Author Archives: MrSkylerHart

EC&I 830: Summary of Learning

I just want to thank everyone for an incredible class full of sharing, and collaboration. I learned a lot from all of you, and I hope to take many more classes with you in the future. Please enjoy my summary of learning.

The Great EdTech Debate: Episode 7 – Educators have a responsibility to use tech and social media to promote social justice.

It is hard to not be invested in this topic, especially with all of the news stories taking place around the world. Originally for me, I was actually leaning towards the disagreement side of this statement. I think that teachers can get into a lot of trouble when it comes to posting about their own person views on social media. I have a friend who has family members apart of the Co-op Refinery / Unifor strike, and I have seen the backlash that he receives, in addition to the countless arguments of how is enforcing his social views on onto his students.

My opinion changed when reading the annotated readings for this debate. Specifically, it was the TEDTalk video with Sydney Chafee. There was one line in particular that swayed my view. This was when Chafee said “teachers don’t just teach subjects, we teach people.” Brilliant! Although I teach the subjects of math and science in my school, I am also teaching students all types of other skills they will need for their future.

PreVote

PreVote: Agree 50%, Disagree 50%

Agree

Jacquie and Mike did a great job arguing how it is the responsibility of teachers to use technology and social media to promote social justice. They shared an article by author Sonia Nieto that discusses how social justice in education includes four components:

  1. Challenges, confronts, and disrupts misconceptions, untruths and stereotypes.
  2. Provides students with resources needed to their full potential.
  3. Draws on all students talents and strengths.
  4. Promotes critical thinking and supports agency for social change.

Another point that is brought up is that promoting social justice allows students to become problems solvers, critical thinkers, collaborators, build perseverance, learn historical context, and allows for learning outside the school walls. I would also have to say that the final clip in their video has a powerful message.

Jacquie and Mike Debate Introduction Video

Disagree

To counter, Brad and Michala did an excellent job of explaining why it is not the teachers job to use social media to promote social justice. The duo created a video that allowed “people” to share their opinions on the matter.

Teachers should be neutral: This is an important, yet difficult point to get across. It is important to show students that we are all entitled to our opinion, but we also need to make sure that we are not pushing our opinions onto our students. Yet, there are instances where students come in, start an argument over a topic, and you can tell that the student is just repeating what they have heard from their parents. For one instance, I have a student that struggles to learn anything to do with government, because his parents have such a strong view against Justin Trudeau. As a result, whenever we try to teach this student anything about the Liberal party, the only thing we end up hearing from this students is negative comments. It is still important for us as educators to teach students to form their own opinions on subjects, and to not be swayed by others.

Not creating tiny foot soldiers: I think that Brad summed this point up perfectly when he shared his experience about the schools recycling program. What seemed to be something positive, and created by the students of the school was quickly turned around by someone claiming that the was the intention of the classroom teacher trying to orchestrate their own personal agenda. I think that the biggest point that I got out of this story was the support that Brad had from his administrator. It is important to share news with administration about what you are planning on doing in the school so that they are able to field questions regarding issues.

Brad and Michala Debate Introduction Video

Results

PostVote: Agree 63%, Disagree 37%

Conclusion

As I reflect back on this debate, I agree that social justice is a topic that we need to educate students about. The problem that I am still facing is that the word of the original statement is actually debating two things. First, it is debating that we should be using technology to promote social justice. For this topic, I absolutely agree. The more controversial section is that social media should be used to promote social justice. I just think that there are alternative ways to show students about social justice, rather than giving students social media accounts and allowing them to respond online.

I agree that it is important to show students that it is okay to have alternative views regarding controversial topics. I think it is even more important to explain why. An example is an experience I was put in when I was brand new to my current school. I teach in a small conservative town, so naturally there is a lot of judgement towards the LGBT community. I was shocked my first week of teaching when I kept hearing students use the term gay, fag, etc. What I explained to students is that I have family members that are apart of the LGBT community, and I personal felt attacked whenever students used these terms. I explained that I understood they were open to their own interpretations, and beliefs. However, I also said that I personally would feel better if they didn’t use these terms at school. Four years later, I rarely hear any of those terms. I feel as though this is a good way to share with students about the LGBT community, rather than looking at social media to share opinions.

