Reflective Feedback

July 8, 2011 at 9:23 pm (Assignment 2, Web 2.0, Wiki)

Well, what a journey! From digital immigrant to digital native in one go – or maybe not! If this course has taught me anything it is that the future of online education is not a simple as picking up a phone and ‘connecting’ to the world.

As you have seen in my presentation, the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) currently utilises a traditional instructor centred educational model. Both staff and students are very familiar and comfortable with this method and consequently resist any new approaches that may change what they know. This challenging environment therefore  required a robust and forward looking framework in order to meet the organisation’s requirements for today and tomorrow. My framework has its foundation in constructivism, where the learner is allowed to build upon existing  knowledge through contextual experiences (Kearsley, 2011). Other elements such as Social Constructivism, and Communities of Practice  seek to allow social engagement beyond the learner, and into the wider community.

The concept map (CMap) was intended to show the interactions between the framework and Web 2.0 technology. In contrast to my earlier maps (Assignment 1) I had intentionally simplified this CMap in an attempt to distil the essence of the concepts being explored. I found that the previous maps, although detailed and accurate, were only decipherable to the creator – me! Using this approach I was able to identify three key concepts that the framework and Web 2.0 both allowed;

  • Empowering staff and students
  • Teaching the method, not just the message
  • Creating communities

At this rate no-one was going to get a drink at the SLT11sa end of course party.

I purposely chose the  Jet Engine Fundamentals (JEF) course for a couple of reasons; its generic nature meant that students could interpret their own meaning from the subject brief, and the existing corporate knowledge on the subject was extensive and reached beyond the RNZAF into online resources.  Normally students would participate in lecture style lessons with student handouts to reinforce the subject material however the implementation of a Wiki, YouTube and Twitter approach meant that student could ‘shape’ their own learning. As some of the comments suggested,  the JEF course seems to be the ideal vehicle to utilise and promote a learner centred approach and at the same time utilise Web 2.0 technologies.

One of the concerns I had when deciding on the most appropriate method of implementation was how students would react without the familiar elements of a regular course (De Waal, 2001).  The quick survey that I conducted amongst the student population showed a high level of web viewing (95%) and a contrasting low level of active web participation  (10%). These results point to gap between the known (basic internet skills) and the unknown (full Web 2.0 participation) or a modern version of the Zone of Proximal Development (Newman & Holzman, 2005) ,  further serving to justify my framework in particular the scaffolding element. I saw a wiki  as an easy introduction into Web 2.0 technologies for students and staff unfamiliar with creating digital content. It contained some familiar attributes of a traditional classroom, for example, a central meeting point, message boards, and group areas. Also due to its informal nature a wiki provides students with a certain amount of anonymity when updating and posting information. These two elements again tie into the scaffolding element allowing student (and staff) to become more comfortable with the technology and their own online presence.

The design of the course purposely utilises only three Web 2.0 applications to allow students and staff to maximise their exposure to the tools without distraction. While the JEF Wiki provides the platform for capturing student knowledge and content, both Twitter and YouTube, are utilised to allow collaboration and content creation. The intention is to preceded the introduction of these tools by several contact sessions where the students can fully explore each application in a supported environment. Throughout the design of this course I found it difficult to predict how these tools would preform in a real-world situation. As some of the comments have (correctly) suggested the detail behind the use of the technology was a little light. Although some more work is required to bring this course up to an appropriate standard I think that the best way to test it is to let it go ‘wild’.  Only by exposing it to a variety of  learners and staff will any defects become apparent allowing rapid correction (the beauty of web technology) and improvements to be made.

I doubt anyone will deny the usability of the internet or Web 2.0 technology in general. Its usefulness in connecting people across the world and creating a local sense of community is unsurpassed. However, when this technology is turned to education, the same people who applaud its openness, sense of community and dynamic nature decry it for the same qualities pointing out that these factors segregate people socially, intellectually, and technically. Over the past months I have come to realise that the full utilisation of Web 2.0 technologies requires the scaffolded introduction of the technology as well as the subject content. Modern learners, like my ‘tech savvy’ students, still expect to be taught in a fairly traditional manner and in order for Web 2.0 to flourish it must be introduced in a supported and managed manner. This course and its experiences, trials and tribulations has allowed me to get an insight into technologies that exist just around the corner (for the RNZAF) and may have converted me from a digital immigrant to a digital native   digitally naive…

Thanks to Thom (the world might be Apple one day), Vickel, and the other students of SLT11SA! Time for a drink!


