I have learned a lot of new things from different perspectives during this class. I would like to thank my all classmates for sharing their knowledge and experiences. Also, I appreciate how our instructor Katia has given us the freedom to express ourselves in the way we want to. Thanks for keeping things so flexible.
# Debate 7 (Educators and schools have a responsibility to help their students develop a digital footprint)
Digital Footprint is the information that exists on the internet about a particular person. It is the record of all the interactions one has had including the comments posted, movies watched, songs or videos played and even the conversations done with our friends. Our students live in an online world. We as educators are adapting to this change in our classrooms. With advancements and change, the responsibilities of educators have also increased. We as educators are expected to have the responsibility to help our students create a positive digital footprint. I agree with the arguments made by Rae and Funmilola that as educators it is one of our many responsibilities to guide students about what digital footprints are and how they should protect their identities online as that can jeopardize their employment potential.
An amazing video shared by the agree team was Teaching students about digital footprints and digital citizenship. It has provided a lot of information about how students can get caught into the trap of the internet and can share stuff online that they would regret in the future. I feel it is imperative to teach students about how to create digital footprints and what effects they can have on their life. They might find something funny today but may not find it the same 10 years later. But unfortunately, it is there and it will be there forever. This knowledge should be provided to every child from the time they start using media. I still get notifications on my Facebook about a post or picture I posted 8-9 years ago that I feel stupid about now. Nobody was there to teach me as a child about what digital footprints are and how they are going to affect my future.
However, educators today are concerned about it. We are having debates on it. But does that mean that educators and schools have the sole responsibility of developing digital footprints? I feel that Creating digital footprints is a wider concern and not just educators or schools but society, and the community as a whole should be held responsible for this. Parents, guardians, and students have a responsibility to limit the amount of data their digital footprint creates. They should use caution when using digital spaces, such as social media, and limit the amount of data they collect. This will help limit the risk of digital exploitation, which is when the digital footprints can be used to learn things about them that they may not have wanted to be known.
There should be more rules placed by the government and rules and regulations should be enforced. The curriculum should also be developed under which Digital Citizenship should be a mandatory subject. And digital Footprint will automatically follow that. Teacher training, however, is not adequate for effectively reinforcing this learning in the students. As a result, students are unable to effectively create digital footprints. This is a problem for society today and will only get worse as time goes on. The government needs to act now to prevent society from being damaged even further.
At last, I feel teachers have very minimum control over the usage or activities a child has on the internet. Also, many times kids already have a previous digital footprint made before he/she enters the school environment. That is due to the lack of knowledge of parents. They post pictures or videos of their kids online without having proper knowledge about it. We as educators can control the classroom environment. But what after that? What a child does when he is home or not under the supervision of an adult, those are uncontrolled situation. We as educators can guide our students about it. But ultimately, it is their responsibility to understand what they do on the internet is creating their digital identity and so they should use that wisely.
# Debate 8 (Online education is detrimental to the social and academic development of children)
The last topic of the Great Ed Tech Debate was the very phrase that almost all teacher educators have had the experience of due to the pandemic. Online Education. Is it the education that we had during the time of the pandemic? We can not particularly call that online education, it was more like emergency education, with no preparations or training. It was a chaotic situation. Online education has various pros and cons as discussed by both the teams during the debate.
Britney, Kayla, and Colton highlighted various drawbacks of online learning. Financial aid is the major problem faced by students while attending online classes. Availability of devices and high-speed internet connection is a major concern and are basic needs while attending online classes. Other than these basic needs, there are other issues that one should address before jumping onto online education.
Children with families who are not tech-savvy often had to see a backlash in online learning.
Face to Face interaction lacks in online learning.
Children hide behind the screen and hence it gets difficult for teachers to evaluate or understand students’ needs.
Children lack a social environment.
Many children who are not able to understand the technical devices often lack understanding of the concepts.
Mental Health issues like fatigue, mental exhaustion, stress, and anxiety are often seen in students due to the time spent by them on the screen.
Children often procrastinate as they do not have a set deadline to meet with.
Children lack the understanding of qualities like TeamWork as they are attending the classes alone.
Specific skills-based education can not be accomplished online, as it requires physical training such as science experiments and welding.