Finally, I would like to thank all of those apart of the class who shared their personal stories regarding the topic of social justice. It is powerful to learn from others, and to listen to alternative ways people live.

The Great EdTech Debate: Episode 6 – Openness and Sharing in Schools is Unfair to our Kids.

Of all the topics that we have discussed in ECI830, this is the one topic that I went into the debate not have a firm opinion as to where I stood. I feel like a portion of that comes from how broad this topic can stretch. I was interested to hear both sides of the argument, and to determine what each side had to say in order to convince me of their beliefs. I felt like I learned a lot from this debate, and enjoyed listening to the great points made by my classmates.

PreVote

PreVote: Agree 25.9%, Disagree 73.1%

Agree

Debating that openness and sharing in schools is unfair to our kids was Melinda and Altan. They did a great arguing the topic, and shared some great resources for us to read in their annotated reading list.

On of the biggest topics these two discussed was the language barrier that many immigrant families have when they first come to the school, and the difficulty these families have when it comes to understanding all of the forms that parents are expected to sign. One of the forms highlighted was the Media Release Form. In our group discussion, Kalyn brought up a good point in that whenever she has received a Media release form as a parent, she admitted to not fully understanding what the form allows when it comes to sharing photos of students. I find that when it comes to a lot of documents that come from the school division, I find myself perplexed with the information that I have read, and need to clarify the message of the document with other educators. I can only imagine how immigrate parents with English as a second language must feel when it comes to filling out these forms.

The other big topic that I was most interested in learning more about was that parents are oversharing information about their children on social media, and that some children may not be okay with their parents doing this. I am not a parent yet, but I hope to be a father very soon. When I have a child, I never really thought about the implications of me sharing images of them online for others to see. In one article shared titled Don’t Post About Me on Social Media, Children Say, it is said that children don’t always give their parents permission to post pictures of them. From the article, it says “Those early posts from parents linger, not just online, but in our children’s memories — and the topics may be things we don’t see as potentially embarrassing.” I find in crazy that this is not only an issue with children, but also with adults who don’t think they are doing anything harmful.

Another article that was shared with the same message was titled Posting About Your Kids Online Could Damage Their Futures provides a list of 10 things that we can do to help students become familiar with the risks of sharing content online. This list includes:

  1. Encourage schools to teach Internet safety and privacy. If educators and their administrators are going to utilize EdTech, they should also make time to teach students about the dangers of giving over private information. In the U.K., internet safety was made a mandatory part of the school curriculum in 2014, and it’s time for the U.S. to step up.
  2. Demand that schools are transparent about the data collected by their technology and ask for parental approval before letting children sign in to machines and apps, as well as give guardians the opportunity to opt their children out of the use of this technology if they feel it’s not protecting their privacy.
  3. Make your friends into fellow advocates so that questions about privacy are expected. Encourage them to ask about data collection in schools and medical facilities so they understand who is collecting data, how it’s being used, who it’s being shared with, how it’s being protected, and how it’s being aggregated. (It’s important to note that anonymizing data is no longer enough since hackers are easily able to de-anonymize it.)
  4. Research the toys you buy for children to ensure they don’t contain unsecure voice or video recording systems. Disable those systems in toys you already own and change the default passwords of gadgets your children use (as well as your home router).
  5. Demand that companies who market directly to minors write terms and conditions that kids can understand.
  6. Encourage policymakers to enact legislation that protects children’s privacy. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) was passed in 1998 but there are loopholes that are constantly being exploited and the legislation needs to be updated to take into account new technology.
  7. Ask about and research the technology your children are using. You can’t use parental controls properly if you don’t understand the platform or app.
  8. Don’t post photos or videos online that reveal personal information about your children. Be mindful of the long-term implications of getting a few likes.
  9. Be clear with grandparents, friends, and babysitters as well about what they are allowed to share online about your children.
  10. Remember that Facebook and Instagram stories or Snapchat “snaps” seem ephemeral, but can easily be photographed, screen capped, downloaded, or recorded by bad actors.

