Author Archives: jazzparent

Let’s Conclude – My Summary of Learning

I can’t believe seven weeks has come and gone already. I have learned so much and I can’t thank everyone enough for pushing my conscience to think and reflect on all the wonderful topics related to the contemporary issues related to educational technology. I have grown as a teacher and as a person all thanks to every one of you. I hope out paths cross again at one moment or another. You all have potential to do amazing things in our education system. Keep pushing your limits and keep smiling. Enjoy your well-deserved summer vacation!

Here is the video I created to explain all the great things I learned in this class. For a first timer, I think I did a decent job, haha! Learning to use Screencast-O-Matic wasn’t an easy task. I wish I had more time to tweak and polish the sound and effects, but this will have to do for the time being.

Enjoy!

Lyrics – ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel Air

Now, this is a story all about how
My life got flipped-turned upside down
And I’d like to take a minute
Just sit right there I’ll tell you what I learned in EC&I 830 this year

On the first day of class, excited and stressed
I zoomed in on the meeting and was tensed to the max What will we learn? And what will we do?
Were questions that popped up in my head, what about you?
When Dr Alec showed up, he was up to no good Started making trouble in our virtual classroom Someone asked a question, we all got scared when He said ‘You better pick a topic for the Great EdTech debate’

I begged and pleaded with him day after day But I had no other choice, Twitter was the way I created a profile, followed my classmates and I put my big girl pants on, said, ‘I better just tweet this’

First debate, yo this is great
Why not enhance learning with technology?
Students speaking up? Digital literacy?
Now, don’t become a cyberbully! But wait I hear you talking about equity! Affordable, accessible, vulnerable, that’s right That’s the digital divide! Ok, now let’s focus on Google
You know, it can’t teach, but used well it can help 

Well, social media’s here, it isn’t going, no! Be careful on there, mental health, connection, safety and oh yeah FOMO! Lets just focus on positivity
Spread kindness
What about cellphones, banning them can be fruitless. I whistled for attention and when all eyes were on me
I explained to the students how to use them properly
If anything let’s think about our digital footprint But I thought ‘Nah, forget it – lets celebrate achievements’ Might have screwed up, but I did say sorry
And I yelled to myself ‘Will I make a difference?’ I looked at my project
It is finally time To use all my tools as a tech advocate

Are Teachers Supposed to be Social Activists?

Our last debate topic clearly is a tough and thorough subject to elaborate on. Mike and Jacquie and Michala and Brad had their work cut out for them with this one. I lift my hat up to them because they did a great job defending their point of view.

Mike and Jacquie started of the debate by explaining why teachers should promote social justice in their classroom. First, they explained what social justice is. They then went on by stating that students have a voice and they should use it to defend present social justice issues within their communities. They also defended Sonia Neto’s four components of social justice in education found in her paper titled, Teaching as Political Work: Learning from Courageous and Caring Teachers. Mike and Jacquie finished their opening statement by explaining that “using technology and social media to promote social justice allows students to foster problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration and perseverance”. They foster that a teacher’s job is to help student learn or unlearn information to help make our society a better place to live.  

Brad and Michala took on a more relaxed and comic approach to present their arguments on why teachers should not promote social justice in their classrooms. They explained that teachers need to be impartial. It is not politically correct for them to use students to “push their personal agenda and social values”. Rather, they need to present both sides of an issue and guide students to find information that will help them make their own decisions on the matter at hand. Teachers need to promote face-to-face interactions to foster connections and collaboration between everyone in their classrooms. It is important to NOT take privilege for granted and to use social media wisely.

While strolling Twitter the other day, I came upon this tweet from Mind Shift. They shared this image explaining how teachers can become more responsive to culture in their classrooms. “EL” Stands for “English Learners” but I believe it can also relate to all learners.

Source : https://www.empoweringells.com/welcoming-environment/

With this said, for teachers to become efficient activists in the classroom, they need to be open to learning. Torrey Trust, assistant professor of learning technology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, explains that “highly effective teachers know that they do know everything they need to help their students, so they are constantly learning”. I also feel that it is important to add that everyone makes mistakes. When you can acknowledge that you’ve screwed up, that’s when you learn the most. Student’s will appreciate you saying your sorry for making a mistake and they will also take away from this lesson. Usually, people can be forgiving.

