Affordances and Constraints of Email and the Learning Theories Which Support the Use of ICT

Ryder and Wilson (1996) stated that the term affordance, coined by the psychologist James Gibson (1977), is used to describe a potential for action, enabling the actor to assert his will and further stated that affordances offer opportunities for action. Hammond, (2010) contended that affordances are emergent properties of objects and need to firstly be perceived in order to be realised.  He further linked the term affordances with ICT in saying that affordances is used in connection with the opportunities for action provided by various technologies. 

These opportunities for action enable students to collaborate with each other and experience active engagement which facilitates their learning. Constructivist theories which support learning through action are: The activity learning theory (EDTK 2030, Unit 2) which substantiates the fact that ICT tools allow learners to investigate phenomena such as microworlds, vodcasts and virtual environments, consequently building their understanding and changing their environments with intent as they act and Bruner’s discovery learning theory which suggests that students learn as they discover, experiment, manipulate and wrestle with questions.

Although affordances provide opportunities, (Hammond, 2010) contended that they also offer constraints as these two terms go hand in hand, complimenting each other.  For example, with the use of electronic mail in the classroom, teachers and students are afforded the opportunity of conveniently and almost instantaneously sending messages, files and pictures to one another about field trips and school projects which students can use to build portfolios and reflect upon how they are learning.  A constraint that can occur there in some cases is where the size of the files may be too large to send resulting in the user having to either obtain an alternative email address with another email service provider or send multiple files to ensure that the recipients receive them, two of which I can relate from personal experience.  Also, in implementing a solution to this constraint in a proactive way, I can ensure that my files are sent through the appropriate email service provider that supports large files so that time and effort will be saved.

Conclusion

In ICT, affordances provide opportunities for users of technology to act with intent, consequently enhancing their learning and changing their environment through manipulation, collaboration and investigation using ICT tools. Constructivist theories substantiate the fact that ICT tools allow users to learn as they actively participate and learn as they discover. Although affordances offer opportunities for learning, they are also accompanied by constraints as in the case of the use of email, where it affords fast delivery of content yet may not be able to allow the downloading and sending of large amounts of data at one time. This can easily be solved by either changing service providers which accommodate downloading of large files or by sending small amounts of data at one time.

References

EDTK 2030 (2014). Information and communiation technologies in education. Unit 2. Learning

Theories that guide ICT-Mediated learning. Essential reading. UWI Open Campus.

Hammond, M. (2010).What is an affordance and can it help us understand the use of ICT in

education?  Retrieved from:   

http://wrap.warwick.ac.uk/34602/1/WRAP_Hammond_9870626-ie-030511-

hammondaffordancejuly09.pdf

Ryder, M. and Wilson, B. (1996).Affordances and Constraints of the Internet for Learning and

Instruction. Retrieved from: http://carbon.ucdenver.edu/~mryder/aect_96.html

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Web 2.0 and Its Use in the Early Childhood Environment

Web 2.0 was officially coined in the year 2004 by Dale Dougherty (Anderson, 2007).  It is said to be a platform for ICT applications where users can send texts, create videos and add graphics through various ICT tools (EDTK 2030, Unit 4, p.97, 98). It also offers services such as blogs, wikis, multimedia sharing, content syndication, podcasting and content tagging (Anderson, 2007).

Anderson (2007) states that with Web 2.0, collaboration, contribution and community are the order of the day as barriers to participation are reduced. Web 2.0 offers innovative ways of creating, editing and sharing using presentation tools like prezi and slide share; video tools such as Animoto.com/education and photo peach; mobile tools like poll every where.com and phone.io;  and community tools such as Edmodo and Classroom 2.0.   These tools are very easy to access for both students and teachers and downloading is not necessary (Discovery Education).

Web 2.0 have always piqued my curiosity and as technology is rapidly evolving throughout many area of society, I considered the use of it in the early childhood classroom to be undoubtedly significant, relevant and appropriate for scaffolding children towards the technological challenges of tomorrow.  The advancement of technology has not ceased to fascinate me with the convenience it holds in regards to the unlimited access through various avenues in retrieving research material for educational purposes and the many ways it can assist children in new ways of learning while achieving the same developmental outcomes as traditional methods of teaching. Being a platform for ICT applications that can capture the intelligences of users and facilitate collaboration (EDTK 2030 Unit 4, p.97, as cited in Anderson, 2012), I strongly believe that Web 2.0 is a solid technological foundation from which I can introduce ICT in the classroom.

The curricular purpose of Web 2.0 and how it relates to learning theories.