I agree with all the disadvantages that are there in online learning. However, most of these came into knowledge after the online learning done during the Covid-19 Pandemic. The education went online for 3 months in Canada, if we talk about developing or underdeveloped countries, the situation was even worse. Not just the education was online for more than a year, but the children did not have devices to take classes. Moreover, the government also fails to provide adequate devices for students to attend the classes. It was a very difficult situation for the lower middle class and poor people. Many students were unable to attend the classes for a straight year as parents could not afford the high cost of internet and devices and were also facing the financial crunch as many lost their jobs along with a deadly pandemic going on.
However, we should not forget that the Pandemic was a situation of crisis. Despite all these drawbacks, there are many advantages of online learning as well as pointed out by Arkin, Kat, and Chris in their intro video.
Online learning is flexible and can be done depending upon the availability of the educator and the learner.
It is accessible from anywhere in the world. You just need your device and internet connection.
It encourages customized learning where lessons can be planned depending on individual needs and interests. One can learn at their own pace.
It is more affordable compared to traditional schooling.
It is the best alternative for students who do not feel confident enough in the school environment as students can learn from the comfort of their homes.
It is a family dynamic. Students who travel a lot either due to the work of their parents or for leisure can attend the classes from anywhere.
It is the best solution for children with disabilities as many assistive tech devices work best with the online learning platform.
Several arguments were made during the debate wherein parents felt pressure during their children’s online lessons during the pandemic. Choice online learning, however, is better than emergency or forced online education. Online lessons are a great alternative if they are planned properly and taken at the student’s request. It was impressive to hear that this form of learning can be done collaboratively with traditional learning and would be most effective in a controlled environment.
Ultimately, I believe online learning is a choice that students should be able to make. Parents and students must decide if they want to switch to online learning platforms. It is not detrimental to the social or academic development of students. When carefully planned, it can be advantageous in many ways, and children can still excel academically and socially.
Childhood is the best stage of human life where they can spend time without any fear and stress. All of us had that wonderful time. The most memorable part of childhood was spending time with our fellow mates. I still remember how I used to go out and play for hours with my friends without any worries about life, living in that very moment. I believe that is something every child deserves in their life. However, kids of this generation are not fortunate enough to have such peaceful and simple life. Children today have Mental Health Difficulties, Anxiety Disorders, Academic Pressure, Peer Pressure, and so on.
Many researchers state that many of these issues kids face are due to Technological advancements and their dependencies. Technology is a helpful tool but too much exposure is dangerous for kids since their brains are not fully developed. Modern culture is exposing kids to various inappropriate music. websites and social media which affect child’s thoughts and social connections. However, we should recognize that today’s kids are not the same as we were. They are exposed to a lot of things that can either make their lives better or sabotage them.
Today children are living in three worlds, real world, imaginary world, and virtual world. There is no doubt that this virtual world can add a whole new dimension to creativity and education if used efficiently. Social Media is a platform that has given voice to tons of people to express themselves. Websites like YouTube help people to come together and talk about issues like Mental Health and Anxiety. Several support groups are available online to reach out to children and adults, allowing them to communicate their thoughts and emotions without fear of being judged. Social media has helped kids to make friends online and had ultimately increased their confidence level. It is important to note that the world of social media is not the only place where children are exposed to the virtual world. They are exposed to it every day in the form of video games, TV shows, movies, and other forms of media. All of them carry equal risks and values.
According to the group, children are spending more time using devices such as tablets and phones, and less time playing with toys and outside which is causing negative effects on their social skills and abilities to interact with others. However, who has caused this issue? In the video posted by Mike Walsh, he explained that he doesn’t allow his kids to play video games, and they don’t have internet access. He believes that kids will choose technology over play if given the choice. I do agree with this, but in a world where technology is constantly changing, is it possible to prevent kids from using devices? We can not outlay the negatives of technology and social media. However, Children tend to follow instructions that they are forbidden to do. Limiting kids’ access to devices will make them more vulnerable to it. It will also make them feel isolated. Young children may not feel this way, but a teenager would. As a society, we can’t prevent kids from being on devices 24/7, but we can limit their experience.
