It’s unimaginable to think that another semester has passed, and scarier yet another school year for all of us teachers. I love the flexibility and freedom that online courses have. I will admit I don’t have a cat but being 7 months pregnant makes me want to be a home body, and I have no trouble getting cozy and doing my blogs or zooming in for class. I have taken four EC&I classes, and two of which have been with Alec and Katia. Being able to interact with other Grad students through Google+ and also with our blogs has been awesome.
Talk about learning, signing up for the first debate was a little scary but Kayla convinced me to get it out of the way, peer pressure I tell you! Having Steve on our side of the debate was awesome. When we first me up for our game plan, h mentioned being on the debate team in high school. I figured I would post this picture in hope that someone may believe that Steve was the one holding the victory trophy. Of course Steve being way too honest admitted that he was not in the photo, but either way I had a good laugh.
Well now to sum up what I have learned over the semester
But first a flash back to last semester… Some of you may recall in EC&I 831 Kayla, Dallas and I attempted to use Nawmal to make an animated movie for our summary of learning. For anyone who wasn’t in that class and needs a good laugh I suggest you read my summary of learning from last semester. To make a long story short Nawmal left a bad taste in my mouth. Kayla suggested that we give PowToon a shot. PowToon appeared to be easier to use that the software that we had used prior. I figured we would go ahead and use it. The software came with a 2 day free trial that allowed you to use all the customization options. If I needed to buy more time it would just cost $19.99 billed monthly. Friday afternoon we began working on our project by selecting a some-what ready made layout . With about 2 hours in we decided to call it a day. Luckily we were able to save our project, I even opened it on another computer before I shut the browser window.
Saturday morning I decided to set my alarm and get up and attempt to work on it again. Little edits such as making sure the color in each slide matched, there were 200 to choose from, and that green looks like the other 50 greens. Another edit that took a long time was making sure the text boxes displayed in the right order. I must have spent 4 more hours just tweaking the presentation. I did have a tough time attempting to get the spy song to loop through the whole presentation. I fought the spy song battle for 2 days before I uploaded it to YouTube. The 2 day trial came with a little timer that appeared in the corner of the screen that somehow just stressed me out. Although, I was curious what 2 day trial really meant, I was going to look it up, before I got locked out and lost all our progress. I think PowToon has many great features and would student and teacher presentations look awesome but I think the people would also feel the time crunch, if it was not a paid subscription.
Well folks for the moment you have been waiting more!!
Well I guess the time has come to thank everyone for their input, contributions and insights to my learning, and a special thanks Alec and Katia for everything that they prepared, brought to the class, and for all of the fast paced discussions that they facilitated. Ohh yeah and I love the debate format, so much more engaging than straight forward presentations.
Our last debate was rather interesting. I found myself having a number of ah-ha moments- as this is one topic that to be honest I have not thought much about before. My laptop screen was filled up with “what about ” comments as I took notes. I found myself getting rather amped up over this topic and I did not expect to.
After seeing these categories, two things occurred to me. One, is that we as Canadians have a tendency to look to our neighbours to the south on this issue in particular and make assumptions that corporate involvement in schools is an “American” thing. Two, that this assumption is incorrect. While it may be more prevalent in the United States, it has come to my attention through this is happening in Canada too.
Andres Aranedastated on his blog that “although companies such as Google, Microsoft and Apple have contributed greatly to developing modern Ed. tech that a great majority of us use on a daily basis, we can’t assume these companies are developing these tools solely for the good of our students. Education is an ENORMOUS market that IS going to be exploited, whether we want to see it that way or not.” I would have to agree with this, and accept the fact that we wont be moving away from marketing in education anytime soon. So this is on my radar……now what?
The definition of childhood is so so different for everyone. I have openly discussed how I restrict technology for my young kids. This has garnered a lot of judgement from others. But you know what? Is not so much that I am restricting it, as we are just doing other things! I must do those things because there is a part of my own childhood that I am trying to preserve? This is true. I do think that my kids deserve to have a childhood like mine, and guess what. They are currently having a childhood like mine because I’m not sitting around as a parent or a teacher simply romanticizing my childhood; I get to re-live it every single day alongside my children and my students through Outdoor Education, which I believe will be one thing in their narratives that will forever interweave their life stories back to mine. But children get older, and the inevitable happens! Jeremy shared in his blog his “preparing” for his son to be at the age where he will begin to use social media, which has been so helpful. He said:
Parents look to other parents for support, encouragment and to learn.What we are often met with, is judgement. We think that our children and teenagers feel the heat, feel the judgement of others when they use social media? Try being a new mom!!!