The curricular purpose of using Web 2.0 centres around two theories.  The first being the philosophy of John Dewey (1859) who believed that children learn best as they cooperatively collaborate with others around them (Mooney, 2103) and secondly, the activity theory, which states that individuals learn by acting on and manipulating the physical entities in their environment (EDTK 2030, Unit 2, p. 39).  Using Web2.0 in the classroom can assist children in making sense of what is revolving around them as they utilize information to make connections with their real life situations. 

I can use Web 2.0 in the early children classroom to target and enhance children’s cognitive and affective learning domains, cater to their audio and visual learning styles and also enhance their imaginative and creative thinking skills and listening and speaking abilities.  For example, children can use the Web 2.0 tool Shidonni to create and care for a virtual pet; Voki, to create avatars, record their voices and carefully listen to them; Voice thread, to create their own stories, draw their own pictures and have conversations about them with children from other parts of the world and Glogster, to create online posters using various colours and graphics, write and record audio and video files (Karaoglu, 2010).

   

Conclusion

Web 2.0 offers easy access to various multimedia tools and social networking sites that allow users to contribute and collaborate with the wider community.  I can use Web 2.0 in the classroom to cater to children’s learning styles, enhance students’ learning domains, imaginative and creative thinking skills as well as speaking and listening abilities.

References

Anderson, P. (2007). What is Web 2.0? Ideas, technologies and implications for education.

Retrieved from: http://www.jisc.ac.uk/media/documents/techwatch/tsw0701b.pdf

Discovery Education. Web 2014: Web 2.0 tools.  Retrieved from :

http://web2014.discoveryeducation.com/web20tools.cfm

EDTK 2030 (2014).  Information and communications technologies in education. Unit 2.

Learning theories that guide ICT-mediated learning (p.39) [Essential reading]. UWI Open

Campus.

EDTK 2030 (2014).  Information and communications technologies in education. Unit 4.

Educational  Application of Web 2.0 tools (p. 97,98). [Essential reading]. UWI Open Campus.

Karaoglu, O. (2010). Teaching Village. Moving your Kindergarten into Web 2.0 with 5 different

tools.  Retrieved from: http://www.teachingvillage.org/2010/03/09/moving-your-kindergarten-into-web-2-0-with-5-different-tools-by-ozge-karaoglu/

Mooney, C. G. (2013). Theories of childhood. An introduction to Dewey, Montessori, Erikson,

Piaget and Vygotsky. Second edition: Redleaf Press.

An Example of a Discovery Learning Lesson or Lesson Plan Using the Internet

Discovery learning and its relevance to ICT mediated instruction

Sviniki. D.M. (1998) stated that discovery learning focuses on active involvement where learning is more meaningful as learners actively engage in problem solving while making connections based on their own prior knowledge.  The use of ICT tools for instruction offers users this opportunity to partake in discovery learning, through active participation as they manipulate the various digital media tools to research, solve problems and make connections while they explore the world around them.

Discovery learning online lesson plan

This is a link found online for a science lesson plan which incorporates discovery learning and ICT. 

http://www.teach-nology.com/lessons/lsn_pln_view_lessons.php?action=view&cat_id=8&lsn_id=25370

In this lesson, students will name the four seasons and be able to create a basic web using the ICT tool Kidspiration. They will explain the differences among the four seasons while completing graphic organizers as they match seasons to the names, add clips and change texts.  Some other ICT tools they will use are the LCD projector, and the interactive Smart Board which will ask students background information about the seasons.

Strategy and assessment

The teacher will first create a web while students observe the method and tools used to create it. They will then proceed, by working in pairs to construct their own web using Kidspiration. They will also learn how to save work for later retrieval.  In assessing such learning, students will be asked questions related to the topic to ensure that they have an understanding of what is being taught while I give feedback and assist them in using the ICT tools.

An area they will problem solve, discover new connections and construct new thinking

Learners will have the opportunity to problem solve by matching up the four seasons to their names using the graphic organizer.  They will construct new models of thinking as they attempt to discover and determine the differences among the seasons and try to make connections with their real life experiences using the ICT tools to facilitate the learning process.

