Author Archives: Nancy Smith

ECI 830 Summary of Learning

Here is my Summary of Learning:

Each course I try to use a different video editing technique to expand my knowledge.  For this video I used Canva to design my slides, and then recorded my video within Powerpoint.  This is also the first time I have appeared in my video - I was inspired by Mike Wesch and tried to become more comfortable being on camera.

Thank you to everyone for an excellent course!

Debate #6: Openness and Sharing in schools is unfair to our kids

Our debate topic for this session was focused on openness and sharing in schools.  The two teams were  Altan and Melinda (FOR) and Sherrie and Dean  (AGAINST)

Altan and Melinda prepared a compelling argument:

Three key themes they focused on included:

Privacy: language barriers, social media, input from children and "sharenting"

Openness: digital etiquette, digital rights, digital literacy, digital divide

Cellphones: digital communication

Sherrie and Dean focused on (in my opinion) a more realistic approach to this argument.  I think Sherrie could be approached by the CBC to replace Rick Mercer for her "rant" - prairie style. Simply put, the Sharing with Sherrie segment was outstanding.  She was realistic and pragmatic with her "rant" and it really resonated with me.

It was valuable to hear the insights from Dr. Varena Roberts and the positive examples she shared of age appropriate social media use by school including some Kindergarten age ones.  I have heard other students share other examples of positive use of social media from the different grades they teach too.  I am left with the perception that it is feasible to do, and with careful and thoughtful approach it isn't unfair for social media to be used in the classroom/schools.  Dean & Sherrie provided an extended video interview with Dr. Roberts that was incredibly insightful.  I think she was spot on with her question of 

 "WHO are we sharing our online presence to, who are we opening our minds to?" 

They discussed practical examples of how teachers can implement openness and social media in the classroom.  It isn't something that can be implemented with a flick of a switch, it is something that can be nurtured and developed.

There is no question that we need to evolve our thinking to be realistic with how society uses technology and not try to isolate how some schools isolate this issue.  I value the opportunity for our kids to learn from other perspectives and to access global resources to enhance their learning.  Growing up, I was fortunate to be able to travel extensively and see people from other cultures, beliefs, backgrounds, races and religions first hand.  This provided me the opportunity to gain a broader perspective on life and appreciate that the world is much broader than my own community.  Today, and especially during this pandemic, international travel is not an option.  But it is critical for us to hear and explore world events and to be aware of what is happening.  We need to embrace how we can make a positive contribution to the digital space and not be overly concerned about controlling what our kids see/experience.  

Our conversation during class, and several of the articles that were shared as the annotated readings focused on the parents responsibility for not oversharing or "sharenting" too much of their childrens lives online.  Is there a real or perceived issue of children's privacy being violated?  Initially, when I signed up for Facebook in 2008 I found it to be a wonderful way to connect with my family and friends and share the growth and development of my son who was 3 years old at the time.  My mother lived in Mexico for 6 months of the year and my two older brothers don't live in Calgary.  Facebook acted as a connection for us and continues to do so today.  Now my son is 15, and like many other teens he now has his own online presence.  He doesn't often like me to post photos anymore, and now I ask his permission.

I am hopeful for the future implementation of intentional openess and social media in the classroom based on the rich discussion our class had during this debate.

Debate #5: Should cell phones be banned in the classroom?

I was really disappointed to have missed our last debate due to my work.  The topic was whether or not cellphones should be banned in the classroom.  I watched the class recording - and clearly I missed out on was the opportunity to participate in our lively chat :)

Both teams presented excellent videos.  I especially liked the editing of clips from videos including the Simpsons and Saved By the Bell ...

Skyler and Alyssa focused on the argument that  cell phones in the classroom are a positive addition to Educational Technology. They approached this discussion from a more moderate viewpoint, which I think was very smart.  They defined what a "ban" is - and suggested it was too extreme and advocated for restricted use that is controlled vs. outright dismissal.

