My Summary of Learning video was a labour of love. It is an amazing way to reflect on what was learned, but 7 minutes is not enough time to get it all in as you will see as I progressively start talking faster as the video progress (good thing I practiced in my rant, although I hope you find my voice more pleasant in this format). I have to say I think I’ve learned more by doing this project, than any research essay I have written. Food for thought in our classes – perhaps an open assignment like this is better than any final exam!
I want to thank each of you for being a part of this educational journey with me. It is the end of a class, but not the end of my new Professional Learning Network. This class has been an experience that has been revolutionary for me. I only wish I had more time to fully delve into the topics. That will be my summer. It is actually remarkable that we all managed to thrive as we did in the course with all the added pressures in our society right now. Congratulations, we made it!
Educators have a responsibility to use tech and social media to promote social justice.
Hands down this was the most thought-provoking debate for me yet. This one made me question my own past actions as an educator as well. One of the sound bites that really stood out to me was from the TedTalkJacquie and Mike shared in their assigned references. “Teaching will always be a political act” (Sydney Chaffee). This really hit home for me because in my 22 years as an educator (plus add on additional dozen years as a student in the public school system and a few more as a university student) I realize that my entire life has been shaped by the education system and the governments that have been responsible for the curriculum.
I have experienced many shifts in pedagogy, assessment practices, expectations, ethical practices, and changing philosophies of how teachers should interact with students. I am guilty of practices that wouldn’t necessarily be recommended today. In the past, I have divided groups by gender, and avoided answering questions that we worried would get us into hot water. When elections came around, I was sure to keep a luke warm stance so I wasn’t influencing my own political views onto students, yet way back, we were taught of the glorious British empire, the explorers, and the building of a great nation; however we neglected to share the real story. Sadly some of us, didn’t know that story because we weren’t taught it in our own schooling. I was teaching students what I was supposed to at the time, according to a set of values and instructions given to me. When the pro-side shared Maya Angelou’s famous words, “When we know better, we do better” it made me feel better because I did evolve and change and do better. I now wonder if I am at a similar crossroads with social media? I have avoided the whole concept of it until recently, and had a fairly strong case built-up in my mind that it wasn’t a necessary “extra” in my life, but now I’m starting to feel that pivot.
That said, being new to the world of Twitter, I need to proceed cautiously. I am a small fish in a big pond and there are sharks out there. The con-side, Brad and Michala, warned of the Internet trolls and I best beware. I could easily fall into the well-intentioned comments of those who say “All lives matter” or send a black square because it seems like that is what is expected, but not really know why. I had a really good conversation at the supper table last week about social media and slactivism. We discussed the reasons why people use social media in the first place. I have joined social media as a part of this course and to build my PLN. Other people use it for a communication tool or to celebrate/document moments in their lives, and there are others who use it for a political platform for social justice. It can be used for all three (and probably many more) functions but it is up to individuals as to how they use it. I can be a social justice warrior in my classroom and my community without doing it on social media; although I can see the power of this medium.
Both sides of this debate agreed that teachers need to promote social justice, the debate was really over whether social media “needed” to be a part of it. I agree with Brad and Michala that face to face learning is best (although we know this can happen on Zoom and Microsoft Teams as well) because we can hear the tone, read the facial expressions and interpret body language. So often the written word can be misinterpreted, just by the voice we attribute as we read (Thank you to Brad for demonstrating this perfectly).
So yes I agree that social justice should be promoted in schools because as Jacquie and Mike pointed out social justice perspectives are already being taught: problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration, perseverance, and historical context. I also agree with Jacquie when she said that schools can and should be bigger than their four walls. And whether we use social media or not, “our aim is to empower students to articulate their own opinions not to coerce them into agreeing with us,” – Sydney Chaffee. Teachers need to present both sides so students can make informed judgements, but by remaining silent or impartial does not help marginalized people.
In closing, I want to thank Altan and Melinda for sharing their personal stories, they set the stage for the best closing statement ever by Jacquie and Mike. I had tingles listening to them both. Powerful words.