References

Bellow, A. (2012). Seasons: Making a graphic organizer. Available online at http://www.teach-nology.com/lessons/lsn_pln_view_lessons.php?action=view&cat_id=8&lsn_id=25370

Svinicki, M. D. (1998). A theoretical foundation for discovery learning. Retrieved online from:

http://advan.physiology.org/content/ajpadvan/275/6/S4.full.pdf

An Educational Wiki Site, Its Objectives, User Friendliness and Inherent Features & Ways it Can Be Improved

Wikis permit collaboration and interaction as authors select materials, revise, reflect, edit and publish, all which help develop thinking skills. EDTK 2030, Unit 5, p 111 as cited in Berger and Trexler, 2010).  This is a link to an educational wiki that fosters collaboration

http://discoveryisms.wikispaces.com/home#The Discovery -Ism Project-Questions, Collaboration, and Support

This wiki aims to encourage students to know who they are and stand up for what they believe in. It aims to foster confidence at an early age to prepare students to enter high school with a clear affirmation of what they stand for. The features which are inherent on the wiki itself allows for the collaboration process to take place among students, for example, the side bar provides the links by which these discussions and collaborations can take place. There is also a search bar and links to recent changes, pages and files and members. Some other inherent features on the home page are the table of contents, and links for notifications, RSS feeds,discussion viewing and editing. 

Although these inherent features make for easy navigation, some ways it can be improved upon are to include links for plagiarism checks and to also include extra security to prevent vandalism and inappropriate content and links from other users.

 

Reference

EDTK 2030 (2014) Information and Communication Technologies in Education. Unit 4. Educational application of web 2.0 Tools (p.111). [Essential Reading] UWI Open Campus.

How ICT Based Instruction Can Be Used to Develop the Critical Thinking Skill of Analysis

According to the University of Western Sydney, critical thinking is a lifelong learning process which enables a person to think outside the box and which can lead to the development of judgment, evaluation and problem solving abilities. The Merriam Webster online dictionary defines analysis to be the careful study of something in order to learn about parts, what they do and how they are related to each other.  It is crucial for students to build upon this critical thinking skill and this can be done very effectively with the use of web 2.0 ICT tools in the classroom while performing different learning activities.

It is important to build and develop a person’s analytical thinking so that he can succeed in many areas of his life in regards to making sound judgments and good decisions. According to Tsalapatas, Heidmann, Alimisi, Tsalapatas, Florou, and Houstis (n.d.), the analytical thinking skill functions to aid the individual in achieving excellence in professional, personal, civic and social fields of his life.  Tsalapatas et. al (n.d.)  also explained that when individuals engage in activities which involve analytical thinking at an early stage, those individuals can become future citizens who can adequately evaluate alternatives and make sound decisions. 

In the grade two classrooms, for example, a teacher can utilize ICT at this early stage to help foster analytical thinking by allowing students to engage in the use of web 2.0 tools like blogs and wikis in their learning activities. For example, she can use wikis so that students can engage in collaborative authoring (Parker and Chao, 2007 as cited in Keairns, 2006) as they post their work on the site, allowing comments from other members. In doing so, individuals can have the opportunity to analyse others’ work by comparing the similarities and differences of what was posted to initial postings, which can result in students having to perform new research to formulate and produce alternative conclusions.

Blogs can also be used to encourage analytical thinking by providing students the opportunity to write a journal of their thoughts on subject areas, permitting them to reflect and carefully analyse those thoughts as well as analyse comments made by other individuals.  Richardson (2010) stated that the use of blogs helps students to learn how to read more critically and think about what they read more analytically, consequently resulting in more clear writing.

References

Definition of Analysis. Retrieved from The Merriam Webster dictionary online at http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/analysis

Develop Your Skills in Critical Thinking and Analysis. Retrieved from http://www.uws.edu.au/hall/hall/critical_thinking

Parker, K. R., & Chao, J. T. (2007). Wiki as a Teaching Tool.Interdisciplinary Journal of Knowledge and Learning Objects,3.  Retrieved from http://technostrategies4literacy.pbworks.com/f/Using+a+Wiki+as+a+teaching+tool.pdf

Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, wikis, podcasts and other powerful web tools for classrooms. 3rd ed: Sage.

Tsalapatas, H., Heidmann, O., Alimisi, R., Tsalapatas, S., Florou, C., and Houstis, E. (n.d.) Visual Programming towards the Development of Early Analytical and Critical Thinking. Retrieved from:http://conference.pixelonline.net/edu_future/common/download/Paper_pdf/LGA06Tsalapatas,Tsalapatas,Heidmann,Alimisi,Florou.pdf

The Relevance of Situated Cognition Theory for ICT-Mediated Instruction

Situated learning theory, also known as situated learning, encompasses the act of learning by performing rather than by knowing.  The nature of the situated learning theory is based on the premise that persons learn within the context of what they are currently experiencing or doing at a particular time and place and they learn authentically as they put into practice previous knowledge they had acquired.  This theory postulates that a person’s knowledge is lodged in the context in which it was learned (Brown, Collins & Duguid, 1989). Brown et al. further expounded on the theory by giving a relevant example. They explained that proficient readers know very well that words are situated and the only way to fully interpret the meanings of them is to use them in context. They expressed that “Learning from dictionaries, like any method that tries to teach abstract concepts independently of authentic situations, overlooks the way understanding is developed through continued situated use” (p. 33). 