The opposing team, Jill and Tarina focused their argument on banning cell phones from the classroom because they are a distraction to students and their ability to learn. 

A very interesting point that was raised that I had not considered was the positioning that school devices are safer for students to use than the personal ones.  This is for several reasons including firewall protection, the responsible use agreement that students must accept as well as the opportunity for teachers to review the search/browser history.

The class discussion focused alot on my classmates experience teaching - and this was so insightful!  I was surprised to hear that most of my fellow students were not opposed to devices in the class.  They stressed the need for focusing on digital citizenship and a recurring theme of the increased need and emphasis to be able to teach this throughout the school years is needed, but not happening.  Many also stressed that parents MUST be a part of this important learning and it can't be a "one and done" conversation.

I wanted to share a couple of additional resources I have found to be very helpful as a parent trying to navigate how to raise a kid using tech responsibily:

Devorah Heitner  her website Raising Digital Natives, and her book "Screenwise" were one of the first POSITIVE resources I found on the topic of digital citizenship for kids.

Here is a link to her Ted Talk, and although it is from 2014, it is still relevant:

Another resource I really like is Anya Kamenetz, her book "The Art of Screen Time

Lastly, if you were looking for a training program for your class - here is one I highly recommend for younger grades, it is called My Life Online 

But I digress ....

One thing I really appreciated about this week's debate was how logical both arguments were.  I did not find the debators to be as polarizing as previous ones, and I have to admit, I was rethinking my position throughout the discussion.

In the end, I maintained my stance that cell phones should not be banned.  However what I found most interesting was hearing from my classmates who did change their vote.  Listening to Melinda explain how essential devices are in her practice of teaching ESL was truly fascinating to me.

Debate #4: Is Social Media Runing Childhood?

I was really looking forward to this debate, as I knew it would be a HOT topic.  Tonight it was Laurie & Christina vs. Amy & Dean arguing for and against, and it did not dissapoint.

I was happy to be a part of Amy and Dean's video to share my own personal experience as why I believe social media isn't ruining childhood. I don't think anyone was surprised to hear that I am a proponent for age appropriate use of social media as it allows for communication, connection and creativity. Dean and Amy emphasized many of the key points I also advocate for - each generation has had their own "villan" that is blamed for ruining childhood. They shared several great examples of positive use of social media and how it connected kids so that they are less isolated and with similar interests.

Their supplemental reading included a very interesting blog post by Jennifer Casa Todd which was written as a response to an article that demonizes social media for middle schoolers.  Her response is enlightened, foward thinking and one that really resonated for me.  She dispells many of the common myths associated with social media use and teens.

Laurie and Christina focused on how social media has changed childhood - and not for the better.  They called social media "the evil enemy" and shared many reasons why they believe this to be true.  They focused on the harm that it can cause to mental health including depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.  They explained how teens succumb to FOMO, and are driven to do things based on how many likes/comments they will get when they post online.  They talked about inability to focus and poor attention spans as well as cyberbullying as critical issues social media have caused.

I can't argue that the points they raised aren't true.  In fact, the only thing that surprised me was how many of my fellow students were in agreement that social media is ruining childhood - over 50% of the class feels this way.

It makes me want to understand more of the pain points that adults have with social media.  Why is the perception skewed so negatively?  More research needs to be done about kids and social media too.  How would they respond to this question?  Instead of the polarizing ends of the debate - I want to know more about the "middle ground"

Every kid is unique and their ability to make decisions and use social media responsibly will vary greatly.  As parents, we need to ensure we are honoring the terms and conditions of social media sites (not allowing access before the age of consent which is usually 13 years old), being aware of how our kids are using social media, teaching how to "disconnect" and maintain open communication so kids feel safe about talking to you when things may go wrong.

Here is a helpful graphic from St. Alphonsus Primary School that outlines some key points to consider.

Image result for social media tips for parents

Debate #3: Should schools teach students things that can be easily Googled?

