META e-Learning: Applications

In the META e-Learning framework, the applications element encompasses Web 2.0 applications and mobile applications. Tim O’Reilly coined the term ‘Web 2.0’ in 2005 to cover a number of applications that facilitate student participation and interaction with the Internet (Conole & Alevizou, 2010). Applications such as Web 2.0 applications have been developed to provide opportunities for more social interaction and the ability to apply higher order thinking skills (Alexander, 2006; Thompson, 2007). “Web 2.0 refers to the social use of the Web which allow people to collaborate, to get actively involved in creating content, to generate knowledge and to share information online” (Grosseck, 2009, p. 1). The collaborative advantage provided by Web 2.0 tools comes in the form of tools such as wikis and Google Docs (Ferris & Wilder, 2006). This level of interactivity provides students with extended e- learning experiences that are authentic, authentic being that they are collaborative and realistic (Herrington, Reeves & Oliver, 2010).

Figure 1: Web 2.0 applications screenshot from

Figure 1: Web 2.0 applications screenshot from

Applications also provide great opportunity in e-learning for personalisation and customisation. In 2009, The Horizon Report predicted the rise of the personal web in two to three years. The report defined the personal web as “a collection of technologies that confer the ability to reorganise, configure and manage online content rather than just viewing it” (Johnson, Levine, & Smith, 2009, p. 9). It is noted that applications play a major part in providing the opportunities for students to personalise their learning, individually creating content and curating content (Johnson, Levine, & Smith, 2009). Online applications such as Diigo, Twitter and Scoop.It curate and aggregate content to provide a personal repository for students who can then share this with their own personal learning network, which helps extend the experience provided for students in their own formal and informal learning.

Figure 2: Web 2.0 icon

Figure 2: Web 2.0 icon

Mobile devices, and the applications they provide, facilitate an ‘anywhere, anytime’ aspect in education and a personal web experience. Klopfer and Squire (2008) identify that advantageous features of mobile learning and applications include portability, social interactivity, contextual sensitivity and connectivity along with being personal. The variety of mobile applications available cater for productivity, social networking, game-based engagement, and so many more learning needs, all individually chosen and installed on a mobile device by the individual users. The possibilities for student engagement in their learning are extended through this medium, as it is so highly personal and customisable. Jeng et. al. (2010) identifies that “mobile technologies gradually facilitate and enhance learners’ interaction by means of accessing, discussing and sharing associated information through social networks” (p. 7). The extension of e-learning occurs through the opportunity provided to students for authentic interactivity with their own personal learning network, highly facilitated by the use of mobile and web applications.


META e-Learning: e-Portfolios

“E-portfolios are supposed to serve three purposes: assessment, showcase, and learning” (Greenburg, 2004, p. 1). E-portfolios are also designed to facilitate the collection of learning evidence, create a learner-centric experience and help students develop lifelong learning skills like critical thinking and problem solving (Jones, 2010; Tosh & Werdmuller, 2004; Lorenzo & Ittelson, 2005). E-portfolios facilitate a learning experience beyond knowledge and skill acquisition, in that they assist students in “career planning and CV building” (Tosh & Werdmuller, 2004, p. 1) and provide opportunities for students to conduct their own learning assessments. The integration of e-portfolios allows educational institutions to capture information about students that can be utilised in accreditation and assessment processes and procedures (Reese and Levy, 2009). E-portfolios also provide increased opportunity for reflection on learning, thus facilitating greater learner reflection on personal achievement.

Figure 1: Balancing the two faces of e-porfolios by Helen Barrett

Figure 1: Balancing the two faces of e-porfolios by Helen Barrett

Gray (2008) extends on the potential of e-portfolios even further by defining e-portfolio-based learning as a complex process of planning, synthesising, sharing, discussing, reflecting, giving, receiving and responding to feedback” (p. 8). E-portfolio-based learning makes learners active participants in the construction of new knowledge and skills and facilitates the application of these in higher order ways that can continue to transform future e-learning experiences. Assessment of learning should not ask students to recount and recall facts, but should get students to demonstrate critical thinking skills, which can be facilitated through the integration of an e-portfolio (Haken, 2006). Providing evidence of learning is a form of assessment and a valuable way to provide future employers with more details of background knowledge and skills.

