Education Online – Creating more effective ways of learning, or creating new complications in the classroom?


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  • Introduce myself.We’re seeing the development of a range of amazing new technologies and its potential use in education, but; is it creating more problems than its resolving?
  • It has become a common view in society that in this new, technological world, computers and the internet are essential to a child’s education. For example, the Australian Government’s Digital education revolution, the Logged On Foundation’s work and the One Laptop per child program are all endeavours to ensure that students in all different circumstances are able to access the internet for educational purposes. All these programs were developed because of the widespread attitude that; and this comes from the One Laptop Per Child website; that “Laptops are both a window and a tool: a window out to the world and a tool with which to think. They are a wonderful way for all children to learn learning through independent interaction and exploration.” ( And that sounds wonderful. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if you examine the realities of educational internet use, your experience may be more like mine..(pic).. So which is it? Is utilising online tools going to help children “learn learning through independent interaction and exploration”? Or is it going to create a world of complicated challenges for teachers in exchange for a minimal enhancement to curriculum delivery?
  • What exactly do I mean by education online? While there are many terms used to describe this kind of thing; e-learning, learning platforms, virtual learning environments, etc. But I’m talking specifically about using web utilities such as Wikipedia, googledocs, dropbox and blogging sites. And I’m talking about using them with K-6 students in Australian Public Schools.
  • I’m also talking about all those online learning programs like ABC’s Reading Eggs, Mathletics, Scholastic’s Lexile reading Framework and the Ed Alliance’s Accelerated Reader program. And that’s just a handful, there are loads of these kinds of programs out there. According to an analysis published by Edtech digest in June last year, the K-12 e-learning industry is going to grow to $69B worldwide by 2017. ( So it’s pretty much inevitable that we are going to be dealing with these sorts of programs and need to be able to evaluate them for their educational efficacy. What I am not talking about is student’s use of the internet as just an information source. Web 2.0 applications mean that we have moved beyond the idea of using the internet in education as a kind of replacement for encyclopaedias, to a place where these web utilities and platforms allow students to share, collaborate, create and evaluate their own and other’s work.
  • The belief that technology can positively impact student learning has ledmany governments to create programs for the integration of technology intheir schools (Brush and Hew, 2006). So where did this idea about online learning being critical to educational success come from anyway? Are these tools and programs actually creating more effective learning experiences for our students? The available research tends to focus on how much students use the computers available, not necessarily on the impact they have on student’s learning. It also tends to focus on secondary and tertiary settings, not so much on primary school.Even so, many researchers on the topic suggest that the use of these technologies is beneficial to students.Greenhow, Robelia and Hughes (2009) suggest that the kind of strong creative and participatory opportunities these programs offer “might promote potentially richer opportunities to make learning more personally meaningful, collaborative and socially relevant.” While Lei & Zhao (2008) state that “some programs can serve as the virtual playground where students can construct, explore and learn at their own pace.”
  • As I gave ABC’s Reading Eggs as an example, I thought I’d use their own words to explain the possible benefits of using these kinds of programs with our students; “Reading Eggs is a unique online world where children learn to read. It supports each child’s learning by offering individual, one-on-one lessons that allow children to progress at their own rate.” ( Admittedly, this is something we struggle with in a traditional classroom setting. Many schools use levelled reading programs which require constant teacher testing and the continual swapping and monitoring of books and other materials. This program does this with much less teacher effort. Similarly Mathletics claims to work towards engaging every student, every day with a personalised, responsive, intelligent and challenging learning resource that inspires a delight in mathematics and an innate drive to better results. So the pattern with these programs is the offer of a personal learning experience which caters to individual levels of achievement with a minimal amount of effort on the part of educators.
  • There is a good deal of research which is also documenting how all this fails to happen in schools. For years Larry Cuban has argued that teachers have so many students to teach, subjects to cover, and accountability demanded of them that it is simply too hard for teachers to incorporate computer use as a regular part of their instructional practice. Moreover, computers are “hard to master, hard to use, and often break down; therefore investing in having students use them frequently is hardly worthwhile.”(Cuban, 2000) By way of examining this breakdown, Ertmer’s (1999) categorisation of obstacles into first order and second order barriers is most useful. First order barriers relate to the physical computing environment, while second order barriers refer to the personal agency of the people involved in the computing environment. These barriers are enough to scare just about any teacher off using these tools in their teaching.
  • Without adequate hardware and software, there is littleopportunity for teachers to integrate technology into the curriculum.Access to technology is more than merely theavailability of technology in a school; it involves providing the proper amountand right types of technology in locations where teachers and students can use them.Teachers needed hours to preview and select web sites, ensure students can access them and prepare appropriate activities utilising them.Teachersneed adequate technical support to assist them in using different technologies.Employing a limited numberof technical support personnel (if any, if you’re in a school like mine) in a school severelyhinders teachers’ technology use. More often than not, these technicalsupport personnel are often overwhelmed by teacher requests, and can notrespond swiftly or adequately (Cuban et al., 2001).Technology-supported pedagogicalknowledge and skills, and technology-related-classroom management knowledge and skills has been identified as a major barrier totechnology integration. (Brush and Hew, 2006)
  • The second order barriers normally consist mainly of issues surrounding the teacher’s beliefs and attitudes towards using ICTs in their pedagogy. While this is certainly one reason for some teacher’s reluctance I am going to suggest a few more things fit into this category.The first order issue of teachers lacking the pedagogicalknowledge and skills, and technology-related-classroom management knowledge and skills encompasses so many challenges that it could almost be a category of itsown.Teaching and ensuring that students use all feedback capabilities in an appropriate and constructive way, teaching students to maintain and adjust the language they use to suit different contexts while maintaining standards of expression and grammar and trying to keep up with each new program being implemented means teachers and students both have large hurdles to jump before they get to any rich, effective learning outcomes.