This week our debaters were Curtis & Lisa vs. Daina & Jocelyn and they presented their arguments for "Schools should not focus on teaching things that are easily Googled"

The debate took an interesting twist after both of the teams videos were shared, as they ended up arguing the same side! However, each had a unique perspective that I appreciated learning about.

Curtis and Lisa's "Mindful Learning" said that to be successful in learning, students must have:

  • Positivity
  • Bravery
  • Determination
  • Self Belief
  • Creativity
  • Sheer Energy

And that these are not traits that Google will provide. They used the LoTi Framework model, which I was not familiar with.

Here is a video I found that explains this Level of Technology Integration framework:

I really liked the point they made that "we need to teach students to know how to filter between good knowledge and bad knowledge". Their video focused on a wholistic, environment and non-conventional approach to multi-scensory experiences intended to engage students in learning. They concluded stating that they want students to use their own understanding to create meaningful learning moments. They stated that teachers can express things in a way that Google can't.

I don't agree with that point. Google isn't simply supplying facts to the person who is searching for the information as they implied. Google is a like a library that contains more knowledge and information than all of the world's libraries put together. The possibilities are almost endless of what people can find, source and discover on Google - from an article, to a video, photo or more.

Daina and Jocelyn's argument for the debate that "the reliance on Google is diminishing our critical thinking skills, widening the digital divide". When students use Google, they aren't applying the time to fully understand the process or theory being explained in their search. They explained that students are simply regurgitating the simple answer they find.

They suggested that we get back to the basics in our education - we need to learn information through experience and apply our knowledge in different situations. I appreciated the argument they made about the digital divide and access to technology as well as different learning styles. Another point that resonated for me was we need to be mindful on our reliance on Google or other technology to ensure it is a tool for our learning, not the teacher.

For our classtime, we discussed whether or not we felt our systems/classrooms support a shift in our learning. Do some teachers focus too much on teaching facts? Are we too focused on content, and can we change? How much do we need to know vs. how much can we search other resources? What are things you MUST know? Handwriting, multiplication tables? What are the basics that we need to teach and for our students to know?

It struck me that our curriculum may be outdated with our access to technology and availabilities of supplemental content to support inquiry based learning. How will we evolve?

I was reminded of a quote that I like:

"I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship" by Louise May Alcott

When will we evolve how we teach our kids?

Debate #2: Is Technology a Force for Equity in Society?

I really valued the discussion in the Debate #2 topic "Is Technology a Force for Equity in Society?", because it is something I had not put a great deal of thought to prior to this class.

Our debaters were Nataly and Kalyn for the agree side and Victoria and Jasmine on the disagree side.  I was so impressed with both sides, not just for the excellent work, preparation and presentation, but also because they managed to stay calm despite mother nature causing power outages, dropped internet and inability to connect to the Zoom class for some.

For the initial poll, I selected that I was in agreement with the notion that technology is a force for equity in society.  

Kalyn and Nataly prepared a strong argument: 

To summarize, they stated that technology allows students to get individualized learning and access to information.  It can help raise awareness of social justice issues as well as assist students who require it.

Victoria and Jasmine shared some interesting statistics about internet and digital usage that reinforced their argument that technology is not a force for equity in society.

I thought their arguments raised some interesting aspects - including fake news and misinformation which we studied alot about last semester.  I was intrigued with the term and concept of "techno colonialism" which I had not heard of before.  

If you are interested in learning more about what it is, I found this video that explains it:

I will definitely be exploring this subject in more detail.

At the end of the debate, my vote was swayed over to the disagree side more than I expected it would.  Although I believe it the great potential of technology, without equal access throughout society it is not truly equal to all.

The debate left me thinking about some bigger issues:

- What issues are there globally for developing countries for access to technology? And who is working to resolve this?  I have seen some work by Google, but I am curious on how prevalent this issue is.

- As technology evolves quickly, how do we ensure our students have access to the latest versions to keep up?  This could be very costly, and could further widen the digital divide between lower income households and wealthier ones.