Being active on social media is great for teachers because it always gives them access to knowledge at low costs. Furthermore, teachers shouldn’t be neutral because they need to create equal opportunity for every child that enters their classroom. Alyssa Dunn, assistant professor of teacher education at Michigan State University explains that “the idea of neutrality, […] doesn’t always work in schools, because “education is inherently political””. How can teachers become involved in social justice activities that surround them? This is another question we discussed during class. Some teachers fear what others (parents, coworkers, superiors) will think of them. They don’t want to attract negative backlash and create problems for their families, their students or their school community. This is where we need to surround ourselves with peers that will have our backs. I believe there will always be backlash but if someone that is struggling is impacted positively by our activism, then we have done a small part in helping change the world for the better. Kelisa Wing, in her article titled Teachers Must Hold Themselves Accountable for Dismantling Racial Opression, mentions that “we must commit to teaching in a way that totally disrupts and dismantles the system of oppression”. She adds that we will be able to achieve this by “holding ourselves individually and mutually accountable”, by “ensuring representation is at the forefront”, and by “caring about more than ourselves”. Even though it is hard work, we need to set the tone for our students. Using social media to speak out and engage in activism is a starting point to become models of change for our students. If we do not show them how to do this responsibly and in respectful yet tenacious manner, who will and how will they learn?

What are your thoughts? Should teachers use social media to be active in the chase for social justice?

My Thoughts on Openness and Sharing in Schools

The topic, Openness and sharing in schools is unfair to our kids, up for debate last Tuesday was a bit confusing for me. “What does this even mean?”, was the first question that popped in my head and I was anxious and excited to see how my colleagues, Melinda and Altan, and Sherrie and Dean, would go about debating this topic. I believe that it could be addressed in many ways:

  • Openness and sharing in social media.

Parents are creating a digital footprint for their children. Just like all the other big decisions they make for them, deciding on vaccinating or not for example, sharing pictures of their children on social media can impact their lives for better or for worst. It’s imperative to consider how sharing pictures of our children on social media might affect them when they are older. Parents behaviour on social media platforms can alter the safety of their kids. According to Jessica Baron, they become more “at risk of identity theft, humiliation, various privacy violations, future discrimination, and […] developmental issues related to autonomy and consent”.  In her article, Could children one day sue parents for posting baby pics on Facebook?, published in The Gardian, Nicole Kobie explains that “Given the relative youth of social media, it’s hard to say exactly how growing up online could affect children but there are concerns around infringing privacy, safety and security […], and leaving children open to bullying”. Sharing can be positive when done with good intents. Living five provinces away from my family, I know it’s important to stay connected. Sharing pictures on Facebook, Instagram and Snap Chat is how we do it. I love being able to see pictures of my nephews and keeping up to date with all their activities and achievements. It makes it much easier to keep relationships strong. It’s especially easier for me to start conversations with them after seeing a picture that was posted online, when video chatting or speaking on the phone.

When taking pictures of students and sharing them on social media, schools should be careful. It’s important to take into consideration that some pictures may be embarrassing and could lead to problems for them in the future, like getting a job for example. Schools should have a policy in place to assure everyone’s, students and staff members, safety regarding sharing pictures on social media. Just like parents overshare, schools can do the same. Are we looking to celebrate achievements or are we just trying to look good? Exploitation is a problem and oversharing is a way of looking for trouble. On the other hand, celebrating achievements is important and social media can be a great tool to use to do this. This year, because of Covid-19, our school celebrated graduation on Facebook. We decided, with the graduates and their parents, to create videos to present the grads and awards and bursaries they won. It was hard work but I feel like we captured the essence of our usual grad ceremony while highlighting the positive each student brought to the school community throughout their years at École St-Isidore.

With that being said, schools need to collaborate with parents and children when opting to post information on social media. When sending media release forms to families, it’s important to assure parents or guardians understand what they entail. It is also important to ask the children if it’s ok to share pictures before sharing them. Educators and administrators need to use common sense before posting information online. They also need to educate themselves and students on the subject. Once again, digital citizenship is key to assure everyone’s safety. According to Tanner Higgin, director, Education Editorial Strategy at Common Sense Education, “To be true digital citizens, our students need teachers who model pro-social, creative, and responsible social media use”.  Creating an open classroom takes time, patience and practice. Open learning enhances “learning opportunities within formal education systems or broadens learning opportunities beyond formal education systems”. Rdouan Faizi, Abdellatif El Afia, Raddouane Chiheb in Exploring the Potential Benefits of Using Social media in Education, explain that social media can encourage communication between students and teachers. If used properly, it can become a tool that engages students in the learning process. They also state that the use of social media can enhance collaboration between students.

Choosing often leads to unexpected and unpredictable results. While there is risk associated with the unknown, there is even greater reward and goodness.