Disagree

Debating for the opposition was Sherrie and Dean. As a side note, I want to acknowledge the amazing video these two shared with class. Highlight of the video was definitely the sharing with Sherrie segment. In addition, I was thinking throughout this debate that Dean needs to become the next Bill Nye the Science Guy in education. Watch the video below.

The broadcast is called 300 seconds, I loved this point

To partner with a great video, this duo also made sure that they touched on points regarding how it is important to teach both students and parents how to have a responsible online presence, and that it is important to have informed consent by both parents and students. They also shared some great annotated articles, including one titled Protecting Student’s Privacy on Social Media.

I want to address a comment that Nancy made during the evening debate. She commented that it seems that a big portion of ECI830 revolves around the idea of teaching mentorship and global citizenship to students. I completely agree with this statement, and have said numerously in previous posts that as the world shifts, so too must education. We are experiencing a shift into the digital era, and as educators we must prepare to teach students about these important skills. I do understand that we are not experts at this subject, but this only allows us as educators to learn the new concepts at the same time as our students.

One thing that I thought was genius was that this group went out, and tried to gather information from the experts. I was very impressed that these two were able to set up an interview with Dr. Verena Roberts, and then again have Dr. Roberts stream into our zoom meeting as a part of the concluding statements. When the ECI830 debate was over, there is usually a few classmates who stick around after to share learning stories. After this debate, Dr. Roberts stuck around and started to share some more information with us. One of the comments that really stuck out to me was when she said “open learning is about learning what consent is.” I think that it is very important that we educate not only students, but also parents about what consent is.

Results

PostVote: Agree 16%, Disagree 84%

Conclusion

In the end, I voted with the disagree side of the argument, but my reasoning behind doing so was for an alternative reason. When I read the original debate of openness and sharing is unfair for kids, I looked at this topic from an alternative angle. The way that I took this debate is from the viewpoint of educators sharing resources with each other. As a relatively new teacher, I find that I have only improved over the years as a result to sharing resources with other educators. In this sense, it would almost be unfair to students if we did not have openness and sharing occurring.

As for the topic of sharing on social media, I think that it is important to educate students on the risks that can come from posting information about themselves online. However, it is important to allow students to create a digital identity, and to connect to others in order to expand their online social network. Lets just make sure that we are doing this safely, and that everyone is providing consent when doing so.

The Great EdTech Debate: Episode 5 – Should Cellphones be Banned in the Classroom?

In this weeks debate, our ECI830 class discussed if cellphones should be banned from the classroom. It was an especially important topic this week, because this was the debate topic that my partner Alyssa and I chose to debate about. We both agreed that cellphones should not be banned from the classroom, and here is why….. 

PreVote

PreVote: Agree 47.8%, Disagree 52.2%

Agree

Before we discuss our viewpoints on why cellphones should not be banned from the classroom, we want to acknowledge the great work that our opponents Jill and Tarina did.  They brought up a lot of valid arguments as to why cellphones should be banned from the classroom, including:

  • Cellphones are Distractions
  • School Devices are Safer
  • Cellphones increase negative behaviour 
  • Detachment from Personal Device 

As a rebuttal to these reasons we stated that:

  1. Distractions are still going to take place in the classroom whether this is on cellphone or otherwise.  We are living in a society where we are pushing for people to collaborate with each other in order to problem solve. A student who is not focused in the classroom will find a method to be distracted, regardless if we ban cellphones or not.   
  2. When looking at how cellphones increase negative behavior, this type of behaviour such as cyber-bullying can include on other types of devices such as iPads and even school Chromebooks.  By not allowing cellphones into the classroom we do not give students the opportunity to learn how to properly engage with them. A classroom is a safe space, where students can make mistakes and learn from them.   
  3. The solution is to teach students how to use cellphones positively for educational purposes. This would also strengthen the relationships with students.  Not only is it our job as educator to teach the curriculum, but it is also important for us to teach the hidden curriculum. We need to teach digital citizenship to students so they are able to interact appropriately and effectively in the digital world.  Cause lets face it, we are currently living in a digital world.