And I also agree with Michala and Brad that it is hard to argue that social media isn’t an amazing tool for being a social justice warrior globally, but when it comes to the debate statement they were able to find the middle ground that all our debates seem to come back to: “Should we teach social justice? YES. Should it be on social media? Not Necessarily.” That doesn’t me we shouldn’t use it, it just means that we can use it, and know that it has power to influence the world.
This debate reflection was co-created with my partner Dean. Feel free to comment on mine, his, or both blogs. We thought we would try something a little different this week and created a post debate vlog. You can also choose to listen to podcast version if you want to multi-task and go for a walk while listening to our post debate reflective conversation.
Special thanks to Dr. Verena Roberts for granting us an interview.
The debate gave everyone lots to think about. Thank you to Altan and Melida for sharing their perspectives as well.
AGREE OPENING STATEMENT
DISAGREE OPENING STATEMENT
Overall, people agree that openess and sharing is fair to students and a positive experience if done responsibly, safely and with the proper consent.
Below is a transcript of our extended “rant” with links to some of our research. A full-length version of the rant is also available for viewing on our Open For Business Wakelet. (Turns out I could speed talk on this topic for quite some time, and some of the footage remained on the cutting room floor).
Is openness and sharing in schools unfair to our students? Or is it unfair not to take the opportunity to teach students about positive online behaviours. Schools are the best place for students to learn how to create and maintain a positive identity online.
This brings me to the question as to why do schools use social media platforms to share and promote an open classroom? By sharing student work online, schools can celebrate student success, promote learning, build school culture and invite parents, and community, to be a part of the learning process.
There are many reasons why educators use social media in schools. One – it is a part of our current reality; instead of resisting it, we need to embrace it! Two, it provides instant communication with our stakeholders – no more notes lost in the bookbag! And most importantly, three, CONNECTIVITY – openness and sharing encourages collaboration, creativity, and communication, and what is better than that?
Are there dangers to be concerned about by sharing online? Sure, but such dangers have been present long before social media, and sadly, as much as we wish we could, they simply cannot be completely avoided. What we can do is educate students to be informed posters. Students need to be a part of the decision-making as to what is posted about them. It is not enough to have a parent sign-off on September 1st that pictures can be posted in the school yearbook and on their social media sites; students need to be consulted because it is their digital footprint that is being affected and they need to learn about what is and what is not appropriate to post. Australian educational blogger, Kathleen Morris, shares: “unfortunately, issues such as cyberbullying, sexting, and problematic internet use are not going away. It’s so important that teachers are equipped to teach about these issues as a preventative, and follow-up issues as they occur.
Most of all, don’t be afraid of these challenges. As a teacher we’re in a unique position to really help empower young people to use technology safely, enjoyably, and purposefully.
Educators using social media as a form of openess and sharing need to model good citizenship and be aware of their school divisions policies regarding social media. I can tell you that South East Cornerstone leaves no stone unturned. We have AP 193 on Social Media Guidelines, complete with a SOCIAL MEDIA APPROVAL FORM appendix, AP 140 on Acceptable Use, Incidental Use, Unacceptable use, and AP 183 on Confidentiality. And then of course there is the school registration form where parents give their consent under LAFOIP, for their child’s image to be shared. Teachers need to be aware of which parents have not given permission. And also understand that just because a parent has given permission does not mean that you don’t need to consult with the student for their permission before you post.
In their research, Buchanan, Southgate, Scevek and Smith state: “Digital footprint management goes beyond meeting the legal obligations of protecting children, following the code of conduct, and complying with computer usage policies. Most schools are not only fulfilling these legal requirements but are educating their students about cyber safety. Education for the development of a positive digital footprint doesn’t finish at teaching students what they cannot do but builds productively on this by letting them know what they can do to develop an online presence that will be an asset to them in the future. This represents a shift from a model based on compliance to one based on ethical management.”
So is openness and sharing in schools unfair to students? I guess that depends on who is doing the posting.
This was the debate I was waiting for. I have dealt with many discipline issues at school that trace back to cellphone use (in and out of school) that I was excited to hear the research gathered. If there is school-approved technology available such as laptops, computer use, iPads and Chromebooks for example, to provide the educational software and apps needed to enhance learning, why would students need to have their personal device that contains other distractions?
