Week 5

This week’s reflection asks us to reflect in one of three powerful tools that have been in use in business and classrooms for some time, namely Microsoft PowerPointGlogster and Prezi. I decided to reflect on Glogster because I am not familiar with it.


Glogster

Glogster is a relatively new tool developed by a group of developers in the Czech Republic. This tool is officially, Glogster is described by its creators as a “Glogster is a cloud-based platform for digital storytelling and interactive learning”, and this description is very significant, as it seems that Glogster was created with the specific aim of enhancing educational experience and thus engagement (Fig. 1).

Glogster Front PageFig.1. Glogster works by adding a number of different media to a single page. Source: Gloster.edu 

It is worth discussing one of the main purposes of using a Glogster inside the classroom and illustrating the point with an example. Although a Glogster can appear as a ‘poster’, with headings and subheadings that guide the reader, it is more difficult to make this tool present a ‘linear’ sequence of information or storytelling. Its nature and design lend it to be ‘bitsy’, with the reader able to jump from one section to the other with ease, engaging with different types of audio-visual text. A teacher can use this design to his/her advantage in the classroom. For example, in an English class studying persuasive texts and issues: the teacher could select a current issue and splash a Glogster page with different news reports, facts, figures, opinions, newspaper headings, quotes from politicians and so on. Students could be asked to somehow categorise the information that is presented to them for the purpose of understanding the issue and constructing their own meaning. Therefore, it can be a good thing that a Glogster is ‘bitsy’, as students would be required to engage in higher order thinking skills to decode the information and categorise it according to pros/cons and different persuasive devices.

Likewise, at the beginning of a lesson or unit of work, students could be asked to access a Glogster that provided a variety of information about the topic to provide context. Students could be asked to predict something about the topic/concept/issue presented or to provide an initial opinion that could be used by the teacher to gauge students’ prior knowledge. This is highly valuable to teachers as they can plan the rest of the unit based on what the students already know, thus focusing on their zones of proximal development.

Further, the Glogster lends itself to student-centred activity. It is engaging because of its interactivity and requires each student to be an active participant in the class whilst the teacher facilitates. This differs from a traditional PowerPoint presentation, for example, whereby the teacher is presenting content and/or concepts explicitly. This is appropriate in some circumstances, but Glogsters are particularly useful for active learning.

However, depending on a teacher’s purpose for a lesson or unit, this very handy element of a Glogster may not be so appropriate. For example, at times it is necessary in the classroom for a teacher to explain or demonstrate a concept or skill explicitly, such as essay writing. It would be easier for students to receive this information or explicit teaching in a linear step-by-step process, in which a PowerPoint presentation may be more appropriate.

The above ideas and examples focus on how the teacher can create and use Glogster (or not) for the students’ consumption. But what about students creating their own Glogsters? When would that be a good idea? Again, it depends on the purpose. If, for example, a student was creating a Glogster as part of their final assessment, the teacher needs to reflect on the skills that they are wanting the student to demonstrate using the Glogster. This will inform whether this ICT tool is appropriate or not.

It would seem appropriate for students to utilise this tool for a final assessment if they needed to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of a complex issue. The Glogster would allow them to describe different pieces of the ‘puzzle’ in a variety of audio-visual ways. But perhaps more importantly, the Glogster, through its comments system, is a way for students to assess each other – or ‘peer assess’. This would be an opportunity to teach students about how to ‘comment’ appropriately in a public space. For example, students can be taught the ‘sandwich’ method of providing feedback (positive comment, constructive comment, positive comment). Students should also be taught explicitly about the reliability of sources from the Internet, especially if they are embedding third party sources.

Like other tools discussed here, Glogster has a number of advantages and disadvantages listed on Table 1.

Advantages                                                       Disadvantages
1. Easy to use, fun and engaging (subjective). 1. Does require a good internet connection.
2. Ability to share (web 2.0), allows for collaboration and differentiation. 2. Filtering in the school may produce some issues with finding content.
3. Can be work on for homework, and it is a great distance-learning tool. 3. It may be too easy to use, so fast that it may create a ‘drag and drop’ mentality.
4. Can be adapted to any subject curriculum area. 4. Requires online content attached to a Glogster page to be online 24×7.
5. Teacher can control the learning space. 5. Glogster can be a messy wall of content from different sources, some reliable information and some not.

In summary, a Glogster can be a very easy and intuitive tool to work with such as demonstrated on the video below. This tool provides many opportunities for the teacher to scaffold a process for how to critique multimodal texts, which allows students to navigate their world and will determine how they participate in it.


References

Dona, E., Stover, S., Broughton, N, (2014). MODERN LANGUAGES AND DISTANCE EDUCATION: Thirteen Days in the Cloud. The Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education, Iss 3, Pp 155-170 (2014).

Vogel, D, R., Dickson, G, and Lehman, J. (1986). Persuasion and the Role of Visual Presentation Support: The UM/3M Study, 1986.

Wake, Donna ; Whittingham, Jeff, (2013). Teacher Candidates’ Perceptions of Technology Supported Literacy Practices. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education (CITE Journal), 2013, Vol.13(3), p.175-206.

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