Figure 2: e-Portfolios by Beefy Basses Some rights reserved

Figure 2: e-Portfolios by Beefy Basses Some rights reserved

The instructional support and career planning opportunities that exist for learners to extend and evidence their learning through such a system as e-portfolios has been harnessed by PLANE in all e-learning experiences. PLANE has taken advantage of the integration being utilised by many institutions, which enables Mahara e-portfolios to be linked directly with Moodle courses. PLANE makes extensive use of this integration by making it a mandatory requirement that teachers completing learning experiences within PLANE populate and reflect on an evidence page, which is a Mahara e-portfolio page. The purpose of this evidence page is to evaluate their learning outcomes against teaching standards to gain accredited hours of professional development. New Scheme Teachers with the NSW Institute of Teachers must complete 50 hours of accredited professional learning in the five years following their accreditation at professional competence (NSW IT, 2005) and PLANE has become the only Australian provider of broadly endorsed professional learning (PLANE, 2012), facilitated by the use of e-portfolios. This is a significant extension on e-learning.

Power Tools Plus

I am floored every time I am witness to the great experience, passion, and skill of teachers who use ICT in their daily teaching and learning.  I work for a cutting-edge educational project called PLANE that explores teachers use of ICT and celebrates their highly accomplished practice in integrating a variety of tools into a range of contexts.  It excites me when I am in a session with such amazing educators who are really driving the change in schools.  So many of these teachers are using online tools, websites, social media and more to engage their students and staff in ICT and I wanted to share a few that they have opened my eyes to, some I had heard of but they are using them in highly effective ways and it is very encouraging.

Strip Designer is a great app that offers the opportunity for users to create comic strips with a very easy to use interface and tool set.  I see this as a great way of presenting content/information in an alternative and even more engaging way than usual and of course as an even better resource for students to use to publish their own work creatively.

Comic Life is another great tool for online comic strip creation and I have used it and Marvel’s create your own comic tool as well.

iBuild App is a site that promises you a 1-2-3 experience to create your own app in minutes!  So many people want to create their own apps but don’t know where to start, this is a great place to start.  No coding required and all free!

Spider Scribe is a concept mapping tool, one of many out there but this one is better than most that I’ve experienced.  This tool allows your to connect text, docs, images, videos, and even locations on maps.  Its a one-stop-shop as far as concept mapping goes.  I personally cannot wait to use this tool for planning research and presentations that I will be doing.

There are a plethora of tools out there on the web for teachers to utilise in ways that just make facilitating student learning so rich and varied.  These tools offer so much potential and when harnessed and integrated intentionally they are power tools.  I’ll continue to share more on these tools in the future so stay tuned… 🙂

Collaborate through Content Curation

Internet content curation has grown exponentially in the last few years and as I look at who has been reading my blog of late, just even in the last two days, at least 20 of the 40-50 views have been via Scoop.It.  I decided the read further into this internet phenomenon and found some great sites.  This article by David Kapuler lists the Top 10 Sites for Curating the Web, which enlightened me to other curation opportunities that I had not heard of as yet.

A few of the sites I have actively used, however, some I had not heard of and they sound great.  Not so many years ago it was only bookmarking sites like Diigo and Delicious that really offered curating tools but now there are sites like Scoop.It and Paper.Li out there creating digital libraries of so many fantastic resources.  Twitter has become the biggest social bookmarking tool on the Internet and in that sense, also an incredibly popular tool for curation.  Here are some statistics shared in the article Content Curators Are The New Superheros Of The Web by Steven Rosenbaum:

Yesterday, 250 million photos were uploaded to Facebook, 864,000 hours of video were uploaded to YouTube, and 294 BILLION emails were sent. And that’s not counting all the check-ins, friend requests, Yelp reviews and Amazon posts, and pins on Pinterest….If you want to understand how fast curation is growing on the web, just take a look at Pinterest. The two-year-old visual clipping and publishing platform has now surpassed 10 million users, making it the fastest-growing web service on the web ever, according to Comscore. Comscore reported that Pinterest was the fastest independent site to hit 10 million monthly uniques in the U.S.