Disagree

DON’T MAKE A BAN, HAVE A PLAN

To begin, the first problem with the question “Should cellphones be banned from the classroom” was that we disagreed with the terminology of the word ban.  We felt as though banning cellphones was only trying to eliminate a problem, rather than solving the problem.  Instead, we support the term restricted.  One of the methods that we discussed to do this involved the stoplight method. What is funny is that before we had the opportunity to discuss this method, Alec was already ahead of us, sharing his own experiences of it in classrooms. During the conversation, Michala also pointed out at the school she teaches at, she finds that cellphones have given students a place to communicate and connect.  

Other points that we had to encourage the use of cellphones in the classroom are:

  • Emergency Situations 
  • Medical Purposes
  • Educational Purposes 
  • Special Needs 
  • Digital Citizenship 

Watch the video for more explanations behind these points that support cellphone use in the classroom.

Results

PostVote: Agree 9.1%, Disagree 90.9%

Conclusion:

What should take place in classrooms are restrictions not bans on cellphone use.   During our research, we came across an article regarding thee Dr. Alec Couros, and his experience over the years of watching schools implement a  “bring-your-own-device” policy to fill in gaps and encourage more responsibility.  To ban cellphones is to put students’ lives at risk, limit the abilities of students with special needs, rob students of engaging and purposely learning experiences and leave students unprepared to live in an ever-evolving technological global world. 

Understanding skills related to how to act appropriately around other people face to face such as being polite, kind,and fair are just as important for students to understand when communicating in a digital setting.  According to common sense media teens spend an average of 7 hours and 22 minutes on their phones and tweens those aged 8-12 are not far behind.  This is why rather than banning cellphones from the classroom, we need to allow them in the classroom where we can teach students how to use them appropriately. As educators it is our job to educate students how to properly use cellphones, in a safe space, where they aren’t afraid to make a mistake and where they can learn vital life skills that will help them to be successful in today’s digital age. 

To conclude, we are disagree to a ban of cellphones in the classroom, but agree that there do need to be restrictions of cellphone use in the classroom that are monitored by the teacher.   DON’T MAKE A BAN, HAVE A PLAN.  

Below is the full ECI830 debate regarding the topic of if cellphones should be banned from the classroom. Enjoy

The Great EdTech Debate: Episode 4 – Is Social Media Ruining Childhood?

In this weeks debate, we discussed the topic of social media, and if it was ruining the childhood of today’s children. My original response to this topic was that social media has allowed people to connect to others more easily. Even though there are issues that have come from social media towards young people, I still believed it was beneficial to allow for the communication and connection.

PreVote

PreVote: 60% agree, 40% disagree

Agree

To begin the debate, we had Laurie and Christina argue the point that social media was ruining childhood. I really appreciated the intro of their video, and how it showed a flashback to what childhood used to like with the reduced amount of technology available. Since then, the increase of technology has shifted what childhood looks like today. Unfortunately, it is not all for the best. The argument:

  • Mental Health: Social media increased depression, anxiety, self-esteem and suicide in teens.
  • Addicted to the access: FOMO and seek validation from their peers.
  • Attention spans have decreased: This links to the lack of deep social connection

I understand that social media can be a bad thing when used inappropriately, and can even be harmful to young people. I can recall that Altan brought up what was known as the “Blue Whale Challenge”, a social network phenomenon that started back in 2016 that challenged young people to complete tasks, with the final task to be to commit suicide. When you type up the Blue Whale Challenge today on Google, the first pop up is to the Canadian Suicide Prevention Service. This is why it is important to educate young people about social media, and to develop the digital citizenship the comes with owning a cellphone.

I also agree that addictions can take place on social media. In a debate coming up, we will discuss the idea behind banning cellphones in the classroom. Jill and Tarina shared a great video about a young man named Tanner Welton, and how he can acknowledge that cellphones and social media can be addicting. But I would argue that FOMO doesn’t only happen to young people, but instead it happens to everyone regardless of age. It is just the result of living in a society where technology is relied on.