Eight Qualities of Open Pedagogy – Next Thought Studios
  • Openness and sharing resources amongst teachers

Sharing resources to help others is a necessity to grow the school sense of community. Steve at edfuturists.com explains that at “At Leeds City College, we actively promote sharing ideas and best practice and have a Google community where staff can share the amazing things they are doing in their practice, which may inspire someone else to magpie their idea or spur them on to challenge themselves to do something differently with their learners.” Working together is powerful. I’ve always believed that “two heads are better than one”. When colleagues brainstorm, share and collaborate, innovation happens. And it is my belief that students feel more connected to their learning because of this collaboration. Caitlin Tucker, in her article entitled Cultivating Communities of Practice, explains that members of a community of practice help “grow their collective knowledge-in-use, or ‘practice’, by incorporating variations that arise form the diversity of their dynamic membership and their collective interaction with the larger communities”. At École St-Isidore, collaboration is a value set in stone. We meet every two weeks to discuss what is going well in our respective classrooms, what we are doing that students are liking, which students need more guidance and what others are doing to help assure every child’s needs are met. Openness and sharing help us be on the same page and assures every child is accompanied through learning in efficient ways and according to what they need to better thrive. It also allows teachers and other staff members to learn from others and grow as individuals.

  • Openness and sharing about your personal life, to some extent, to help create strong relationships with students.

I remember being in elementary school and meeting one of my teachers at the grocery store on a Saturday and thinking, “whaaaaaat are you doing here, you should be at school?”. Now that I’m a teacher, I have a hard time understanding why questions like this one even crossed my mind. Teachers are real people. They have families, hobbies, expectations, and goals that exist beyond what defines them as being teachers. But if we don’t share these parts of ourselves with our students, how are they supposed to understand that we are normal human beings. I truly believe sharing with others, listening to what they have to say and opening up to ideas and change is important to create climates of trust and respect. With this being said, it’s important to be cautious, some things are better left unshared. “Romantic relationships, family matters, and personal drama are of no concern to your students”, stick with the funny things your kids did, or talk about a book you are reading for fun, what you did during the weekend or a family trip you took. Keep it light and happy.

To conclude, I propose we become teachers that are digital citizenship advocates who encourage open learning in our classrooms to help our students become engaged, responsible and independent in their learning process.

Thank you for reading 🙂

Here are the openning statement videos created by my classmates on the topic of openness and sharing…

Melinda and Altan created the video to voice how Openness and sharing in schools is unfaire to our kids.
On the other hand, Sherrie and Dean explain that openness and sharing is good for our kids.

Educate, Don’t Forbid: Using Cellphones in Class

Here’s why cellphones can be a great tool to foster in school settings and why it’s important for teachers to create an environment where students know when and how they should be used to enhance learning. When they aren’t used properly, phones can be detrimental to learning but banning them can be fruitless because students are more likely to ignore this prohibition which in turn, only creates more problems. 

How can cellphones prevent a safe and adequate learning environment?

  • Cellphones are a big distraction in class. Kids, and teachers, are having trouble taking their minds of their devices during class. Multiple times during a lesson, it isn’t rare to find a student peeking at their phones. It has become almost impossible to stay attentive to what the teacher is saying during the lesson or keeping their minds from straying away from the task at hand. Just like drug addiction or alcoholism, people can become addicted to their cellphones.
  • Allowing cellphones in class brings about other safety issues and negative behaviour from the students. An article from USA Today stipulates that “one in three kids in the U.S. use cellphones or other devices to cheat”. Furthermore, it is undeniable that with the use of cellphones comes the occurrence of Cyberbullying. Even if the online bullying happens outside of school, it is mostly dealt with at school by teachers because this is where students see each other and address the problems they are faced with. It is the same with sexting. The camera phones are a problem because they allow students to take pictures of others in change rooms for example, which then circulate the Web. These pictures become accessible to sexual predators. This can also negatively impact a student’s digital tattoo. According to Susan Wind, a college professor specializing in cybercrime, sexting is more common today because a lot of apps used by teenagers contain pornography that is not blocked. She adds “that teenagers partake in sexting via the cell phone” because they want to be popular, they have low-self-esteem, they need instant gratification, and they are peer pressured to do it.
Here is Jill and Tarina‘s video explaining why Cellphones should be banned in the classroom.

How can cellphones enable safe and adequate learning environment?