I believe that social media despite having flaws can be a beneficial tool. However, I think that it is vital that parents and educators take the time to be informed about what they are allowing children to access online. It would be good if parents knew and had their children follow the recommended age restriction set by online sites, which for many social media sites is age thirteen. You would not give a child a steak knife without the proper guidance and teaching. The bottom line here is, that technology and social media are not going away anytime soon, or ever! Therefore, it is critical to educate parents, children, and adolescents about their practices so that children can develop into media-literate consumers and understand how advertisements can easily manipulate them.
# Debate 6 (Cellphones should be banned in the classroom)
Cellphones have become a staple in our society, but should they be allowed in classrooms? Some educators believe that the answer is no, citing that cell phones can be a distraction in the learning environment. Others believe that cell phones can be a valuable tool in the classroom, providing students with access to information and resources. So, what is the right answer? It is hard to say definitively whether cell phones should be banned from classrooms or not. Our debaters put a lot of points to support their side of the argument.
Many teachers are still on the fence about whether or not to allow cellphones in the classroom. While there are some clear advantages to having them in class, there are also some drawbacks to its usage.
The Pros of Allowing Cellphones in Class
1. Increased Engagement: One of the biggest benefits of allowing cellphones in class is that it can lead to increased engagement from students. This increased engagement can be attributed to a number of factors. Using a cellphone in class can help break up the monotony of traditional lectures. It can also help students stay connected to the material by providing a way to access resources and supplemental information. And finally, using a cellphone in class can help students stay connected to the outside world, which can reduce boredom and improve focus.
2. Greater Connectedness: Another benefit of permitting cellphones in class is that it can help students stay connected to their classmates and the instructor. It can help students better understand the material by providing a way for them to ask questions and get feedback from their classmates. It can also help reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness, which can be common in traditional lectures. Students feel more connected to the class as a whole, leading to a more productive learning experience.
3. Access to Research: Cellphones can be used for research purpose in the classroom. Being able to identify and use relevant information in a safe classroom environment can give students skill they can use in future.
4. Collaboration: By sharing information among members of a group, working on interactive tasks, and receiving feedback, students can make the most of mobile devices.
5. Increased Engagement in Other Subjects: While cellphones may be banned in some classes, there is evidence to suggest that they can actually be helpful in other subjects. For instance, using a cellphone in math class can help students access supplemental information and resources.
There are certain evidental cons of using cellphones in the classroom as well that can not be neglected.
1. Distractions: Cellphones can be a major distraction in class, leading students to text, play games, or surf the web instead of paying attention to the lesson. It can lead students to zone out from what is going on in class. Cellphones can also lead to multitasking, which can be detrimental to students’ focus and productivity. Thus, they are unable to concentrate on the task at hand.
2. Cheating: Cellphones can also be used to cheat on tests, by looking up answers or sending messages to other students. However, this can be minimized by partial bans during tests.
3. Limited Participation: Not all students have access to a cellphone or the internet, which can limit their ability to participate in class activities. Digital divides can be exacerbated by this. Some students will have access to more information because they own a particular model of the phone as compared to others. Then there are those who cannot afford one, leading them to feel inferior.
4. Cyberbullying: Using phones in the classroom can lead to cyberbullying wherein kids can take unnecessary pictures of others without permission and post online. This can be very hurtful and embarrassing for the victims.
There are a few potential solutions to these issues that can be applied in order to overcome the disadvantages. Teachers for example could require all students to put away their cellphones during class and could alternatively allow students to use their cellphones for specific activities, such as listening to music or using a calculator, but not for texting or checking social media.
In the end There is no one-size-fits-all answer for how to deal with cellphone use in class. But banning them is not one of them. Teachers should establish classroom rules for cellphone use and enforce them consistently. With a cooperative attitude, educators can help reduce the negative effects of cellphone use in the classroom. We should focus on the benefits that it offers, like collaboration, connectivity, and engagement. It can enhance the learning environment if it is used responsibly. We should always consider both the sides of the story for creating a beneficial learning environment for students.
It was a restless week. This being the first debate of my very first course, it was overwhelming for me. So, the topic for my debate was whether schools should teach basic skills like Cursive Writing, Spelling, and Multiplication Tables or not. Nobody thought that this would lead to such a heated debate. All the participants were so passionate about the topic. For this debate, I got the chance to work with Leah, who not just helped me in going through the debate, but is also so positive and full of knowledge. I was on the agree side and so we supported the argument that schools should no longer teach skills that can be carried out by technology.