Disagree

On the contrary, we had Dean and Amy argue that social media was not ruining childhood, but allowed for students to connect with others. Dean started by stating some great points about how past inventions where thought to be the thing associated with ruining childhood. Things like the ball point pen, the radio, and the television were all accused to be the next big thing to ruin childhood, with social media being the latest culprit. Rather than ruining childhood, it was pitched that social media allowed students to do the following:

  • Teens are less lonely that in past decades
  • Groups online prove a sense of belonging
  • Can be used to spread positive and good in the world

There are some excellent points made about how social media has allowed students who feel like they don’t belong to open up to others who are similar to them. As an example, the following video titled The Born Friends Family was posted from our second debate topic and talks about how two girls with same medical condition, and how they were able to become great friends despite living on opposite sides of the world. Social Media has allowed people to form connections that are not otherwise possible. When used correctly, social media can spread positivity in the world, and allow people to connect with matters that are important.

The Results:

PostVote: 50% agree, 50% disagree

Conclusion:

For me, I ended up in full support of the disagree side of the argument. The originally question to this topic was if social media was ruining childhood. When I read a question, I like to break down the question word by word. In this particular question, the single word that I continue to get caught up on is the term ruined. It was mentioned in our group conversation by Kalyn that the childhood of today is a lot different than the childhood that was present even 10 years ago. My opinion is that social media, technology, etc. has not ruined what childhood looks like, but has instead altered what childhood looks like.

There was an excellent point that was brought up by Alec in the group meeting. He said that childhood in itself has changed drastically of the decades. At one point in time, children entered the workforce at 13 years of age. The main reason for this is because the age expectancy to live was a lot lower compared to what it is now. In today’s society, students that are 13 years old are not even in high school. We have to understand the as the world changes, we need to adapt to those changes. Apart of that is understanding that childhood is a lot longer now then it was decades ago. It is also important to know that our world is shifting into the digital age, which it is why it is important for students to understand how to use social media positively.

I will agree that there are occurrences that make social media scary for young people, but that only supports why it is important to teach students about digital citizenship. We need to teach digital citizenship to students so they are able to interact appropriately and effectively in the digital world. 

The Great EdTech Debate: Episode 3 – Should schools focus on teaching things that can be easily Googled?

In this weeks debate, teams discussed whether we should teach concepts that can easily be googled. In a turn of events, both teams eventually came to the same conclusion. Although there are concepts that can find the simple answer on google, it is more important for teachers to teach these concepts in a way that is meaningful for student. The main issue that occurs when students google answers is that they are only looking for the short term solution. Although there are occasions were finding the short term solutions is necessary, many of the concepts that are taught in schools are have broader meaning behind it.

To begin the debate, Lisa and Curtis discussed how there are six skills that needed to be successful. These include positivity, bravery, determination, self belief, creativity, and sheer energy. I though that this was a great way to start off the debate, because none of these skills listed can be learned through using google. Instead, these are skills that are learned through experiences. As teachers, we try to help students learn these skills as a part of the hidden curriculum.

Loti Model – The Levels of Teaching Innovation is a great way to build the six skills on how to be successful, but also demonstrates a way for how technology can be used in a classroom to enhance the learning opportunities for students. The big emphasis on this model is to

Focusing on the 4 C’s – It is important to focus on the 4 C’s (Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Communication and Creativity) when it comes to teaching things that can be Google, because it is important for students to have a deeper understanding for the content they are learning. We all know that the internet is full of stories and articles, some of which are fact while others are opinionated. It is important of teachers to focus on the 4 C’s because we need students to be able to understand the difference between what is fact vs. opinion. At the end of the day, we want to teach students to formulate their own opinion instead of following what others have to say.

To respond, , Daina and Jocelyn began by explaining how significant the Google platform is. Some rough statistics, there are approximately 5.6 billion google searches per day. With the use of Google, it was important that these two were able to shine a light on how reliant we as a society are on the search engine. Although there are situations where Google can be beneficial for student learning, without proper teaching students can find themselves not using the tool effectively.

