chaudhryniza

April 21, 2011

Educational Software Evaluation

Filed under: Portfolio Entries — chaudhryniza @ 4:14 pm

The software that was evaluated is a called Family Food, it is found on the sesame street website. The object of the game is to make 4 different healthy meals (a milkshake, salad, burritos and/or stew). The gamer gets the chance to pick different ingredients from different areas of the kitchen to add to the recipe besides these children are also learning proper hygiene. The game is enjoyable for children 2 ½ to 5 years of age.

The reason my group and I picked this educational software is because it was a colorful game, provided a lot of choice for the children. Choice is one of 5 main ingredients of active learning according to the high/scope curriculum model (Hohmann & Weikart, 2002). This is something that I identified just by play the game for the very first time. Next I saw this game engages the child by using silly language, this to me was a great of keeping the child engaged in the game. After evaluating the software further, I came to learn this software was age appropriate in more than on way.

The product uses extensive use of graphics, colors, shapes and objects that enhances learning in ways not possible in a written text – The Multisensory Approach (Goyne, McDonough, & Padgett, 2000). There is use of animation, video and proper use of audio. The program is sequential as it portrays the order of e.g defrosting the food before adding it to the recipe. This provides transferable skills that can be used in everyday life of the child. Even though it the topic hovers around cooking it manages to talk about safety, the daily sequence of events, hygiene and healthy eating.

The difficulty of the game does not change through out, although in the game there is a variety of foods that can be cooked the gamer does not get a chance to pick which one they’d like to cook first. The level of difficulty stays stagnant throughout the game thus not challenging the gamer to progress throughout the game. Since it is geared towards 2.5-5 year olds so it does stick to the basics in terms of attention, hand-eye coordination etc. Another limitation to this software is its navigation. Some may feel the navigation is age appropriate – the navigation in the game is giving the gamer no control of play, pause or main menu- but I feel adding a menu, creating different levels and different methods of adding ingredients (not just shaking on top of the rest of the recipe) would be great recommendations for the next iteration of this game. The method that is used of moving ingredients back and forth to add to the recipe may seem repetitive to adults but when thinking of a preschool child 2 ½ – 5 years, they are still mastering their skills and the use of repetition can be seen appropriate.

Here is a screen cast and an in-dept evaluation of the Family Food game.

References:

Goyne, J. S., McDonough, S. K., & Padgett, D. D. (2000).  Practical Guidelines for Evaluating Educational Software. The Clearing House. Retrieved from SLATE.

Hohmann, M., & Weikart, D. P. (2002). Educating Young Children . In M. Hohmann, & D. P. Weikart, Educating Young Children . michigan: High/Scope Press.

March 31, 2011

Kendellhurst Academy- Website Evaluation

Filed under: Portfolio Entries — chaudhryniza @ 4:35 pm

Kendellhurst Academy is a preschool that is located in the community of Streetsville, it also has another location in north Oakville. It is a preschool that provides children to an alternative to Montessori education and regular day care facilities.

The target audience for this preschool academy, according to its program statement is, parents that are choosy and are looking for a unique program for their children. The website design for the preschool uses graphical tactics that give a feeling of calm and rock stability.

Mike Tuck explains in his article on Practical web design, what ever the reason for your website’s existence is it should show the feelings you want your target audience to experience. He further explains the different types of feelings a website may want you experience, in this case the feelings the website of a bank was portraying linked closely to Kendellhurst Academy’s website. After navigating around the website and assessing to see for the essentials, professionalism of the website (background colors, color schemes) as described by Mike Tuck I would say Kendellhurst’s website is up to par in most areas.

By briefly reading the preschools program statement, philosophy and program mandate one can get the feeling this Academy has set high standards for its learning and environment. By assessing the Kendellhurst’s website, based on Mike Tucks fundamentals of web design, it can be established by many that this website meets the professional standards the school portrays.

We took a look in depth of how Kendellhurst’s website meet the fundamentals of web design, as outlined by Mike Tuck. First we looked at its navigation and usability. To do this we did a simple test where we looked for a few essential things that a childcare center web site should have. These essential things were given to us in class by our professor. In the field of Early Childhood Education every childcare center has its own philosophy that they follow. Also each childcare center has its own pedagogy, which evolves from their philosophy. The director of the center/owner usually creates this, in this case the owner. There were three tests that we did:

o   Find the philosophy of the center

o   Find the main contact of the center and sent them an email

o   Find the mapped location and hours of operation for the center

For myself finding this information was quiet simple, this could be due to my prior experience with technology. On the other hand when looking at the website and finding the information from a parents prospective, it was the same. Mike Tuck says there is a concept where to find information should be “three clicks or less.” This website was well aware of this concept as the three test’s answers were found in three clicks.

The website had an easy to follow layout. According to Mike Tuck fundamentals on web design, Kendellhurst’s website used a traditional approach by using a simple table of links that marched down the left side of the page. This table of links labeled “Main Menu” included a link to the schools philosophy.


Next there were more links with different labels/ headings on them. Near the bottom of the tablet of links there was a heading “Registration” and here was a link that said “contact us.” That link had both a map of the schools location and its email address along with a phone number. What this page failed to include was the hours of operation.

After further navigating around the table of links, the hours of operation were outlined under “Policies & Procedures.”

Kendellhurst’s website uses various shades of a toupee like colour. The text was mainly in black, while headings varied from a shade of red, green or orange. Mike Tuck says in his article that dark text on an off-white background often eases the strain on the visitor’s eyes and keeping readability to a maximum.

Multi-Media was used in Kendellhurst’s website as it has a few pictures of children, also it has a flash player near the top of the webpage which changes every few seconds that shows pictures of children and after each picture text glides in.

The text that glides matches closely to the text on the “benefits of Kendellhurst Academy” page on the website. Also this page has a subtle music, a sort of symphony, which plays in the background. The volume of the music is quiet low and not at all over powering. It also has a button to stop the music and play it again.

After navigating around the website and assessing it based on the fundamentals of web design as outlined in Mike Tucks article, the best features were the easy to follow layout of the website.

Some recommendations for the future for this website include:

  • To add a search box at the top – so it is easier for parents with no prior technological experience on the Internet to be able to find what they are looking for.

o   Although the traditional table of links method used in this website may seem easy to follow, not for someone who rarely uses the Internet.

  • To change the scripts of the webpage so it is easier for parents to book mark specific pages that interest them

o   All throughout surfing this website the URL of the website remained the same which made it hared to hyperlink specific pages while they were being discussed

o   Also the homepage is a “splash page.” Mike Tuck explains these to be “pages that typically load a single graphic or text block that require the visitor to “click through” to get to the main page.” He further explains with splash pages visitors usually bookmark the home page, in this case that isn’t possible. This is because the whole website and all its pages have the same URL. This can be extremely frustrating when parents want to view something specific on the website such as news about school closures and or get the contact information of the school.

March 17, 2011

Collaborative Writing

Filed under: Portfolio Entries — chaudhryniza @ 7:53 am

Collaborative Writing

Last week as part of one of our assessments for our Leadership in a Technological World class, we were asked to use an Information Communication Technology with the purpose of collaborative writing. The task was as such, we got the option to pick a platform of choice to use to create this collaborative piece of writing, which was essentially a proposal. My group decided to use Google Docs PowerPoint Presentation.

WHY GOOGLE DOCS POWERPOINT?


Reasons for this included how we wanted to take on a challenge as none of us had put together a proposal in a power point presentation (PPT.) format. We thought it’d be an exciting challenge to collect our thoughts and present them in a PPT.

By using the Google Docs PowerPoint we were able present our collaborative piece of writing in different forms. The different forms included visually using picture aids, transitions and audio notes within the Presentation. We came to an understanding that not everyone learns the same way; so in order to propose the idea to our client we wanted to make sure we were meeting all those learning styles. The PowerPoint supported this as it allowed us to use mediums that would appeal to learner that is visual, linguistic and auditory. We used text, pictures and videos, and recorded speech.