  • Are there ways around these problems? Maybe if teachers had more quality training in how to combine the curriculum and the available online tools to create valuable learning processes they wouldn’t feel so intimidated and overwhelmed by the prospect. Also, training in how to deal with technology related classroom management situations might help teachers feel more ready to take on these new and challenging situations. To help manage time constraints and create an atmosphere of support, a concerted effort to cooperatively plan and implement these tools may help to encourage more staff.Utilising services such as Scootle can help create structured learning activities which address the curriculum needs of students.
  • It almostdoesn’t matter whether we think it’s worth it. It’s happening now. I don’t think after so much investment there can be any back pedalling. We need to find ways to work with what we’ve got; and if that’s not much then you can only expect students’ interactions with the technology to be superficial.
  • Unless you can fix the first order barriers, there’s no point in even talking about the second. In an ideal situation, you would have an environment where technology is abundant, the teachers have been fully trained in the most effective way to combine the technology with the curriculum and are also open to changes and developments in pedagogy.Computer use in and of itself will not create meaningful educational experiences. Need to make sure these programs are not simply add-ons to the curriculum but used in a structured way, designing our learning experiences so that e-learning tools are embedded in the curriculum
  • Education Online – Creating more effective ways of learning, or creating new complications in the classroom?

    1. 1. ETL523 – Digital Citizenship in SchoolsAssignment 1Education Online –Creating moreeffective ways oflearning, orcreating newcomplications inthe classroom?By Laura Caesar
    2. 2. Source: Education RevolutionStudents from Astam, Nepal usingcomputers installed by the LoggedOn FoundationSource: www.loggedon.orgLogged On FoundationNigerian pupils work on OLPC computers.Photograph: Afolabi Sotunde/ReutersOne Laptop Per Child Program
    3. 3. What do I mean when I say “EducationOnline”?Web utilities such as;
    4. 4. I also mean online learning programssuch as;
    5. 5. CreativeSo why is it so important for studentsto use this technology anyway?CollaborativeIndividual pace
    6. 6. Sounds pretty good, right?
    7. 7. So what’s goingwrong?!?!What are thesechallenges andwhere are theycoming from?secondorderbarriersFirst orderbarriers
    8. 8. •Insufficient computers,peripherals andsoftware•Access to availabletechnology•Lack of time•Lack of technicalsupportFirst orderbarriers•Lack of knowledgeand skills
    9. 9. •Teacher’sphilosophy andpedagogyPLUSsecondorderbarriers•Teaching andmonitoringappropriate use offeedback functions•Teaching students tomaintain standards ofexpression and grammar•Constant changes intrends mean constantchallenges to keep up todate
    10. 10. Possible Solutions?• More/better teacher training• Cooperative planning/pooling of resources,skills and ideas• Use resources such as Scootle to helpsupport curriculum links
    11. 11. Conclusions:Notworththetrouble?Theeducationalbenefits areworth it inthe end!
    12. 12. Conclusions/recommendationsCurriculum
    13. 13. Discussion questions• How do you feel about use of web utilities inteaching? Is it a case of trying to run before you canwalk?• Do you think one-to-one computing is necessary foreffective integration of these programs into a class?• Are we wasting our time trying to pressure reluctantteachers to change their attitudes towards usingthese tools?
    14. 14. Further ReadingBrush, T. & Hew, K. F. (2006) Integrating technology into K-12 teachingand learning: current knowledge gaps and recommendations forfuture research. Educational Technology Research andDevelopment, December 2006, pp. 224-252Greenhow, C., Robelia, B. & Hughes, J. E. (2009)Learning, Teaching, and Scholarship in a Digital Age : Web 2.0 andClassroom Research: What Path Should We Take Now? EducationalResearcher , 2009. 38: 246Ertmer, P. A. (1999) Addressing first- and second-order barriers tochange: Strategies for technology integration. Educational TechnologyResearch and Development 1999, Volume 47, Issue 4, pp 47-61
    15. 15. ReferencesOne Laptop Per Child. (n.d) Retrieved from Summary of Education Sectors. (2012) Retrieved from, T. & Hew, K. F. (2006) Integrating technology into K-12teaching and learning: current knowledge gaps andrecommendations for future research. EducationalTechnology Research and Development, December 2006, pp.224-252Greenhow, C., Robelia, B. & Hughes, J. E. (2009) Learning,Teaching, and Scholarship in a Digital Age : Web 2.0 andClassroom Research: What Path Should We Take Now?Educational Researcher , 2009. 38: 246
    16. 16. Lei, J & Zhao, Y. (2008) One-To-One Computing: What Does It Bring ToSchools? Journal of Educational Computing Research, Vol. 39(2) 97-122, 2008About Reading Eggs. (n.d.) Retrieved from, L. (2001). Oversold and underused: Computers in schools 1980-2000.Ertmer, P. A. (1999) Addressing first- and second-order barriers tochange: Strategies for technology integration. EducationalTechnology Research and Development 1999, Volume 47, Issue 4,pp 47-61Cuban, L., Kirkpatrick, H. & Peck, C. (2001) High Access and Low Use ofTechnologies in High School Classrooms: Explaining an ApparentParadox. American Educational Research Journal December 21,2001 vol. 38 no. 4 813-834References