I can relate to depression and social media, which is funny because I rarely use it. The first time I really started looking at instagram and reading blogs, however…was at a time when I found myself seriously sleep deprived, post par tum, and trying to calm an colicky baby who couldn’t be calmed as I prayed she wouldn’t wake my 18 month old who was sleeping in the next room. What I turned to in the middle of the night when the whole world was asleep and I was waiting my 45 minutes until she would be up again, (so no point in falling back asleep) was my iPhone. I relentlessly searched mom blogs for the answer to colic. Sometimes I read the same blogs and saw the same meanies, over and over again.
A peaceful moment in the eye of the storm -Zoey at 3 months. Photo: Nicole Putz
Looking back, I now realize how wobbly I was post-partum. So I can truly relate to teenagers now-when you are at your weakest someone telling you it will get better, (specifically giving you a timeline that doesn’t happen) is traumatic. So is reading other people’s hostile and negative comments, even though not directed specifically at me, they were directed at my situation so still fell on my shoulders. Also traumatic. Seeing “internet perfection” everywhere you look and comparing yourself to it? Bingo. Perfect combination. I also realize now that it was not technology that was the problem, nor was it my baby. It was my own obsession in using these tools to fix something, that just needed time. Sometimes in life, we just need to be patient. This revelation however, is coming from a thirty year old, not a 13 year old. It made me realize how powerful social media and the internet can be.
Social media has changed things, very fast. We have to power to ensure that social media is positive for kids though regulation, education, and being positive role models. I think that some of the responsibility of social media getting in the way of childhood has to fall on the parents shoulders. Not that a parent can intercept every single risk that their child takes in life or online, but in the experience I just shared, I see that parents have a tendency to act hugely judgmental towards each other online and in person over guess what? Each others PARENTING. But our kids….. they are supposed to know how to be nice to each other, and non judgmental; despite the fact that their role models are not. If we are speaking to things within our control, we all have the ability to be nicer, kinder people, regardless of our socioeconomic status.
A colleague and I at Douglas Park School are currently diving headfirst into the “trendy” but intriguing world of mindfulness, and during this journey we have found it to have had profound impact on our students, but also ourselves. In a nutshell, being mindful has been defined as “awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally,” by John Kabat-Zinn.We are discussing sharing as it applies to a child’s digital footprint. Its not the digital footprint that they leave for themselves thats at stake, rather it’s the one we leave for them. As an eternal fence sitter during class debates, I do agree that it is morally imperative that we guide children to create their own digital footprints and become responsible digital citizens. On the other hand, I do think that oversharing of children on social media does indeed come with risk and I do have concerns over privacy, and personally feel that I like many others need more education around this topic.
Katja brought up a very interesting point that I was too nervous to discuss last week in the Zoom Room. She questioned along the lines of if it was the responsibility of a teacher to develop their own digital profiles and become educated in this field, and be a role model to their students. I noticed that people did not hesitate to agree that we should, and no one questioned it. This has been bothering me all week. While I do not question that this would be for the best, I must compare this answer to a field I am more farmilliar with. Shoutout to Phys. Ed specialist Jayme-Lee Lazorko, or Steve Boutillier (I feel like you may understand my conflict) what do you think about this? If a teacher is expected to delve into the grey area between personal and professional life and therefor personal and professional choices because of the content they are teaching….wouldn’t it be the same thing to expect that teachers follow good nutrition themselves if they are teaching students outcomes that have to do with making positive and healthy choices with food? Or what about all elementary teachers who teach their own Pys. Ed? Would we reply in the same way if we expected that teachers conduct themselves in a physically active way outside of school? Is it ok to say that we should expect teachers to follow guidelines in their personal lives because we all like Social Media, whereas come on…we don’t all like running or eating vegetables.
I appreciated the video shared by debaters that documented the classroom of Moose Jaw primary teacher Kathy Cassidy, and how she uses blogging in her classroom. I think that the example she gave of one of her students being able to easily access a clip of herself reading in the first grade, listen to that slip, and self determine her own growth is nothing short of incredible. She also has used sharing to connect her students to other students in different parts of the world, so they can compare and contrast their knowledge. For a young child to be able to see growth, make connections, and find meaning through sharing, this is the stuff that is changing education. Blogging in my classroom is a personal goal I have for next year. I can personally speak to the fact that while blogging for this class, I have found meaning in having an audience in my colleagues. I also know that I have experienced exponential growth and learning through having access to the work of my colleagues. I think its very important that we don’t forget about that part; that if we share, we make our work available for others to learn from and vice versa.