There are many factors to consider when exploring this topic.  Thank you to both teams for raising the awareness of this issue for me.

The Great Debate – A Summary of How I Prepared for this Assignment

I can't remember when the last time I debated for a class assignment was, I think it was when I was in Grade 10.  Suffice to say, that was a LONG time ago.

I was intrigued with this assignment, it seemed like a good way to have our class collaborate, dissect a topic and creatively present our findings related to technology and education.  Leave it to our professor Dr. Couros to challenge us in such an insightful and engaging way.

I was relieved when Amanda  reached out to me on Twitter and asked if I had a partner for this assignment.  I knew Amanda from our course together last semester, and I follow her on Instagram, so I know a little about her from before.  Without hesitation, I agreed and we moved forward with our plans for the assignment.

When we signed up for our debate topic, "Does Technology in the Classroom Enhance Learning" and realized we would be debating Matt and Trevor, we knew we would have a great competition ahead of us since the two already have the advantage of knowing one another and working together outside of our class.  I have always been impressed with their contributions to our course work - smart, funny and clearly passionate for their work.

So, immediately I tweeted this:

Here is our video:

Amanda and I are both very pro-technology and believe with no doubt that technology enhances learning in the classroom, so we wanted to challenge ourselves with this assignment in our delivery.  We decided to use a video from a Mike Wesch as the formula for how we would approach our video creation

As a marketer, I know that people remember stories, and that sharing our personal examples helps create an emotional connection with our audience.  At our first collaboration meeting, Amanda and I realized we were already on the same page!  She had been documenting her recovery journey since her unfortunate accident in March and sharing how technology was essential for her both personally and professionally.

We wanted to go beyond what we perceived the standard argument would be for the "agree" side and decided our focus would be on CONNECTION.

We used the hero's journey that was outlined in the Mike Wesch video to help us illustrate our main point:

    • At first I was ...
    • I kept thinking I could never ...
    • But then I  ...
    • And I grew ...
    • And I learned ...
    • And I survived ...

We met using Google Meet several times, divided the work and conquered. Amanda deserves the credit for the video - she used her creativity and WeVideo to edit our project. I helped with researching, writing and narrating our script.

I am so proud of the video we created and the story we told ... in less than 5 minutes!

The debate was a little nerve-wrecking, but was equally exciting. Our debate competition Matt and Trevor did an excellent job of sharing the opposite view points, in a fun and engaging way.

They focused on the risks and the issues of technology use in the classroom and questioned who was leading the drive for technology in classrooms? Educators or corporations?
There presentation posed good questions to consider when you are deciding to include technology or not.

They focused on:

  1. Technology is a distraction - they did not limit this to the temptation to be distracted, but included the commercialization of the internet with advertisement and how algorithms are used to attract your attention
  2. Pedagogy - I thought their argument that technology at best only amplifies the pedagogical methods of teachers "it makes good teachers better, and bad ones worse" was very true.
  3. Screentime - kids are spending too much time outside of school on devices, they don't need more time on tech when they are at school.
They raised solid points, but my favourite part was the fun tactics they did to distract the audience including wearing suits, using a debate stage background on Zoom and creating "fake tweets" that looked pretty realistic. (Trust me, they were not ...)

Overall, it was a very positive experience and a great way to dive into a topic a little deeper than a typical assignment.  Kudos to my partner and our antagonists - Matt and Trevor for such a great experience.

A Day in the Life of Nancy

My typical work day...

6:30 am
Once I wake up, I am now in the habit of NOT going on my phone right away like I used to. Instead, I head downstairs, and make my coffee and settle in to enjoy it on my couch. I do a scan on Twitter to get caught up the news. I have created a Twitter list - this is a really handy feature, you can create your own list that lets you curate the accounts you want to follow. I have several Twitter Lists - one of local media and national media that helps me keep current.