In their book, Screen Schooled, Clements and Miles, not only discuss the negatives of cellphones in schools, but also the negative effects of technology overuse in schools. They make many valid points and it is an interesting read (with lots of support for a pro-statement) but I believe that as with all technology, balanced use is key.
I agree with everything Jill and Tarina who stated that cell phones are distracting (and I loved the data they shared with the whiteboard experiment), school devices are safer (although I have seen kids get into trouble on school devices too), and that addiction to cell phones is a real problem.
The problem is, I can agree with all of those points, but cannot agree that cell phones should be banned in the classroom. That one word, is what kept me from jumping on the side of the pro-side of this debate, and Skyler and Alyssa made sure we all processed the word “banned” and the implications such a ban would have: “Don’t make a ban, have a plan!”
Cellphones can be an effective tool for learning. I have seen many students use phones as a second screen to follow along with tutorials. I agree with Skyler that cellphones are a good tool for multi-tasking. Alyssa also defended cellphones in school by encouraging educators to use negative and positive experiences with personal devices as opportunities to educate about safe spaces and digital citizenship.
The open discussion offered a lot of perspectives: teachers as role models with their phones, discipline due to the camera in the phone, Smart watches, parent support, sexting, and cellphone contracts. This blog could be a novel with all of the information introduced. This is one topic that I think I will delve into a little deeper on my own as well.
I believe access to personal devices can have a lot of positive possibilities in a classroom, but like any privilege, if it is abused, that privilege can be removed. Cellphones can have negative impacts on a classroom but also positive impacts on a classroom and therefore an out-right ban on cellphones is not feasible. Like all technology, appropriate use must be modeled and taught. There are times when cell phones should be prohibited or even restricted, but not banned. The pros and cons of mobile phones in the classroom need to be considered.
Don’t make a ban, have a plan – is great mantra. Now, time to start planning.
In this episode of The Great Ed Tech Debate, Laurie and Christina took on Dean and Amy in arguing the contentious topic: “Is social media ruining childhood?” The pre-vote was a 60-40 split that yes indeed, social media was ruining childhood, or at least the nostalgic childhood we remembered.
I think a big part of this topic comes down to how people interpret “childhood” and “social media”. Our open discussion revealed that many people (me included) associated the word childhood with students under a certain age; for some it was under 13 and others it was under 10. I am the mom of 3 girls, 20, 18, and 15. Our first daughter wasn’t allowed a cell phone and social media until she was 15, the second daughter got hers when she was 14 and the third, we relented when she was 13. The second interpretation required to inform our decision was, what constitutes social media? For many of us we were thinking social media encompassed apps like Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram and Tik Tok, but didn’t consider things like Facetime, Youtube, or social platforms like zoom. Nancy cleared it up with the definition of social media being a public platform where people can communicate by connecting though technology in numerous ways (verbal, through pictures, comments, likes, et cetera).
The pro-side, Laurie and Christina were quick to point out the “evil enemy” of social media using powerful discourse depicting social media as a “prowling” menace that “rips” and “robs” children of the innocence that is childhood. Their stance showed the many dangers of social media and the addiction, peer pressure, and stress it can put on a child’s mental well-being.
The con-side, Dean and Amy were witty with “Da Fake News” and defended social media claiming it is being framed as a villain when in actuality these dangers and pressures have always been facing children, social media is just a new platform where these “evils” find a way to surface. Teaching children to deal with these situations online is what is important. Dean and Amy also drew on the expertise of others my sharing “Nancy’s Notions” where Nancy contended how important social media has been for her own child, especially during this time of isolation. I have to say I loved the product placement of books, such as “Social LEADia”. It was also highlighted how social media gives a platform to many young people who would otherwise be marginalized; they now have the ability to have representation.
To be honest, I think that social media isn’t needed for young children, but yet, just last night, I watched as my 15 year-old daughter face-timed with her 5 year-old cousin about Minecraft. They played together online and my heart warmed. I often worry about the addictive properties of social media, but banning it all together isn’t the answer. Also who can resist a picture with Gran using a cute Snapchat filter?
