Week 8 – Voki

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This week I tried my hand at Voki. Voki is an online resource that allows the user to make customised speaking characters. Never before had I heard of Voki, and after watching a fellow student’s presentation I thought it would be an interesting tool to learn.

Voki 3

After doing some research on my chosen organisation Global Poverty Project, I opted to type my text and have the program speak for me. This option was relatively easy, although the voices did tend to sound a little robotic. I found the program extremely user friendly. One restriction with the free sign up was that only a limited amount of text was allowable, therefore I had to cull a good portion of my text. This isn’t necessarily such a bad thing, as student’s reviewing and conciseness skills can be honed. Again because the program was surprisingly easy to use, this continues to increase my confidence with trying out new technologies.

Click here to view my Voki presentation on the Global Poverty Project.

I can envisage Voki being effective for Languages other than English (LOTE) students, as the user can type their chosen text in English, and then select the speech to be translated into one of many other languages. As the program is quite simple to use, it would be a rather quick and engaging tool for students to utilise to present their work.

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Week 7 – Sploder

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An interesting fact I learnt this week: there are approximately half a billion people worldwide now playing video or computer games for at least one hour per day (McGonigal, 2010). Wow, makes me think that if so many people love to play these games in their spare time, they would be pretty keen to play them in an educational setting too.

This week saw us use Sploder to create our own online game. The tool was user-friendly, engaging, and fun! It was fascinating to reminisce playing video games as a child back in the 1980’s, and to realise how far technology has come that I was now making a similar game myself – and quite easily at that. I thought my game was rather well made until I compared it to some other student’s games that quite frankly were much better. Next time around I would plan my game out more purposefully, try to make it more complex, and add multiple levels.

It is interesting to note how creating something like this empowers you to keep trying new things. You realise that maybe what you thought was too difficult and way above your skill set, is actually within your realm of possibility. I can see how this would translate into the classroom; that by students using a game creation program such as this would give them the motivation and empowerment to strive further and believe that they too can achieve what they previously thought impossible.

Online gaming can also be applied as a means to teach students. Arizona State University’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College uses game-infused virtual learning program Quest2Teach. Another web-based program students use in Australia is Study Ladder. It covers all areas of the curriculum and includes interactive games, video lessons, worksheets and assessments. The aim of this program, as with most other online gaming programs, is to encourage student’s passion for learning simply by making it fun.

If you’re not now convinced about the benefits of using gaming for learning, check out the following infographic.

The photo “final_info” (PIXELearning, 2012)

References

McGonigal, J. (2010, February). Gaming can make a better world [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/jane_mcgonigal_gaming_can_make_a_better_world#t-336587

PIXELearning. (2012). final_info [Image]. Retrieved from https://pixelearning.wordpress.com/page/2/

Week 6 – Scratch

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In order to develop digital fluency and not just digital literacy, as teachers we need to understand the vast array of different technologies available. Exposing these different technologies to students ensures their digital experiences will be expanded and challenged (Howell, 2012). One such different technology is Scratch. Scratch indeed expanded my personal digital experience by creating an animation that included movement, sound and text. I thoroughly enjoyed creating my animation. It was inspiring to preview the animation as it was being created, which increased my motivation to try new things and just “give it a go”. I believe many students would react similarly and enjoy the experimental nature of the tool.

Watch this informative video to find out more about Scratch, and interestingly, what some kids think of the program.

(Chris Betcher, 2013)

Using Scratch in future I’d like to experiment by creating a game – perhaps a troll will not let a rabbit cross the bridge until it has answered a mathematical question. However using Scratch is probably not so much about the end product and how that is used – it is more about the process of creation. The problem solving and mathematical skills, and the logic and reasoning used by the creator in order to program the animation (Betcher, 2010). Again students are learning by doing, which appears to be a common theme in the digital learning arena.