I had a moment of pure impulse last week. I had over heard one of my snapchat obsessed students talk whisper about snapchat for the 100,000 time during math class, so I blurted out “Ok kids, when we are done this math unit, we are going to spend the last week of school talking about snapchat and learning digital citizenship!!!!”
Soooo. That happened. I guess all the concern I have about risk that would make me disagree with the debate topic, well…I am about to learn all about it!
I think this is a good start for me as I embrace upon this learning journey. I have exercised this is my own experience using social media, but lets face it. In limiting myself and my presence on social media, I also limit my experience and expertise dealing with situations that arise, and as a teacher and a parent I am beginning to question if this if this is actually the outcome I intended.
I, like others in my class think it comes down to being mindful of sharing. I have caught myself on a few occasions choosing to not share the photo I was about to, because I was THINKING about what I was doing. Not totally sure of the meaning behind this, but I think being present in the moment of choosing to share or not to share, and making that a part of your practice, is enough. Social media has become second nature to us, and we do and share things without thinking. If we as adults can find a balance to sharing and be aware of what we are doing, we will see people using and sharing both in and out of the classroom in meaningful ways and sharing responsibly will be something that is passed onto the next generation. (If they are not already ahead of us on this one anyway, lets face it)Amy Singh-you go momma. You are not that parent, because you are being aware, you are being present, you are being mindful. I think that, is enough.
Yes I do agree that right now, technology is making us unhealthy. But it doesn’t have to be that way, and I have a great deal of faith in technology and in humanity to find balance between health and technology. Hence I will maintain my position, sitting here on this fence.
Although I believe that these blogs are a place to connect academically, I would guess that Katia and Alec also have the intentions of us connecting on a personal level. I am a strong believer in sharing narratives between colleagues and even students, and therefor I am supposing that this is the blog post where I go ahead and expose myself to all of my tech savvy colleagues. At the end of the term, we are supposed to choose 3 people who have most significantly influenced us and our learning. I don’t think this is possible by simply connecting to someones thoughts on an academic level, I think that who we choose to say influences us will be based on a personal level as well. I believe that a huge part of learning occurs when you make yourself vulnerable, which is what this is for me. Perhaps, this blog entry will allow you to connect with me. Perhaps not.
I am Nicole, and I don’t have facebook. I don’t have Twitter, I don’t have an iPAD and I don’t have cable. What I do have, is a husband and two energetic children: my son turned 3 this week and my daughter is almost 2 (you do the math). And of course, a rowdy classroom of 28 Grade 5 students. Can’t forget about them!
In my very short time as a parent I have been heavily criticized on my (some say extreme) limiting of technology in our home probably more than the parent who allows their child the 7 hours of screen time a day. So ultimately, I don’t say much about it anymore to other people. (This is the part that makes me vulnerable in sharing with you folks.) It is unfortunate because in no way do the choices I make for may family mean that I am judging yours, if your goals are different. I see so, so much value in technology for adults and for kids! I know my kids are going to access technology, even soon. I know they are going to have phones. I know they are going to have days when they want to plant their butts in front of the TV for 8 hours, as do I sometimes! What I hope, is that we can establish healthy habits first and entertain more moments of rough, tumble, outdoor play driven by curiosity and imagination in the short period in a child’s life where this is all they need. My husband and I believe that they need to connect to nature and build relationships at this age, but not relationships devices. As Carol Dwek says: “Not yet”. When the time comes, we hope to teach them how to have a healthy and happy and FUN relationship with technology. I don’t live my life this way because of a Ted Talk, but if there was one I liked, here is is. Check it out.
Many (not all) of my students who use technology mindlessly and for hours on end, are home alone or with older siblings who are caring for them. Many (not all) of their parents are working, very hard at low paying jobs, among struggling with other social and economic issues that are at play in their lives. I am sure that most of these parents wish that they could be spending more face to face time with their children. But unfortunately, that is a privilege. My children, like many (not all) in my class whose technology is monitored by parents, are privileged. My kids are privileged with the time and attention of 2 parents who are employed by one job each, financially stable and educated enough on some of the challenges that children are faced with when it comes to technology to make a (hopefully) well informed decision about this very topic. My children do not have parents who are working 2, 3, 4 jobs with back to back shifts and terrible hours. They are not being raised or cared for in the foster care system, their parents are not battling incarceration or addiction or complicated health issues and they have healthy food on the table. While questioning if technology makes kids healthy or unhealthy is a very real issue, so is questioning the increasing rate of poverty facing families in Saskatchewan.