Is social media the cause of these bad things or is just a medium that is being used? It’s not going anywhere, so we best find a way to educate our students and ourselves so we can outweigh the negatives with the positive influence social media can have. It’s all about balance!
Schools should not focus on teaching things that can be easily googled.
This EdTech debate ended in a draw of sorts. I think all involved in the presentation and discussion of the debate understood how they felt about the topic, however in both the pre and post vote it isn’t clear that people knew what they were really voting for.
Speaking for myself, I read the prompt as “Teachers should only teach things that cannot be googled” and I disagreed which was the same as the majority of the people in the pre-vote (although that may not mean much). My rationale is that some of the information that is shared in schools can be googled. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t important to share. Anyone can type a question into a search engine and retrieve an answer but that doesn’t ensure understanding or learning. The human touch a teacher can bring to presenting, sharing or introducing topics to students is invaluable. I can easily “google” any event in history, but nothing can replace the learning that comes from a teacher who is passionate about what they are teaching, be it in any subject. When it boils down to it, just because something is “google-able” doesn’t mean you shouldn’t teach it.
What the two debate teams shared however was the HOW things should be taught. The pro-team, Curtis and Lisa focused on the LoTi framework that educators can use to ensure that technology use is purposeful and focused on critical thinking, communication, creativity, and collaboration. I especially enjoyed how their upbeat music that played as they shared what LoTi was shifted to an ominous soundtrack while they cautioned what LoTi was not. This team shared it is important for teachers to use a holistic approach to teaching, with land-based and sensory experiences that are student-centered that encompass real-world learning. Teachers need to offer opportunities for students to have deeper understanding, not just surface knowledge that they could have found on their own.
The con-team added to this message by sharing how students are becoming too reliant on Google. They shared that the application of the knowledge found is missing. If teachers were focusing on things students could google the answer for, the digital divide widens as not everyone has access to get the answer. Daina and Jocelyn warned that teachers who only taught basic information that can be found on Google, encourage regurgitation of information and learning and understanding is lost. Google is meant to be a tool, not a teacher. There was no heated debate. The open discussion gave the group an opportunity to have an enriched discussion on factual content learning, and student-centered, self-directed, learning. Many agreed that there is value in some memorized learning such as multiplication facts and sight words, however, as the research provided stated, there is definitely more to learning than the 3R’s (reading, writing and arithmetic).
Educators bring those facts to life, by bringing their own personalities to their lessons. They can express information in different ways and make it more engaging. Projects such as genius hour, passion projects, and student directed studies combine content with student engagement.
Our conversation took a tangent on how at this particular time in history, connecting with our students is more important than content. Examples were shared such as spirit challenges. Our Student Representative Council (SRC) has been trying to find ways to connect with kids in our new virtual environment. Most recently, they have put out a Photo Scavenger Hunt. My daughter is a member of the SRC and gave me her permission to share a few of her entries. At the end of each challenge, there is a draw for gift cards to local businesses (Nice way to support local). Our Phys. Ed Department is also doing Physical Activity Challenges which are popular. I’ve enjoyed seeing many students learn to juggle from one of our teachers.
At the end of the “debate” there was a shift to an “agree” post-vote. Analyzing the discussion, I believe that we had a discussion on how “googling” information was surface learning, but deeper understanding comes from experiential learning, inquiry learning, and purposeful technology. I think that this “understanding” shifted the vote, even though, that doesn’t mean you can’t use google or expand on googled information in student learning. Curtis summed it up best when he said, “It’s not about finding the information or knowledge, buy applying it.”
This week’s edition of The Great Tech Debate did not disappoint. I may still be a fence sitter this week, because I can see both sides of this issue, but I found myself actually voting differently in the pre and post vote. I was definitely on the pro-side of the debate before it started and when Kalyn and Nataly shared their opening statement, they justified every reason why I felt that way. I completely agreed that technology leveled the playing field (or so I thought it did), prioritized digital inclusion, helped marginalized communities by providing assistive technology for example, and empowered individuals. I was in total agreement with everything that was presented, especially when it came to their explanation on how assistive technology helped with communication and mobility. I was most taken with the pro-side’s closing statement that technology makes most things easier for others, but for some people it not only makes things easier, but possible. One only has to bring to mind Stephen Hawking to justify the power of technology providing equity. Who could argue with the power technology can have for people of varying abilities? Personally, I would be lost without the use of technology when teaching. In Saskatchewan schools, we are often faced with teaching new students who have moved to Canada and are just learning the English language. Thanks to technology like Google Translate, for example, communication is possible and learning and teaching is assisted.