References

Betcher, C. (2010, October 26). Teaching kids to think using Scratch. [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://chrisbetcher.com/2010/10/teaching-kids-to-think-using-scratch/

Chris Betcher. (2013, March 9). Teaching Kids To Think Using Scratch [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1qwbVGUeW2w#t=67

Howell, J. (2012). Teaching with ICT: Digital pedagogies for collaboration and creativity. South Melbourne, VIC: Oxford.

Week 5 – Pinterest

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Week 5 saw us create Pinterest boards on the topic of the different digital information types we encounter. Again, I had never used Pinterest prior to this week so it was another learning curve for me. I experienced many difficulties with this Pinterest task. From sites not having images to pin, to error messages when trying to pin. I eventually added the Pin It button to my browser which made it somewhat easier to pin, however it then promptly disappeared! By actually using Pinterest on a regular basis and with more trial and error, I believe I will become more digitally fluent in this area. On the upside, many of the Pinterest sites other students posted looked fantastic. There were great links to digital information sites and to teaching with technology sites.

Click here to view my Pinterest Digital Information board.

Reflecting on this task I believe the best way to use Pinterest is to create a board, and then add to it over time with quality pins that are well tied to your topic.

Pinterest can be used in a myriad of ways in the classroom. Teachers can search for lesson plan ideas and templates, pin inspirational quotes for their students, and provide suggested reading materials. Students are able to pin works that inspire them – for example a mood board, and also showcase their own projects (“The teachers guide to Pinterest”, 2012).

Here is an example of a useful and well planned Pinterest board, centered around Pinterest in education.

Reference

The teachers guide to Pinterest. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.edudemic.com/guides/the-teachers-guide-to-pinterest/

Week 4 – Infographics

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An infographic was created in week 4 about the digital divide. I had never heard of the term infographic prior to this, and when I looked up some examples online I was excited to create one of my own. To get an overall idea of infographics I viewed a tutorial which recommended online graphic tool Canva. Research needed to be completed prior to creating the infographic, and the data had to be reliable.

Upon completion of my infographic and comparison to other infographics posted on the discussion board, I found that my infographic was too long and thin in size which I believe made it more difficult to read. Many students used Pictochart which I thought used very effective methods of presenting information. I would definitely like to try out Pictochart next time.

My infographic – The Great Digital Divide

Digital Divide

Infographics are an effective way to visually present information to students, as they are able to take in a great deal of information about a subject at a glance. I found that by creating the infographic I was able to retain the data better than if I were just reading it in a textbook by using my cognitive skills to analyse and interpret. Therefore students would benefit in the same way by creating an infographic themselves.

When creating future infographics, I will be following this handy guide of 5 Steps to Creating a Powerful Infographic.

Week 3 – Cyber Safety

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Week 3 was centered around the dangers of the digital world – including identity theft, scammers and cyber bullying. I chose to focus on social media security as I had come across an article in the Daily Life, Role-playing with stolen baby photographs, that really alarmed me. This is where random baby photos are stolen off social media sites and re-posted to baby role-playing sites. Site members (strangers) then make seemingly innocent comments such as “cute baby” or “baby needs bottle”, however the comments can become sexual and/or violent in nature.

Prior to Week 3, I have to admit I was rather complacent with my security and privacy settings on Facebook. I regularly post pictures of my sons (ages 2 and 3) going about their everyday lives, mainly because I have close relatives that live overseas. I hadn’t given much thought to the possibility of their images being used for untoward purposes, especially given the fact that they were always fully clothed in them.

It is important that both teachers and students regularly check Facebook security and privacy policies as they do change from time to time. Also it is good practice to regularly check these settings and edit if needed due to the changing nature of privacy policies.

I used Padlet to complete this week’s learning activity.

Check out this list of 10 tips to protect your privacy on Facebook.

Upon reading this and other useful articles, I know I will be creating specific friends lists that I share my photos with. However the main take away for me is – if you don’t think it’s suitable for everyone to see, don’t upload it!