Month: January 2015

Online Safety

Out of those listed by Roblyer and Doering, the three problems that in my experience have caused most concern regarding internet use for adolescent students are:

Potential problem #1: Accessing sites with inappropriate materials

This problem has many facets: access can be accidental or deliberate and smartphones that are not using school networks mean that many, maybe even most high school students have the internet in their hand and can access undesired content at anytime.

In regards to classroom access, as recommended in the module notes it is better to provide students with relevant sites to access rather than sending them to openly research online. Additionally, systems that block access to potential dangers are helpful in limiting undesired access; however as noted in the module notes, the inadvertent outcome of network blocks is often that useful, appropriate sites are blocked and I have experienced this many times in teaching art and design. My school tried a system last year to provide teachers the opportunity to open a site for a period of time so that the IT staff were not constantly bombarded with requests. In theory it was a great idea, however in practice, the software required the teacher to enable access for the class, the students to individually request approval for access and the teacher to confirm each student’s access independently. With students needing access at various times throughout a lesson, this option was a time management disaster and was quickly scrapped!

Potential problem #2: Safety and privacy issues for students

Young people are often naive, trusting and easily persuaded and this puts them at great potential risk. As articulated by child psychologist Andrew Fuller, the underdeveloped frontal lobe inhibits informed decision making and therefore spontaneous online behaviour for adolescents can be highly problematic.

Students (and parents) need explicit teaching about safe use of the internet, digital citizenship, cyber safety and managing their digital reputation. As Fuller suggests, young people also benefit from education about decision making:

“Slowing adolescent minds down so that they don’t have to do the first thing that comes into their heads requires kind coaching in reflective rather than impulsive decision making.”

Potential problem #5: Copyright and plagiarism issues

Young people live busy lives with many added commitments on top of their schoolwork and therefore attempts to submit plagiarised work are frequent. My college provides information about plagiarism in every unit outline, a printed booklet is provided and accessible on the college website and teachers speak regularly to inform students of the consequences. Sites such as Turnitin are very helpful for both students and teachers to identify plagiarism. A preventative option is to ensure that tasks involve rich requirements rather than just a research report. Comparison, analysis and application of concepts in task requirements helps to prevent the likelihood of plagiarised content in written work. In practical work, requiring documentation of the process of work as well as evidence of idea development and inspiration is also helpful.

For each of these issues the important safeguard is education and from many different sources. There are excellent resources online, police visits can be helpful, drama acts such as Brainstorm cover content around internet safety and identity. At the risk of overload I think it is better to invest in a range of options to assist in education to limit the issues of internet use for young people.


Andrew Fuller 2014. Adolescent Learning – Fact sheet. Retreived from

Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2014). Integrating educational technology into teaching: international edition, 6th edition. Harlow: Pearson.

Instructional Software

Most software that I have used and taught with in the Arts and Design area has not been instructional. Although we have often accessed online tutorials in learning to use graphics software, the focus in my curriculum areas relates more to software as tools rather than instruction.  I have investigated some online options and have assembled the following possibilities:
Drill and Practice
Survey Monkey or Quiz Revolution could be used in Art and Design to create quizzes based on factual content. Although I have not used these for learning activities, I have used Survey Monkey for course evaluations. These programs are efficient and enable easy analysis of results.
I have found Photoshop Essentials, Tutsplus and Spoongraphics useful sites for tutorials to support learning in Photoshop and Illustrator. I have also developed my own tutorial videos to support specific learning and to flip lessons for students to build skills outside of class time. An important consideration with this option is accessibility for students with special needs; specifically students who are hearing impaired may need subtitles for video tutorial work.
Adobe Photoshop has the capacity to simulate a range of other artwork experiences. It is possible to create the appearance of a sepia or black and white photograph, to replicate the appearance of an oil painting, pencil or pastel drawing etc.
Instructional games
Artsology is a website that provides a range of arts related games and activities. Some require printing and others are very basic but there are some engaging and somewhat educational activities on the site. The free “Art Curator” app  is also an instructional game, with a problem solving component requiring a careful look at artworks to spot differences between the real version and a copy.
Problem Solving
The game development application that I plan to use for Assignment Two, Gabu Studio requires considerable creative problem solving to design and develop games. Also included on the developer’s site are tutorials in using the application.
Blog – Spoon Graphics
Photoshop Essentials
Gabu Studio
Google Play
Klaber, M. 2012. Instructional Software in the Art Classroom. Retrieved from
Survey Monkey

Lesson Planning and Technology

Whilst reading Simmons & Hawkins (2009) chapter, “Planning to teach an ICT lesson”, I became aware of my own streamlining (or perhaps corners cut) in developing lessons for my students. Even with best laid plans for my upcoming classes, I can guarantee that I will not develop lesson plans with the detail demonstrated in this chapter (pages 101-104). As a teacher practising roles in schools requiring work far beyond classroom teaching, the constraints on my time make it impossible for me to develop lessons with detail of this depth. Additionally I question the efficiency and need for this detail and depth, particularly for experienced teachers.