Here comes the ‘disagree’ side in our recent debate. After reading this, you must think that I would take the side of the ‘agree’ team. As a fence sitter, I do not!
At this point, I am noticing a bit of a gap in this class being a parent of very young children and a teacher to students who are not allowed to have devices in class, and a handful do not even own them. Its clear that some of the issues we are discussing are very different when comparing high schools to elementary schools. At the same time, I loved reading this article because it really made me think and it pushed me a bit outside my comfort zone.
That’s all for now. Like I said, I have a feeling that after this entry, some of you may find yourselves connecting with my views, while others do not at all. As an active person, I have really really struggled with the amount of time that I have spend behind a laptop during my graduate work. As this is my 8th class and I am nearing the end, I will very much miss the learning I have experienced. But I will NOT miss, the sitting down. We spent our morning out the cross country ski trails at Echo Valley Provincial Park, where we often go with our kids (along with White Butte). Check out either spot sometime if you have never been, both are beautiful and protect some of Saskatchewan’s last remaining native prairie. It may provide some balance for you, as it did for me today. Now I am ready to tech.
Both agreeing and disagreeing with the question: should schools teach anything that can be “Googled?”
As I enter week 2 of debates, I am learning a lot about myself in a way that has nothing that has to do with technology. I used to think that I was somewhat sound in my convictions on some of the topics that have been discussed. I came into this course having experiences as both a parent and a teacher that have given me, what I perceived to be a pretty good idea of where I stood on most of these issues. However, as I read, read, read, and write, write write, I realize that this couldn’t be further from the truth. Maybe, this is because the debaters are doing SUCH a good job that I am feeling myself being pulled in all different directions. I am certain that it is in part, a result of accessing resources that are engaging to me (TedTalks, ect) and I feel like I am taking more away from some of these resources than I have in the past when reading photocopies were simply handed out by professors.
At this point in my journey, I am confident to say that I will likely be on the fence for a lot of these issues, because when I am participating in the Zoom Room, each and every comment that is brought up connects to a story. The narrative and experiences of my students as individuals, and their differences in gender, age, culture, and socioeconomic status to name a few factors, mean to me that I cannot answer in a blanket statement if I agree or disagree. It depends on the context of the situation, and which one of my students faces I envision at that moment in time.
If you need a concrete answer to whether I agree or I disagree in entirety, STOP READING NOW.
Should things that can be “Googled” be taught in schools?
No. Of course not.
We live in a society that is starting to be more and more reliant on technology every single day. And we know that critical thinking is a skill of examination, not a skill based on memorization of the things that we as curriculum makers think that students will need to know, maybe…in the future for the job that they might have that may not exist yet, possibly…. We need to be process oriented, and basic skills will evolve within the process. We can’t dismiss the possibility that we don’t know everything about when knowledge is actually acquired along the process for every single one of our students, all the time. Waiting for students to achieve “foundational knowledge” aka “things that can be googled” could be detrimental in killing off the curiosity and passion they have for learning. I have had moments where days later, I will be mulling over a question and have “AH HA’ed” while folding laundry. (I am a mom, after all) Do we truly know, if that “ah ha!” moment has been triggered by the 9,999th moment of repetition by the learner? It is very possible that a moment of questioning the questions that have been continually questioned by the learner has lead to higher level thinking. Or because at a certain moment in time, a familiar scent may have triggered a memory of a lived experience allowing a learner to connect a memory to a puzzle which allowed them to achieve that level of deeper understanding of something they have been questioning. How do we know what goes on in that moment, which is different to every learner, and further differentiated by factors like learning styles, ages, gender, culture and socioeconomic status?
I loved: Ramsey’s 3 Rules
1) Curiosity comes first. Curiously is starting to attract some attention, in a good way. I believe that engaging learners is just another term for embracing the curiosity that naturally drives kids.
3) Practice reflection, (it deserves our revision) This is something that I can appreciate significantly more since I began taking my masters. As an overwhelmed beginner teacher, there was no time for me to reflect. I was simply trying to keep my head above water. However, as the fog cleared and I have embarked on this journey into graduate studies, I have become increasingly aware of how significant reflection and revision is to the learning process, both for myself and my students. I feel that in the process of drill and practice there is less room and meaning for reflection, which leaves a huge gap. When you are actually applying your knowledge through experiential learning there is room for higher level thinking and therefor reflection.