De Waal, B. (2001). In the trenches: Student persectives. In B. Lewis, R. Smith & C. Massey (Eds.), Tower under Siege : Technology, Power and Education. Montreal, QC, CAN: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Kearsley, G. (2011). Constructivist Theory (J. Bruner). The Theory Into Practice Database  Retrieved 2 July, 2011, from

Newman, F., & Holzman, L. (2005). Lev Vygotsky : Revolutionary Scientist. London: Routledge.


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Jet Engine Fundamentals Wiki

June 20, 2011 at 8:38 pm (Web 2.0, Wiki, Wiki)

As part of my second assessment, I am developing a Jet Engine Fundamental (JEF) Wiki for students to explore and post information about jet engine operation.

Click on the picture to have a look, comments welcome….

So many engines, so little time...

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Personal Teaching Framework

June 1, 2011 at 11:15 pm (Web 2.0)


Pedagogy References

Chapnick, S., & Meloy, J. (2005). Renaissance eLearning : Creating Dramatic and Unconventional Learning Experiences   Retrieved from

Herrington, J., Oliver, R. and Reeves, T. C. (2003). Patterns of engagement in authentic online learning environments. Australian Journal of Educational Technology, 19(1), 59-71.

McLoughlin, C. & Lee, M .J. W. (2008). Mapping the digital terrain: New media and social software as catalysts for pedagogical change. In Hello! Where are you in the landscape of educational technology? Proceedings ascilite Melbourne 2008.

Pritchard, A., & Woollard, J. (2010). Psychology for the Classroom : Constructivism and Social Learning   Retrieved from

Tom H. Brown, (2006) Beyond constructivism: navigationism in the knowledge era, On the Horizon, Vol. 14 Iss: 3, pp.108 – 120

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Web 2.0 – Reflection on the journey so far

May 31, 2011 at 9:41 pm (Video, Web 2.0)

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RSA Animate – Changing Education Paradigms

May 30, 2011 at 9:57 pm (Video, Web 2.0)

Interesting video for your enjoyment!


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Augmented Reality in Education

May 29, 2011 at 8:51 pm (Augmented Reality, Web 2.0) (, )


Augmented Reality, a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, thus providing a composite view (Augmented Reality, 2010).

What is it?

Augmented Reality or AR is a technology that we have previously associated with futuristic movies whose characters interact with images that provide them with information about their surroundings. Until now the production of AR required months of work by teams of computer programmers and artists using expensive and sophisticated hardware. AR is now moving into a second phase of evolution with the wide availability of cheap, high performance hardware and easy to use AR generating software. For education AR offers an application that sits between reality and the virtual world.

How does it apply to education?

More specifically AR  allows the student to visualise a concept, review a physical item, or access extra information all within the real world environment. Authenticity and context are common words used throughout AR literature. These terms highlight AR’s ability to tie-in with real world situations. This suggests AR has  roots in constructivism theory however AR more completely aligns with Kolb’s (Knowles, Holton, & Swanson, 2005) experiential learning model. Applying this model it can be seen that AR allows students to have Kolb’s ‘concrete experiences’ and connect these to their own understanding, all within a safe (in a physical and educational sense) environment.