In “The Game Changer”, Dr Jason Fox talks about goal setting that can limit creative potential and I would apply this concept to lesson planning also. Carefully planned experiences can be limiting, lacking in creative potential and not versatile enough to allow flexibility when the unexpected occurs, when student interest takes us on a tangent or when it is evident that something just isn’t working. In regards to technology and lesson planning there is much to consider about what could go wrong and contingency plans are an important aspect of lesson/unit programming. A plan for a sequence of lessons or unit of work with scope for extension or flexibility where required may be a more efficient planning device than a carefully constructed plan for each lesson. 

The specifics of intention and the language incorporated in Simmons and Hawkins guide is very helpful in planning meaningful learning activities. They recommend that teachers ask the following:

  • What do we want to achieve? – Develop aims for learning
  • What will students learn? – Learning objectives
  • How will i know what they have learned? – Learning outcomes

In regards to developing aims for lessons or units of work, it is vitally important to always consider the Roblyer and Doering question, “What specific needs do my students and I have that (any given resources) can help meet”. 

Simmons and Hawkings recommend that focus is on the desired learning and not built around the activities. This focus retains emphasis on meaningful use of lesson time to engage students. The importance of developing clear objectives and outcomes that enable students to have clarity about what is required of them is also articulated by the authors. I like the idea of “WALT (We are learning today) and WILF (What I’m Looking For)” which could enable a brief overview of desired lesson objectives and outcomes that is not too tied down in detail.


Fox, J. The Game Changer. 2014. Milton QLD. John Wiley and Sons.

Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2014). Integrating educational technology into teaching: international edition, 6th edition. Harlow: Pearson.

Simmons, C., & Hawkins, C. (2009). Planning to teach an ICT lesson. In Teaching ICT (pp. 54-105). London ; Sage Publications Ltd. Retrieved from

Assignment Two – Launch into the unknown

It is with considerable trepidation that I find myself on the brink of teaching Year 9 IT at my new school. This is leading me to launch out of my comfortable Art and Design zone for Assignment Two and into this daunting arena. As this is the first Year 9 cohort (it is a new school), there is no existing curriculum and no one else to seek guidance from on campus.

The Content Descriptors I will address from the Australian Curriculum draft Technologies – Digital Technologies Curriculum are as follows:
  • Design the user experience of a digital system, evaluating alternative designs against criteria including functionality, accessibility, usability, and aesthetics (ACTDIP039)
  • Create interactive solutions for sharing ideas and information online, taking into account social contexts and legal responsibilities (ACTDIP043)

I am planning to develop some beginner lessons in game design using an IPad application, Gabu Studio. My new school has incorporated a program of Self Directed Learning with two days devoted each week to this program. I see in this model considerable opportunity for cross curriculum perspectives and so my idea for this unit of work is to develop games that relate to content in another curriculum area of the student’s choice.



Australian Curriculum – Technologies/Digital Technologies


Schools and computers: are we innovating?

My approach to the technologies used for my first assignment is consistent with the concerns raised by Chris Bigum in the chapter, “Schools and computers: tales of a digital romance”. I have simply considered an existing process – the demonstration and documentation of artwork development through a visual diary (traditionally a paper book), with a digital version of the same thing. Whilst it is a user friendly option, with many aspects that, in my opinion, improve the process and provide more options for students than the traditional model; it is not a leap into the use of technology in the classroom that will test new ideas and processes.
The concerns that Bigum raises resonate with my experience of technology in schools since the introduction of 1:1 in my school in 2010. Throughout that five years, I have seen teachers (myself regrettably included) and students do little other with technology that they were not already doing without. They have replaced book research with internet, handwriting with word processing, video/tv with projectors and whiteboards with electronic whiteboards. There is considerable convenience and certainly some improved efficiency in each of these aspects of technology use, but they are a long way from innovation.
Bigum raises ideas about popular technology and the likelihood it is banned at school. Fear of new technology, particularly in the hands of competent student users, often drives schools to ban and consider possibilities later. Later, as Bigum writes, maintains the position of school technology use as outdated.
As always in schools, time and competing demands impact significantly on the scope for development and progress. These are aspects that have led me to study a Masters qualification in Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation, to provide a focused purpose for me to engage with new technology and investigate ways to improve learning with technology. Since starting six months ago, my study has enabled me to start processes to develop communities within the education sector in my area, to consider innovative use of technology in order that we may learn from each other and consider possibilities together. Professional Learning Communities are a proven approach to developing improved learning outcomes (Muhammad, 2009) and could be a successful way to share successes and ideas for integrating technology creatively, making it more our practice than an isolated entity.

