Virtual Learning


I have to admit when it came to this aspect of emerging pedagogies I was skeptical.  Virtual worlds are “engaging, stimulating spaces where students can meet online for normal class activities” (Calongne, 2008) but what about the huge distract of THE GAME!

“Play is an activity that enhances children’s abilities by promoting exploration and experimentation.  Children create imagined worlds in their play.  As we grow older, though, our opportunities to explore and create imagined worlds are increasingly limited, and our creativity is curbed as a result.”

Garcia-Murillo & MacInnes, n.d.

 What I have come to find is that virtual worlds used in education provide a myriad of opportunities that allow students to get a more hands on experience that allows them to practically apply what they are learning.  For example virtual worlds provide a virtual meeting space for students to participate in a mock court trial.  They are able to design the courtroom, and assign roles for each student.  This allows students to visualise learning scenarios through active engagement and learn by doing in a virtual world that transcends safety or distance parameters (Clifford, 2012).  A multimedia environment in a digital society can enrich students learning experiences, making it much more compelling and engaging (Garcia-Murillo & MacInnes, n.d.).

As I began to explore virtual worlds for myself I saw the opportunities it presents for students and as I explore this further and apply it in my teaching I have found a huge number of resources that have been created by teachers for teachers that can help me facilitate learning in this space.

While this is still an area of technology in education that I have to wrap my head around I can see the possibilities that can be created for students in this space.

Clifford, M. (2012). Top 20 uses of Virtual Worlds in Education. Retrieved from
Garcia-Murillo, M., & MacInnes, I. (n.d.). An exploration of the use of games in virtual worlds for online education. Retrieved from

Using Technology for Classroom Learning

Technology is forever changing, we are constantly being presented with new and improved software and gadgets that promise to be better, do more and work more efficiently that previous versions or another product.  In my previous post I focused on the students and the influences of technology so, in my second blog I am going to focus on me as a teacher.

In this week’s readings the most influential aspect I looked at was the TPACK model.  The framework combines three knowledge areas, technological knowledge, content knowledge and pedagogical knowledge.  I have seen this framework before but I never fully connected the dots.  I have since learned that it is the combination of these three elements working together to increase student motivation and to make the content more accessible to the students.

Firstly, and in line the TPACK framework, we must consider the content, this is the what of teaching.  Then we look at our pedagogical knowledge, this is the how?, our tools for example do we use direct instruction, is it going to be inquiry based, can we use group discussions, how to make the content more accessible by the way we present it?  Finally our technological knowledge, these are the resources that we use to engage students and make it accessible to the students while supporting the pedagogical strategy selected for delivery.

As we understand these elements of the model individually we start to make connections between them and helps us connect the right technology to the content, the right pedagogical strategy to the content etc.

When using technology in the classroom I must consider how I can adapt them to enhance the learning experiences I create for my students. For example the use of music DJ software AxPC to teach mathematical concepts.

Upon further reflection of the TPACK model I have come to find that it is important to be a life long learner, I need to question what I know and challenge myself to look for new and exciting ways to repackage content through the use of technology.

Prensky, M. (2001).Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon, 9(5), 1-6.Retrieved from – Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants – Part1.pdf

Learning in a digital world!

The current generation of students have been ‘on the line’ from birth, they are part of a highly technological and information rich world that is ever changing (Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA), 2005). 

“Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) are all about using web tools such as blogs, wiki, twitter, facebook to create connects with others which extend our learning, increases our reflection while enabling us to learn together as part of a global community” (Waters, 2013, p1).

Learning has changed, it is no longer just something that happens in the classroom.  It is all around us and students learn by seeing , doing, interacting and participating in the physical and social world around them.  They are consumers, producers, and remixers of information and content.

This generation of, what Prensky describes as, digital natives are increasingly comfortable in the virtual world where they live their lives, build relationships and interact and participate in world events (MCEETYA, 2005).

For these learners one minute online looks like this…



More and more we are moving away from textbooks as our source of information and looking to Google and other online material.  This is both an advantage and a disadvantage, firstly it means that students have access to a wide range of information about a multitude of topics that encourages engaged and life long learners.  However, this is also an issue, with the vast amount of content that is created there is often misuse of information that means there is content created that is incorrect.  Wading through the huge pool of information is a skill in itself and students need to learn the skills necessary to separate accurate information from misinformation.

Our students live in a digital world so engaging with that world will engage them!




Arts in Colour. (2013). Calling all Social Media Aficionados and Theatre Lovers. Retrieved from

Karayannis, T. (2012, September 10). Social Media is Just a Buzzword [Web log message]. Retrieved from

Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs. (2005). Contemporary Learning in an online world. Retrieved from

Richard de Meij. (2012, December 4). Social Media in Education – Teaching Digital Natives [Video file]. Retrieved from

Waters, S. (2013). Retrieved September 1, 2013, from The PLN Yourself Wiki:

Wheeler, S. (2012, June 15). Learning in a Digital World [Slideshare]. Retrieved from

Characteristics that make up a ‘Quality’ Assessment Task

The NSW Department of Education and Training in 2008 produced a document that describes eight principles that highlight standard for assessing learning. 