For practically orientated tasks, e.g. retracting a nuclear fuel rod, or wiring a live switchboard, an AR approach allows a student to repetitively perform (or view) the task in a more controlled and safer environment than if the task was performed in reality. This could allow the student to move through Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development (Newman & Holzman, 2005) far quicker than would have previously been possible

Like other multimedia applications, the amount of data that could be presented to the student AR can create cognitive overload. Miller (1956) famously suggested that the human brain can only process ‘seven plus or minus two chunks of information’  at one time. Applying this theory to AR, we can see that although it is tempting to provide all information to the student in one go, restrictions should be placed to allow students to ‘chunk’ or process the information before moving onto the next. According to Carpenter (2010) this information overload can also result in poor decision making. The ability of AR to superimpose information on top of our everyday lives can create a multitude of extra considerations that may confuse our normal decision making process. Obviously these are considerations taken into account when designing any new educational method however if AR has the groundswell of support some experts are predicting then it may be difficult to turn off erroneous information that distracts from the task at hand.

Is it useful now?

Software like Google Sketchup (with an AR add-on), and Wikitude are examples of free applications that allow digital natives to create their own AR information and share them with the world. Sketchup and Wikitube although adequate, are not yet at a level where they can be fully integrated seamlessly into the Web2.0 classroom. For the moment these applications are confined to the early adopters who can are able to produce useable information from what seems to be a complicated process. In the wider world of AR applications are generally made by specialist companies to suit the needs of their clients. Given that AR has yet to find its ‘killer app’ (akin to YouTube’s effect on personal video) it maybe prudent for educational facilities to adopt a wait-and-see approach to this technology. With the plethora of new tech start-up companies, the wide scale up take of smart mobile devices, easier and cheaper access to the internet the AR ‘killer app’ maybe closer than we think.


Carpenter, T. K. (2010). 7 Ways augmented reality will change your brain  Retrieved 29 May, 2011, from

Augmented Reality. (2010). Oxford University Press Retrieved 29 May 2011, from Oxford University Press

Knowles, P. D., Malcolm S., Holton, I., Ed.D., Elwood F., & Swanson, P. D., Richard A. (2005). The Adult Learner : The Definitive Classic in Adult Education and Human Resource Development   Retrieved from

Miller, G. (1956). The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information (Vol. 63, pp. 81-97).

Newman, F., & Holzman, L. (2005). Lev Vygotsky : Revolutionary Scientist. London: Routledge.

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Word Cloud of my blog so far…

May 28, 2011 at 12:03 pm (Web 2.0)

Word Clouds - the Readers Digest version of a blog

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Can Web 2.0 improve Q&A?

May 24, 2011 at 10:06 pm (Twitter, Web 2.0) (, , )

The use of questioning to gauge understanding and provoke discussion is a familiar tool in traditional classrooms. Due to their directed nature, question and answer (Q&A) sessions are more easily utilised in smaller classes than larger classes.  This is because larger classrooms like lecture halls can create barriers to interaction due to their physical size and generally larger numbers of students. In this situation individual student questions and opinions can become lost in amongst the ‘masses’. Equally lecturers may struggle to put forward questions, correct understanding or, create discussion when they have an obligation to continue teaching to the majority of students.

So, can web 2.0 applications enable us to  reach greater numbers of our students in a large class environment?

Gary felt awkward Tweeting to ask to go to the bathroom

Web2.0 applications by virtue of their informal and social nature, promote the development of educational communities. It is these that Clinton (2011) identifies as allowing the development of the critical thinking encouraged during the andragogical process. Web2.0 applications also provide a window for other students to passively view any discussions or questioning threads. The behavior of these ‘lurkers’ (a Twitter term for a non-participatory user) allows them to observe the cognitive processes that others apply to the questioning or discussions and in the process learning themselves  (Williams & Jacobs, 2004).

A number of Web2.0 applications are available that allow synchronous, and more importantly free, questions and answers discussions to occur during a normal classroom session. My initial thought was to use Twitter as a Q&A tool due to its ease of use and familiarity to a number of students and staff. The capacity of Twitter to create engagement allowing asynchronous and synchronous conversations to occur in and out of the classroom environment is its greatest asset.  In a recent study (Junco, Heiberger, & Loken, 2011) found that use of Twitter as a discussion tool increased grades in comparison to non-users. However Twitter does have some limiting features such as a small message size, hard to follow discussion threads, and noisy background chatter (social conversations), that may make it less than idea for in-class real-time Q&A discussions.