Yes, of course.
Rasmey Mulligan refers to his open heart surgery and taking comfort in the confidence of his surgeons curiosity. I would like to point out that we are all aware of the grueling amount of traditional schooling that doctors endure. A strenuous amount of rote memorization, to be exact. I am going to go out on a limb here and ask, is his doctor’s curiosity and willingness to attempt this trial and error surgery reliant on a foundation of skills, abilities and prior knowledge that we would consider to be “Googleable”?
Being linear, Google obscures the interdependence of information
During the debate it was brought up, and referenced from this article in particular that Google gives students the illusion that answers are in reach when they are not, creating a false sense of knowing. Students don’t necessarily know, or remember and because it is so fast paced they are collecting just enough information that it is not maintained as knowledge in the long term, because they are more likely to remember where they got the information than the actual information itself. As teachers we have all been witness to this. However, I do not believe this is Google’s fault; that the illusion of accessibility is for students is created, nor that answers are seen as stopping points. And being linear???? This is where it gets messy. Replace the word “Google” with the word “memorization” and you could make the exact same accusations. These are all descriptive qualities of the traditional institution of SCHOOL. Google has not created these problems, school has.We have traditionally taught in a product rather than process driven way. Most of us in this class, likely attended schools where there was one right answer to the questions we were being asked. Work was linear, and it didn’t necessarily promote in depth learning or inquiry, and in some classrooms, it is still this way. Lets not blame to tool, or even the user. Ken Robinson states that the current education system (including curriculum) was “designed and conceived in a different age, based on an intellectual model of the mind”, by a bunch of wealthy, white men.
Learning needs to be balanced, and the system of education and curriculum needs to continue evoling. Every day I see professionals around me going to combat against an outdated system, and trying to not only teach but to assess in the way that supports this notion of critical thinking, by teaching basic skills and using inquiry to emphasize the learning process and reflection to be just as valuable to students as the final product. I do take value in the concerns of what happens when students only “Google” as reflected in this debate. However, I believe that these concerns will stay the same and simply be replaced by the next “tool” or “Google” to come down the line, unless we challenge the bigger picture which is the institution of education itself.
Learning needs to be differentiated. Some of my students should be allowed to bypass tasks, and use tools for technology that others don’t get to use. Why? Because fair is not always equal. I do understand that this runs risks of streamlining kids. I really do understand that. But I am a professional. I am trying my best, given the education and training that I have, to do the absolute best for my students. If I allow a students to by-pass a step and go straight to Google, trust me. That student being able to “Google it” may very well be a moment serving of HUGE celebration. For that student, the deeper understanding may be present in the action of being able to Google something.
Learning needs to be meaningful. This can be achieved through drill and practice too. In grade 6, I shot free throws in my front yard for more hours than I practiced my math facts. I wanted to make the basketball team. I did, make the basketball team, and I was addicted for life. I went on to play a lot of basketball in my day (Go Spartans!) and still play women’s rec league with a bunch of great ladies in Regina. This drill and practice of a skill, was meaningful to me. Ben Johnson refers to the body as another learning tool that can benefit from repetition. He states that “the body is another learning tool — another often-ignored concept. The body is connected to the brain and if you engage the body, you are engaging the brain too.He also claims that, like in my case, “learners feel an addictive sense of accomplishment when something has been memorized completely” (Johnson, 2010).
Wow, what a fun week! I am always a little apprehensive about group work, especially when time is of the essence, but I have to say I lucked out with two fantastic partners in Erin and Kyle. The format of the debate was also new to me, as I hadn’t done any formal debate since high school in history class. Rather than simply talk for the first 5 minutes, we decided to do it in style, showcasing just how much more a visually engaging video might provide a better platform for our opening argument. Check it out below:
In the end we came up with a fairly comprehensive list of what we believed were solid strengths for technology being an asset towards learning:
Decreased learning challenges for LD and EAL learners
Increased collaboration (between peers, between teacher and students, and on a global scale)
Connects students to experts within different fields (i.e. via Twitter)
Increase student engagement
Supports personalized learning
Gives a voice to those uncomfortable sharing face-to-face
Provides students with an increased audience (blogging)
Allows students to be producers and not only consumers of knowledge (shift from read-only culture to read-write culture)
Open source resources mean students are learning from up to date sources, not outdated textbooks
Allows students to create a positive digital presence which will be beneficial beyond the K-12 school experience
Breaks down geographical barriers (distance learning for individuals from remote communities)
While much of this was culled from simple online searches and the personal experience we have had with technology on our own learning and that of our students, there do exist many studies that conclusively show the benefits of technological aids on learning. Adebisi, Liman, & Longpoe’s (2015) article on Using assistive technology in teaching children with learning disabilities in the 21st centuryprovides not only a solid overview of the benefits of assistive tech as well as many options available to the learning environment, but as well a reminder that this technology is but a tool, and needs to be used appropriately to enhance learning:
• Assistive technology can only enhance basic skills, and not replacing them. It should be used as part of the educational process, and can be used to teach basic skills.