  • Students with disabilities can benefit infinitely from the use of smartphones in class. Matthew Lynch, in his article published in The Tech Edvocate, 7 must have app and tools for students with learning disabilities, tells us that “finding the right app is important: different apps are targeted at different learning needs and styles, and matching the app to the student will always be important”. There are apps to help with basic subjects such as math, sciences or languages, but there are also apps to help students with anxiety and stress disorders, ADD/ADHD and autism for example. Isn’t it fascinating that the world is evolving so much and that we now have easily accessible tools to use at the palm of our hands? On this same topic, Larry Greenemeier explains that “the American’s with Disabilities Act has influences development of smartphones, tablets and other mobile gadgets to help the disabled”. It is only true that, if used correctly, “these devices have the potential to unlock unprecedented new possibilities for communication, navigation and independence” (Greenemeier, 2015) for everyone, but especially for people with disabilities.
  • The cellphone is a tool that can be used for learning. In an article published in The Guardian, What do five experts think about mobile phones in school?, Jeanne Orlando explains, that “there is significant research that shows selective, quality and empowering uses of technology provides new learning opportunities and the ability for students to develop skills they will need for their careers”.
  • The above article published in The Guardian also explains that parents need their kids to have a cellphone because they want to be able to communicate with them at any given time. Making sure their children are safe is important to parents.  Also, some children have specific medical needs that warrant them to have a device on hand at all time in case of emergencies.
Here is Skylar and Alyssa‘s video. They share why cellphones are a positive tool to utilise in class.

How can teachers encourage positive and engrossing ways of cellphone use in class?

  • Planning is key!

In the article Cell Phones in American High Schools: A National Survey, S. John Obringer and Kent Coffey state that: “Cell phones have become an integral part of our society, and like most technologies, they have both positive and negatives aspects” (p.44). Staying on top of the ever growing and evolving technology surrounding cellphones needs to be kept in mind when elaborating policies in schools/classrooms. Obringer and Coffey add that “A policy on cell phone use made only a few years ago may be outdated by today’s technology. As new technology emerges, policies must grow and change as well”. Leadership teams may see this as problematic. This is only another task that needs to be added to the many they already have. Regardless, I believe that it is important to keep in mind because, technology isn’t going anywhere, and it is only true that more and more students will come to school with phones in their pockets. As professionals, we need to embrace this and figure out how to incorporate them pedagogically in our everyday lessons. We need to assure our students become digitally aware of what is going on around them and we need to help them understand that if used correctly, cellphones do have a place in class. On this topic, Thierry Karsenti explains that schools who are more flexible regarding cellphones use in class get better results. “[…] the best [policies] set firm boundaries that help educate students on when it may or may not be appropriate to use their cells”. Alec Couros, in an interview with CBC News,  explains that teachers can integrate tools like “a spotlight system” that would help students understand when it is time to use technology for the work that is suggested by the teacher, when it is time to brows for personal reasons and when it is time to put the phone away. Couros goes on to add that these kinds of tools help students understand that “moderation is important at certain times”.

  • Digital citizenship

According to Waterford.org,  ‘Digital Citizenship’ is “[…] the ability to use technology and the Internet in an appropriate manner”. How will our students become responsible citizens on the Web if no one teaches them the right tools to do so?

Starting in September, the Conseil des Écoles Fransaskoises will offer their students the opportunity to engage in connected classrooms. What does this mean? Well, because of the reality of small class sizes in some rural areas, teachers will welcome students from schools in a virtual setting (A teacher will teach kids that are in class with them and kids that are joining virtually from a different school). It will be imperative that the CÉF create policies to help the staff and students navigate safely within the reality of this new program. Jason Ohler, explains that “part of our job [as teachers] is to help students not only use technology, but also question it”. Teachers will need to become experts, not only in the curriculums they teach, but in the many facets of digital citizenship, which include balance, safety and security, cyberbullying, sexting and copyright and plagiarism.

Don’t make a ban, have a plan!

Skyler and Alyssa – Great EdTech Debate, June 4th, 2020

What do you think? Should cellphones be permitted in the classroom?

The “Portraiture” of Social Media…

Have you ever searched “Ted talk social media” on YouTube? I have… what comes up isn’t at all positive. I find it sad that, once again, negativity drowns out positivity. Concentrating on the positive effects of Social Media on children, without batting an eye on why it could be used negatively, could possibly help people understand how to use it properly so it doesn’t ruin their lives.

What is Social Media?

Let’s define the term ‘social media’. According to Wikipedia, “social media are interactive computer-mediated technologies that facilitate the creation or sharing of information, ideas, career interests and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks”. This definition is very broad. It could include many different Websites and/or applications. If you ask me, the important words in this definition are ‘creating’ and ‘sharing’ which directly entails communication with others for professional or personal reasons.

The Apple software screen time setting groups many different applications in the social networking category. Here is a screenshot of my personal usage of social media:

I should probably add limits! -_-

Living in a different province than my family, it is important for me to keep in touch and share milestones, anecdotes, funny pictures of my children with my mom and dad, sister and brothers, in-laws, aunts and uncles, cousins… These forms of communication help me keep my heart and mind sane. Especially during these trying times. We can’t travel home this summer like we usually do and it’s hard on my mental health. Thanks to these technologies, it’s easier to stay connected and a little less hard to feel guilty of depriving my children of creating relationships and memories with our family members.