It becomes very difficult to be on the agree side when you don’t agree with the topic. When it comes to ‘BASIC SKILLS’, I feel they are important for a kid to learn. However, the words are little molded in the topic.
Spellings- I believe that Spellings are important to be taught in the initial schooling days, but phonics is more important so kids can learn to spell the words by listening to the sounds rather than learning the whole words. Gone are days when kids used to learn C A T – Cat, Phonics has taken over the place of that, and has become extremely beneficial for kids, especially those who are not Native English Speakers.
Cursive Writing- Well, I am not a person who has good handwriting, but mine is legible. I don’t think learning ‘CURSIVE’ especially is gonna be beneficial for kids as many of them ultimately develop their different kinds of handwriting. What is important is the Penmanship that is needed and every child should learn that.
Multiplication Tables- The concept of multiplication is extremely important in Mathematics. It is the basis of many higher-level calculations, but memorizing the tables is not as important as understanding the concept. Rather than focusing more on Rote Learning of Tables, the focus should be on concept building in schools.
However, the debate was whether these skills should be taught or not as they can be carried out by technology. We can not deny the fact that even those who learn these skills ultimately move to technology to carry out their daily tasks. No one wants to invest so much time in writing when they can type easily and comfortably. When the calculator is there in our phones that we carry everywhere, nobody wants to go with the trouble of calculating mentally. Same with spelling, we have software and applications that help us correct our spelling and grammar, and we all use that very often.
Summing Up Agree Side
Time for meaningful learning: By using technology for doing the basic tasks, students will get more time for meaningful learning tasks that will help them in the future. Basic skills can be carried out conveniently by technology and so more time should be invested in promoting students’ creative thinking.
Equitable & Inclusive Education: Students’ learning becomes more inclusive and equitable when it is done with the help of technology. The use of technology in special education or learning disorders helps break the barriers for people with disabilities and provides them with access to the most relevant educational programs.
Unbiased Assessment and Feedback: It is mostly seen that handwriting legibility systematically biases evaluations. Highly legible handwriting results in more positive evaluations than less legible as a result, students who have good handwriting tend to gain more marks compared to the ones with less impressive handwriting.
Student-Centered Learning: Technology enables students to learn at their own pace and repeat the lesson N number of times. Also, there is no fear of performance. The weaknesses of students are not highlighted and thus students gain the courage to perform better.
Summing up Disagree Side
Spelling: It is critical to learn spelling skills for seeking employment as a profile with spelling errors is not impressive and often leads to rejection. Also, many individuals can not afford the equipment and so can not rely upon spell check software.
Cursive Writing: It can help in increasing hand-eye coordination and can improve reading skills and comprehension. It can help in writing compositions and putting down students’ thoughts. It is also seen that those who take notes using pen-paper tend to process the information more than those who type and hence it is very important to teach cursive writing skills to students.
Multiplication Tables: It is important to teach these skills to students when become dependent upon calculators for these basic skills they lack the understanding of higher-order skills. Dependence on calculators diminishes critical thinking and widens the digital divide since everyone can not afford a calculator.
A very common question that arose by the end of the debate. What if there’s no electricity or no Wi-Fi. Then what? Well, that is a serious question and when we can not have the technology or even if we have it but it isn’t working. Then we move to traditional learning. The basic skills are hence needed and are very important to be taught however, cursive writing and penmanship are two different things and every child should know how to write, even if they choose not to write when they grow up.
In the end, I feel a balance is what is needed between modern education and traditional one. Both should go hand in hand so that we can build better students for the future. I also agree with Brooke when she wrote in her blog, that the purpose of these debates is not to prove one side correct and the other wrong but to shed light on both sides so we can work for the betterment of our students.
Technology has done wonders in our lives. It has provided us with so many fascinating things and opportunities that one would never have thought about. It has made our lives so easy and comfortable and has become part of our life. As much as we want, we can not live without it. As big as a computer and as small as the chip in the same computer. It is a boon to us. But does this always benefits us? Is it effective in all phases of life? Well, I was of the view that it does. And in the pandemic, I observed how important it is to be tech-savvy. Being an online teacher for two years made me realize that even education is so dependent upon technology and is in need of the teaching-learning environment as well.