According to Semin and Smith (2013), cognition is embodied and situated.  A person cannot gain meaning by groups of abstract features and disengagement with objects; meaning is determined by the way in which a person interacts with these objects and the way in which they experience these abstract features in context.  They further stated that cognition does not only refer to the processes of brain activity alone but utilizes the brain’s resources, together with the body and the environment to come to a full understanding of a situation or a concept.

In view of the meaning of cognition and how it is situated, the situated cognition theory can influence ICT-mediated instruction in a social perspective.  Educators can put this theory into practice by exposing students to a number of ICT tools to encourage meaningful interaction and active engagement among their peers and the wider world, giving students the opportunity to create their own knowledge and to have authentic experiences of abstract concepts.  This theory can have an influence over many subject areas and can take away the boredom and tedium of rote learning, replacing it with genuine learning experiences. Embi and Yunus (2012), as cited in Lorain (n.d.) stated that students’ active engagement in their learning allows for the processing and retaining of information and the practice of higher order thinking and when teachers promote active engagement with relevant activities, students become interested and learning is fun.  The use of wikis is a very effective way to encourage social interaction and active engagement for authentic learning.  Wikis are specifically designed for peer collaboration and presents the opportunity for students to reflect with their colleagues (Ferriter, 2009).  Another collaborative ICT tool which can encourage authentic learning is Google apps.  Google Apps such as shared notes, virtual art gallery, interactive whiteboard and sharing learning ( Miller, 2014) are some of the mediums students can also use to connect and share information with other students in their classrooms as well as with others throughout the globe.  As they share in this way with others, they get the chance to apply their knowledge to many different situations and contexts. These collaborative and interactive ICT tools all provide opportunities for students to experience situated cognition in the social perspective where they learn through continuous relationships with others.

References

Brown, J. S., Collins, A., & Duguid, P. (1989). Situated cognition and the culture of learning.

Educational researcher, 18(1), 32-34. Retrieved from:  http://www.jstor.org.library.open.uwi.edu/stable/pdfplus/1176008.pdf?acceptTC=true&jpdConfirm=true

Ferriter, B. (2009) Educational leadership. Learning with blogs and wikis. Retrieved from:

http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/feb09/vol66/num05/Learning-with-blogs-and-Wikis.aspx

Kean, A. C., Embi, M. A., & Yunus, M. M. (2012). Incorporating ICT tools in an active

engagement strategy-based classroom to promote learning awareness and self-monitoring. International Education Studies, 5(4), 139-149. Retrieved from: http://search.proquest.com/docview/1034108219?accountid=42537

Miller, M. (2014) Ditch that textbook. 20 collaborative google apps activities for schools.

Retrieved from: http://ditchthattextbook.com/2014/02/03/20-collaborative-google-apps-activities-for-schools/

Semin, G., & Smith, E. R. (2013). Socially situated cognition in perspective. Social

Cognition, 31(2), 125-146. doi:http://dx.doi.org/101521soco2013312125 Retrieved from: http://search.proquest.com.library.open.uwi.edu/docview/1322960516?accountid=42537

How You Can Incorporate Blogs, Wikis, and Social Networks as Affordances in Your Subject Areas and Among Your Unique Set of Learners

Blogs can aid in the learning process by promoting critical and analytical thinking.  They also encourages creativity and foster analogical thinking.  These processes are achieved when learners reflect on and respond to posts and comments (EDTK 2030, Unit 4, p.102 as cited in Richardson, 2010).  Teachers can  use blogs as a means of enhancing social and emotional development by creating the opportunity for them to talk about issues of concern in the blogs, for example in the subject area of social studies where they encounter many issues of social concerns like crime and poverty.

Wiki, on the other hand was not intended for the expression of personal feelings but for the allowance of a pool of authors to integrate information and create a site (EDTK 2030, Unit 4, p. 109 as cited in Klobas, 2006) however, like blogs, they also encourage critical thinking skills as students take action in selecting materials ascertaining its relevance, then write, revise, reflect, edit and publish the end result.  Teachers can use Wikis in the classroom to allow students to share collected data for group projects, prepare reports and exchange ideas (EDTK 2030, Unit 4, p. 111,112 as cited in Berger and Trexler, 2010). Wikis can be used for many subject areas like science, English literature and information and communication technology.