How is Social Media Influencing Children?

Like with all things in life, there are positives and negatives that accompany the use of social media. Four of my colleagues in the EC&I 830 class debated on the topic: “Social media is ruining childhood”. Here is what stuck with me after their presentation last week:

Negative impacts of Social Media:

Laurie and Christina explained how social media can affect children in negative ways.

  1. High usage of social media has a negative effect on mental health. According to a study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh, “the exposure to “highly idealized representations of peers on social media elicits feelings of envy and the distorted belief that others lead happier, more successful lives,”” . Spending too much time on social media can make people feel like they are wasting their time which in turn causes anxiety. Social media can also, often paint a picture of someones life that isn’t at all what it is meant to be. The story of Madison Holleran’s life is a great exemple of this. Feelings of unhappiness, unfulfillment, emptiness, etc. If left unattended, these many feelings can build up and cause depression, and even suicide.
  2. FOMO (Fear of Missing Out): According to the Centre for Mental Health, this concept “refers to ‘a pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent’ and is ‘characterised by the desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing’”. Kids are afraid of being left out of the loop if they don’t constantly check their notifications on social media. They want to be informed of what their social circle is up too at all times and are scared that they are missing out if they step away from their phones or computer for long periods of time.
  3. Children are having a harder time connecting to others because the face-to-face communications are less frequent. Creating deep connections with others becomes harder which is therefore, impacting the personal and professional relationships they have with others around them.
  4. Cyberbullying is gaining more and more victims with the increasing use of social media. According to The Guardian, “cyberbullying is a worse problem among teenagers than drug abuse, according to almost half of all young people surveyed in a new study that finds one in five has experienced online abuse”.
  5. Safety concerns are really high for parents of kids using technology. We often hear about the sexual predators, scary social media challenges, like the Tide pod challenge or the blue whale challenge, that are out there influencing our kids to do crazy stunts. Kids are prone to want to get trapped by these scary tactics because they are more likely to act on impulse or instincts than outweigh the dangers they can have on their safety.

Positive impact of Social Media:

On the other hand, Dean and Amy explained how social media can have a positive affect on children:

  1. According to Doctor Joanne Orlando, “social media advocacy groups can provide young people with genuine support for subjects they might feel marginalised by, for example their sexuality, or a mental health condition”. When they are able to access platforms where they feel like someone understands what they are feeling or what they are going through, children will less likely feel alone.
  2. Social media can encourage kids to share their creations with other. It is a great way for them to showcase their creativity. I’ve seen a student share her amazing drawings on Instagram. This has helped her create friendships with other artists. This has also helped her become confident in her artistic abilities while also feeling more confident as a person. She has blossomed in an open-minded young woman throughout the years and I believe social media has helped her do this.
  3. Social media is a great way for kids to stay connected. Whether it be with family members or friends this way of using technology is “an extension of their offline and face-to-face interactions”. I know social media has definitely help my mental health because it has enabled me to stay connected with my family.
  4. Many young teens use social media to make a difference in their community by “addressing public concerns […] and by promoting the quality of the world they live in”. An example of civic engagement is the “Buddy Project” created by Gabby Frost, which “is made to prevent suicide, self harm, & eating disorders and works by pairing two people up, who have mutual interests, so that they’ll have a friend to talk to if they’re ever feeling lonely, sad, etc. or ever feel the need to harm themselves in any way”. A second example of civic engagement is Autumn Peltier, a 15 year old water protector activist from Wiikwemkoong First Nation, located in Northern Ontario.
  5. Many people utilise social media to spread social awareness and kindness. Konner Sauve is a perfect example of this. This young man from Washington created a secret Instagram account to share, over the course of 43 weeks, special messages to his fellow graduating classmates.

What Can We Do As Teachers to Guide Our Students to Use Social Media in a Positive Way?

I believe social media can be used in schools to help students in a positive way. Baily Parnell explains how to encourage social media wellness. I think what she proposes is important to foster to our students in class.

Here is what to do to encourage ‘social media wellness’: Recognize the problem because awareness is key to making sure our usage of social media isn’t creating health problems; Audit your social media diet; Create better online experiences and; Model good behaviour.

I also believe teachers need to create environments where students take part in elaborating rules and regulations regarding social media use in class. If the expectations are set at the beginning of the year with the help of the students, it is probably more likely that they will adhere to them. Teachers need to be consistent and aware of what is happening around them regarding technology use. Engaging in meaningful conversations with students about technology and how to use it in a positive manner to encourage learning and personal growth will help foster respect and trust between teacher and students and therefore, will encourage more rewarding and positive use of it all areas of the children’s lives.