  1. Assessment should be relevant – meaning that it should be directly linked to obtaining information about students’ knowledge as they relate to the syllabus outcomes.
  2. Assessment should be appropriate – it should provide information about a certain type of learning, as some may be more relevant than others.
  3. Assessment should be fair – it should give every student the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and not be disadvantaged by personal circumstances.
  4. Assessment should be accurate – it needs to be reliable in the way it measures students’ understanding
  5. Assessment should provide useful information – it should obtain information that can be used to enhance, modify and influence students’ future learning.
  6. Assessment should be integrated into the teaching and learning cycle – it is an ongoing process.
  7. Assessment should draw on a wide range of evidence – the outcomes of the assessment differ between tasks.
  8. Assessment should be manageable – the time spent on the task in appropriate.

NSW Department of Education and Training, 2008

Similarly the Queensland Department of Education describe four characteristics that make up a quality assessment task.

  1. Cognitive and Affective Expectations – this means a task that is intellectually stimulating that allows students to think critically about a topic.
  2. Authenticity – a task that is relevant and genuinely motivates students to achieve.
  3. Credibility – is the task assessing what it is supposed to be and do students have access to a rubric that clearly outlines the expectations for the task.
  4. Accessibility – a task needs to provide all students the same opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge, and the language used or the task itself does not isolate some students from meeting the outcomes being assessed.

Queensland Department of Education, 2003

Both of these definitions are supported by what Churchill et al. (2013) describes as best practice assessment design, strategies and techniques.  This refers to fairness in assessment, transparency, educative assessments, validity and reliability.



Churchill, R., Ferguson, P., Godinho, S., Johnson, N., Keddie, A., Letts, W. et al. (2013). Teaching: Making a difference (2nd ed.). Milton, QLD: John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd.

NSW Department of Education and Training. (2008). Principles of Assessment and Reporting in NSW Public Schools. Retrieved from

Queensland Department of Education. (2003). Design Decisions for Quality Assessment Tasks. Retrieved from 

The importance of Formative Assessment

Formative assessment refers to the engagement by students and teachers with

  1. Learning goals
  2. Current progress in relation to learning goals
  3. Action taken to work toward the achievement of learning goals

ASCD, 2010

Assessment is an important part of the teaching and learning process that can enhance students engagement within a unit and motivate them to explore further (Board of Studies NSW, 2012).  Formative Assessment provides opportunities for teachers to monitor student learning as it happens.  Are students keeping pace with the instruction and are they understanding the material presented?  These tasks are designed to provide feedback for future learning and allow changes to be made to the design or structure of the unit to meet the learning needs of students (Marsh, 2004).  This is an opportunity for teachers to reflect on how they are teaching material and introduce supplementary material to support or extend student learning.  

It is important to remember that formative assessment is not used for grading, but rather as a tool to grow learning and for any assessment item, formative or not, it is essential to identify the outcomes that are to be judged.  As we make judgments about what does and does not demonstrate student understanding we start to develop some sort of criteria and it is important that we communicate these criteria to students.  This usually takes the form of a rubric that provides students with clear direction about what they need to demonstrate (Wolf and Stevens, 2007). 

With clear expectations outlined, adequate access to resources and an understanding and awareness of what outcomes are being assessed, formative assessment is a great tool in determining a students zone of proximal development (Vygotsky cited in Churchill et al., 2013).  This means teachers can really take a student centered approach that enhances the learning achieved by students in their classroom.



ASCD (2010). Formative Assessment Strategies for Every Classroom: An ASCD Action Tool , 2nd Edition. Retrieved from¢.aspx

Board of Studies, NSW. (2012). Advice on Assessment. Retrieved from

Churchill, R., Ferguson, P., Godinho, S., Johnson, N., Keddie, A., Letts, W. et al. (2013). Teaching: Making a difference (2nd ed.). Milton, QLD: John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd.

Wolf, K., & Stevens, E. (2007). The Role of Rubrics in Advancing and Assessing Student Learning. The Journal of Effective Teaching, 7(1), 3-14. Retrieved from 

Curriculum, its origins and development

Over the years curriculum has been the subject of much debate, it has been described both as an object and an action (Grundy, 1987 cited in Churchill, Ferfuson, Godinho, Johnson, Keddie, Letts, Mackay, McGill, Moss, Nagel, Nicholson and Vick, 2013), as well as an all encompassing practice that engages students, teachers, subject matter and milieu (Grundy, 1987 cited in Churchill et al., 2013).

The best definition of curriculum that I relate to is…

Curriculum is everything that happens. It’s not just books and lesson plans. It’s relationships attitudes, feelings, interactions.  If kids feel safe, if they feel inspired, if they feel motivated, they are going to learn important and positive things.  But if those elements are not there, if they feel disrespected or neglected in school, they’re learning from that too.  But they’re not necessarily learning the curriculum you think you’re teaching them.

Tenorio, 2004 cited in Churchill et al., 2013

So, it is perhaps the development of the curriculum which reveals its meaning in time.  Grundy (cited in Churchill et al., 2013) suggests that the curriculum of the day is a political construct that reflects the current needs of society and is influenced by the values, attitudes, interests and priorities of our politicians.  This is evident by what is included in the curriculum but more importantly by what is excluded.  A review of the history curriculum during the Howard era shows a focus on white Australia history, the first fleet, the convicts but lacks an Aboriginal perspective and history of the time.


Churchill, R., Ferguson, P., Godinho, S., Johnson, N., Keddie, A., Letts, W. et al. (2013). Teaching: Making a difference (2nd ed.). Milton, QLD: John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd.