Author Archives: Dean Vendramin

It’s About The Journey Not The Destination

Welcome to my first ECI 833 blog. We were asked to do the following: write a blog post exploring your personal understanding of educational technology. What might a contemporary definition of educational technology look like? How has your own understanding and practice of using educational technology been shaped (consciously or not) by the rich historical and philosophical contexts? So I tried to be a bit creative with a podcast, vlog, reading reflections, and learnings from my peers and I really enjoyed the experience and hope you do to. Enjoy the ride.

Hold on to that feelin’

Have a listen to my personal ed tech journey (great on a walk, drive, cleaning the bathroom, or in backyard having a beverage).

https://anchor.fm/dashboard/episode/ek3j65

Truth hurts 😉

Found a great infographic of Education Technology through out the years. Have a look and listen on this journey that goes back to the future.

Great Scott!

Learnings / Musings from Readings

  • Neil Postman – Five things we need to know about technological change
    “We need to proceed with our eyes wide open so that we many use technology rather than be used by it.”
    So grateful to be taking these ECI classes as this has been a theme throughout (especially in our ECI 830 debates).  We are better teachers and humans when we follow this sage advice.
  • Michael Molenda – Historical foundations
    “Technology: The application of scientific or other organized knowledge to practical tasks
    I like this simple yet effective definition (similar to the one I spoke on my vlog and Tarina mentions in her blog).
  • Tony Bates – A short history of educational technology
    “However, what distinguishes the digital age from all previous ages is the rapid pace of technology development and our immersion in technology-based activities in our daily lives.”
    I don’t think anyone could have predicted what has happened especially in last 30 years since the internet began.  I still don’t think I can grasp what has happened in my lifetime and even hard to relate to my own past as a result.
  •  Audrey Watters – School work and surveillance
    “Every student is guilty until the algorithm proves their innocence.” Hard to build trust when this is the first thing that comes to mind when a student writes a paper or does a project.  Many need to focus more on process rather than just final product.
  • Audrey Watters – The 100 worst edtech debacles of the decade
    “Everyone Should Learn to Code”
    Interesting points but shouldn’t just focus on silicon valley.  Computational thinking is good for the mind and people can solve some wicked problems with coding.
  • Clark vs. Kosma – The media debate.
    “Perhaps we should ask, what are the actual and potential relationships between media and learning?”
    This debate was a little ahead of its time as social media has definitely had a tremendous impact on this area.
True dat!

Things That Resonated For Me From My Classmates

Alyssa – I think that students benefit from using a variety of technologies both old and new to gain the knowledge they need to be successful in today’s society; after all one size doesn’t fit all.   https://alyssamckenzieedtech.wordpress.com/2020/09/21/defining-contemporary-educational-technology/

Amanda – EdTech needs to have deeper meaning and purpose, because at the end of the day, EdTech is not the teacher. https://edtechendeavours.com/category/eci833/

Catherine – A major conclusion was that digital technology in education is not optional and can and should bring joy and engagement. https://catherinereadyed.wordpress.com/category/eci-833/

Curtis – Teachers need to be mindful that it isn’t about the next big tech tool, or about implementing 30 different apps and programs in their teaching practice. https://mmeowensblog.wordpress.com/2020/09/20/my-thoughts-are-my-own-arent-they/https://curtisbourassa.wordpress.com/2020/09/21/a-personal-understanding-of-educational-technology/

Dalton I think that is the key to Ed Tech; it needs to improve and enhance the learning experience, not impede or simply replace pen and paper with MS Word. https://danaherd.wordpress.com/2020/09/21/what-is-ed-tech/

Jennifer – I think that educational technology, when integrated wisely, has the ability to bring endless possibilities, but it is our responsibility to take a step back, consider why we believe the things we believe, and how can we ensure that we are never going in blindly. https://mmeowensblog.wordpress.com/2020/09/20/my-thoughts-are-my-own-arent-they/

Jenny – A few colleagues showed me ways they were using them but told me you just play around and will figure it out.   https://jennyweinrauch.wordpress.com/

Jocelyn –   We are often provided with new sources of technology in our schools but there is little to no training on how to use them.  https://wigmorej.wordpress.com/2020/09/18/educational-technology/

Kristina – One particular perspective that he wrote about was to think about who advances and who is left behind when an advance in technology is made. https://kristinalsb.blogspot.com/2020/09/i-enjoyed-neil-postmans-perspective-in.html

Leigh All the devices in the world don’t mean anything without thoughtful and careful planning around their use.     https://whentheteacherbecomesthestudent.wordpress.com/2020/09/20/september-20-2020-my-perspective-and-understanding-of-educational-technology/

Linnea This brings me great joy for my own children, but makes my heart ache for those who have less of an opportunity to learn the basics of digital citizenship let alone be able to unleash their creative side in the digital world. https://linneawiszniak.wordpress.com/2020/09/21/my-thoughts-on-educational-technology-the-past-vs-the-present/

Lisa  So I hope our world finds a healthy balance between “plugged in, turned on, charged up” technology and good ol’ paper technology.    https://lisafrazer25.wordpress.com/2020/09/19/the-price-of-technology/

Matt   With this in mind, as educators, we need to take the time to do our “due diligence” when integrating new technologies within our classroom and ensure that the advantages of the technology outweigh the disadvantages.   https://mattbresciani.weebly.com/eci-833/shaped-by-the-past-education-technology

Megan Reflecting now, it is clear that the technology was not only being integrated meaningfully into the learning experience but the enhanced access to knowledge in labs and classrooms and accessing it would have changed my experience entirely.  https://megansedstuff.wordpress.com/2020/09/21/evolved-perspective-of-education-technologies/

Meria I’m sure it is possible to do well online but I’m not there yet. https://meiramcnevin.wordpress.com/2020/09/20/example-post-2/

Melinda Since teachers are at different levels in the area of Technological Knowledge as well as comfort level, I think there is a lot more work to be done in order to reach to the point where technology is not only used as a time filler.   https://edusites.uregina.ca/demeteredtech/2020/09/19/my-personal-understanding-of-educational-technology/

Nancy  That Postman point about using not being used by it resonated with me too.      https://nancysmithgrad.blogspot.com/2020/09/education-technology.html

Shelby In order for educational technology to help us into the future of education, we need to develop more ways of educating teachers on HOW to incorporate it effectively as well as USE it authentically.  https://shelbymackey.wordpress.com/category/eci-833/

Tammy  Today, I find the educational tools available enable me to offer my students multiple means to show what they know, tapping into and supporting their diverse interests and ways they learn, think, and work.     https://tammyfriesen.wordpress.com/2020/09/21/educational-technology-friend-or-foe/

Tarina  I think of educational technology as any tools or technologies that assist in the education of our students.   https://tksweblog.wordpress.com/2020/09/20/educational-technology-my-limited-understanding/

Trevor In a world full of technology, I believe it’s crucial that we teach our students the critical thinking skills to be successful.    https://trevorkerr7.wordpress.com/2020/09/20/thoughts-on-educational-technology/

Thanks for listening, watching, and reading 🙂

Until Next Blog ……

Looking Forward To ECI 833

Hello, my name is Dean Vendramin and I’m looking forward to another great class with another amazing group of people. Stay tuned for my reflections and thoughts.

Here’s a look at some of my PLN. I created this from a site called chirpty (it basically looks at some of the people you connect with the most and makes this ‘circle of friends’ … you’ll notice a few people from our class here :-).

That’s All Folks – An ECI 830 Summary of Learning

The Videos

Here are the videos I have created for my summary of learning, what I learned from the debates and more …

Summary of Learning the Extended Edition
Dean’s Debates
ECI 830 Speakers’ Perspectives
A 3 Minute Recap of the ECI 830 Experience

The Resources

One thing these classes never fail to produce are amazing collection of resources. Classmates do amazing research that always provide important data, opinions, and resources. People were sharing these freely on the google doc, Twitter, and Slack. Here are two Wakelets – one with research for the debates and the other Tweets shared using the #ECI 830 hashtag.

The PLN

One thing this class has reinforced for me is the importance of the great professional learning network. The the first debate I reached out to current ECI 830 Nancy Smith and former classmate and former ECI 830 student Daniel Dion. Both are amazing people with a great understanding of social media (check out Nancy’s Book Here). They both provided us with a little clip backing our side of the debate. Also also reached out to Jennifer Casa-Todd author of Social Leadia and got some great advice and a link to a great article that backed up our argument.

For the next debate, I was able to secure a ringer for our team in the form of Dr. Verena Roberts. She gave us an amazing interview (which we used as part of our research and a clip for our intro) and she also gracious ‘Zoom’ bombed our class to help us out with our closing statement. I also learn so much from her.

I love Twitter and enjoyed connecting with my classmates on the #eci830 hashtag. I also used my PLN (tagging Alec and his extensive PLN is one way to get your message some traction – thanks) to do some Twitter Polls to see what the vibe was ‘out there’ for each debate topic and pick up some great comments along the way. So many insights and some very valuable data.

Openness and Sharing
What Debate Topic Interests You
Social Media Ruining Childhood

I also had the good fortune recently to be contacted by Arjita Sethi, founder of the DaVinci Club (check out her Ted Talk here – so many thing she said spoke to many of the topics we have covered in class). She noticed my Twitter feed and the work I’ve done with Minecraft Edu. She then followed my social media feed with a visit to my eportfolio. She was impressed with my work and offered me a job as a Minecraft Virtual Camp Councillor. Such a great opportunity and a great example of the power of a strong PLN. I was able to interview her about the DaVinci Club and more – worth the watch – check it out here.

The ECI w/ Alec experience has been an amazing one for me. I have teamed up with a couple of great people from these classes, Curtis and Matteo, and together we have created a podcast called 832 Sips (based on our after class discussions we had in our ECI 832 class). We have had some solid guest (including Nancy and Daniel) and our latest (coming soon) one is with Ben Kelly (a fellow Minecraft Global Mentor, social media contact, and friend) who is a STEM genius and a Prime Minister Teaching Award of Excellence in STEM Teacher. Check out our podcasts here.

The Debates

Technology in the classroom enhances learning.

Agree – For sure … when used with a well thought out purpose it increases connections, accessibility, and transformational opportunities … it’s a no brainer

Technology is a force for equity in society.

Agree – there is an increased access throughout the world allowing for connections, accessibility, and increased learning for all … it’s leveling the playing field

Schools should not focus on teaching things that can be easily googled.

Agree – we should be better …. You can’t just google an answer an move on … doesn’t change much from having kids remembering a few facts for a test then forgetting them the next day … we need to focus on deeper learning not just what did google say (which is in it for the money which is another can of worms)

Social media is ruining childhood.

Agree – Have you seen how social media is destroying the lives of our children.  Cyberbullying, FOMO, screen time, an unrealistic look at the perfect life … darn tootin it is ruining their lives

Cellphones should be banned in the classroom.

Agree – hang on I gotta check this … as I was saying these devices do not belong in the classroom, too much of a distraction and the kids can’t control themselves … wait I gotta check this

Openness and sharing in schools is unfair to our kids.

Agree – we can’t just go out there and openly share student pics and information there are many trolls out there and even worse, there is still the digital divide some kids don’t get opportunities, plus can you really trust something was just freely share … let’s not go there

Educators have a responsibility to use tech and social media to promote social justice.

Agree – teaching is not neutral as some may make out, we have a responsibility to help students understand their world and make it better … isn’t that what education is all about … why would we not use these powerful tools and medium to research, understand, and jump into action and make a positive difference in society

Disagree – No way Jose … becomes a crutch and students rely on tech to do the learning for them … some just use it as a $1000 pencil which is a waste of time and money … don’t need it

Disagree – what … have you looked at costs, the vulnerable … how about the inconsistencies in training and delivery … that doesn’t add up to being equal does it

Disagree – we need to make sure kids know how to use this tool, it’s become a staple in our society and to not have students google things does help them, also being able to google answers saves us time to cover our curriculum … google away



Disagree – Oh boy, another medium in the long line of mediums ruining children’s lives, has one even looked to see the access to experts, finding your people when you feel alone, making connections, and promoting social justice issues … it’s giving kids a platform to do and be better

Disagree – ok boomer this devices are everywhere and not going away, let’s build some trust with our kids,  they are part of society why would we not use this tool for research, communication, and creation … wait there’s a voice in my head – Don’t Ban Make A Plan

Disagree – the most important life lessons I learned were in Kindergarten including being open and sharing, students need to create and share their digital portfolios for now and their futures, this gives access to more resources and learning opportunities to those who would just not get them, and this allows for some next level and deeper learning which will move society forward …let’s go there

Disagree – umm I actually like my job and don’t want to rock the boat, I’ve seen too many people get in trouble for taking a stand, I’m not these kids parent and I shouldn’t be interfering with how somebody choses to parent their kids, plus they might think I’m Trump like and know nothing about what I’m talking about … too risky for me

The Final Thoughts

This class was fast and furious. I like to thank Amy and Sherrie for being great partners (I learned and enjoyed working with both these fine people). I like to thank the ECI 830 crew. Everybody is very inspiring and passionate and it makes for a great experience (I’m sad I only have one class left in the fall – maybe I’ll have to ask to sit in down the road or something just to listen to the great conversations in the Zoom and continue to check out the hashtags online). With all that’s happening in our world right now, this class became more timely and important than I’m sure that anyone wanted. It was a comfort and blessing to be able to connect with the ECI 830 crew a couple times a week. It was like a support group that we all needed. The debate format was a lot of fun and so many great points were made by everybody. I know I come to the table with a heavy tech use bias and so many of the points made were extremely good for me to hear and understand different points of view. Thanks Alec for another great experience, it’s no wonder this classes are ‘sold out’ right away. A very respectful and welcoming environment is always created. Led by a knowledgeable and caring ‘moderator’, the class takes on a learning journey in which everyone contributes and grows.

The G.E.T. Debate Round 7 – Social Justice and Social Media in the Classroom – It’s Complicated

The Debate

Another timely and important debate.

The Pre-Vote

50/50 right down the middle at the start. Based on views and thoughts shared through out the class this split did not surprise me. People are really weighing the pros and cons with each topic.

The Thoughts

It was another timely and thoughtful debate. Both teams did incredible jobs with the research, presentations, and delivery (Thanks Mike, Jacquie, Brad,and Michala). One thing that has struck me about the debates and it’s that one word usually sticks out to me and this time was ‘promote’. Are you promoting a social justice cause or promoting the importance of social justice or promoting that kids have to be involved in social justice? Mike and Jacquie did a great job of laying out that teaching is a political act and that social justice is part of the art of teaching (Social Justice Belongs in Our Schools). One of the goals of education is to ensure that the world continues to be a better place for all (although this could be challenge by the great points Melinda and Altan made (also personal for me as that’s one of the reasons my dad came to Canada from former Yugoslavia)). So if we are not using all of the tools at our disposal to help move the world forward are we doing our jobs as educators. But there is another side of the story and Brad and Michala did a great job of pointing out the ‘risks’ especially with social media … are you ‘recruiting’ foot soldiers for your cause, making assumptions on social media that you wouldn’t make face to face, or listening to ‘trolls’ out there posting information they know nothing about? (Social Justice Lens Checklist) Using technology and social media does magnify these challenges as the audience is bigger, far reaching, and in some cases brings out the ‘trolls’. Then there is the issue of ‘slackivism’ (great read on Slacktivism, Social Justice, and Social Media here). In this article, there is a meme that basically says a thumbs up on social media is not an action. So if this is happening are we really promoting social justice of any kind. Sometimes I find (and I know it’s part of the debate and many issues timely – so I’m not questioning these important points or saying it not cool to go there) that we go to the ‘extreme’ examples and stay there in many of the debates. An example we used in our openness / sharing debate was the Kindness Ninja. These are important social justice movements too. It is important to tackle the ‘big’ social justice movements, but sometimes we just need to step back and tackle a smaller, more local, and/or less charged issue as well. I feel a great debate produces more questions than answers and this one was definitely a great one for me.

The Research

I enjoyed reading Katia’s article Journal Homepage: Nurturing #TeacherVoice: Why Educators’ Online Presence Matters to Educational Equity. One of the quotes that stood out to me was, ‘Technology can also give provide a greater platform for causes that might otherwise go overlooked in the mainstream media’ (p.34). I feel this way about many of the issues we have examined. It is a challenge but social media provides more voices. It can be daunting, but many times things went unnoticed because mainstream media was limiting both intentionally and unintentionally. I feel that a lot of things seem ‘worse’, but I feel there are just more voices that have a platform to be heard. I think our debates have been important a “community of discomfort” (p. 36) which is a good thing. In a short time (because of the people and leadership in this class), we have struggled forward on a great many topics. I know by reading many class mates blogs and seeing a few flipgrids that this has been a great take away of this class One of the last points in the article was, ‘Being an educator in a digital age necessitates our thoughtful participation in digital life; we can no longer cling to “safe” topics of conversation, and we can no longer allow our silence to speak in our stead.’ (p. 37) I know I have grown a lot in this area and still have a long ways to go. But I know this class and this debate has moved me along in this journey. As I said in my title, it’s complicated but I’d also add worth it.

A Resource

Found this as I researched and learned more about our topic. It is made for elementary but could use easily in high school. I think it would be a great resource for those who are on their social media in the classroom journey. http://www.usingtheirwords.org/6elements/

The Results

The results made sense to me, as I felt even the disagree side recognized the need to promote social justice in the class but still influenced enough people to question whether tech and social media need to be a part of this.

Openness and Sharing in Unfair to Kids – A Debate Aftermath

The Great Debate

Check out the debate in its entirety.

The Aftermath

My partner, Sherrie, and I stayed on the Zoom for a little post debate breakdown / reflection. We had a blast researching, planning, creating, and delivering our debate. We also felt that our esteemed opponents did a fantastic job presenting their side. Here’s our postmortem vlog …

A great way to reflect on our great debate.

or check out the podcast version (great when on a walk/folding laundry 🙂 )

The Pre-Vote

The initial voting saw that most in this group did not think openness and sharing are unfair to kids.

The Ringer

Accepting and embrace open and sharing learning helped us with our research immensely, as we were able to access an authority on this subject Dr. Verena Roberts. Check out our full interview below.

Check out more on Dr. Roberts including her doctorate work in our Wakelet (and thank you Dr.Roberts :-))

The Opposition

Thanks to our worthy opposition Melinda and Altan. They did an amazing job with their video, research, and arguments. Made for a great debate indeed.

Love the look, information, tone, and great points made in their opening statement.

The Results

We were able to sway a few more to the open and sharing side, which I feel our opposition acknowledged, but provided many important challenges when taking this approach.

Twitter Poll

The results with our Twitter Poll basically netted the same results as our class post vote did. Click here to jump on the Tweet and read a few of the replies.

The Rant

Below is a transcript of our extended “rant” with links to some of our research. A full-length version of the rant is also available for viewing on our Open For Business Wakelet.

Sherrie’s Extended Rant

Is openness and sharing in schools unfair to our students?  Or is it unfair not to take the opportunity to teach students about positive online behaviours.  Schools are the best place for students to learn how to create and maintain a positive identity online.   

Digital footprint, digital shadow, online reputation, digital tattoo — whatever you call it, it’s a term that’s too important to ignore yet often isn’t discussed in homes or classrooms.” This digital footprint will affect students for their entire lives, so it is definitely important that students are aware of what they are sharing and what is being shared about them.  

This brings me to the question as to why do schools use social media platforms to share and promote an open classroom?  By sharing student work online, schools can celebrate student success, promote learning, build school culture and invite parents, and community, to be a part of the learning process.  

There are many reasons why educators use social media in schools.  One – it is a part of our current reality; instead of resisting it, we need to embrace it!  Two, it provides instant communication with our stakeholders – no more notes lost in the bookbag!  And most importantly, three, CONNECTIVITY – openness and sharing encourages collaboration, creativity, and communication, and what is better than that?  

Are there dangers to be concerned about by sharing online?  Sure, but such dangers have been present long before social media, and sadly, as much as we wish we could, they simply cannot be completely avoided.  What we can do is educate students to be informed posters.  Students need to be a part of the decision-making as to what is posted about them.  It is not enough to have a parent sign-off on September 1st that pictures can be posted in the school yearbook and on their social media sites; students need to be consulted because it is their digital footprint that is being affected and they need to learn about what is and what is not appropriate to post.  Australian educational blogger, Kathleen Morris, shares: “unfortunately, issues such as cyberbullying, sexting, and problematic internet use are not going away. It’s so important that teachers are equipped to teach about these issues as a preventative, and follow-up issues as they occur.

Most of all, don’t be afraid of these challenges. As a teacher we’re in a unique position to really help empower young people to use technology safely, enjoyably, and purposefully.

Educators using social media as a form of openness and sharing need to model good citizenship and be aware of their school divisions policies regarding social media.  I can tell you that South East Cornerstone leaves no stone un-turned.  We have AP 193 on Social Media Guidelines, complete with a SOCIAL MEDIA APPROVAL FORM appendix, AP 140 on Acceptable Use,  Incidental Use, Unacceptable use, and AP 183 on Confidentiality.  And then of course there is the school registration form where parents give their consent under LAFOIP, for their child’s image to be shared.  Teachers need to be aware of which parents have not given permission.  And also understand that just because a parent has given permission does not mean that you don’t need to consult with the student for their permission before you post.

In their research, Buchanan, Southgate, Scevek and Smith state:  “Digital footprint management goes beyond meeting the legal obligations of protecting children, following the code of conduct, and complying with computer usage policies. Most schools are not only fulfilling these legal requirements but are educating their students about cyber safety. Education for the development of a positive digital footprint doesn’t finish at teaching students what they cannot do but builds productively on this by letting them know what they can do to develop an online presence that will be an asset to them in the future. This represents a shift from a model based on compliance to one based on ethical management.”    

So is openness and sharing in schools unfair to students?  I guess that depends on who is doing the posting.  

The Partner

Thanks to my partner Sherrie, she was absolutely fantastic to work with and we learned a lot from each other … here’s the link to her blog (we basically shared the exact post but here is a link to her blog if you’d like to check it out and/or leave a comment).

The G.E.T. Debate Round 5 – Are We ‘Cell’ing Out

Don’t Ban, Make a Plan‘ lets make some bumper stickers for this. Granted I sometimes wonder about cell phones being in the classroom too and the ‘ban’ side made many great points … especially the whiteboard tally with the amount of distractions. I can’t see a ban but do see a need for a plan.

The Debate

The Pre-Vote

Almost a 50/50 Split

I know how much of an issue this is for many so such close vote at the start didn’t surprise me.

My Take

I have struggled and sometimes do with cell phones in classroom. But I have come to find that it really boils down to the relationships and the classroom environment that one fosters and builds. Those are the two main parts of the ‘plan’. Expectations and buy in need to be part of any classroom management piece from day one and cell phone policies are no exception (we discuss school policy, establish classroom expectations as a group (on cell phones and other topics), I have a cell phone parking lot (and charging station), and build mutual trust beginning on day 1). Students will test any classroom procedure especially if there is no structure in place and it works better when the students are involved. Another part of the plan is teacher modeling. I make it a point to have my phone with me and utilize it to do things like taking a pic of daily assignments on the board and sharing them on Remind, sharing classroom learning on Twitter, using the calculator, looking up facts on Google, show apps like Apple Clips, Photomath, Office Lens, and Flipgrid to help students see the learning tool they possess in their hands. All these things are not foolproof but overall my plan has worked and students are good when given a friendly reminder. I feel that helping students learn how to self-regulate is one of the best skills we can help foster.

Let’s ‘Cell’ebrate – A look a cell phone use in my class.

The Post Results

As you can see making a Plan outweighs the Ban

The final results did not surprise me either. Cell phones are powerful devices that are not going away and in many ways are starting to bridge the digital divide. So let’s make our plans and become skilled at using this tool productively. I found a link to an article in the agree side that is written by an Ontario teacher that I found to have a similar take as I have. Here’s a link to the article – https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-i-used-to-confiscate-cellphones-in-my-classroom-it-was-pointless/ and here’s my vlog of the article in my ….

Final Thoughts

Social Media is NOT Ruining Childhood – A Debate Reflection

The Debate

Check out the entire debate above.

The Results Are In

Pre-vote 60% Agreed and 40% Disagreed – Social Media is Ruining Childhood
Post Debate Results Agreed 50% Disagree 50%
Twitter Poll – Click on Image above to see thread.

A Few Words of Reflection

It’s a fact that social media has become woven in the fabric of not only youth today, but society as a whole. So instead of slamming the use of social media by children, we need to understand it ourselves and model positive use.  Contrary to other forms of media that are also accused of ruining childhood such as TV or radio, social media provides a platform in which youth can connect, create, and collaborate. There is potential to help children create intentional and positive digital identities.  Why would we not take the opportunity while they are in the midst of forming their own opinions and understanding of what social media is ‘supposed to be’, and not only protect them from the pitfalls that are present in this medium but unlock the opportunities that are there to ‘to follow their passions, follow inspirational people, connect with people in careers they are interested in, and make a positive difference in their communities?’ Many youth that are already tapping into this potential and are not only improving their own childhoods (and setting themselves for success in the future) but making a positive difference in society.  Here are a few of the exemplars given Michelle Wrona, Aidan Aird, Timmy Sullivan, Hannah Alper ,Olivia Van Ledtje, and Curran Dee.  There will be many that will attack social media as a harbour of bad such as bullying, FOMO, and unrealistic expectations.  These were present before social media, but the huge difference is our ability to sit quietly in the background but have a voice and a choice which when you look at society today is something that needs to be fostered and not stifled. 

My Take on the Great Debate

Great Debate Resources

Check out the Great Debate Resources (click on image below) that we curated for this debate including our introductory remarks video and the resources from our worthy opponents.

Thank You To My Debate Partner

Thanks to Amy McDonald. What a great partner for this great debate. Check out her blog and her take on the great debate – https://twitter.com/AmyMcDonald03/status/1268602296994197504

The G.E.T. Debate – No Need to Debate – Just Google It

On tap for this debate the statement of … ‘Schools should not focus on teaching things that can be easily googled.’ The team of Curtis and Lisa kinda went up against the team of Daina and Jocelyn but the result was actually something I think was appropriate for this topic. Check out the the video for more.

Both groups had some solid research (click here), but while reviewing it I was not sure where the division laid in the debate (thought maybe Curtis was trying to shake them off haha). Here’s the pre-debate vote based on the way the topic was presented.

This appeared to leave many disagreeing with the notion that schools not focusing on the use of teaching things that that can easily googled. The double negative through voters and tonight’s debaters for a bit of a loop. Here are some of the points that both groups had to share.

Curtis / Lisa

  • LoTi
  • 4 Cs
  • teacher as a facilator
  • bring in outside experts
  • land based learning

Daina / Jocelyn

  • no critical thinking when just ‘google’
  • not motivated to memorize
  • need to teach to others
  • can’t ‘Google’ curriculum

Both sides were basically answering the same way based on how they interpreted the statement. This still lead to a great discussion on how Google has impacted education. Is it a tool or a crutch? Here are some points that were made …

  • Genius Hour
  • Assessment
  • Traditional Teaching
  • Project Based Learning
  • Schools in Finland

So when the dust settled and the final responses were tallied. The agree side came out on top. I think this was due to a better understanding of the debate topic and that we can agree that school needs to be more that just a googling factory.

Epilogue

I think the result of the debate or lack thereof was a foreshadowing of the way education needs to shift its paradigm. Similar arguments from both sides point to the fact that educational experiences need to be more than just a Google search away. Google is a great tool (sometimes we forget there are other similar tools too) only if we understand how to properly use it and apply it constructing knowledge. We talked about Genius Hours / Passion Projects. I feel these are an important way to engage students in their education and create deeper learning opportunities. I have witnessed many successful projects like those done by #eci830 Matt and Trevor for example. I have done these in a high school setting. I did these in a few math classes I have taught with a varying degree of success. Some excelled and did some amazing projects while other just wanted the notes or didn’t see the point. I think this is more of a ‘trained’ high school perspective that is perpetrated by the need to cover material. I enjoy project based learning and was able to have some great success with ancient civilization projects done by my social nine classes using Minecraft to re-create a civilization. It takes a different approach from a teacher and you need to let the learners take their own paths but provide the tools and structure necessary. It also requires a different approach to assessment which should include self and peer assessment as a way to grow and make connections. I also don’t have a problem with using Wikipedia as a source as long as it is not the only source. Usually, Wikipedia is constantly curated and mistakes that are present are probably less then the good old encyclopedias we used back in the day (which would cost a pretty penny to obtain and update). Just like Google can be extremely useful when understanding how to get the most out of that tool, I feel the same can be made for Wikipedia and any other tool for that matter including social media. Any tool is only as good as the training and skill the user has had with it.

I also found the the use of the LoTi flowchart in Curtis and Lisa’s presentation to be very interesting (https://drive.google.com/file/d/1h1L6Kz0qJQpQhySIbKuw5qQPReJsXQ-c/edit). It reminded me of the TIM (https://fcit.usf.edu/matrix/matrix/) Rubric my division used to have our connected educator fill out before we focused in on the ISTE standards to self evaluate our technology integration (https://www.iste.org/standards/for-educators). I do appreciate these types of resources to help one reflect on how we are integrating technology. Are we merely substituting (like googling answers for a work sheet) or are we redefining (like solving a problem with help from experts in the field and collaborating with people across the globe)? The SAMR model is also a great way to reflect on how we are integrating technology into the classroom. Here’s a great graphic and explanation of the SAMR model (https://www.educatorstechnology.com/2020/02/samr-model-explained.html).

Now it’s time to ‘Finnish’ … get it finish … I brought up the Finish approach to education and I’m always fascinated by it and sometimes it just seems to good to be true. Thanks to Melinda’s great share … I watched and learned a bit more …. but I’m really gonna need a field trip some day haha

Great video and a key component was the commitment to professional capital which is made up of decisional, social, and human capital. A dedication to this system would have to be made … as Sahlberg states that the Finish teachers would not necessarily shine in another part of the world but the system they are in allows them to see education as a complex field just like law or medicine.

Thanks for reading and if you didn’t understand my blog just google it haha – maybe you’ll find something like this – https://theconversation.com/whats-the-point-of-education-if-google-can-tell-us-anything-44441

The G.E.T.* Debate Round 2 – Techquity

On Tuesday May 26th, 2020, the ‘epicness’ of the best Great Ed Tech (G.E.T.*) debates continued. This night’s topic was ‘Technology is a force for equity in society.’ On the pro side was Nataly and Kalyn, and on the con side was Victoria and Jasmine. Even a prairie storm couldn’t cause a power outage on this debate. Check out the debate below.

Let’s take a look at the pre-debate predictions.

It looks like this could either way.

Both teams did great research and had a great game plan (Click Here for Readings). Basically breaking down to the access and potential versus the gaps and motives. Here’s what the tale of the tape after the introductory spar.

Pro

  • 96% of youth have access to internet in U.S.
  • provides accessibility
  • books can now be accessible for more to read
  • helps with movements like the Arab Spring that wouldn’t be possible before

Cons

  • misinformation
  • digital citizenship not considered
  • not equal opportunity and access (rural / reserves)
  • not all available for free
  • can be overwhelming and discouraging

Both teams had great points and brought a multitude of speaking points.

Pros

  • increase of access to information
  • increase of literacy
  • ability to modify lessons
  • assistive learning
  • give students a voice

Cons

  • affordability
  • vulnerable at risk increased
  • not all sure how to properly adapt
  • put software ahead of ed practices

Let’s take a look at the final results.

Looks like many decided there is still a lot of inequality when it comes to ‘techquity’.

Epilogue

Love these debates. There really isn’t a clear cut winner on either side and that’s why it is such a great topic to research and discuss. I am pro-tech and I have seen first hand the potential and some amazing effects that technology has had on student learning. I have witnessed many that would not have had an opportunity to grow, share, and shine that simply would not have had these opportunities before. I have also witnessed some of the pitfalls and challenges that come with access and ability using technology. There have been a few lessons I thought were ‘no-brainers’ only to see my shortsightedness leave me being the one with ‘no-brain’. I was so excited about trying something new that I overlooked that for some it many be too much in terms of skills and ‘know-how’ or to little in terms of time or access for example. My world view can also be a little narrow. I’m extremely privileged to have the opportunities I have had personally and professionally. I have become better at seeing the big picture, but that’s why I need something like this debate to keep me grounded. Still the potential there to create a more level playing field for all (help for those with learning challenges, opportunities for the marginalize to bridge the divide, and access for all). I have been fortunate to witness the amazing growth of techquity through out my career. The current situation with the world pandemic has magnified the need to move forward and grow in this area. It isn’t quite there yet but we are moving in the right direction. I hope to see that in my life time and really see techquity for everybody and I do believe it will move the human race forward. It’s definitely worth promoting and championing.

Resources

Net Neutrality – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Net_neutrality

Universal Deign for Learning – http://udlguidelines.cast.org/

Equity in Technology Wakelet – https://wke.lt/w/s/1fjX_J

Check Out These Tweets on Techquity – #techquity

Ken Shelton’s Blog on Equity Topics – http://kennethshelton.net/blog/category/Equity

Check out this podcast featuring George Couros and Ken Shelton for more thoughts on ‘Techquity’

‘cannot have an equitable learning environment that is absent of technology’ – Ken Shelton

Remotely … Interesting

In the middle of March, something very ‘interesting’ happened in education.  In the midst of a world-wide pandemic, our schools were closed and remote / supplemental learning began.  The virtual classroom became the only classroom for our students.  The conditions of closures included students moving on to the next grade, ‘bumped ‘to a pass if need be, receiving the grade they had up until that point, or engaging in supplementary learning with an opportunity to improve one’s standing.  Considering the world wide impact of COVID-19, there was not a lot of time and options available.  There was also not a lot of time to prepare students for the supplemental learning / virtual classroom experience.  The words ‘uncharted’ and ‘unprecedented’ have been used to describe this entire situation and the world of education has not been an exception.

As classes came to a sudden halt, teachers were working hard to provide students the best possible educational experience in our current ‘new’ reality.  No two teachers have had the same journey in their preparation, delivery, and experience with remote learning.  Engagement levels wax and wane as students have a variety of conditions that may or may not allow them to participate in supplemental learning.  As teachers, we need to respect and recognize that it is not ‘business as usual’ and that we must do the best with the ‘cards we are dealt’.  This process has been difficult on all of us as we are unable to connect with our students every day and see their beautiful faces as they enter our physical education spaces.

Technology (devices, wifi, and an array of ed tech tools) has become an integral part of the remote learning experience.  This has caused a wide range of anxiety amongst all stakeholders (students, teachers, parents, administration).  Technology has provided many opportunities to continue learning and communicating (and in some cases to teach and learn that just have not been possible before).  Teachers and students that have been integrating education technology as part of the classroom environment have had a distinct advantage in many ways.  That being said, our new ‘reality’ has seen teachers and students come together to create and provide positive and meaningful supplementary learning.  There have been many challenges in remote education.  One of the biggest is the digital divide.  Is access to devices and wifi becoming more of a basic necessity for all? I have witnessed great efforts to provide students with the tools they need to access and participate in their learning.  Will this be addressed as we move forward or left to chance? Technology will continue to play a role in the future of education.  There are still more questions than answers on how this will look, but it is important that all stakeholders continue to support each other.

The well of support and community that has been displayed in society during this time is a source of great pride.  Education, and specifically technology education, has been no exception. There has been an outpouring of resource sharing.  So many have stepped up to share their knowledge, skills, and best practice when it comes to integrating technology.  This has created a critical mass of experts and many are now seeing how transformational using these tools could be in their classroom.  There are many challenges with this as well.  It can be a bit overwhelming for all involved with a multitude of edtech choices.  Imagine the students and parents at home needing to learn how to use a wide array of tools to complete assignments.  Also many ed tech companies have offered free trials of premium accounts, but what happens when these accounts require fees and people get used to the services they one enjoyed for free?  Many of the premium features require subscription fees and now imagine a school or school division with a multitude of subscription and support requests.  Another challenge would also involve all the privacy concerns associated with sharing student information over a variety of platforms and policies.  There is access to information and professional development to help overcome some of the challenges. It will be interesting to see how we will all come together moving forward, as ed tech will continue to play an integral role in education moving forward.

I am not 100% sure what education will look when K-12 is set to return in the fall, but technology will continue to be an important part of the educational experience. I hope there are some silver linings in this storm of uncertainty and uneasiness.  There is tremendous potential to redefine the education experience for all involved and that teachers will play a vital role in how this will look.  Seeing what our profession has done to promote learning, connect with students, and reach out to the vulnerable in these trying times, has been signs of hope, joy, and love.

Thank you for all you do.  I hope that everyone is safe and healthy.  I’ve included a list of resources that you may find useful and a few comments on how technology has impacted teachers during this time.