Fortunately there are two other tools which are also freely available and address some of the downsides of Twitter. Those tools are Google Moderator, & the Live Question Tool, an open source application developed byHarvardUniversity. Both operate in a similar way so I will discuss them as a whole rather than as individual applications.

Both applications allow students to post questions to the speaker/lecturer during a lecture in real-time.  Responses to each question can be posted by staff or if allowed, by other students. Students are also able to vote on individual questions to highlight the relevance  of the question to them.  The Live Question Tool also enables anonymous posting which may allow previously ‘shy responders’ (Educause, 2009) to participate in class discussions. In a large class where a greater numbers of questions may be asked the voting method can provide some filtering enabling the lecturer to devote their time to the most popular questions. Voting can also enable’ themes or the ‘knowledge gap’ to become more obvious to the lecturer who can then correct or revisit the content to suit. In contrast to Twitter these two tools provide a structured, simple approach to discussions however neither application offers the same degree of social integration as Twitter.

Twitter, Google Moderator, and Live Question Tool, are just some of the applications that can allow students and lecturers alike to engage in synchronous and asynchronous questioning and discussions. Technology availability (cell phones, laptops), communication medium (Wi-Fi) and appropriate use guidelines are just a few of the wider issues surrounding the deployment of these applications. These issues should not be under estimated however they should be measured against the benefits of using the technology e.g. increased learner engagement, creation of educational communities, and shy responder participation.


Clinton, G. (2011). Educating for critical thinking: thought-encouraging questions in a community of inquiry. Higher Education Research and Development, 30(3), 357-370.

Educause. (2009). 7 things you should know about…Live Question Tool. Retrieved from

Junco, R., Heiberger, G., & Loken, E. (2011). The effect of Twitter on college student engagement and grades. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 27(2), 119-132.

Williams, J. B., & Jacobs, J. S. (2004). Exploring the use of blogs as learning spaces in the higher education sector. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 20(2), 232-247.

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Education in 140 Characters or less

May 15, 2011 at 10:24 pm (Twitter, Web 2.0) (, )

Recommend going full screen for the presentation


Al-Khalifa, H. S. (2010). Finding a Place for Twitter in Higher Education. eLearn, 2010(5).

Chamberlin, L., & Lehmann, K. (2010). Cultivating Twitter. eLearn Magazine, 2010(8). Retrieved from

Dunlap, J. C., & Lowenthal, P. R. (2009). Horton Hears a Tweet. Educause Quarterly, 32(4). Retrieved from

Kearsley, G. (2011). Situated learning (J. Lave). The theory into practice database  Retrieved 15 May, 2011, from

Schulten, K. (2011). Ask Teachers about Twitter and microblogging in the classroom. The New York Times. Retrieved from The New York Times website:

Twitter. (2011a). Twitter is the best way to discover what’s new in your world.  Retrieved 11 May, 2011, from

Twitter. (2011b). The Twitter glossary.  Retrieved 11 May, 2011, from

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Wiki’s in more depth

May 14, 2011 at 12:53 pm (Web 2.0, Wiki, Wiki)

This is post is in reply to Kay’s comments on my initial post Collaboration +Communication= Wiki. Kay had some pertant questions (in italics)  regarding wiki’s that I will attempt to answer below.

You wrote:
“…formed within the group can also be tested against ‘real world’ conditions. While this may expose students to extreme views of society it also can act as a mirror to the group perceptions especially those that don’t conform to social norms while at the same time providing an opportunity to examine those norms.”

Can you give an example of this?

Muijs, Ainscrow, Chapman & West (2011) highlight  that constructivist theory assumes that  individuals or groups are ‘sense making’ systems and as such create understanding using existing perceptions or interpretations. In extreme examples this understanding may be skewed from societal norms. An  example of this would be gang members in modern society who some believe struggle with applying lower-class cultural norms to those of the middle class majority (Thornberry, Krohn, Lizotte, & Smith, 2003). In a classroom environment these perceptions would hopefully not be as extreme but may still be present.  If we apply Kolb’s Experimental Learning Model (Knowles, Holton, & Swanson, 2005), students may create flawed abstract concepts which could become concrete if not fully validated in a new environment. An open wiki like Wikipedia can enable this ‘validity’ exposure which may be lacking from internal group dialogue.