Another affordance that technology could offer in the classroom is the use of social networking sites.  For example, Youtube can be used to view many educational videos on various subject areas and Edmodo could afford teachers the means of discussing these subject areas with students.  Assignments and homework can be given through Edmodo and feedback can also be shared to improve learning outcomes.

Reference

EDTK 2030 (2014) Information and Communication Technology in Education. Unit four. Educational application of Web 2.0 tools (pp. 102, 111, 112). [Essential reading]. UWI Open Campus.

Why Authenticity of Information is so Important & How We Ensure that our Students are Finding Suitable and Reliable Information from the Internet

The authenticity of information within the educational realm is vital to the authenticity of student’s learning. Accurate educational information could determine if a student is gaining opportunities to create meaning and connect with the wider world or if they are just barely taking in any information for mere meaningless discussions.  If the information is not authentic, chances for building their own knowledge could be very slim as they could miss out on genuine instances to think critically, manipulate, evaluate and utilize data, all of which could assist in enhancing their cognitive development. 

Some ways teachers can ensure that students are finding reliable information from the internet are by asking them to: compare and contrast the information they retrieve; make sure the authors names are given and they are qualified, observe grammatical errors in the text and make sure the information represents facts and is not opinionated (MacDonald, n.d.).

Reference: 

MacDonald, B.W. (n.d.) Research using the internet. Retrieved online from: http://www.writing.utoronto.ca/advice/reading-and-researching/research-using-internet

Two Types of ICT Tools That Can Be Used in the Classroom

ICT tools give users the opportunity to enhance and facilitate learning in the classroom. These tools align with constructivist theories to assist in students’ mental processing.  Two tools that are used int he classroom are search engines and podcasts. Search engines, for example google and bing allow students to specifically search and critique resources found on the internet. (EDTK 2030, unit 1). Podcasts allow for recording and downloading of information that can be edited for presentation. Students can use podcasts to have interactive discussions by critically analysing and commenting on the content with their peers.

Theorists like Vygotsky and Bruner posit that students learn best when they take an active role in their learning (EDTK, 2030, Unit 2) and these two ICT tools provide the platform for that.

References:

EDTK 2030, (2014). Information and Communication Technologies in Education. Unit 1. Essential readings. UWI Open Campus.

EDTK 2030, (2014). Information and Communication Technologies in Education. Unit 2. Essential readings. UWI Open Campus.

The Concept of Convergence as it Applies to ICT

Raja and Singh (2010) defines convergence as it pertains to ICT as “the erosion of boundaries between previously separate ICT services, networks and business practices.” Many technologies have converged in recent times to form single devices which has the advantages of separate technologies (EDTK 2030, unit 1). These devices can be seen in the school environment and can possess great benefits, aiding in the field of communication, provided that the implementation of these devices lack certain impediments such as traditional views, untrained staff and inadequate financial resources.

Technological innovation in the classroom is fast becoming the norm as digital devices are being utilized daily for various educational purposes.  For example, at my practicum site, I have seen the laptop being used frequently by the teacher to conduct all of her activities as the children had the advantage of experiencing visual and audio, catering for their different learning styles.  I also saw the tablet being used very conveniently in the outdoor area as it was easy to carry around and which provided typing as well as stylus functions.

There are a few institutional factors which can impede the implementation of technology in the classroom. One of them is that administration may not consider the use of it a priority as they may choose to maintain the traditional ways of instructing with the belief that they have functioned very well thus far without it. 

Another impediment is the absence of trained teachers in the field of technology. Although teachers may desire to implement a vast array of technology into their classrooms, they may not be prepared to efficiently instruct students on the proper use of the devices so that they can receive the full benefits of them.

Financial inadequacy can also pose as a hindrance in the implementation of technology in the classroom. Most often, administration and staff may be very open minded and willing to introduce technology to students to assist in their knowledge of it and to help them stay abreast of what is happening around them but are faced with financial burden causing a great obstacle in their path to advancement in that area.

Boundaries are continuously being eroded in the field of technology for purposes such as convenience and better communication and educational institutions are incorporating such technologies as they converge to make good use of the advantages, however, the presence of impediments can pose as a setback to enjoying the full benefits of the convergence of technologies.

References

Singh, R., and Raja, S. (2010). Convergence in information and communication technology: strategic and regulatory considerations.  Retrieved from http://elibrary.worldbank.org/doi/book/10.1596/978-0-8213-8169-4

EDTK 2030. Information and communication technology in education. Unit 1 (2014). University of the West Indies Open Campus.