Thursday, 26 May 2011

Technology and the future

This week we looked at the future of new technologies and where technology in education is headed. From an educational perspective I think the progression is fantastic, however I did feel a little bit uncomfortable with some of the concepts we discussed. This included fridges that order you milk when you run low, billboards that recognise you and target their marketing, and most disturbing, the potential google chip implanted within our brains! While I embrace new technology, the old fashioned side of me feels nervous about where it might be going, and to be honest, I'm not exactly sure why. I think my discomfort comes from a concern for the lazyness of the human race and the ability of marketers to know me better than I know myself.

In education?
Having got that off my chest, e-learning is opening up worlds of opportunity for our students that we could never have imagined until recently. Mobile learning provides portable, always accessible education, through podcasting, mobile social networking and blogging and augmented reality, and is the way of the future. Of these I thought that augmented reality is the technology I could see myself using. Augmented reality involves looking at the real world with digital inputs overlaid. I loved the example we were shown in class, where on a visit to a historical site students can look through their mobile devices and see what the location would have looked like 100 years ago. With devices such as smart phones and I-pads, I can see amazing potential for augmented reality in S&E education. Augmented reality is a fantastic tool to enhance engagement and motivation for learning.

I love the following description of augmented reality by Billinghurst (2002);
"In the Arts Center of Christchurch New Zealand there is an empty dusty
basement room. This room isn't much different from other basement
rooms, however visitors are treated to a very unique experience. Upon
entering, they hear a voice telling then to come closer into the darkness.
When they do, a life-sized virtual image of an old man appears floating in
front of them. The man turns, looks at them and tells what it was like
working in this dark space over a hundred year ago. He is Ernest
Rutherford, New Zealand's Nobel-prize winning physicist, and the room is
where he performed his first research as an undergraduate at the
University of Canterbury. Through the use of advanced technology an
empty space is turned into a very rich educational experience."

The following video gives an appreciation of what augmented reality is. It is in Spanish (I think) but you can get the idea!  

Billinghurst, M. (2002). Augmented Reality in Education. New Horizons for Learning. 

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Folksonomies and falling in love with Wordle

Until our most recent session I had never even heard of a folksonomy!. A folksonomy is basically a classification system for content; in the case of new technologies, we are looking at classifying websites, resources or documents using tags that can be collaboratively contributed to (also known as social bookmarking). Folksonomies can result in a word cloud where importance is reflected in font size. Delicious, wordle, and word sift are some examples.

Word clouds in the classroom?

There are a myriad of websites, blogs and slideshows dedicated to using word clouds in the classroom. Including Top 10 Wordle Lessons for the Classroom and 46 Interesting Ways to Use Wordle in the Classroom. Here are some of the ideas from these resources that I could see myself using;

  • Students input their own work to see key themes and ideas, and assess if these match the intended purpose of the piece.
  • Students analyse pieces of text through looking at the key words used (or not used) and analyse the reasons these words were so significant. Great for historical speeches, documents and newspaper reports. 
  • Students compare and contrast multiple texts, analyse for bias.
  • Word walls
  • Students can use word clouds to make profiles about their classmates.
  • Students can self and peer assess by inputting assignments into a word cloud to see what themes they hit and what they missed.
  • Instead of traditional graphs students can create a word cloud for class polls.
  • Analyse the language used by fiction authors.
My word cloud! 

Using the text from the website Top 10 Wordle Lessons for the Classroom, I created a word cloud in Wordle to look at the key ideas for using Wordle in the classroom. It is such an easy tool to use, producing visually appealing and engaging results, that would be so useful in many classroom applications.
Word cloud created on by E Fraser using text from retrieved 23/5/11

Social Bookmarking in the Classroom

I created another word cloud using a web article by Grosseck ( to identify the key ways that a social bookmarking site such as Delicious could be used in education. Overall, delicious would be a great tool for students to locate resources, share resources with one another (contributing to collective intelligence) and for teachers to monitor and provide feedback on the research a student is doing for a particular project.

Word cloud created on by E Fraser using text from

Monday, 16 May 2011

Social Networking for Children

Recently we have been looking at social networking, mainly in the context of cybersafety for children and professionalism for adults. While we hear a lot about the associated risks, social networking is a fantastic tool to make connections that can foster cooperative learning. The video below gives a great overview of social networking.

I was fascinated to learn that 51% of 8-11 year olds are engaged in online social networking (ACMA, 2009); however based on my prac experiences, I estimate this could be higher in certain demographic schools, as nearly every child in my class participated in Club Penguin. In order to stay up to date with the latest craze, I decided to investgate Club Pengiun and how this popular social network could be incorporated into education.

What is Club Penguin? 
Club Penguin is a virtual world for 6-14 year olds, where children control avatar penguin characters that can interact with one another. Children can chat with each other, participate in a range of games and activities, look after virtual pets and participate in Club Penguin parties, events and plays and much more. Club Penguin offers two levels of security, one where children can only use and recieve a series of pre-defined questions, answers and greetings, the other uses a filter that limits exchange of personal information and inappropriate content. In addition, parents can control the amount of time children spend on Club Penguin, with parent controlled timers that allow the website to enforce daily limits.

How can this be used in education?
The Club Penguin website describes multiple benefits of their social network, including;
  • Development of keyboard skills.
  • Creativity through role play. 
  • Math and money management skills.
  • Social skills.
  • Learning about participation in a community.
I believe this list is quite limited regarding the literacy learning that may occur through participation in Club Penguin, including skills in reading, writing, viewing and communication. In addition, children are being exposed to social networking from a young age, meaning they begin their cybercitizen development journey early on. As a teacher, Club Penguin has the potential to be used as a platform for social constructivist learning. Teachers could encourage their students to use Club Penguin as a forum to discuss homework, or set topics for discussion where students present their conclusions to the class the following day. For students with limited internet access at home, they could be allocated time before class where they can use the internet to participate in any online social activities.

Club Penguin is by no means the only children's social network that could be incorporated into teaching, see Sarah Kesslers article on children's social networks for further suggestions.

Australian Communications and Media Authority (2009). Click and Connect: Young Australians us of Online Social Media 02: Quantitative Research Report.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011


Until our most recent session, I was under the impression that google was the be all and end all of search engines, and this would have been where I sent my students. However, it appears there are a range of alternatives that would suit different educational purposes.

Which search engines and services would I use in the classroom?
  • SearchCloud: Allows several terms to be included in a search where each term can be given an importance ranking by changing the font size. Places search terms in a cloud showing relative importance of each term, great for visual learners and for student's to rank the importance of key words in their search.
  • Google: A great research starting point and useful to search websites only from Australia. When referring children to google, it is critical to teach them to look beyond the first few suggestions.
  • Tag Galaxy: A fantastic service that searches Flikr photos. An alternative to a google image search, I would send my student's here to find images related to a particular topic. Great graphics that would be engaging for student's, particularly visual learners. 
  • ZuiTube: Youtube for children, ZuiTube would be a great video search tool, minimising the risks of inappropriate content with youtube. Videos are a great tool for student's to get an overview of a topic and to share ideas with schools from around the country and the world.