CHALLENGES

As we used Google Docs PowerPoint we came across several technical challenges. These challenges included

  • The inability of Google Docs PowerPoint to let us use the chat feature while editing slides
  • The chat feature was only functional while you were viewing the presentation
  • Not many options for editing the presentation

o   No option to add transitions

o   No option to add effects and animations to the slides

  • No option to add voice recording or any other media
  • Lack of video selections when it came to embedding videos in the PPT.

o   You could only search videos for videos using the search button in Google docs.

o   Can’t embed videos directly from a URL

  • Only one person could edit a slide at a time

o   If more than one person was typing in the same slide the text box would shrink and text would disappear.

o   It took about 15 seconds for the slides to update

GOOGLE DOCS AND EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION

Using Google Docs PowerPoint presentation to form final professional documents may not be the best choice. Reason I say this is because as my group and I were working on our collaborative writing piece we found that no more than one person could edit a slide at the same time. Moreover we found that communicating amongst each other was difficult as the chat function is only usable in the presentation mode. When working on policy within the early childhood field, or any profession for that matter, it is important to be talking to your peers in realtime. Next it is important while working on documents to be able to edit all at the same time, as Google docs did not allow for this to happen. On the other hand Google Docs did allow us to collect and refine all our ideas of the topic, along with minimal media.

ALTERNATIVE

An alternative to Google Docs that could be used for the purpose of collaborative writing could be a Wikki. It works quiet similarly to Google Docs as you are able to share the document with several people at once.



Zoho Show is another collaborative writing tool that can be used. This is more specific to people who’d like to create presentations. I find that this tool provides the user with a lot more editing options. Similar to Google Docs PowerPoint presentation this can be used with in a team as they could work collaboratively to create documents. Click for more information on Zoho visit this blog entry by diannerees at WordPress.

Other Examples of free collaborative writing tools:

FOR THE FUTURE,WHAT DID I LEARN?

To add to my prior knowledge of collaborative writing, this experience taught me to be patient and flexible. It showed me another way to connect amongst my peers using Information Communication Technologies. This exercise also taught me when working collaboratively using a live document such a Google Docs, one should be quiet familiar with using computers. On the contrary, only one person in your team could be more knowledgeable about things such as hyper-linking and inserting multimedia in to the document and by using a live document you could communicate to one another and seek help. By using Google Docs I found that my team was willing to take risks and try new things, when in the past people would just stick to what the knew and let the other members of the team handle the rest. What that means is in the past some of the team would be in charge of handling the content while the others would handle the designing.

This is the presentation that my group and I came up with.


February 17, 2011

Portfolio Entry #1

Filed under: Portfolio Entries — chaudhryniza @ 9:19 pm

Tammy Andrew’s Blog about the pros and cons of using multimedia in the classroom was a particularly interesting one. This RSS feed is about how technology is starting to become accepted with in classrooms. It talks about how multimedia is just one medium with many different formats while traditional instructional media had more than one medium. This included tools such as books, newspapers and television. In other words multimedia is just one medium that is able to make traditional instructional media out-dated almost. Makes this form of media obsolete comes with a price. 

This article connects to technology and learning in several different ways. It talks about incorporating multimedia into the classroom. There are many aspects to this idea. It can be beneficial to us as educators as technology is growing and widely spreading among teenagers and school-age children. Children are getting use to and being exposed to technology more and more every year, as more child-friendly technologies are being launched.



This RSS feed is valuable to us as Early Childhood educators as we need to be aware of what technologies are out there. It is important to teach the children how to be safe while using things such as the Internet. This is important as odds are increasing of classrooms changing from how we once knew them. It is probable that classrooms will soon have computers and teachers will rely on technologies to teach. This is already seen in colleges for example, Sheridan College’s Early Childhood Education diploma program is a mobile computing program where professors use power point presentations to conduct lectures.


This RSS feed connects to my pedagogy as I believe children’s program planning should be done based on their interests. Being aware that technologies could very possibly be part of classrooms can work into my benefit as I can program plan for children’s learning through it. Keeping myself up to date with them keep me up to par with the children. More and more children are being given IPods, Cellphones and I Pads for holiday’s presents. In my experience toddlers who can’t speak as yet know their way around these technologies. What do I do as an early childhood educator? I take one step forward and incorporate them into my program planning. Also by incorporating multimedia in the classroom it can negatively impact children that do not have these available to them in the home setting. I personally would not want to be doing this as it is not part of my pedagogy. The absence of a computer should not be the reason a child is falling behind in school, because he/she does not have it.

Here was an interesting video that i found on youtube talking about technology being used in a Early Childhood classroom.



February 11, 2011

sample

Filed under: Portfolio Entries — chaudhryniza @ 1:34 am

this is where my blog entries will be

January 27, 2011

so this is how this blogging thing works?

Filed under: Personal — chaudhryniza @ 8:52 pm

so stressed for this test that i have in my tech class. EEK!!

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