Below is a project completed in my third year of study, where we explored how to find, identify and implement quality ICT resources for classroom learning. This has enabled me to do likewise when I have my own classroom and am in need of ICT resources for a particular need.

More educationally valuable resources can be found at Scootle, National Library of Virtual Manipulatives, ABCya.com, National Digital Learning Resources Network.

It is clear that digital curriculum resources today vary greatly in their levels of educational value, which Education Services Australia defines as a “resource’s capacity to successfully promote learning and development by students, teachers or school leaders within the Australian school context” (Education Services Australia, 2012, p. 4).  Within this page, you will find a critical evaluation of two curriculum-based ICT resources, specifically focused at students, pre-service teachers, and practicing teachers in year three.

Digital Resource One – Weigh Up Your Lunch

Click on the audio below to find out more about Weigh Up Your Lunch, it’s educational value and it’s links to the Australian Curriculum. To play this game click on the title above.

Lunchbox a

Lunchbox d

Lunchbox c

Digital Resource Two – Animate

Click on the audio below to find out more about Animate, it’s educational value and it’s links to the Australian Curriculum. To play this game click on the title above.


Animate a

Animate b

Animate c 

Criteria for Valuable Educational ICT Resources – Jonassen’s Characteristics of Meaningful Learning

Characteristics of Meaningful Learning
 
Digital Resource One
 
Digital Resource Two
Active
Students are actively engaged in all decision making processes throughout this  activity. Individuals are given every chance to construct “their own interpretations” (Jonassen,
2008, p.2) of what a lunchbox should and shouldn’t look like based on personal experience and “the results of their manipulations” (Jonassen,
2008, p.3).
Students have full control over the construction of their animation and learning. Students actively interact with the technology, manipulate the tools in the program, observe the effects and informally teach themselves to use the program through play and trial and error (Jonassen, 2008).
Constructive
This software provides a solid ground for critical reflection. Not only does it inform students whether they have made an ‘A+ Lunch’, ‘Pretty Good’ or ‘Opps!’ it also provides a description of the corresponding consequences. Prior knowledge is built upon, stimulating a questioning attitude; described by Jonassen as “the catalyst for making meaning” (Jonassen,
2008, p.3).
This program is a tool for students to “articulate what they have learned” (Jonassen, 2008,p.3). and reflect on the learning that has taken place by viewing their accomplishments in a video.  For students who prefer visual learning, this program can provide a demonstration of learning that is more preferred than a speech or written assignment.
Authentic
Every day most students go to school with a lunchbox in their bag; Consequently, the learning from this interactive tool is embedded in authentic context from which students can draw comparisons between the processes simulated on screen and the tangible version packed in their bags.
While students most commonly don’t create animations in their everyday lives, children frequently draw pictures to represent their thinking. This program enables student’s drawings to come to life, making the knowledge and skills behind them “better understood and remembered but also more consistently transferred to new situations” (Jonassen, 2008,p.4).
Intentional
Packing the healthiest lunch is not the initial goal. Alternatively, students are encouraged to pack a lunchbox similar to their own, viewing the consequences of their real-life choices. The game then provides an individual intention; minimising unhealthy choices or improving pre-existing lunch.
Due to the program’s open-ended nature, there is no ‘end’ or ‘goal’ to reach, instead students should be guided by their creativity and the learning task given to them. The intention in the program lies in “engaging learners to articulate and represent their understanding” (Jonassen, 2008, p.4).
Cooperative
Students should initially be given the opportunity to simulate the contents of their own lunchboxes digitally without the pressure of cooperation. Jonassen states that by working together, students “learn that there are multiple ways of viewing the world and multiple solutions” (Jonassen,
2008, p.5). Hence, by following individual exploration with collaboration, students can identify that healthy lunchboxes exist in many forms.
The program is designed for individual use but could be adapted for use with pairs or small groups. As only one student is able to manipulate the technology at a time, individual work would be most productive. If working cooperatively, students could take turns in manipulating the program with shared ideas. Otherwise the program could be utilised more cooperatively by students sharing their animations with peers during the production stages to seek feedback and more ideas.