Curation to me is like a Google search, I type in a query and Google delivers me a list of resources that match that query.  Curation is about knowledge discovery through the lens of a specific topic.  Brittany Morin writes on The Huffington Post about The Curated Web and says that:

Curators, by modern definition, carefully and decisively choose among the best of all that’s available and often create entirely new ideas and perspectives out of that information, all while using their own voice… Editors improve content authored by others; the curators are those authors. The Internet has given rise to all kinds of bite-sized editorial content – photos, videos, and even 140-character sentences. Curators can find the best bits and pieces of this content and evolve it into a bigger picture or idea.

I’m very much into mobile technology and devices and in today’s culture of Internet browsing and other activity on mobile devices, being able to curate on a mobile device is very important.  These are the sites below that could be used for curating information:

I’m very keen on exploring these apps more, especially Pearltrees so stay posted…

Twitter – A World of Knowledge Sharing

  1. I heard last year that as far as social bookmarking sites go, Twitter is the number one site for bookmarking, even though it was not first intended to be for bookmarking.  However, whilst it does not bookmark URLs, images and videos in the same way as Diigo might it has become the main place for global URL sharing.  It’s fantastic!! I love seeing what amazing new bits of information, resources, tools, and quotes I can pick up everyday but also, the connections I can make is extremely valuable.  Anyone who follows my tweets will know that when I am at a conference I take my notes all through my tweets.  I do this because it allows me to put in URLs that are immediately accessible and because if I catch things said and others don’t they can catch it later and I like to contribute to that back-channel conversation.  I have been favouriting more tweets of late too but then thinking, what do I do with them besides bookmarking them in my Diigo account?  I love using Storify so I thought it might be a good idea to regularly reflect on my favourite tweets in Storify and then publish on my blog.  So below are my favourite tweets for the last week or so.
  2. I have only been a Twitter user for the last 18 months but I use it more than I do Facebook at the moment and it is certainly more productive to use.  I get so much from Twitter these days and these tools shared above assist in identifying ways to make the most out of Twitter.  I already use my Twitter account and feed in my blog and in Paper.Li, Flipboard and in Storify but there are other ways I’m keen to explore in making use of my tweets as well.  I would like to try Twups and Tweetwally because of organising my tweets and aggregating are probably two of the more important things I want to be able to do.  The archivist tool that is shown in the second tweet is also a great way to summarise statistics on a hashtag which can be very valuable in conference situations for example.

  3. Assessing student achievement of learning outcomes is a high priority in education and the four tools shared in the above tweet offer different tools and software for assessing this student achievement.  Customisable quizzes and tests, can be designed to suit your individual educational context and provide detailed reports and summaries following the assessment.  I’m currently not in a teaching role but they sound like great resources to try out.
  4. This image was one of the first things that caught my eye when I went to the #flipclass
    results trending on Twitter a few days ago.  It’s a very effective representation of the
    Flipped Classroom, PBL and Bloom’s all in one visual resource.   There
    is so much packed into the image but if I follow a pathway within that
    image its full of great scaffolding for developing learning experiences
    that integrate the Flipped Classroom, PBL and Bloom’s taxonomy. 
  5. Worded in six questions is the ‘criteria’ for what might make an educator innovative.  It’s something I’ve heard debated in many education circles over the last few years, what is innovation and what makes someone an innovator?  I like this article but words can’t put a box around a person or type of person and define them as an innovator or not but it could be an interesting start to what does make an innovator.
  6. I remember learning about metacognition in 1st year university and the many lectures and tutorials that were spent debating what really defined metacognition.  This is a very simple breakdown of what metacognition is, examples of metacognition skills and strategies for the facilitation of self-regulatory learning.
  7. A very well designed Prezi, even if it is still nausea producing to just flick through and get a quick overview.  Worth a look through still 🙂
  8. planejourney
    What Teachers Need to Know about #BYOD ( Bring Your Own Device ) Trend in Education via @medkh9 #edutech #edtech
  9. The above article strongly advocates BYOD for education.  It’s a risky venture and there are so many implications to consider in integrating such an approach to delivering teaching and learning but would it also enhance opportunities that are sometimes limited by poor school budgets?  As a high school teacher I had very little access to technology and getting a class onto computers to do a task was very painful.  However, I was also in a school where the students came from a low socioeconomic background and could not possibly be expected to bring their own devices to school.  Many of the students did have iPods but then it was the wall put up by the school that said we can’t use mobile devices in class because they aren’t art of learning.  So, it’s a constant battle but I do believe strongly in the value of the BYOD movement because it makes learning meaningful and personal, amongst many other benefits.

