Looking back over my career, my guiding philosophies and classroom practice has evolved. I remember back to my first position and I would say I followed a Behaviourism practice. I (a little embarrassing looking back) had a chart on the wall where students got a ‘+’ for good behaviour and a ‘-‘ for non-desirable behaviour. At the end of the week, I would total up the pluses and minuses and each student would choose rewards. If a student was +3, they would choose 3 rewards. If a students was in the negative, they wouldn’t receive any rewards. Totally extrinsic motivation! Thankfully, I’ve moved on from these practices. More recently I would say that I follow mainly a Constructivism ideology, but sometimes Cognitivism ideologies are present.
After reading the piece on Connectivism I see this is where I strive to be. Points in this article that really resonated with me were: “Technology is altering (rewiring) our brains” and “Know-how and know-what is being supplemented with know-where (the understanding of where to find knowledge needed). These ‘trends in learning’ are changing the ways we need to teach.
When I first began thinking about the topic of “educational technology” I started by thinking back over my teaching career (20 years) and how the technology we use changes. I think of educational technology as any tools or technologies that assist in the education of our students. Understanding new technology has always been a hobby of mine, but I have found as life has got busier with work and family, I am falling further and further behind when it comes to knowing about technology. I disagree with the above graphic that technology has made learning ‘easy’. It definitely engages some students who are otherwise unengaged.
After doing the readings for this week, I realized that I needed to go further back into my past to really think about what educational technology means to me and how it shapes my teaching practice.
In elementary school, you knew it was going to be a great day when you saw this:
This machine meant we would be taking a break from the textbooks and exploring through pictures and sounds. The engagement factor from a simple machine was amazing. Unfortunately, the sound quality was horrible and more times than not…the tape bent or came loose. As the years went on the technology steadily (and quickly) became more useful for schools.
I am dating myself…but when I began teaching these fancy TV carts were all the rage. As with all technology, these were not without their own problems. I remember the frustration of having to sign out the TV cart and realizing that someone else had it signed out for when I needed it.
Educational technology is fluid and always changing. I feel this technology needs to be purposeful. Having the students use technology for the purpose of using technology is missing the point. All new technologies have benefits and drawbacks. As Neil Postman says in his talk Five Things We Need to Know About Technological Change, “Technology giveth and technology taketh away. This means that for every advantage a new technology offers, there is always a corresponding disadvantage”.
The technology I implement in my classroom must have advantages that outweigh the disadvantages. A big idea I got from EC&I 830 in the spring was the idea of the importance of teaching students not only how to responsibly use technology, but also teaching them about the disadvantages. As users of technology we need to be well informed. Postman articulated it well when he said that “The best way to view technology is as a strange intruder…its capacity for good or evil rests entirely on human awareness of what it does for us and to us”. Audrey Waters also speaks to this fact in her blog when she states that “it’s a strange and necessary time to be a critic of education technology”.
My name is Tarina Kelln and I am currently a grade 6 teacher at Central School. Central School is a Pre-K to grade 8 school in Swift Current, Saskatchewan.
I have been teaching for 20 years, with the first 5 years subbing in between having two beautiful daughters. My first teaching contract was at Ecole Oman School in Swift Current.
I am creating this blog as part of my Masters program through the University of Regina. My current class EC&I 833 will be an exciting journey learning about Educational Technology. My first degree was a Bachelor of Management from the University of Lethbridge, with a major in Management Information Systems. I used to feel I had a good grasp on changing technologies-but have felt ‘out of the technology loop’ for the last few years. I hope this class helps to bring me up to speed on current issues in technology and also expose me to some newer technology I can implement into my grade 6 classroom.
I hope you enjoy my blog and I look forward to reading any comments you may have.
This course has flown by at record speed…even with everything going on. This is the first course I have taken out of the Educational Leadership stream and it was a refreshing change! I have learned so many things that will help enhance my classroom teaching and professional life. I’ve made great connections with classmates and appreciate each and every one of you as you have played a part in my EC&I 830 journey. Huge thanks also to Dr. Alec Courus for engaging materials and assignments.
Debate #7 started with a pre-vote of a 50/50 split. This was the first debate that my thinking shifted as the debate progressed. I initially started with an agreement vote as I do think it is important that teachers promote social justice in the classroom. Mike and Jacquie had a great video with a lot of strong points, including:
-social justice promotes critical thinking skills
-learning about social justice empowers our students
-using social media and technology to promote social justice allows students to foster problem solving, collaboration, and perseverance
-a school should be bigger than its walls
They also brought up strong points about the impossibility of teachers being neutral and impartial. Mike and Jacquie spoke about the uncomfortable conversations that will ultimately come up but that these are the conversations worth having for social growth.
In her TED Talk video, Ms. Chafee advocates for education being a tool for social justice. She goes on to say that we don’t teach ‘subjects’, we teach ‘people’. What a great shift in thinking this demonstrates.