The idea of learning from your mistakes can be a difficult task, but it is the only way to improve upon skills. However, I understand why students want the quick answer, and an answer that is correct. Competition these days is to the extreme, and class averages is no exception. Students get worked up with even the smallest error that they make, because it will hurt the overall average. But what is the big deal? Scholarships! Often these scholarships are rewarded to the student with the highest average. I remember hearing of a scholarship last year that was worth $10,000, and was awarded to a student who achieved the highest average by 0.1%. Imagine being the student who lost out on the scholarship because they did something wrong. When it comes to assignments, the best way to assess these are through formative assessment, where there is no pressure for students to get something wrong. If you are using assignments for summative assessment, allow for the option for students to make corrections, thus demonstrating that they are showing growth.

Critical Thinking – I agree with the statement, “if a questions can be easily googled, then the question the teachers are giving are very basic, and don’t allow for much thinking.” Similarly in the classroom, this is why it is important to ask students open ended questions. I can remember from as young as students who participate in show-and-tell activities, teachers instruct students to ask questions that have a response that ins’t answerable by just saying yes or no.

Conclusion

I often reflect back at my own teaching, and the experiences that I am dealing with. At the moment, we are still working from home and providing instruction to students virtually. When I post an assignment online, there is a great chance that a student can look to google for the answer to the problem. However, the relationship that I have with my students allows them to understand that I have specific expectations, and that finding the solution is not the overall importance.

The greatest comparison that I can make is the one of students being provide answers at the back of a a math textbook. These answers are there to help students justify if they are doing a problem correctly. However, students who use the answer key just to get the correct answer are doing so just to find the short term solution, but not to have the critical thinking as to how they got to this answer. For me, I have openly told students that I do not care about the answer to a problem. The way that I assess students knowledge is through the process they are able to show when completing a problem. By doing this, I am assessing the understanding of how to complete the problem rather than the solution itself.

As a final thought, I really appreciated the way that Lisa and Curtis concluded their video. The message at the end suggests that we need students to come up with their own opinions, rather than just regurgitating the thoughts that we have. The fact that a teacher is able to make a subject seem more interesting is something that can not be undermined.

The Great EdTech Debate: Episode 2 – Is Technology a Force for Equity in Society

Before I go on to recap this debate, and provide my opinions on this topic, I would like to begin this post by congratulating @KalynHumeniuk, @MoussaNatalie, @Ms_Ps_Class, and @JasmineParent3 on a excellent job covering this topic. Not only did both groups present a lot of great points, but they also did so while battling the element (quite literally). Despite multiple individuals getting disconnected from our zoom meeting, neither of these teams were shaken.

Initial Thoughts

Unlike the first debate, I was unsure of where I stood on this topic matter. I didn’t really spend that much time reflecting on if technology was an equity in society, or what complications people faced when it came to working with technology outside of the classroom. For me, I always knew that there was a struggle for students when it came to completing work from home, regardless if the struggle involved technology or not. I always thought that the best solution to combat this problem was to create a web service such as Google Classroom that allowed me to post all of my course material to students, and provide videos of the content. I thought that this was a way to bridge the gap for students, and allowed those who struggled to use technology as a way to “catch up”.

It took the Covid-19 outbreak for me to realize that my view of technology was not equitable for all of the students in my classroom. It was during the early stages of planning when I started to realize that some students did not have the same opportunities as others due to a lack of technology in the household. Even with the idea that the school division was planning on sending out Chromebooks to those families who needed the extra assistance, I still was skeptical that these students receiving the Chromebooks would have the same success at home. It seemed that our EC&I 830 class was split on the belief that technology is a force for equity in society, with out pre-vote results showing the following:

PreVote: 48.3% agree, 51.7% disagree

Agree

Nataly and Kalyn argued for the side that agreed that technology is a force for equity in society. To begin, they stated that inequality was the greatest danger that the world faces. The different in equality causes a greater problem than religious and ethic hatred, or even nuclear weapons. In order to fight this problem, the team believed that education was the equalizer. With educational technology, Kalyn and Nataly argued that technology allows for equity in society by allowing a greater access to information, allowing personalized learning, and helps those with disabilities.