Being a part of ‘The Great EdTech Debate’ under my EC&I830 course, I got the chance to listen to some of the great points made by my peers. Initially, I was of the view that Technology enhances learning as it has been a part of my teaching currier throughout. Being able to use technology in my class has boosted my teaching abilities. I had ample resources online to look at when I have to refer about anything in particular to my students. The endless ocean of information allowed me to look for resources that can benefit my students and enhance their learning. It helped me to make them more engaged in the classroom. And so when during the initial voting, my vote has to go to the agree side only, just like many others. But will I be on the same page at the end also? Well…. who knows?
Team in Favor
The agree side made some very crucial points such as:
Access to Information & Resources: Technology has transformed the way information is accessed and transferred. For personal communications, there are blogs, Wikipedia, and instant messaging to communicate. New software, like Blackboard and podcasting, impacts the way instructors interact with classes. The ample amount of resources to teach with and Information to share has changed and enhanced the whole process of teaching and learning.
Increased Engagement: Technology helps in keeping the kids more engaged and enhanced their learning as well. The learning has been gamified to make it more interesting and fun. Watching videos that are not just enjoyable but teach values as well. Personalized activities, online quizzes, online meets, and whatnot. They all increase the engagement of kids and thereby make them more involved.
Skills for success: With the help of technology, a variety of skills can be learned. Providing students with opportunities to work on challenging tools and applications, leads to the development of critical thinking. Online platforms can help them develop creative skills that they may pursue in the future, such as music, videos, art, etc.
Promotes Collaboration and Communication: Technology has led to collaborative learning as students learn to interact with each other more through online platforms, share and comment on each other’s work and analyze it, thereby increasing their critical thinking.
Restructures Teacher’s Time: It helps in restructuring teachers’ time as one can communicate effectively with parents through calls or e-mails. Also, to provide any information like a sudden holiday or change in class time, one can just send a text message. Making a worksheet online can be used in different classes again and again thus saving time to rewrite everything on blackboards. Having access to various teaching-learning materials online could also save our time and enhance our learning as well.
Adaptation/Accommodation: One of the best points that were discussed by the agree team was that technology has led to more adaptive learning. Students with any sort of learning difficulty can adapt themselves to normal classroom learning by using technology like hearing aids, Google speech, and so on.
Those were some of the major points discussed which I highly agree with. But will I have the same view after we get to know what the opposition has to say?
So the other team had to oppose the thought that technology enhances learning. Well, not many would disagree with that. Even so, the points made by the opponents were valid, making me wonder: does this gift I talked about really help? Following were the points that were highlighted in the counter debate.
Distraction: No one can deny the fact that technology has led to a huge amount of distraction among children. Staying on their phones all the time and relying on them has made them away from valuable things in their life. Technology has been a distraction for them not just at home but in their studies as well. It is commonly observed that students have a habit of constantly checking their phones and it can be said that they are addicted to it. They are distracted by an abundance of notifications, so they are unable to focus.
No real connections: Technology has made students hide behind the screen and hence they feel more comfortable only when they have technological devices with them. This has made them lose real connections and they have started feeling socially awkward. The only thing that is keeping them connected is social media. No real friendship- as there’s a competition of constantly proving themselves and being able to adapt to this fake, artificial world. and thereby leading them to a negative environment.
Feeling of Isolation: With the increasing technological advancement and a never-ending need for technical knowledge have made everyone shift themselves to an artificial world, leading us to a place where everyone is constantly on their phones or computers. In this technological world, children have started feeling alone and isolated. Because of the busy schedule, parents also don’t have enough time to spend with their kids which is ultimately leading them to become more dependent on the online world.
Health Issues: There’s no solid proof that using technology, the learning of children has shown any drastic uplift, but it is surely observed that it has led to major health issues amongst children. Reduced physical activities, increased risk of depression, lower wellbeing, weaker eyesight, obesity, tension, and anxiety. At the age where children should be enjoying their lives and learning new things, they are all flanked by all these mental, physical and social problems.