Bigum, C. (2012). Schools and Computers: Tales of a Digital Romance. Transformative Approaches to New Technologies and Student Diversity in Futures Oriented Classrooms. L. Rowan and C. Bigum, Springer Netherlands: 15-28. Retrieved from

Muhammad, A. (2009). Transforming School Culture: How to overcome staff division. Moorabbin: Hawker Brownlow Australia.

DMD Topic and Wix – Learning Theory Application

For the first assignment task, I have proposed the combined and interrelated use of the two technologies. In combination I advocated the use of DMD Topic and Wix to create an online digital visual diary to meet assessment requirements related to process, conceptual development and the influence of other artists in the development of visual artwork.
My vision for the use of these technologies is for students to use Wix to present a website that documents (in visual, written and voice recorded form) the process of artwork decisions, including analysis of the work of relevant artists as well as analysis of their own work and progress. DMD Topic is a mobile application that provides a platform to create voice recordings about an image (students own work or that of others).
The ways in which I propose these technologies be used aligns more closely with Constructivist and Connectivist models of learning as described by Louise Starkey, than with the models of the Industrial age. Whilst initial introduction for the use of both technologies requires some level of Industrial style instruction and modelling (either with teacher demonstration or through online tutorial/forum investigation), the applied skills I would want students to demonstrate require design, analysis, synthesis, sequencing and logical arrangement to demonstrate understanding and depth of investigation. These aspects can be largely self determined and will vary from student to student; reflecting a Constructivist view of knowledge where alternate views are enabled. Such assessment allows for individual evidence of improvement, also a Constructivist outcome.
My own pedagogical approach for this element of task work reflects that students will build knowledge based on the connections they are able to make between their own ideas and those of other artists. There are other aspects of their learning in the visual arts that may be best taught with a Behaviourist approach; demonstration of technique in drawing for example, however, even skills-based aspects such as this in art have scope for students to take the instruction, combine it with their experience and interpretation in order to create and develop their own style. I would argue that there is no right or wrong way of approaching study of Art and development of specific skills; it is entirely dependent on what aspects of a skill a student wishes to develop and the evidence they demonstrate of their learning as to whether they experience success or not.
Using the technologies above also allows students to share their process and final work in an online context where desired; thus enabling connections with others (other students, others in the community etc.), a Connectivist process which Starkey describes as a “rich source of learning”(p.32). Therefore in my curriculum area, the aspects that may start with Behaviourist approaches, in my opinion can and should evolve into Constructionist and Connectivist approaches to learning.

Starkey, Louise (2012). Teaching and Learning in the Digital Age. Retrieved from

Affordances of Wix and DMD Topic

For this post I have focused on the affordances of the technology used for Assignment One. DMD Topic is an application that allows users to select an image, zoom in to chosen aspects and create a 30 second voice recording over the image. Wix is a free online website builder.

Wix logo


DMD Topic logo

DMD Topic logo

Affordances of these technologies include:
DMD Topic – allows creation of voice recording over image, although the output is only through the creation of a link and the recorded file is not transferable to other destinations online or uploadable elsewhere
Wix allows the creation of a basic or fully functional website, accessible online with link
DMD Topic limits recording time to 30 seconds, which can constrain deeper image analysis
Wix allows considerable freedom of arrangement although some aspects of web design templates limit complete choice in this regard
DMD Topic – easy voice record touch screen, created link provides easy access to final recorded file online
DMD Topic is a basic application with logical sequencing of process through application
Wix allows the creation of links between pages and allows users to create an easily navigated design of their choice.
DMD Topic – allows zoom on an image during recording to emphasise desired aspects
Wix allows complete chocie about site structuring and therefore emphasis is determined by the designer
DMD Topic is structured to combine use of image and voice. Recorded files cannot be embedded elsewhere, although the link can
Wix allows upload of media content and links both within the designed site and to other sites as directed. Extensive apps, widgets and social media linking is available.
DMD Topic – Link can be provided and viewed without login to the app or site (with a choice to remain unlisted and therefore only viewed via the link)
Wix – Published link can be made public or private; however, site is hosted on the Wix domain unless a premium domain is purchased
Both technologies are free and readily available and with provision of links provide ease of sharing with others
Wix can be signed up via social media which may be blocked in some schools, therefore in a school context it is advisable to create login credentials via email.
DMD Topic -available on multiple mobile device platforms, with easy upload to DMD site with provision of link
Wix – available online via cloud with internet access on any device. Wix pics app allows easy image upload from mobile device
DMD Topic – logical process and basic, clear interface
Wix – extensive options and analytics
Wix – interface is very easy to navigate and extensive video tutorials and online troubleshooting is available
Both technologies are aesthetically well arranged and allow the creation of visually appealing end products
DMD Topic – in testing of app and links no issues have been experienced
Wix provides version save options and users can reload a previous version if something crashes (rarely happens)