There was one component of the pro argument that gave me pause, and that had to do with Kalyn and Nataly’s comments on the power of the Smart phone. It’s not that I don’t see the Smart phone as a possible technological tool, it’s just that I don’t know if I fully agree that Smart phones create obsessive readers and writers. They do have an allure, but the quality of what is being read or written by children and teens (or adults) to me is not always of educational value. All in all, at this point of the debate, I was still in favour of technology being force of equity.
Then we heard from Jasmine and Victoria and I found myself re-evaluating my own beliefs on this topic. When they spoke of the digital divide as not only having physical access to technology but accessibility to skills and broadband, I realized that there was more to providing equity then just making sure everyone had a device. I had never heard Randy Bush’s term, Techno-Colonialism, but it did resonate with me when this con-team shared the inequities that came from well-intentioned ideas such as the One Laptop Per Child initiative. In places where people need clean water and food, technology is not a priority, and cannot change the inequities these children face.
This made me reflect on how my own division’s response to the pandemic. The first thing we did was to make sure everyone who needed access to technology had it. THEN…we concentrated on securing a nutrition grant to ensure kids who needed nourishment were taken care of. I hadn’t thought of the order in which we took care of business, but just patted ourselves on the back that we were able to help.
Jasmine and Victoria also highlighted that yes, assistive technology can be a great tool for many, but it is often an expensive tool. Some businesses are capitalizing on the inequity people face by charging for the technology that can help them. It is hypocritical to think that the very tool that can help you, can also marginalize you. In my reflection, I realized that I have been well-intentioned when using technology with my students, thinking I was levelling the playing field between students, but what I hadn’t realized is that I may have been setting up those same students to stand out as different. I work in a Grades 6-12 school, and I have witnessed many students refrain or even refuse modifications or differentiation of any kind because they don’t want to be viewed as different. Sometimes when we try to help, we unintentionally marginalize students.
I found it very witty during their closing statement when Victoria made light of the technological glitch we all had experienced that evening with the storm. Inequity was definitely shown as some people were having technical difficulties and others were not. This duo also highlighted the affordability, accessibility and vulnerability factors of the digital divide which summed up their argument. When it came time for the post-vote, I actually had a change of heart and voted for the con team, and I didn’t appear to be alone.
I still believe in the power of technology and how in many cases it can be a force for equity, but I also see that just by giving someone a device doesn’t make things equitable.
The Great Ed Tech Debate got off to a super start. We started off with the pro-side; Amanda and Nancy who wowed us with their emotional plea on how technology has the power to basically save the world. These debaters played on our sympathies complete with emotional background music. It seemed almost put-on until you realized that this really was Amanda’s story, possibly somewhat sensationalized, but yet very telling. This team shared important messages on how we need to use technology to teach our students about being valuable digital citizens, that not all screen time is equal, and that it is important to be critical thinkers when using technology. By sharing Amanda’s personal story, we were sold on how technology saves the day when a teacher is injured and recovering, and in our current pandemic crisis.
Not to be outdone, Matt and Trevor came out swinging with their political parody “Make Education Great Again”. They made valid points on why technology is hurting our society against a dramatic musical beat. It was a vintage slander campaign against their opponents ironically created by two people with obvious technical ability. This humourous opening statement helped set the stage for what proved to be a strong debate. Matt and Trevor had a counter argument for every point made by the pro-team. They highlighted workload intensification for teachers, the lack of creativity used when people depend on technology, the loss of human connection, stating that we are not teaching students, but creating robots, the loss of communication to games and gimmicks, and posed the question, “Who is behind the push for technology?”