Affirmative side intro video:
The disagree side had a creative video that was both informative and engaging. I commend Brad for getting rid of his facial hair (in steps) for the video. The presentation given by Brad and Michala swayed me to change my vote. They started off their argument questioning the purpose of teachers promoting social justice in the classroom. A phrase they used was “Teachers are using children as foot soldiers to promote their views”. I thought this was a little far fetched, but Brad brought context to the statement later in the debate. It blows me away that a grown adult would have used that statement in regards to Brad’s students starting a recycling project! But I guess we will never please everybody…someone always will find fault with the best-laid plans. This debate team also brought up the reality of having students going online to promote social justice. They likened these students going online to students going online to pick fights with unknown people and the harm it can cause if internet trolls engage in the conversation with impressionable youth. They spoke of the importance of face-to-face conversations. I could relate to the example they proposed of the ‘irate’ parent. With these types of situations, we need to see and communicate with the parent to diffuse the situation. An email is not going to do. Many things can be taken incorrectly in an email- no body language or tone of voice. Brad and Michala’s conversation began to focus on the importance of teachers promoting social justice in the classroom but not having students participate online. This is where my agree pre-vote began to morph into a disagree post-vote.
Negative side intro video:
I like the comment in the discussion Dean made about “going to extremes when we think of social justice ideas”. If we work with our students to find a way to help others less fortunate- then we are making strides toward promoting social justice. Our school does a great job of this through helping our school families out in times of need, raising money for those who can’t help themselves (SPCA), among other projects. As our class was discussing this topic I kept coming back to the importance of the social justice topic/project being age appropriate. At my level these are 11/12 year old kids. Some days just trying to get them to look past themselves is an uphill battle…baby steps.
So I changed my vote…I still believe that teachers have the responsibility to promote social justice…the student online component is what concerns me…especially with a grade 6 brain.
Last night’s topic on the Great EdTech Debate was Openness and Sharing in Schools is Unfair to our Kids. It was Altan and Melinda agreeing with the statement and Sherrie and Dean on the opposing side. Coming into the debate, I sat somewhere on the fence- leaning more towards the disagree side. The affirmative side had lots of great points backing up their argument including:
The permanence of information once posted
The issue of ‘informed consent’- do parents really understand the school forms they sign? Students aren’t of legal age to give consent.
Digital divide issues
Dangers of openness and sharing online- privacy, online grooming, and unsupervised sharing by students…among others.
The negative side also provided a strong argument as to why this openness and sharing is not unfair to kids:
Teaching students/parents how to have a responsible online presence
It is our current reality- must learn about it
If the posting is ethical it’s not unfair
Importance of informed consent by both parents and students
Once again my eyes were opened to an issue that I hadn’t spent much time contemplating. Up to this point, I’ve rarely shared any student pictures or work online. I like the idea of getting the students’ permission to post something related to them. I know at grade 6 students will appreciate the opportunity to have a say. Not only is it the right thing to do…asking students for permission to post will teach them to think critically about posts that may affect them in future endeavours. Most students don’t realize the possible ramifications of information they post… I’m not so sure many adults do either. When I first meet someone or we get a new staff member… the first thing I do is google their name. Students need to think critically about the digital footprint they want to leave.
On a more personal side… the debate has me thinking about my own posting of my family members. In the past I have never asked permission of either my daughters or husband before posting (mainly) pictures. The blog post, that Melinda and Altan posted in their readings, entitled “Don’t Post About Me on Social Media, Children Say” got me thinking about my personal practice. The stat in this blog post about 3X more children than parents thought there should be rules about what parents share on social media speaks to the importance the children feel this topic deserves. I honestly didn’t pay much attention to how my posts made my daughters feel.
We need to give students the opportunity to speak for themselves regarding their digital footprint. Teachers and responsible adults need to be able to guide students in appropriate ways to share. Having a plan…starting in early grades to promote a positive and responsible web presence… is a must to prepare students to thrive in the digital world.
Teachers need to make sure they are sharing for a ‘meaningful’ purpose- not sharing unless the benefits far outweigh the negatives.
Jill and I were up for debate #5 “Cellphones should be banned in the Classroom”. This was exactly the topic I wanted (sorry Jill) and I stand strong on the affirmative side! Don’t get me wrong, I am all for technology in the classroom- as long as it is purposeful. The issue I have is with students’ personal cellphones and all that they bring with them. I teach grade 6 in a Pre-K to 8 school and the rule in our school is that phones must be powered off and stored in students’ locker for the school day. They are not allowed to ‘manipulate’ their cellphone while on school property. Our students are awesome at following this policy. I get an inside view of what it is like at the Swift Current Comprehensive High School as my husband is a VP and my daughter is in grade 12. I hear about the plans being made during class time by students to meet to vape in the bathroom or to buy drugs in the parking lot. I know these practices would still happen…but I don’t think it would be as convenient. Even though cellphones are restricted during class times at the high school, I can text my daughter and she replies immediately…many teachers don’t want the confrontation with students to ask them to put their phones away.
Alyssa and Skylar had a strong case (I knew they would). I do see the benefits of cellphones in class, but I feel the negatives outweigh the positives.
The negative side of the debate had a great video that ended with a slogan “DON’T MAKE A BAN, HAVE A PLAN”. I appreciate the great work this team did and they definitely swayed many of our classmates with their strong argument.