Criteria for Valuable Educational ICT Resources – Mishra & Koehler’s TPACK Model

 TPACK Model

 
Digital Resource One
 
 
Digital Resource Two
 
Technological Knowledge
This software requires the manipulation and navigation of online pages, as well as basic computer skills to do so, such as scrolling, clicking and dragging. The interactive nature of this resource, as well as the pop-up information and colourful and exciting visuals, increases its appeal. Furthermore, a sense of anticipation lingers throughout the lunchbox construction process, as the ‘health meter’ determines new outcomes based on increased knowledge of healthy food options.
The program requires similar skills to very basic word processing and ‘Paint’ skills. Students and teachers need the skills of clicking, scrolling, fine motor mouse skills, manipulation of visual objects and the knowledge that animations are constructed by a string of individual ‘frames’ fused together. The large buttons, bright and engaging, interface and intuitive use of the program make it suitable for beginners.
Content Knowledge
This resource reinforces the importance of smart food choices and educates children regarding why some food sources are better than others. The software goes beyond simply ‘playing’ a game; students are required to make judgements based on the explanations provided, while drawing upon prior knowing and authentic contexts to influence their decisions.
Animate’s content base lies in media and ICT skills. It is a fun, playful way of learning these basic technological skills mentioned above. As the program is a tool for representing learning it is not content rich in particular subject. The program is open for exploration and demonstration of learning in all areas.
Pedagogical Knowledge
Weigh Up Your Lunch could be incorporated into a range of pedagogical techniques. Teachers could ask students to bring their lunch boxes into the classroom to make hypotheses about how healthy their owners believe they are before simulating them through the interactive software. Alternatively, students could play this game collaboratively, and present to the class in groups their versions of healthy and unhealthy lunches.
Animate is versatile in that students can engage with the technology as part of learning for many purposes. Teachers could use it as a tool for diagnostic, formative and summative assessment, and students can use it for exploring all subject areas in an engaging manner. Animations could be submitted as a whole assessment piece for demonstrating technological and subject area learning or used to supplement oral, digital and web-based presentations.

Concluding Recommendations

Weigh Up Your Lunch is a highly versatile, interactive, and educational digital resource that would have a valuable place in the year three primary classroom. Not only does this software have strong links to the  above TPACK Model and the Characteristics of Meaningful Learning, it also clearly demonstrates how technologies can foster learning through utilising authentic contexts, reflecting with the assistance of an intellectual partner, and exploring knowledge, both previously existing and new, by constructing individually and conversing with others (Jonassen, 2012, p.7-8).

Animate is a useful tool for classroom learning, as a tool for representing learning and sharing knowledge while developing basic ICT skills. It’s open-ended and intuitive nature means it can be used for a variety of purposes, ages and subjects, in the classroom and at home.

References

Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2012). English. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/English/Curriculum/F-10

Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2012). Health and physical education. Retrieved from http://www.acara.edu.au/curriculum_1/learning_areas/hpe.html

Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2012). Information and communication technology capability. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/GeneralCapabilities/Pdf/ICT

Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2012). Technologies. Retrieved from http://www.acara.edu.au/curriculum_1/learning_areas/technologies.html

Churchill, R., Ferguson, P., Godinho, S., Johnson, N.F., Keddie, A., Letts, W., Mackay, J., McGill, M., Moss, J., Nagel, M.C, Nicholson, P. & Vick, M. (2013). Teaching: Making a Difference. (2nd ed.). Milton, QLD: John Wiley & Sons.

Education Services Australia. (2012). Educational value standard for digital resources [Fact sheet]. Retrieved from http://www.ndlrn.edu.au/verve/_resources/Educational_value_standard_for_digital_resources.pdf

Jonassen, D., et al. (2008). Meaningful Learning with Technology (3rd ed.). Pearson Education: Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, pp.1-12.

Mishra, P. & Koehler, M. (2009). Too cool for school? No way! Learning & Leading with Technology. 36 (7), 14-18. Retrieved from http://www.learningandleading-digital.com/learning_leading/200905#pg1

Victorian Government Department of Human Services. (2013). Go for your life: Weigh up your lunch [Interactive site]. Retrieved from http://www.goforyourlife.vic.gov.au/hav/articles.nsf/html/index.html