 You wrote:
“…personalisation as one of the stand out features of a wiki when used for students
who don’t fit into the educational middle ground (either under or over achievers).”

What do you see as the implications for the under and overachievers in wiki use?

Wiki’s and other Web 2.0 applications by their very nature allow the personalisation to individual requirements.  Students can add, delete, or alter content whenever they wish. They can create content in a variety of formats that suits their own learning style. It is this access to resources, ‘material and human’ that Knowles et al (2005) point to as an essential component of effective learning. For motivated learners (over achievers), the Wiki format offers a chance to explore their own creativity providing them with a challenging learning environment that includes an element of feedback (Adams & Hamm, 2005).  It is this feedback, in the form of external editing of their posted information that can enable critical thinking that may not be possible in a traditional learning environment. For underachievers the Wiki format allows them to explore learning using methods and content that they are more comfortable with. Videos, audio, and pictures all offer alternative ways learning can be expressed by learners that may struggle with text based methods.  The challenge of using a wiki or any other Web2.0 application is that the curriculum needs to be adaptive enough to allow these applications to be utilised and assessed.

You wrote:
“…a wikis ability to utilise, embed and interact with other Web 2.0 tools means that it may outlive some of the more recent application developments.”

I was wondering what the more recent applications are that you are referring to and why they will not last as long as a wiki.

With the use of technology in education comes the risk of obsolescence.  This is very relevant with software, and especially with Web 2.0 applications whose developers rely on the masses to interact with their product to provide a revenue stream and ensuring the application continues to exist . The difference that I can see between a Wiki and some of the other applications, is in the way in which they are utilised. Applications such as Twitter, and Facebook,  are  social tools first and educational/business tools second. The continued existence of these social applications is dependant on whether people still use them.  MySpace and Bebo are two examples of social-based applications that have quickly fallen by the wayside. In contrast wiki based applications like Wikipedia,  are used as on-line references and as such are independent of social trends and to me this implies longevity.

Isn't the collective noun of 'dude', dudes?

Overall I see you are well aware of the benefits. What are some of the barriers to implementation that you might see requiring guidance from the teacher?

As I pointed out in my previous blog post, the greatest asset of a Wiki, its openness, maybe also be its weakness.  Ideally a Wiki would be left open to allow content to be changed, updated, or corrected. This however can also allow ‘Wiki Vandalism’ (McGlynn, 2011) where content is changed to something humorous or slanderous, or just plain incorrect. If this vandalism is repeated then the student may feel bullied and may become less inclined to participate. If the Wiki is part of an assessment this could result in the student failing or receiving a lesser grade than they deserve.  For the facilitator the use of Wikis may mean that they would have to establish some ground rules before the students start to utilise them in an educational setting. Using real names, correct referencing, and reporting any acts of vandalism, are all rules that could be applied however this will not stop external users (or covert group members) from committing the same acts.

The use of any Web 2.0 application can be fraught with danger and as educator we need to understand the downsides of any technology we use. This should not put us off utilising them however, because ultimately it is these technologies that our students identify and feel most comfortable with. And by using them we can continue to create the engagement and participation that is the objective of education.


Adams, D., & Hamm, M. (2005). Redefining Education in the Twenty-first Century : Shaping Collaborative Learning in the Age of Information   Retrieved from

Knowles, P. D., Malcolm S., Holton, I., Ed.D., Elwood F., & Swanson, P. D., Richard A. (2005). The Adult Learner : The Definitive Classic in Adult Education and Human Resource Development   Retrieved from

McGlynn, K. (2011). The funniest acts of Wikipedia vandalism ever (pictures)  Retrieved 14 May, 2011, from

Muijs, D., Ainscow, M., Chapman, C., & West, M. (2011). Collaboration and Networking in Education. London: Springer Dordrecht Heidelberg.

Thornberry, T. P., Krohn, M. D., Lizotte, A. J., & Smith, C. A. (2003). Gangs and delinquency in development prespective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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