Bower, M. (2008). Affordance analysis—matching learning tasks with learning technologies. Educational Media International, 45, 1, 3–15. Retrieved from

DMD Topic

Evaluating the Benefits of E-learning

Both Cox (2012) and Voogt, Knezek, Cox, Knezek, & Brummelhuis (2011) report on some of the challenges inherent in both integrating technology effectively and assessing the impact on this integration on learning. The goal posts for technology keep shifting with the evolution of technology and therefore there are few constants in the research process. There are also many and overlapping variables that interfere with research outcomes and accuracy.
Both Cox and Voogt et al. indicate that further research is required to examine the relationship between formal and informal learning with technology, and what the impact is of the latter. Essentially, this is a challenging proposition as once again many variables are present; including varied access to technology in informal settings, student attitudes and motivation as well as family attitudes and rules in regards to the use of technology in the home.
Amongst other challenges, the lack of substantiated results impacts the faith that many educators have in the usefulness of technology for learning. One of the recommendations made by Cox is to involve teachers in the e-learning decision making process in order for successful integration. In my workplace, the recent needs analysis allowed all stakeholders to have their say in regards to the future direction for ICT, which was an effective strategy for many reasons. Involving multiple perspectives broadened the research data but also enabled people to feel part of the process.
I find the dilemma of how to provide effective teacher training in the use of technology an ongoing interest. As the authors reference, traditional teacher training methods are not necessarily effective for improved uptake and integration of ICT and it may require a determined whole school approach – shared vision and goals – in order for effective progress to be implemented.
This whole school vision would require a considerable cultural shift in my recent workplace, which is much easier said than done. As articulated by Voogt et al., a tangible connection with pedagogy is required, along with strong leadership, school wide adoption and access to ICT, connections to the community and industry and an openness to the adoption of new trends.
A school philosophy that supports trial and error, risk-taking and failure as a valuable way to creatively work with and integrate new technology and pedagogical approaches will support a more confident approach for those educators who are unconvinced about the benefits of ICT integration.

Cox, M.J. (2012), Formal to informal learning with IT: research challenges and issues for e-learning. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2729.2012.00483.x. retrieved from

Voogt J., Knezek G., Cox M.J., Knezek D.&ten Brummelhuis A. (2011) Under which conditions does ICT have a positive effect on teaching and learning? Acall to action. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning. 15 November 2011, DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2729.2011.00453.x. Retrieved from

Hardware in the Classroom

The school where I have most recently worked has had a laptop program for staff and students (from years 9-12) for the past five years. This was a major investment that was very popular in the community for the first few years, where we were quite early to take up the introduction of one-to-one. For the past two years it has been evident that the machines have been past their best years and as the school moved towards evaluating and moving on, repair or replacement of components like power cables etc became problematic.

In regards to networked equipment, most classrooms have a hardwired PC, projector and screen and some have an interactive whiteboard (although not any that I have taught in). Capacity to mirror devices has not yet been possible and getting some teacher-owned devices onto the network has not been possible.

Use of technology over the time of the laptop program has been far from optimal. Many teachers are reluctant to really invest in innovative, engaging use of technology and many students are happy to appear engaged with a device with very little real learning occurring. Students have used their devices most often for word processing, internet research, social media around network blocks and gaming with very little other constructive use. As stated in my previous blog post this is a school with compliant students, so it is not always obvious when students are not engaged in learning as desired.

The driving force behind innovation in this school comes from some of the college leaders as well as a small group of staff who are early adopters. There are many staff who remain skeptical that technology can really enhance learning and who are fearful of the extra learning required from them to stay near the top of what they perceive they may need to know. It is not the safe teaching option to test out new possibilities and risk appearing to lack competence with an apparently tech savvy class of Year 9s, and many staff lack the confidence to try, fail and reevaluate.

