Connecting dots for digital learning and teaching

Effective Education Fosters Experiences Provoking Quality Reflections

Effective Schools Foster Experiences Provoking Reflection” – from Peter Pappas, one of our favorite bloggers – this saying is well correlated with our education ideal of learner-centered learning with autonomy. We think it might be helpful to pull some good resources about quality reflection here.

Taxonomy of reflectionIn an effort to help schools become more reflective learning environments, Peter developed this “Taxonomy of Reflection.” – modeled on Bloom’s approach(Prezi tour of the Taxonomy) and he posted in four installments:

1. A Taxonomy of  Reflection
2. The Reflective Student
3. The Reflective Teacher
4. The Reflective Principal

The tools for reflection include (from Reflection for Learning:

1.Blog :

Learning About Blogs FOR Your Students is an excellent “how-to” series of articles elaborating on quality blogging from She wrote : “Becoming an avid blog reader of a variety of blogs is the first step for a teacher contemplating blogging with his/her students. Reading blogs with metacognitive analysis in mind, will help expose teachers to the potential blogging holds in relationship to LEARNING.”So in the first post the recommended blogs for teachers and students to read are provided. The steps toward quality blogging are detailed as these parts :

While there are lots of options to choose as blogging tools, using free services like Weebly is an alternative since owners have more possibilities to express themselves, they might be able to integrate different ways of storytelling together. Weebly for Education is a special version  for teachers and students. Teachers can create a free class website and let your students build sites too.

For elementary or middle schools, Kidblog‘s simple, yet powerful tools allow students to publish posts and participate in discussions within a secure classroom blogging community. Teachers maintain complete control over student blogs.

2.Wikis or collaborative tools : 

Some well-known examples of collaborative tools are: WikispacesPBWorksPageFlakesGoogle Sites and Google documents. More options are like :

Voicethread is a web-based communication tool built specifically for K-12 students and eductors, it’s a collaborative, multimedia slide show that holds images, documents, and videos and allows people to navigate slides and leave comments in 5 ways – using voice (with a mic or telephone), text, audio file, or video (via a webcam); you can share a VoiceThread with friends, students, and colleagues for them to record comments too, embed it into other websites, or export it to MP3 players or DVDs. Ed.VoiceThread is a secure environment for education, there are a long list of academic researches on pedagogical possibilities that Voicethread can provide(K12, higher education and professional development), like this article is one example.

The intersection of Web 2.0 technologies and reflective journals: An investigation of possibilities, potential and pitfalls

Twiddla lets you cooperatively mark up websites, graphics, and photos, or start brainstorming on a blank canvas, it’s an online real-time web-meeting tool with voice chat capability, the professional version is offered free for education use now.

Glogster EDU the interactive e-poster lets students reflect what they learn independently or collaboratively through multi-media mix. It’s excellent for class projects and building eportfolios of students. The Glogster EDU itself is a resources sharing platform or a gallery of ideas. It integrates perfectly with Edmodo.

Wall Wisher is a web application that provides a virtual bulletin board for teachers to questions or ideas for students to think about, students are sent the unique wall URL and can leave virtual sticky notes answering the question, it fosters collaboration between students. You can paste audios recorded using Vocaroo.

3.Multimedia (digital storytelling) :

Digital storytelling could be an important means for reflection and eportfolios, now it might need only a PC/MAC with web browser and internet to tell your own stories. We had put together links of digital storytelling resources here. Helen C. Barrett compiled a table of storytelling software listed in order of cost and ease-of-use. University of Houston also built a website “The Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling Website” with abundant digital storytelling resources and examples. Permission is granted to all educators and students who wish to use any material on the site including text, images, digital stories and other resources, for personal, educational, and/or non-commercial purposes.

DS106 is a free online course everyone can join anytime, in many ways this course will be part storytelling workshop, part technology training, and, most importantly, part critical interrogation of the digital landscape that is ever increasingly mediating how we communicate with one another.

4.Interactive Micro-blogging :

The most popular system is TwitterEdmodo is a web-based, private communications platform for teachers and students. “Micro-Reflections aren’t canned summaries of a learner’s experience. They are the “raw materials” of reflection – off the cuff and less filtered than a written narrative composed well after the fact” – Helen Barrett explained. Although Twitter is a very busy information stream, but there are great chances to meet global experts there. This is a Google document : “Popular Education Hashtags“, it’s a reference for using effective hashtags in Twitter. If student bloggers like feedbacks on their blogging, you/they can use #comments4kids. is an open-source backchannel tool developed at the MIT Media Lab, you can create an online forum through which users can exchange messages in response to a presentation they’re watching, multiple backchannels and voting feature are available and you can set start and end time.

5.Social Networking :

Social networking tools, like web2.0 tools mentioned above, could support reflection through collaboration, dialogue, and feedback. Building a Learning Network for Students is our old post about the meanings and tools of networking in learning.

We think the reflection from interaction with learners around the world is another key. This experience helps students think out of box, it mirrors a clearer situation of their learning. To build a global education opportunity, you might find this article helpful : “10 Tips to Nurture Global Education in Classrooms“(refer to Edna Sackson).

photo credit: Wesley Fryer via photopin cc


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“Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I will understand.” -------- Chinese Wisdom "Games are the most elevated form of investigation." -------- Albert Einstein
"I'm calling for investments in educational technology that will help create digital tutors that are as effective as personal tutors, educational software as compelling as the best video game," President Barack Obama said while touring a tech-focused Boston school (year 2011).
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