Source

Thank you for reading!!! Have a super week!

Jasmine…

Does Google Have a Bachelor of Education Degree?

Photo credit: “Laptop” by @DaskBlogs is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The answer to this question is: NO! The teacher using Google is the one with the pedagogical skills. This means it is the teacher’s responsibility to find pedagogically researched ways to use Google to help students learn! This also means, for most of the time (not all the time) spent in class, we shouldn’t demand our students memorize information; we should ask them to explain what they understand of it. That’s when they will learn and become interested in a subject. They will want to research and grow their knowledge, become experts and, teach others around them. According to Ian Gilbert in Why Do I Need A Teacher When I’ve Got Google? ”, a teachers job in today’s technological world is to “help young people know where to find the knowledge, to know what to do with it when they get it, to know ‘good’ knowledge from ‘bad’ knowledge, to know how to use it, to apply it, to synthesize it, to be creative with it, to add to it even, to know which bits to use and when and how to use them and to know how to remember key parts of it” (p.24). Before doing all this and utilising the World Wide Web to deepen learning, I believe teachers should teach the basics of notions demanded by the curriculum and then generate questions that will encourage students to develop their critical thinking skills, their conceptual understanding of a topic or the way they collaborate with others in the classroom to deepen their knowledge. I really appreciate what John Merrow (2017) states in his HuffPost article: “In Education, Back to Basics”. He says that the four basic life skills schools should teach to kids are

  1. reading and wrinting;
  2. numeracy;
  3. creativity; and
  4. health and nutrition.

These are basic skills that are needed to survive in the big world. To be able to gain information, we need to be able to read and write; to become economical, we need to be able to use numbers; to become innovators, we need to use creative thinking; and to survive, we need to understand how our body works and what it needs to survive and stay healthy. With this basic knowledge, students will become curious and will want to learn more. Here is where teachers should guide their students, by encouraging them to initiate more questions that they want to find answers to. To be able to ask the right questions or to guide their students in initiating new questions, they need to build strong relationships with their students, so they can understand them and help them become responsible adults that can think, speak and fend for themselves.

“American schools educate to fill children with knowledge — instead they should be focusing on developing students’ innovation skills and motivation to succeed…”

Erica Swallow (2012) Creating Innovators: Why America’s Education System Is Obsolete

I believe Googling should be part of the process but not the only tool used. Google doesn’t analyse information for you, it regurgitates it. It is the student’s responsibility to take that information and use it to create useful content to explain their understanding of their research. I agree with Doctor Selena Samuels (2019), when she states that challenge isn’t gathering the information, but rather “using what you know in a meaningful way” that will impact students learning and others around them. Furthermore, Teachers should celebrate mistakes made in their classrooms because that is how we learn and become better. By making mistakes, we become problem solvers. By making mistakes we want to find answers and these answers, if figured out through problem solving, collaboration and determination, will stick with someone for longer than if the information was memorized. Erica Swallow (2012), in Creating Innovators: Why America’s Education System Is Obsolete, says “Without failure, there is no innovation”. We need to fail and then, we need to find the courage, the determination, the willpower to get back up and figure it out! In my opinion, Google can’t teach that! What do you think?

Thank you for reading, for more on this topic feel free to read Curtis, Lisa, Daina and Jocelyn's blogs. 

Techology = Equity?

First, I would like to state that Victoria, my debate partner, and I worked hard to research this topic because we both were more inclined to think that technology IS a force for equity in society. Together, we read over 30 articles and broadened our knowledge and awareness on this topic to find ways to argue that, technology DOES NOT, in fact, counter inequities in society, but rather, it amplifies them.

“While much has been written in the field of educational technology regarding educational excellence and efficiency, less attention has been paid to issues of equity.”

Andrew A. Tawfik, Todd D. Reeves & Amy Stich

I’ll start off by sharing a video created with VideoScribe by my talented debate partner Victoria.

I believe it is important to define what is a “Digital Divide”. According to internetworldstats.com “The Digital Divide, or the digital split, is a social issue referring to the differing amount of information between those who have access to the Internet (specially broadband access) and those who do not have access. The term became popular among concerned parties, such as scholars, policy makers, and advocacy groups, in the late 1990s”. The digital divide in itself explains the inequities surrounding technology in society.

Nevertheless, the digital divide isn’t the only circumstance that prevents equity in society. In some instances, social media reinforces the existing social divisions. Boyd (2014) explains that “By increasing the visibility of individuals and their actions, social media doesn’t simply shine a spotlight on the problematic action; it enables people to identify and harass others in a very public way. This, in turn, reinforces social divisions that plague American society.” (p.163 in It’s complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens).