Here is a helpful video if you want to learn how to create a Twitter list of your own if you are interested

8:00 am
My work day is not teaching - as some of you know I am a marketing lead at the City of Calgary. My team is responsible for the social media accounts including: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

I connect with my co-workers using Microsoft Teams, we use the video call feature for meetings throughout the day and the chat to instant message.  This is a new tool since the COVID 19 pandemic, and I am really impressed with how it has reduced the number of emails but increased a sense of connection with my team.  We have had fun incorporating unique backgrounds for video calls, and using GIFS in the chats which help bring some personality to our interactions too.  Twice a week we do a virtual coffee chat, using the video call feature.  I love that we are able to talk about things other than work - like what Netflix series you are bingeing, (for me, it is Schitts Creek)

Throughout my day I am helping to: 

  • Create content for our channels - that could be a Livestream video of our media conferences of our Mayor or Chief Emergency officer
  • Respond to citizens - we get an average of 800+ incoming messages via social media per day
  • Setting the strategy for a campaign or initiative - this is where I actively seek ideas for how to be effective and innovative in how we share content.  I watch Youtube videos, follow other government org and brands on social media and get inspired!
  • Manage my team of 10 people

5 PM

I usually sign off work around 5 pm.  

Music is always playing in our home, and I love our wireless SONOS system to connect to Spotify 

I have a GOOGLE home hub - in my kitchen and will use it to guide me through a new recipe to cook for dinner.  "Ok Google, what can I make with asparagus?" And the screen will show/tell me the steps to take for my recipe.  Or play a Youtube video, or connect to the news.  I love it.

I am an avid podcast listener, so when I take my dog Ivy for a walk in the evening I am usually listening to one, or an audio book I have downloaded from the Calgary Public Library.  My favourites are usually non fiction and based on self development or marketing/business topics for my work.  Of course I wear my FITBIT to track my steps and to encourage me to be more active throughout the day.  

Spending time with my husband and son is really important to me.  Lately we have been watching the series "The Last Dance" about Michael Jordan together since we all love basketball.

Lastly, I might go on Youtube before going to bed to look up "How To Garden" videos.  I have always had a small garden but am trying to expand my growing horizons this year.

In summary, I would say that I am very connected to technology.  Not only do I love gadgets, but I am hyper connected to social media, through work and my own personal use.  I see the benefit to being able to source new ideas/inspiration and learning through audiobooks, podcasts and Youtube videos.

It was an interesting reflection to realize how much I rely on technology, and I'm curious to see how this compares to the rest of ECI830 class.  



I recognize many faces from previous courses in our grad studies.  It is nice to see you again and I am grateful to have such a great cohort of students to learn with.

If we haven't met, my name is Nancy Smith.  I decided to take my graduate studies after I met Dr. Couros at an event in Edmonton.  We were both speakers at the conference, and I was completely WOWED by his presentation.  I had contemplated going back to school for many years, but had never found a program that really motivated me to go for it.  I didn't just want to check a box and get through a program, I wanted to LEARN and grow from the experience.

So, here I am today.  I have taken 4 courses towards my Education and Curriculum graduate degree and am so grateful that I am.  I am always excited about our classtime, and eagerly share with my family and colleagues about what we are learning about and discussing in class.  Our Zoom calls are always a highlight of my week.

A little about me....

  • Calgary is my home.  I've lived here for 25 years.  
  • My undergraduate is from the University of Alberta
  • My career background is in Marketing.  I have worked for Travel Alberta, and I know work for the City of Calgary.  My area of specialty is social media marketing.  I have also had the pleasure of working on contracts to help brands including the Calgary Stampede, Sport Chek, Samsung and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority
  • I have been teaching at Mount Royal University for 10 years - I teach a Marketing and Strategic Communications course and have taught social media classes there too.  I also teach at the University of Calgary - digital marketing and social media courses.
  • I really enjoy public speaking and have had great opportunities to speak at events across North America - and even overseas!
  • I wrote a book in 2018 to help parents navigate this new digital world and social media -
  • I am married (19 years) and we have one teen - a 14 year old son who is in Grade 9