Although the post-vote showed a sway in favour of the con-side, the pro-side still came out ahead. Not all teachers require technology to be engaging and to empower students, however it is definitely clear that in our current circumstance technology is a necessity. Technology gives accessibility to students, and as long as there is a purpose behind the technology, learning can be transformative. In the end, it was decided that relationships between students and teachers are what is most important and a balance of technology can aid in any lesson.
In our current remote learning context, we see a whole range of technology use in our staff. We are all using Microsoft Teams as our learning platform which has been very effective in organizing and communication with our students. Some of our best teachers in the classroom are struggling online, and others who may have had challenges with classroom management, for example, are rocking it in the online world. It is a very humbling experience for many of our staff who feel like they have lost their ability to connect. All of our teachers are doing their best, but their experience with technology is widespread and it shows in how they are either thriving or surviving in a remote environment. Although I do agree that technology can be transformative, it is evident that the 50/50 model focus on technology Alec recommended is necessary (50% hardware/software, 50% PD). The trouble is, when you are thrown into a new world dependent on technology, you are ultimately playing catch-up.
The challenge moving forward for administrators has to do with teaching assignments and the unknown. Some of our best teachers in terms of content and relationships are not translating online – is there enough time in the next 5 weeks to be transformative in their teaching strategies to face a possible online or hybrid start-up in the fall? Will our summers be filled with even more PD? All I know is that I could not have picked a more perfect class to take this term. Thanks everyone – I learn something new every day!
On March 25th, I was introduced to Microsoft Teams and here I am 6 weeks later and I am a part of 70 teams, 68 of which I am co-owners with teachers so I have access to monitor the progress of our staff and students. As a VP, my principal and I are working on time-tabling for next year. A day in the life these days contains multiple e-mails, and 2-3 Teams meetings with various staff members, as well as “chats” and “calls” answering numerous questions about our new online learning environment. Hours are invested in a program called aSc Timetables which we use to schedule our classes and teachers. This year has proven to be extra-challenging seeing as we can’t hold in-person course selection meetings, so I have been busy creating narrated power-points that we e-mail to our students and their parents. I then contact our school social media head, to post announcements on Facebook and Instagram to remind kids and their parents to check their e-mail. We held a follow-up Teams meeting with students that parents were welcome to attend, and it felt like dead air. However, we received lots of e-mails and messages later. Parents are appreciative and patient with our new reality. It is going to take time to get our community accustomed to these new forms of communication. We’ve also used Googleforms to create a course selection sheet to replace our paper forms. We often have to go back to an old-fashioned telephone call for reminders, teaching, and troubleshooting with staff, students, and their parents. It has been a lot of work getting this process online, but we are finding that this is a great tool, we will be able to use in the future. The silver lining to our new situation is the technological update we have needed.
This class is essentially my welcome to the digital world. I feel like I am in a class that I missed a decade’s worth of prerequisites to. It’s not that I am opposed to social media, it is just that I have spent the last two decades being a working mom, and raising three daughters with my husband. I think I have been just too busy to include anything else in my life. I did although make a conscious decision at the time to not engage in social media as I watched many people around me seem to miss out on the “real-life” happenings as our kids were growing up. I wanted to look up at my children and not down into a device or through a screen. Time flies, and now I realize I have a lot of catching up to do. I actually have had a Facebook account for 5 years (I had to get one when I attended a SDE conference on differentiated instruction in Las Vegas as that was the only way they were communicating for the conference) and I have yet to make a post or follow anyone other than the colleagues I attended the conference with! I got an instragram account this year, but again I don’t post anything on it and I only ghost follow the McNaughton High School Home Page and the MHS Home Ec Page! (I have included links here, not because I think anyone will be interested in what is cooking at MHS, but practice adding links!) Last week when class started, I created a Slack account, a twitter handle, and now this wordpress site. I was familiar with Flipgrid from PD in our school division and I have used Googlesites in other graduate classes, but otherwise this will be a steep learning curve. That is why I have chosen to mark this first blog ever with a picture of a caterpillar (also demonstrating that I can insert a picture and properly credit it), to capture my naivité, my innocence and my starting point. Look out internet, here comes Sherrie! #eci830