  It would be wise for the teachers to learn from their students rather then resisting this new literacy.  Over time there will be a change to the curriculum, some traditional legacy content will die out just like Latin, Greek and learning to sew have done.  For example mental math is no longer a necessity due to the access to digital devices for example – high tech calculators on our phones.  But what if one day we were without our devices?!  How will these Digital Natives cope?  I for one know that I could not drive to an unknown location without the GPS – I just would not even consider it!

This article implies that times are changing fast and the digital ‘immigrants’ need to get up to date and learn the new digital language before they are left behind.

My opinion on this reading

Although not very factual I found this the easiest article to relate to.  It draws on good examples that a non-technical reader can understand. I can see that I have both immigrant and native digital aspects to my digital language.  Using more technology in the classroom scares me – what if they know more then I do and I’m put on the spot?  Wouldn’t it be easier if I just stayed clear and taught theory instead?  No, because the students wouldn’t find the content relevant and wouldn’t be engaged.  I need to become better acquainted with technology, and think of ways to teach that incorporates ICT such as games and webquests.

On another note, while writing this I can see that predictive text is altering a lot of my spelling mistakes.  Rather then making note of what I am doing wrong, I am allowing it to correct me.  I don’t think that I would pass an English exam due to the terrible spelling, grammar and handwriting I must now have (I would probably have to give up due to hand cramp!).  Surely this is a ‘legacy’ that can’t be made extinct through digital literacy?!  It shocks me to think so, yet that is most likely my digital immigrant side in disbelief!  I am myself known for abbreviating my text to ‘cos, g8, lol,’ and other shorthands.  Perhaps we need a digital ‘dictionary’ for those immigrants not quite ‘with it’? ps I have always thought of lol as ‘lots of love’, only just got that one!

 ‘The ‘digital natives’ debate: A critical review of the evidence’ by Sue Bennett, Karl Maton and Lisa Kervin

This article discusses how we should approach the new learning methods of digital natives and incorporate it into teaching today.  It questions whether education is currently equipped to meet the needs of digital native students and if not then ‘radical changes in curriculum, pedagogy, assessment and professional development in education’ (Bennett et al, 2008) need to be made.  It discussed how students’ technology practices may not be applicable to academic tasks so teachers should be able to guide their digital literacy to their benefit.

However, it also argues that there may not be enough evidence to suggest we make a change in our teaching methods.  Although young people live their lives immersed in technology, technical skills can be influenced by home experiences e.g. some kids from a poorer community may have little or no access to computers.  Therefore, we must not assume all students have such a high digital literacy and that changes need to be made as other students will be left behind.

This article is very interesting as I can see the views from those that support the change, and those that don’t.  The younger generations seem to have access to such a vast amount of knowledge that they do seem to behave in a way that seems unacceptable to the older generation such as teenage pregnancies, drug and alcohol problems in the teens, getting involved with people on the internet that one might not have met in person.

My opinion on this reading

My opinion is that we need to find a balance between using technology to our advantage in schools and maintaining the old practices such as grammar.  There are benefits from using technology to teach – I have only glanced at an interactive whiteboard but find it fascinating if a little scary that I should have to use one.

Which side of the debate am I on?

It’s hard to tell when I fall under the Digital Native bracket but show obvious signs of being a Digital Immigrant.  If someone had told me that technology was going to advance so fast I would probably have paid more attention.  Instead I let others do it for me, I get my fiancé to sort out any IT issues I have, do my online banking, put addresses in the GPS when in fact, I should learn these skills myself as at some point, I may be the only one around to do it.

I do believe there is a new generation of students who possess high technology skills and I am fully aware that as a teacher, I need to learn these skills to be able to teach efficiently and communicate with the students on their level.


The cartoon strip at the beginning of the blog outlines the concept of Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants.  It grabs the reader’s attention at the beginning of the blog and injects a bit of humour into the topic.

The mind map of Digital Natives vs Digital Immigrants is a structured way of providing all the facts in relation to this topic.

Which learning style/s does this ICT support?

The cartoon strip and mind map support visual learning styles.

How could this ICT be implemented as a good cognitive tool within the learning environment?

The cartoon can be used to start a discussion with the students in the classroom about the differences between Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants and what category they think their parents or teachers fall under.

The mind map arranges the key facts of this topic in an easy to read graphic organiser.

How is this ICT enabling the development of creativity?

The cartoon strip requires the students to think about their own circumstances and to observe what digital native qualities they might contain.

The mind map shows students how contrasting yet related information can be organised in a clear, concise yet creative format.


Bennett, S., Maton, K & Kervin, L. (2008).  The ‘digital natives’ debate: A critical review of the evidence’.  British journal of Education Technolgy

Blackall, L. (2005) ‘Digital literacy and how it affects teaching and learning practices’. Retrieved from

Prensky, (2001) ‘Digiral Natives, Digital Immigrants’. Retrieved from,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf

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