Inequity: The society has always been partial and inequitable. Different people in different places, in different countries have different priorities. Technology has increased this gap. On one side there are fortunate one’s who have access to all the resources and they can use them for their own advancement while others strive for basic necessities-like food, shelter and basic education.
There will probably never be a conclusion to such debates. In the end, we blame the government for not providing the students with technology that can enhance their learning, as we continue to get points, one after another. When we adapt things, there will always be hazards, but we must guide our students to use the material effectively and refine it for them. While I agree that using technology in the classroom will have some disadvantages, we cannot live without it either. As for Britney, I agree with her. I mean, who wants to write the same thing 26 times when you can photocopy it?
The use of technology has always been a part of my life. It begins with my morning alarm set on my phone and continues throughout the day. Technology is rapidly evolving, with our world becoming more seamlessly connected every passing day. We can never think of a day without being dependent on Technology as we are all surrounded by it. Like many other individuals, my life is also vulnerable to it in many ways.
Social Platforms and Entertainment
Social media and technology have evolved tremendously over the past. There was a time when phones were used to make and receive calls. Now we have all the world in our hands, just with a smartphone. Social media is the one thing that’s widely used by me in my daily routine, keeping up with family and friends via WhatsApp and Skype calls that make me feel close to them, watching videos on YouTube to get away with the boredom, and following fashion and lifestyle trends on Instagram and Pinterest. I also sometimes use Twitter and Facebook to get updated with world news. Social media is something I spend most of my time on when I am not working.
I love shopping online and the websites like Amazon, eBay, and Shein help me to get all the things at my doorsteps. It is such a time saver for me. CamScanner is an all-time favorite app for me to keep all my important documents handy. I use Notepad on my phone to write all the important details. The banking experience has also become so easy, thanks to online and net banking. Transferring money to my family and paying off my phone and electricity bills online is so convenient.
The entertainment industry has also seen a paradigm shift due to technology. From Virtual Reality to the Gaming experience, everything has evolved. I loved playing on my cousin’s PS5 back there in India, whenever I got the chance to. I love listening to soft music. There was a time we bought CDs and cassettes to listen to music. Now I can easily stream music with the help of technological progression. While getting ready in the morning, or traveling to work, I listen to old Hindi songs. Binge-watching on Netflix or Amazon Prime is one of my favorite things to do to get me away from boredom.
Health & Fitness
Being dependent on Technology has brought up a lot of health issues as well, but then the solutions are also given. I use my smartwatch daily to keep in check my daily steps, heart rate, sleep, and blood oxygen level. I see the daily weather forecast before stepping out of my house, which is much needed in Canada as weather can ditch you anytime. Not just this the watch updates me on my menstrual cycle as well. All in just a band on my wrist, along with telling time of course. I do sometimes use an application on my phone, HealthifyMe to keep a count on my calorie intake.
Teaching and Learning
There was a widely held notion that Technology will revolutionize the field of education and we have all experienced that at the time of the pandemic. I always wanted to be an educator and being around kids makes me feel comfortable and lively. However, the pandemic has demonstrated why online education should be a vital part of teaching-learning. The school was all shut and the only way to carry on was an online platform. Initially, it was a struggle for me, but eventually, I got along with it. The major problem I faced was how to bring my Blackboard online? Being a teacher of a practical subject like Maths, I couldn’t put everything in just one presentation and present it. I tried on various platforms till I got my hands on my Tablet, which made it quite easy for me to write with a pen and felt just like a blackboard.
I use Google Meet to get connected to my students for taking an online class. To keep them engaged, I use Google Jam board to take down all their ideas in one place. A learning platform like Kahoot is a good resource to make game-based fun quizzes. I use PowerPoint presentations to make my classroom interactive and interesting by including short videos and GIFs in it. I use various other extensions like Dualless, screen recorder, Google Forms etcetera that helps make the online teaching-learning process better.
There’s no doubt that technology has changed our world forever. In good ways by providing a more civilized, free, and connected world where everything is just a click away and thus making our life comfortable and easier. The other side is, that we have become so dependent on it. Artificial Intelligence and Robotics are taking over the world, resulting in fewer job opportunities. The question remains still. We do want technology in our lives, But to what extent? Where to stop? This is still unanswered and debatable.