One of the points in this video that I was specifically interested in is the topic on smart phones. The fact that there are 3.5 billion people in the world use smart phones is an impressive number. Imagine if we were to use this device effectively in the classroom to enrich student learning. In the classrooms that I teach in alone, I know that every student has access to a smartphone. Instead of fearing the problems that are associated with smartphones, we could channel the the focus of students to use these devices to help them learn which could provide equity to society.

Disagree

Victoria and Jasmine argued for the side that disagreed that technology is a force for equity in society. This grouped touched on topics that included the digital divide, techno-colonialism, and the non-neutrality of technology.

It was brought up that the main reasons for a digital divide come from the lack of affordability, lack of accessibility, and the varying ability of learning. Families who are unable to afford to buy new devices are therefore unable to keep up with the demands of the digital world. Families who do not have access to internet services are also unable to keep up with the demand, whether the accessibility can’t be met through affordability or due to rural areas not have the same access to internet.

The Results

PostVote: 30.8% agree, 69.2% disagree

My Opinion

For me, I ended up voting for the side that I did not think that technology allows for equity in society. What really verified this thought for me was the points that Victoria and Jasmine made about how technology is not always affordable or accessible to everyone in the same way. Technology is always changing, and the only way that you are able to keep up with all of the new trends and gadgets is if you have the financial ability to do so. Unfortunately, I think there is a direct link between technology inequality in society, and financial inequality in society.

If I were to take the idea of the video above, and reflect on the families that I have at our school, I would be able to see that there is a direct link between financial inequality and technological inequality. Yes, I agree that education can be an equalizer to this problem. However, I am also knowledgeable that those students who come from families who are at the higher end of this economic scale have more success when working at home due to the the affordability, accessibility, and ability of learning. I find that those students who are at the top of the class have parents at home who are able to assist their child with homework. Those students who have the support at home are able to use technology more thoroughly and have an adult assist them with the learning. In comparison, students who do not have the support at home are left to learn for themselves. Unless the student is completely motivated, we often see these students struggle with the learning and give up.

Conclusion

As much as technology can be a equalizer to to bridging the gap for equity in society, I think that there are more serious things that need to be focused on in order to have a more equitable society. Victoria and Jasmine shared an article called Should Schools Teach Anyone Who Can Get Online of No One At All. In this article, the author states that “We would be horrified if 30 percent of our families didn’t have electricity or water in their homes.” For me, these are things that I have never had to worry about and often things that I take for granted. Unfortunately, I know that there are families of students that I teach that don’t have the same fortune. For society, we need to focus on find that balance of equity where people are not struggling for just the basic materials for survival. From there, we can then focus on establishing equity with technology.

The Great EdTech Debate: Episode 1 – Does Technology Enhance Classroom Learning

In our EC&I 830 course, one of the assignments that we have is to participate in a weekly EdTech debate. This activity is meant to bring enriched conversation regarding topics revolved around the use of technology in education. For the first debate, the two teams debated whether technology enhances learning in the classroom. I started off the debate by wishing both team good luck over twitter. Follow me @MrSkylerHart

Prior to starting the debate, we are asked to vote on our own opinion of the topic being discusses. The follow image depicts the date from those results.

PreVote: 89.3% in favour, 10.7% opposed

Agree

We saw @amandajebrace and @NSmith advocate about how technology enhances learning in the classroom. To begin, focused on the point that technology transcends the classroom. Nancy explained that the use of technology now allows us to open up our classroom to new learning opportunities, and for alternative methods of learning. She stated that technology allows us to engage students and deepen the learning. The alternative point was that technology is a great way to connect with others. Amanda discusses the 4C’s in 21st century learning, which you can read further about here. Critical Thinking, Creativity, Collaboration, and Communication are the 4C’s, but the argument was made for a fifth C to be added. Connection. We can use technology to connect the students to the material we are learning.

