Reflective Synopsis

Communication technology has radically changed the ways in which we communicate and learn (Smith, Lynch & Knight, 2007). Contemporary society is marked by dramatic socio-economic changes (Smith & Lynch, 2006). Educators need to assist learners to cope with an ever-changing world. The constant emergence of new technologies means that students need to quickly adapt their skills to utilise the latest information and communication tools.

Incorporating information communication technology into learning experiences enables students to access vast amounts of information and collaborate in highly effective and innovative ways (Smith, Lynch & Knight, 2007). Technology provides students with opportunities to participate in activities that involve active cognitive processes, such as creating, problem solving, reasoning, decision-making and evaluating (Kearsley & Schneiderman, 1999).

This course has provided me with many tools, which can be used to facilitate highly effective learning experiences, that will equip students with the skills to cope in a rapidly changing world. Prior to beginning the course I had used some of the technological tools that we were required to investigate. However, I had not examined these tools through an educational lens. I discovered the versatility and possibilities of a myriad of technological tools.

The Active Learning and ICT design framework and Kearsley and Schneiderman’s Engagement theory acknowledge the need for educators to incorporate technology into learning experiences. The ICT design framework emphasises the need for ICT learning experiences to be carefully designed and facilitated through effective learning resources, tasks and supports (Oliver, 1999). Kearsley and Schneiderman’s Engagement Theory suggests that learners need to be engaged in meaningful, collaborative, creative and self-directed experiences involving technology (Kearsley and Schneiderman, 1999).

Throughout this course I have examined a variety of technologies which, when used according to the Engagement Theory and ICT design framework, can be used to facilitate effective learning experiences. Killen (2007) suggests that learning experiences that involve problem-solving, reasoning, decision making, critical reflection and evaluation promote higher-order thinking. These processes are central to Kearsley and Schneiderman’s Engagement theory (1999). According to Education Queensland higher-order thinking involves “... the transformation of ideas and knowledge” (2002, p.1). When technology is used in collaborative ways to encourage students to reflect, explain, create, problem-solve and synthesise ideas, it can be an extremely effective means of facilitating learning experiences which promote higher-order thinking.

By critically examining technological tools, I have discovered that ICT’s are not a ‘magic pedagogical wand’. ICT’s may not always create engaging, meaningful and effective learning experiences. However, using ICT’s to support meaningful learning experiences that are linked to ‘real world’ contexts can enhance learning (Kearsley & Schneiderman, 1999). Learning experiences which involve ICT’s require careful planning and reflection. Teachers need to identify the purpose and effectiveness of technological tools before utilising them in the classroom.

After evaluating the technological tools outlined in the course, I believe that the most versatile tools are Blogs, Wikis, Interactive Whiteboards, Websites, Podcasting, Webquests, VoiceThread and Learning Management Systems. Critically analysing these tools enabled me to identify how they can support effective pedagogical practices. These tools enable users to upload and interact with a range of resources. However, the effectiveness of these tools can be limited by unengaging and irrelevant learning experiences. When these tools are implemented correctly, they can facilitate collaborative, creative and authentic learning experiences which align with Kearsley and Schneiderman’s Engagement Theory (1999).

Tools such as Vokis, Powerpoints, Flickr, YouTube, Picnik, animations and simulations, online quizzes, GoogleEarth, MediaFire, online music and SPARK, can be used in isolation or in conjunction with more versatile tools to enhance learning experiences. These tools may not be used as a focus for a learning experience. However, they are still valuable resources that can be used as a ‘hook’ to engage students, encourage creativity and higher-order thinking. According to the ICT design framework these tools can be valuable learning resources that support learners to conduct tasks (Oliver, 1999).

I have also pushed myself to discover new technological tools such as Wordle, Image Chef, Flickr tools, Infographic videos, Rubistar, ZinePal and Glogster. These tools can also be used to support engaging and meaningful learning experiences.

Participating in the discussion forums for this course and commenting and receiving comments on blogs enabled me to reach deeper understandings. Online collaboration provided me with opportunities to question, reflect and discover different perspectives.

According to Kearsley and Schneiderman (1999) learners need to be engaged for effective learning to occur. Learning experiences which facilitate high levels of engagement involve collaboration and authentic problems. These learning experiences must be supported by meaningful and effective resources and supports (Oliver, 1999). By incorporating the ICT learning design framework (1999) and Kearsley and Schneiderman’s engagement theory (1999) into pedagogical practices educators can facilitate highly effective learning experiences. To equip learners with the skills to cope with a rapidly changing world create engaging learning experiences, learning managers must incorporate ICT’s into learning experiences.


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