Here are some of the important phenomenon’s that discourage equity within technological society:

  • Affordability: Many families can’t afford to buy devices to sufficiently accommodate their technological needs. They have to sacrifice basic needs to get connected because after they pay their bills, there is no more money for extras. 
  • Accessibility: Access to internet services aren’t available in many rural areas in Canada. To get these services, families must pay extra for better broadband installations or supportive technology and still, the connection is unstable or inadequate for their needs.
  • Vulnerability: The vulnerable population is suffering. Everything is done online nowadays (applying for jobs, finding housing, governmental support, etc.) and a lot of people are digitally illiterate.
  • Learning disabilities: In an educational setting, students who have learning disabilities, mental health issues and familial difficulties in school are most vulnerable while distance learning is prioritized. In addition to this, many teachers are not prepared to take on the challenge of teaching remotely. While teaching remotely, teachers forget the social aspect of learning, which is the importance of creating positive relationships by instilling values like respect, trust and care with students. This is hard to do when face-to-face and one-on-one communication is limited.  As teachers, we know that “[…] technology is a necessity for teaching and learning.” It is a crutch we rely on but it doesn’t replace the art of teaching, which is a social activity, it improves and accentuates it.
  • Software biases: Furthermore, educational software is not built to respond to the needs of vulnerable people because their “engineers” don’t have the “knowledge of accessibility requirements and standards, of the potential impact of inaccessible designs on educational performance, and of where to go for assistance on this matter”. (Benetech.org) We should not ignore how technologies manifest within social contexts, and that social agendas, assumptions and typical ways of knowing and acting are not just reflected in their use but their very design. The construction of new technology “typically reinforces existing social divisions”. Boyd (2014), explains in “It’s complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens” that sometimes “designers intentionnally build tools in prejudicial ways” because they are unaware of “how their biases inform their design decisions or when the broader structural ecosystem in which a designer innovates has restrictions that produce bias as a byproduct” (p.156-157).
  • Techno-colonialism: Techno-colonialism is a term most likely coined by Randy Bush(2015) to describe “the exploitation of poorer cultures by richer ones through technology.” The rich take advantage of the poor by exploiting their cultures through technology. These philanthropic endeavors look well intended but these underdeveloped countries need help building schools and getting clean water before even thinking about utilizing technology to educate children. Papendieck (2018), asserts that to think critically about technology we must examine how technology in educational contexts is entangled with broader ethical issues facing society.

Therefore, if the government and/or other organisations don’t offer programs to help the vulnerable population adapt to the fast-changing technologies, equity in this department won’t be attained in society. Regarding education, teachers need to be life-long learners. They should be subject to maintain professional development about the use of technology in the classroom so they are aware of the changes and limitations they can bring forth.

Having access to the information available through the internet is not enough to address existing structural inequities and social divisions.

Danah Boyd, It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens, page 175.

If you would like to learn more about the other side of the coin on this topic, because I agree that great innovation is happening in the technological world to counter the social divisions and inequities that exist surrounding it, visit Nataly and Kalyn’s blogs 😊. They argue that technology IS a force for equity in society. They bring forth great points that can certainly bring light on this great debate:

  • Education is an equalizer because it is preparing students with 21st century skills.
  • Greater access to information
  • Pesonalized learning/Help students with disabilities
  • EdTech teaches valuable skills such as citizeship, global collaboration and computational thinking.
  • Access to Internet will improve with the help of government programs and initiatives.
  • Technology can maximize and personalize learning.

What do you think... Is technology a force for equity in society?

Technology in the classroom…. Yes or No?

Technology is part of our lives, whether we want it to be or not because people have to use technology for some reason or another. We are surrounded by it! The question is, does technology in the classroom enhance learning or does it curtail it? Now, here is the thing, this is a pretty controversial topic if you ask me. It’s kind of hard to choose a “side” to this debate because research shows pros and cons to the use of technology in classrooms.

What do you think?