• Assistive technology for children with disabilities is more than an educational tool; it is a fundamental work tool that is comparable to pencil and paper for non-disabled children.
• Children with disabilities use assistive technology to access and use standard tools, complete educational tasks, and participate on an equal basis with their developing peers in the regular educational environment.
• The use of assistive technology does not automatically make educational and commercial software/tools accessible or usable.
• An assistive technology evaluation conducted by a professional, knowledgeable in regular and assistive technology, is needed to determine whether a child requires assistive technology devices and services and should be specified in the children’s instructional plans.
• Assistive technology evaluation must address the alternative and augmentative communication needs, that is, ability to communicate needs and change the environment for children with disabilities.
• To be effective, an assistive technology evaluation should be ongoing process.
It is in these points that I believe our awesome adversaries (that had the arduous position to argue against tech as a benefit to learning) had some strong arguments. Technology, in the form of PC’s, tablets, etc. has become more and more prevalent in the classroom, each with their own variety of educational apps. The issue, which I also agree with, is that without explicit instruction on how to use the apps appropriately, tied with tech support in the classroom and solid classroom management, technology can and will be used inappropriately, resulting in distraction and less overall effort toward completing tasks.
I think Kyle’s counterargument, in that technology as a tool has been used for centuries, and that teachers need to rise to the occasion and become competent in understanding and using the same tech as their students in order to teach them to use it effectively, and to assist them in using their tools and their time effectively.
In case you were wondering how the video was made:
After meeting and deciding on three focuses, we each recorded our separate sections using the voice record on our phones, and sent them up into the cloud. I then used an app called Clip Grab to pull videos off of online sites that fit the content of the voice recordings. Using iMovie, I then cut all the clips to appropriate sizes, removing irrelevant content that didn’t fit with the content. Sticking the audio clips in the audio track, I then cobbled together all the smaller clips into a narrative. Finally I added the titles which had relevant quotes and information I felt were necessary to get the point across.
To wrap up, here’s an interesting article I found that corresponds to how much more effective visual ads are in catching the attention of a viewer, over traditional text or speech based forms of advertisement.
Oh, one last thing, Ian (and Urkel) has done a fantastic job of working through the pros and cons. Check it out here
You booked the computer cart for your class, you’ve got this killer new lesson plan that you’ve been grinding on all week, and best of all, you had enough time to get a Starbucks before work. Grande Vanilla Latte with Skim. The day’s off to a good start (for a Monday).
The bell rings, your class comes in, and for some reason, everyone is doing exactly what they’re supposed to be doing. Everyone’s sitting at their desk, Johnny seems to be extra chill today, and what a coincidence, your entire class is actually here today! All 28 of them! Not bad. It’s like the stars have aligned or something.
Everything’s set up. The projector’s ready to go, and you switch that computer on. You tested everything out at 8:30 am, so everything’s LITERALLY good to go.
You start your lesson. You’re on fire. The kids are raising their hands, the discussions are smooth and engaging; you really couldn’t ask for more. You start a narrative, you’re setting everything up for the grand finale! You found this incredible Youtube video that’s going to wrap everything up perfectly and absolutely blow everyone’s mind. This is what teaching’s all about. That is, until you go to your laptop and hit play.
Well… by this point, Johnny got up and threw away Anastasia’s lunch in the garbage, and Killian all of a sudden NEEDS to go to the bathroom. The paper planes are flying across the room and you’ve officially lost all the great momentum you had. Just like that.
What do you do? Well, you scrap the video (but it was perfect!), and you try to salvage whatever you had going before this little “hiccup”. Better take an extra sip of that coffee, you’re gonna need it now.
