Lost in the plethora of software applications available? Instructional YouTube videos don’t provide you with enough information? Don’t have time to investigate the original website to gain an understanding of the basic concept and purpose of an app? Have absolutely no idea if the app you chose for your assignment can do what you THINK it can do? Then visit Mrs Trichler’s Wikispace ! Look to the menu on the left-hand side and click through the apps as she explains clearly for the beginning novice just some of those available (with a simple idiot’s guide to show you how they work too). There’s even helpful information about setting up your PLN and links to so many relevant ICT-in-education websites. Most importantly (for me) is the tips on how to use the ICT in transforming student learning! BAZINGA !!
Frustrating isn’t it when resources linked on study desk require you to pay or join some agency which you’d really rather not, or it’s in a book you can’t afford to buy and there’s no university campus nearby? In the mad dash of finishing assignment before deadline I found the actual paper on the RAT framework and this site also recommends other articles to help your understanding. I also found a BLOG (how exciting my first official professionally relevant blog) Digital Literacy Blog, which provides further information on this framework, and oh so much more.
While I find the framework easy to understand in theory, I have some difficulty in putting it into practice – especially when I am so addicted to the novelty of so many new software applications. These toys … er … tools are simple replacement and amplication of old pen-and-paper techniques but I think I need more playtime … er … experience with them to be able to explore and apply the transforming part of the framework. Something which I hope these resources will help me achieve along the windy road to ICT-land.
If you are like me and totally clueless as to the wealth of software apps available out there for education with no time to research blindly (I have only just discovered “snipping tool” myself – it’s much like “paint” and it’s already loaded onto my computer, who knew right?!), here’s a little helping hand I found by accident. Ok I didn’t find it by accident, I found it on a Facebook networking page but I will share that with you later … see Educational Technology and Mobile Learning. Here’s some little snippets of just some of the astoundingly useful info to guide the technology-and-time-challenged that will help you in your assignment (and teaching profession) :
My local library also offers links to two educational areas where you can further your training in technology FREE and possibly even obtain certificates (which would look great on your resume). Especially useful for when those YouTube videos simply do not go in-depth enough. Check out your own public library online to see what’s out there – all you need is your library card! Lynda.com is connected with LinkedIn and what you can teach yourself about technology from The Computer School. Net is absolutely amazing. You may never leave your computer. You can even learn to set up your own Moodle for teaching in class (I can hear you groan from here!)
I don’t own an iPad. I don’t own an iPhone (holy heck batman they cost more than my car). I don’t even own a microwave. My own children’s’ schools and my prac schools so far don’t even have iPads. An IWB (when it works) is advanced as their ICT gets (with a technician only employed a couple of days a week). Needless to say I am feeling out of my depth as I read fellow students’ blogs on all the digital devices they use at home and work. Things I’ve never heard of, concepts I can’t even begin to .. well … conceptualise. Then I worry about the adverse effect of the digital divide on students (and my own children) – will we be able to cope and compete in the 21st century without these skills? How do we, as teachers, bridge this gap without funding and finances? How do we teach ourselves?
Your Public Library has the answer! Self-discovery online has been such a wonderful adventure. Check out your local library, mine (which has online access so I can sit at home and reserve the latest Game of Thrones DVD for free!) has different computing groups offering FREE courses. Tech Savvy runs several FREE courses on basic introduction to computers, iPads, smart phones and the like (I have enrolled in everything). DigiTech meets monthly for a Chat Group and follows the interests of members in addition to holding FREE courses. Currently they are running a term-long course on Lego Mindstorm which is currently being taught in schools as part of the new Digital Technologies curriculum. I have attended one such course myself where I experienced the joys of Ozbots and Scratch Coding and Spheros and joy of joys we got to open and play with the brand new Lego Mindstorm. As much fun as they are as ‘toys’ I was absolutely amazed at how many different learning areas we covered through self-discovery and exploration in completing the challenges. (Guess what Santa is bringing us this Christmas – for the kids, of course, wink wink).
As pre-service teachers we do not have access to Professional Developments nor are these learning areas taught at university level and many of us cannot afford to pay for courses. However, we can upgrade our skills for the future by undertaking some of these wonderful free opportunities open to the public. Or taking our kids. Or keeping our potential students up-to-date on what is available for them outside of school, especially if it is FREE. Or, if you are like me and are a hands-on visual learner, these courses are so much more beneficial than simply googling YouTube for a quick demo.
Side Trip: how ironic that we can utilise ICT to interest our students in reading! Through sourcing the public library online our kids can look for their favourite interests (such as the latest Minecraft book on hacking and tricks), reserve it and then read it at home at leisure.
After days of frustration in simply setting up the blog then feeling successful at these accomplishments, the road takes a sudden dive downhill comparing my efforts to others whose blogs appear so professional. The frustration factor is further exacerbated by the purchase of a new computer with the ‘new’ Windows 10 – how much do we rely on visuals and habits and when things change and update we are knocked off course. If only someone would come and show me what I can’t do and point me in the right direction would save so much time and frustration. The lightbulb flashes and dings as I realize this is now the way of the 21st century – to be an effective user of digital technologies we need to be able to solve problems ourselves, there is no teacher or technician handy to help and it is up to ourselves to find the right path. And as teachers it will be our responsibility to teach these life-long skills to our future students.
No time like the present! Just how much do you really know about the basics of setting up and maintaining your own personal computer? Taking a little side trip into investigating how to protect my identity online I found this little gem Stay Smart Online that teaches me all I need to know. An article in the local newspaper led me to a FREE (my favourite four-letter word) course on Computer Security through the University of the Third Age (U3A) (check your local area and papers for what’s available near you). For two hours I was personally trained (for free) by an experienced professional, Anne Moffat, who is an amazing role model and inspiring person and, who, at the age of 75 is still teaching teachers about ICT. Not to mention her ground-breaking experience in entering a male-dominated career (she even babysat the future inventor of the WWW/worldwide web!).
Side Trip: if you know of anyone similar to Anne Moffat please share as I would like to compile a list of role models that have broken gender and age barriers for my future students to research.