    Finally,  a great read below to end this post….

Project-based learning

The concept of project-based learning is one that steers away from the traditional model of teachers providing students with information and then having students respond to that new information.  It is quite a restricting model when you think about it and does not allow for students to always grow and self-direct their own learning.  I have experienced project-based learning in some professional learning settings such as in the Intel Teach Essentials Online Course for Master Trainers and in some recent experience I’ve had with a new professional learning project.

A systematic teaching method that engages students in learning essential knowledge and life-enhancing skills through an extended, student-influenced inquiry process structured around complex, authentic questions and carefully designed products and tasks. (From

The potential for project-based learning (PBL) with technology is endless but how many educators embrace this opportunity with an innovative mind to improve their teaching and the learning opportunities for their students?  I would game enough to say its very few.  I myself did not readily use technology for the purpose of PBL as much as I could’ve as a classroom teacher, however, now I see the potential and I would love to readily rejuvenate my teaching with PBL.

So if PBL is about giving students a problem and then giving them room and opportunity to solve that problem, how could you do this?  I did try it once or twice in my classes as a Music teacher and I guess I posed a simple problem in that students wanted to start a band (hypothetically) so how would they do it?  What would they need?  It wasn’t a long or time-consuming project but I got some amazingly creative results like a full video from a group of girls who created their band personalities and identify and filmed an introductory video.  It was amazing!

In the Intel course I did, the focus was on some very broad questions, one overall driving question for the unit of work and then some smaller, lower-level questions that helped unpack the overall aim and problem being put forward.  I chose a question that was based on “How do you write a song for a small group?” and then there were other questions to help guide this further.  It didn’t succeed very well, I’ll admit it was not set up to really help students learn.  I gave them a problem-based activity but I tried structuring and controlling the activity too much rather than giving them personal freedom to discover their own answers.

What would I have done differently?  How would I have used technology?  I think I definitely would’ve used their iPods and iPhones more and got them to explore apps that would help them create a song that was multi-layered and relied on more than one instrument.  I could have provided more examples for them to be inspired by and I could have modeled the solution with my own completed example.  My students didn’t have much to go from and this didn’t help.

Another issue in doing PBL for me was getting students to record their work and what processes they were going through to solve the problem and provide a solution.  They did not record anything and so when it came marking time I had very little to go from.  But now I realise that I could’ve got them to use a project management or task management app on their iPods and iPhones as well to complete the work and show me what and how they did it.

There really is no end to the possibilities with technology I believe but it’s about being intentional and perhaps also just learning to let go of the traditional in favour of the transforming.  Check out for some excellent resources on PBL.

My top apps for implementing the R2D2 model

The R2D2 model or aptly nicknamed “Star Wars” model by Dr Curtis Bonk, is a model for empowering and facilitating greater online learning and engagement in activities to optimise students’ learning outcomes.  With my reading up on the model I have considered some apps that might be useful in achieving each stage of this four-quandrant model.  Some apps shared here are also appropriate for K-12 as well.

Image sourced from Bonk’s MOOC Instructional Ideas and Technology Tools for Online Success