The 5th C… Connection

There are multiple times throughout the day where I have used technology to help students enhance their learning. Whether is be through watching documentaries, using Desmos for online graphing, or completing online research, technology is something that helps students out. But this only works when I direct students in how to use the technology they are using appropriately and effectively. Without sufficient reasoning behind the use of technology, the reduce the enhancement it brings to the classroom.

Disagree

On the alternative approach, @trevorkerr7 and @MattBresciani argued that technology does not enhance learning in the classroom. The main point that these gentlemen was that technology creates a distraction for students. Trevor provides examples such as using social media, listening to music, playing online games, and watching noneducational videos on YouTube. Matt added that the use of technology in schools bombard students with screen time. With the increase of technology in today’s society, more and more people are exposed to can cause many learners to become dependent on technology, resulting in an addition to technology. So lets MEGA (MAKE EDUCATION GREAT AGAIN).

Technology Does Not Enhance Learning

I agree with Matt and Trevor that technology can be a distraction in the classroom, but I would suggest that it is a distraction when there is nothing that monitors the use of the technology in the first place. As a teacher, it is our responsibility to make sure that students are using the technology for the intended reason it is meant to be used for.

The Results

PostVote: 58.3% in favour, 41.7% opposed

Conclusion

In all, I am am not shocked that a majority of voters still believe that technology enhances learning in a classroom. However, I will give credit to Matt and Trevor. Although they did not have the majority of voters, they were able to convince 31% of voters to change their opinions on technology. I believe that the underlying fact to this debate stems the term efficiently. How efficient are we with incorporating technology into the classroom. Both side admitted that technology in the classroom only enhances learning when it is embedded appropriately, and with a purpose. Those who try to incorporate technology into the classroom as a part of a list of things they need to complete are not using technology to its greatest potential. Curtis Bourassa mentioned that technology needed to have a purpose behind it… it is a vehicle to learn. Technology can transport a students ability to learn, but without proper direction and teaching, a student can be guided down the wrong path.

For a full recap of the entire debate, fell free to watch the video below.

Teaching amongst Covid-19

As an educator apart of Horizon School Division, one of the major focuses in regards to using technology in the classroom is the incorporation of the google platform in teaching. I would say that on a daily basis, I use multiple google programs including:

Google Classroom (A web service developed by Google that allows files to be shared between teachers and students in order for assignments to be graded in a paperless method)

Gmail (An email service developed by Google)

Google Documents (A word processor offered by Google)

Google Slides (A presentation program offered by Google)

Over the past 4 years, I have been teaching at Imperial School. One of my job titles at the school is the Technology Representative. I find that this is an important task seeing how much technology is evolving over the years. On of the best resources that I have been fortunate to collaborate with over the past few years is Jim Swan. Jim is a learning technologist. He is always learning about knew innovations involving technology and how they can be functional in the classroom. When Horizon School Division started to implement the plan of converting to the google platform, Jim made special visits to all schools in the division to teach educators about the technology.

As the Technology Representative of Imperial School, I would say that I have had more personalized meeting with Jim over the years. The expectation is that Jim would teach me the concepts, and I would pass the information on during school staff meetings. One of the first times that I met with Jim, he informed me that I should consider to upload all of my material onto Google Classroom. By doing this, I would be creating a web development cite for my students to access for further explanation on content, or to catch up on material that they may have missed from the day.

During my day in the life of currently using technology, I am very fortunate that I listened to the advise of Jim. I have created a Google Classroom for all of the subjects that I am teaching. On this site, I post a copy of my teacher notes for every lesson, a copy of the assignment that students are expected to complete, and a video that corresponds to the lesson that has previously been taught.

The other thing that I have been using to connect with my students online during Covid-19 is using Google Meets. Google Meets allows me to schedule conference calls with students to check in and see how they are doing with the course material. It also allows me to set up 1-on-1 conferences with students who are struggling to understand the course material.

Teaching online is way different than teaching in the classroom, but luckily for me the effort and work that I have put into teaching my students how to use technology in the classroom has allowed my students to be successful during this difficult time.