Pros…

  • For many different reasons, some kids don’t always feel compelled to share their voices in the classroom. Utilizing technology to gather opinions and ideas might encourage these kids to share in a more anonymous way. If technology is used to enhance learning, this would help students who have difficulties using their voice and wouldn’t enable those who love to talk to do so. Discussions should always be welcomed.
  • Integrating technology in the classroom will help develop digital literacy. We want our students to be able to become creative in the digital world. We also want them to be able to survive in the academic world which now revolves around technology. Whether they will become tech savvy or not, being digitally literate will help them conquer academic challenges in their post-secondary education while also helping them survive the challenges that will arise in their personal lives. Setting rules and bounderies, at home and at school, will help students learn the importance of being responsible with technology.
  • Using technology in the classroom allows teachers to explore digital citizenship which will help students become independent, self-regulated device users. It is important for them to know how to use technology in positive and acceptable fashion. We want them to be proactive and respectful. Everyone should envision a digital wellness to avoid problems while using technology. The New York Times article reflects how parents don’t allow their kids to use technology and are pushing for them to frequent school that are technology free. I believe this won’t help them become eloquent in technological language.
  • If teachers know and understand some of the models that exist, which explains the better ways to incorporate technology in the classroom, it will definitely enhance learning. Here are two models to go by to help you better do this:
    1. The SAMR model “is a framework through which you can assess and evaluate the technology you use in your class”. (Educatorstechology.com);
    2. The Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge Framework (TPACK) “outlines how content (what is being taught) and pedagogy (how teacher imparts that content) must form the foundation for any effective edtech integration”. (Educationaltechnology.net) Here is a YouTube video explaining the TPACK model.

Cons…

  • It isn’t always available. In our school we have 30ish computers for the entire school. We must reserve them at the library if we plan a lesson that would be best done with them. Usually, high school students have priority so elementary school students don’t have access to them very often. We also have distance learning classes offered in our school so students who take these classes have first dibs on computers.
  • Teachers and students don’t use it properly. It doesn’t always motivate the student. The activities suggested by teachers are not engaging and/or empowering. Instead of doing their work, they waste time googling meaningless stuff, watching YouTube videos for entertainment or messaging each other through Google Chat. Laptops, phones and other devices can cause students to be distracted.
  • As teachers, it’s imperative we address the in person bullying that arises in our classrooms but also, addressing the online aspect of it too. Being mindful and aware of the issues that can arise with the use of technology in the classroom is important. Talking about cyberbullying with the students will definitely help counteract this problem.
Frustrated?

It is important to show kids how to use technologies so that it benefits them. Digital citizenship is definitely important knowledge to share with students if we want them to be responsible in the digital world and mindful of their usage of technology. How do you utilize technology in your classroom and what is your opinion on this matter… does it encourage engagement, or does it become a nuisance to learning?

A day in the “technological” life of Madame Jazz

First blog post… I am a little nervous about this but here we go…

As some of you might know, I teach for the Conseil des Écoles Fransaskoises. Our school district asks that we use Microsoft Teams to connect face-to-face with our students. Slowly but surely, I am learning how this program works and what features can be done with it. Right now, I mostly use it to connect with students and with staff members. Our principal shares important documentation with us in the document section of our “team”. Twice a week, on Mondays and Fridays, we have an unofficial coffee staff meeting where we chit-chat like we would do in the staff room during recesses. I look forward to these “coffee breaks” because it gives us an opportunity to discuss what is going well in our classes, with our planning, how we are managing digital learning but also, how we are doing on a more personal level. With the social distancing and confinement brought upon is by Covid-19, I believe it’s important to take care of ourselves and others. Just seeing my colleagues’ faces makes my heart happy and shows me that, YES, these are hard times, BUT everyone is going through this nonsense in the same but different ways.

Continuing with my technological life, my favourite tool to use is Google Classroom. I love how everything for each class is in one place. I also love that Docs, Slides, Forms, and other add-ons are linked to it. It truly is a lifesaver. I find that it is so easy to stay organised because all the information, assignments, quizzes, readings, etc., can be placed in themes. Also, it’s easy to assess everything and give reinforcements and feedback to the students when necessary.

I also used Flip Grid for the first time this week. Oral communication is a very important part of our French curriculum and I thought this tool would be a great way to get the kids talking out loud. I created an educator profile and new Grids for my grades 7 and 8 class and for my grad 11 and 12 class. I’ve received a few replies already. I feel super proud of myself for getting the kids to join and chat with me and with each other. I can’t wait to see if they will give positive feedback about this new tool when I chat with them in our next Teams meeting.

Another tool I use is Zoom. We are not aloud to record our meetings with the students, so I find it’s easier if I record my explanations of assignments and read aloud of chapter books. I then share these videos, asynchronously, in Google Classroom, so students who aren’t able to connect to our face-to-face meetings can have access to all this important information while still being able to share with those who are attending the meeting and have discussions and questions periods after viewing it together as a group. It also allows me to have a little bit of fun with the editing and costumes.

This is me, sharing a chapter of the book we are reading together “Le Cri – Martine Latulippe

I hope you enjoyed my first post.

Feel free to leave a comment, share new and exciting technological tools with me or ask questions. I would love feedback, advice and I will try my best to answer your questions.

Cheers,

Jasmine