Recently a company was employed to conduct a needs analysis where all community stakeholders were given opportunity for input and extensive recommendations were provided. This has led to a move for staff supplied devices to a choice of a tablet or small laptop. Student devices will be re-evaluated in the upcoming year and as BYOD was one of the recommendations, it is likely this college will move in that direction; although considerable work is required to set up the necessary infrastructure.

As technology needs and possibilities are changing so rapidly it is very hard for schools to maintain the infrastructure required (both in regards to financial costs and human resourcing) to evolve at the pace that we might want them to.

The bottom line is the question, “will it make a difference to teaching and learning?” At this point in my most recent school, some aspects of technology use have improved systems and efficiency, particularly in an administrative sense; however the actual use of technology for teaching and learning still needs considerable evaluation and consideration.

T-PACK: Creating a Total PACKage for teaching and learning

TPACK is a new but logical concept for me. My experience in over twenty years of teaching has led me to realise that pedagogy and content knowledge are an essential combination and that in today’s digital society, adding technology into our curriculum where appropriate, is necessary to create real and engaging learning opportunities.

I started my first teaching job well-trained with knowledge and appropriate pedagogy for the teaching of Art and found myself with a line of Year 8 Maths. My first reaction was, “Year 8 Maths – easy”. I was confident with the subject matter but did not realise that I completely lacked the pedagogical skills required to help my students learn. On the flip side, I am about to start a job at a new progressive school, where risk taking with technology is encouraged and where I will also be teaching well outside of my content knowledge comfort zone. Although this will be a massive challenge whilst I try and get on top of content and the technology possibilities, I think I have now developed the pedagogical skills and confidence to manage this scenario better than I might once have. I am not afraid to say, “I don’t know, let’s find out” or “that didn’t work, what did we learn? How can we do it differently?”

Adding technology into Shulman’s PCK model is essential to keep learning opportunities vibrant and provide scope for development of skills that will assist students to function in the workplace, but the dilemma for teachers today is what to use and how to integrate technology to optimise learning. Koehler and Mishra discuss the requirement for a thoughtful and playful approach to the use of technology in education. An open-minded approach to integrating technology is necessary to prevent a sense of overload with the possibilities. Playing, experimenting and practicing use of technology with students could be the best way to creatively solve the wicked problem that the vastness of technology creates.

In regards to where my teaching proficiency fits into the T-PACK diagram, it depends on what I am teaching and what the dynamic of my students requires.


Reproduced by permission of the publisher, © 2012 by

I have been teaching Graphic Design for the past few years and in this subject, it would not now be possible to work without technology and prepare students for the real design world. I think this has enabled me to sit in the centre of the diagram for my teaching of this subject. My teaching of Art as my original discipline, has probably remained more traditional due to familiarity and may take more for me to shift the paradigm to integrate technology more. When I teach other subjects that I am less familiar with or where students are challenging, I think I look for more opportunities to incorporate all three aspects creatively, in order to ensure that what I am doing is engaging for my students.

My most recent employment has been in a beautiful girls’ school where student conduct is consistently compliant. At times it is not obvious that teaching and learning can be improved with the integration of technology in this environment. For this reason, I have found my colleagues have not always seen the benefits of integrating technology beyond word-processing, PowerPoint and internet research.  On the whole, I think teachers need considerable training, and as Koehler, Mishra and Yahya note, regular teacher training opportunities (seminars etc) may not support deep development of the knowledge required to integrate technology with content and pedagogy. More creative options are required and may include opportunities for peer learning, Professional Learning Communities and team teaching to develop skills in integrating technology effectively. A further options that includes a playful approach is that advocated by Karen Work Richardson, where teachers play a game to creatively invent ways in integrate the three knowledge forms. See the article, T-PACK Game On.

I am looking forward to my move to a school where I will be challenged to manage student behaviour and creatively solve the wicked problem of how best to assist my students to engage in learning. The combination of a different student dynamic and a school that is actively seeking creative ways of teaching using technology will support my development of all aspects of my T-PACK integration.


Koehler, M.J. & Mishra, P. What Is Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge? accessed from

Koehler, M. T-PACK. Retreived from

Koehler, M. Mishra, P. & Yahya, K. Tracing the development of teacher knowledge in a design seminar: Integrating content, pedagogy and technology. Computers & EducationVolume 49, Issue 3, November 2007, Pages 740–762

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M.J. (2008, March). Thinking creatively: Teachers as designers of technology, pedagogy and content (tpack). Keynote address at the 2008 Annual Meeting of the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education (SITE), Las Vegas, NV, March 3-7.

Work Richardson, K. T-PACK Game On. Learning & Leading with Technology. 37.8 (June-July 2010): p34.

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