If this doesn’t sound familiar to you, then you’ve obviously never used technology in the classroom. Although this scenario has quick, easy fixes, sometimes we WANT to show that video. Sometimes our entire lesson depends on that one component that’s going to take everything to the next level. Why should my lesson be compromised because of a lousy internet connection?
The problems don’t stop there though. Even if things do run smooth, there’s always another problem waiting around the corner. Teaching grade 4 students how to log onto their profiles may sound easy enough on paper, but try helping 25 students all at once… not so easy anymore. But when these components work, man oh man can you see the difference.
Although tech doesn’t always need to be present, it can make learning experiences incredibly engaging and absolutely captivating. Visual learners can greatly benefit from something as simple as a PowerPoint presentation or a YouTube video. And let’s be honest, many of our students nowadays simply respond better when tech is involved. Research projects are much easier these days because of the Internet. Not to mention, if you use Google Docs (or any online word processor), students cannot use the “my dog ate my homework” excuse anymore.
There’s no question of a doubt that tech in the classroom can enhance learning. I’m actually all for it. But we cannot forget the small (or large) dilemmas that come up when we least expect them. A flimsy Wi-Fi connection can be the bane of your existence, and in a matter of seconds, your class can go from “scary” quiet, to decibel levels exceeding a SLAYER concert. Go figure.
Then we have even bigger issues that simply can’t go ignored. Cyber-bullying is more common than ever, and to be perfectly honest, it’s going nowhere anytime soon. Technology is also quite distracting, and without clear instructions or expectations, a lesson can plummet straight to the ground if these issues aren’t addressed by the teacher immediately.
This Tuesday marked the first online class I have ever taken. Not only does this class rely on the internet, but the main topic of discussion is Technology in the classroom. As far as me sitting in front of a computer goes, our first class blew my mind! Not only does the class take advantage of the Zoom video conferencing app, it feels exactly like being in a real classroom, providing us with several ways of communicating with each other and participating in class discussions in real-time (via instant messaging and live video and audio feeds). Almost fifty students, coming from all parts of Regina and even other territories, all learning and engaging together in this virtual world. Now THAT’s cool!
This is a perfect example of how tech can be used in a classroom setting, enhancing and diversifying the learning experience. Tech is a classroom tool. Use it wisely, and you’ll be surprised by the amazing things you’ll be able to do with your students.
Our first class focused on this exact topic. Two teams went head-to-head, in a fast-paced debate about whether or not technology enhances learning. After reading both team’s articles and witnessing the debate first hand, here’s my take on the question.
Technology in the classroom can either go really well, making a big difference in student learning; OR it can go completely awry and transform your classroom into a snapchatting, instagramming, youtubing disaster!
I’ve had some hit or miss situations myself, but with some experience under my belt, I’ve learned when and how to use technology in my classroom. Last year, at the beginning of the school year, I allowed my students to bring in their devices to class. We went through all the ground rules, including when and how to use their devices in the classroom. I was pretty lenient with devices and tech back then. As long as students were “working” and not “distracting” anyone, I was fine with them using their Ipods and their phones. I quickly learned that this wasn’t going to work. Sure, listening to music can help some students stay focused, but I soon started seeing students sitting next to each other, sharing their ear buds and having arguments over what song they were going to listen to next. Alright… lesson learned.
As a legitimate learning tool, I saw that the B.Y.O.D. approach yielded some positive results. Oh, you don’t know a word in French and you don’t have a dictionary? Well, good thing you have this device that has ALL of those things, plus way, WAY more. Sure enough, for the first little while, students used their devices for exactly this purpose (I was even quite impressed at how well it all worked out). Students were asking me permission before pulling their devices out of their backpacks, and would quickly put them away when they were done. But as the year went on, and my guard got lower and lower, Word Reference soon got replaced by the mindless Agario and Youtube. GREAT.
It was just a matter of time that social media started to infiltrate and pollute my classroom. “Mr. A, Jenny just posted a picture of me on Instagram without my permission”. “Mr. Araneda, Howard blocked me off Facebook”, or worse “Mr. A., Johnny keeps calling me a &$%# on SnapChat”. Alright, so no more devices!
Hmm… is that the solution though?
I started this September a little differently this year. Students were allowed to bring devices, but my rules were much more firm and way more limiting. My guard stayed up the whole time and I even collected devices at the beginning of the day, locking them up until we were actually using them in class. This worked, but it put a lot of liability on my shoulders. If someone were to steal these devices, who’s responsible now? Me. Which is ridiculous, and quite honestly, not something I want to even attempt to deal with.