This is the first time I can remember participating in a ‘debate’. To be honest I was nervous about doing it…but it was a great experience thanks to my great partner and supportive classmates (and professor). I had never used WEVideo before so the learning curve was steep but enjoyable.
I was looking forward to debate #4 and the presenters didn’t disappoint. I knew there would be strong arguments on each side. Laurie and Christina on the agree side pulled at our heart strings with a video showcasing personal photos of what childhood used to be like. Lots of family time and time spent outdoors. The video quickly changed its tune when it started talking about the ills of social media and the effects it’s having on kids. Some of the ills of social media these ladies highlighted were:
-it affects the mental health of our children
-kids are constantly comparing themselves to what they see online
-helps to instill FOMO (the fear of missing out)
-lends itself nicely to cyber bullying (people say things easier behind a screen)
-safety concerns…the brain isn’t fully developed and teens often act on impulse…social media sites highlight ‘challenges’ which may be dangerous
-parents are often unaware of who their children are interacting with and predators are lurking online
Amy and Dean on the disagree side (video) fired back with strong reasons that social media is not ruining childhood which included:
-children can create a positive digital footprint
-students can learn essential job skills
-allows communication between people
-creativity can be showcased
-teens say they are less lonely- they can connect with others similar to themselves
-can give a voice to those who are otherwise silenced
This is a topic that hits close to home for me as I have 2 daughters (20 and 18). I have seen both sides of this debate in my own family life. In the article listed by Dr. Couros “Split Image” it promoted that on social media “Everyone presents an edited version of real life” and as kids brains are still developing they don’t have the ability to realize this. Lots of adults struggle to admit this.
Although there are many positives regarding social media, I had to vote that it was ruining childhood. I do struggle with the harshness of the word ‘ruining’, but not enough to change my vote. Great job by both sides!
Debate 3 participants were to pick a side (agree or disagree) to the prompt ‘Schools should not focus on teaching things that can easily be googled’. Oddly enough we decided, after the introductory videos, that each side was arguing the same point. Quick thinking by Dr. Couros led us into great discussions around the topic of great teaching among other things.
There was lots of discussion (and videos provided by Dr. Couros) which showcased great teaching strategies. Some of these included: accessing students’ higher ordered thinking (Bloom’s Taxonomy), using a holistic approach, and teachers as facilitators of learning.
Some believe that critical thinking skills have diminished since the birth of Google. Students can get the answer…but they can’t apply the knowledge to another situation…so what have they really learned? Their thinking skills remain at the bottom of Bloom’s Taxonomy. They read the information online, perhaps even memorize it, and regurgitate it for the teacher. Hopefully, the teacher doesn’t change the wording of the question or ask for an application of the memorized information. As it was brought up in a classmate’s video…Google is a tool, not a teacher.
It was interesting that there was quite a shift in votes between the pre and post vote…even with no ‘debate’ taking place. Although, no one was really sure what that meant.
Our discussions continued on to the importance and value of ‘Inquiry based learning’. This type of teaching can utilize tools, such as Google, to facilitate deeper critical thinking skills while providing engagement for the students. They may find the information needed on Google, but the student is then expected to apply the new knowledge to their own project. Many classmates, including myself, cited our curriculum as a barrier to this type of learning. This type of learning takes time, which many of us feel we don’t have. Maybe one day the curriculum will be updated to reflect this type of learning (especially in the higher grades).
Even though this debate didn’t take place…this topic gave me a lot to think about and to reflect on in my own teaching.
Dr. Couros ended our discussion with a fitting video ‘Life and Music’ by Alan Watts.
‘Technology is a force for equity in society’ is not a phrase that I’ve given much thought to…until our debate last night in EC&I 830. Both sides had strong arguments and I found myself swayed as the debate progressed. The agree side had strong arguments including: the removal of barriers to learning materials, tools can personalize learning experiences-enabling students to work at their own pace that focuses on their strengths not weaknesses, complex tasks can be made simpler, and technology opens the door for the marginalized to gain knowledge and power. The agree side did indicate that they realized that technology can’t get rid of systematic inequalities such as income disparities, geographic isolation, and discrimination. The phrase that stood out to me from this side of the debate is “For most of us technology makes things easier, but for people with disabilities technology makes things possible.
The disagree side countered with strong arguments including: the ‘digital divide’- lack of affordability, accessibility, and varying ability for some, and ‘techno-colonialism’- the idea that poor cultures are exploited by wealthy ones. This side of the debate got me thinking about these developing societies that are given technology. On the surface it seems like a grand gesture. What these societies need is clean drinking water and equal access to basic needs. These ‘societies’ are not only in third world countries but right here in Northern Canada. Technology is great but until basic needs are being met on a daily basis equality is just a pipe dream. As you can see both sides have strong arguments that were backed by research. I found myself swayed from the ‘agree’ side to the ‘disagree’ side by the end of the debate. I had my eyes opened to many issues that block technology from creating equity in society. Thank you to both sides for an entertaining and thought-provoking debate.