Our school eventually went into a school-wide ban on devices. At this point, I was in full support of this rule. Although I had taught my students how to use their devices (and my students this year did much, much better than last year’s group), many of the issues I experienced the year before, still managed to surface. The only difference was that the students are learning to become a lot more sneaky with their devices.
When we make mistakes like I did, it’s easy to resort to dismissing the value of tech in our classrooms. Abolishing technology in the classroom is a rookie mistake. Yes, there are a million ways students are going to misuse technology, but the answer is definitely NOT to get rid of it. The real answer is using it in moderation, and finding true opportunities where it will fully enhance the learning experience of our students. Truthfully speaking, the weakest link here was ME. You can’t go into your classroom with the assumption that your students are going to use their devices appropriately. Perhaps it’s time that I start looking at technology in a new light.
Think of it this way. If you’re playing an electric guitar without plugging it in, yeah, we’ll get the idea of what you’re trying to play, but it’s just not going to sound that great. Plug that sucker into an amp, and now you can be as loud as you want. In a matter of fact, you can be so loud, that people in a one mile radius are going to hear you. Walls are going to shake and ears might even bleed.
Although I don’t want my students’ ears to bleed per se (well… most times at least), I definitely want them to hear me. I also want to be able to hear THEM! And to an even further extent (the whole point of the tech we have nowadays), why not have OTHERS hear what we’re doing in our class? We have tools that allow us to AMPLIFY and share everything we’re doing in the classroom with people all around the globe. I’m sure once we have people living on Mars, we’ll be able to tweet with them too. How on earth can we discredit THAT? The point of the matter is, tech is definitely a learning enhancer, and in the following section, we’re going to run through some of the great arguments my classmates used in order to defend and dismantle the old debate of whether or not technology enhances learning.
First off, let’s start with the agreeing side of the debate. In their opening video, they state how technology is a tool that levels the playing field for students with disabilities. Technology can help students with learning difficulties/disabilities to decode and comprehend grade level content through various forms of online teaching tools and software. This point is reinforced through Adebisi, Liman and Longpoe’s article , which discusses the benefits of tech tools for all types of students (both with, or without learning disabilities). By teaching students how to use certain learning tools, not only are we allowing them to reach grade-specific learning goals, but we’re also making school and learning a much more enjoyable experience.
As many of us can attest, students who experience difficulties learning and completing assignments, often suffer in school. Not being able to read at grade level, not being able to write quick enough, or experiencing great difficulty comprehending a text, can leave students discouraged and at risk of either “failing” or worse, eventually withdrawing from school altogether. Discouraged students need their tires pumped, because you know what? They CAN do it, we just need to give them the assistance to get there! Working with students with learning disabilities in my own classrooms, I’ve seen the benefits reading, writing and comprehension apps have had on students. Sometimes using a laptop simply to type out notes or completing classwork assignments makes a world of a difference. Taking that away would not only be illogical (considering the positive effects they can bring), but unfair and quite backwards. We have these tools that can make a world of a difference to some students, why not just use them? Sure, they can be distracting to some students, but if we’re handing computers to our students, we NEED to be keeping an eye on what they’re doing!
Another interesting point made in the opening video is how technology has helped close the educational distance gap between learners who live in remote locations. Using apps such as Zoom and Skype can allow people from all corners of the world to participate in discussions and attend classes in different countries. Not only that, but online tools such as Google Docs or classroom blogs such as Edublogs or even Word Press , can allow students who are often pulled out of class (due to advanced sports or arts programs), to stay connected and continue being part of the class. Blogging tools can also serve as a very useful organizational and collaborative tool not only for students, but also for parents who would like to know what their kids are doing in class. Again, the dog eating your homework excuse is almost useless nowadays. Maybe updating the excuse bank to 2016’s standards is something kids need to work on now (just kidding).
There are many other ways edtech is very useful, including Sheringer’s take on how open-source technology can personalize learning and improve overall comprehension, collaboration and assessment in the classroom.
Greg Toppo’s TED Talk is definitely worth a watch as he discusses how technology not only has constantly evolved throughout human history, but has also caused some sort of controversy in the field of education. The point of his argument is that technology in the classroom has always been questioned, contested and heavily opposed. Whether we’re talking about paper, chalk, or the latest Iphone, scholars have and always will find an argument against the use of tech.
This side of the argument is interesting because most of us have experienced a lot of the downfalls and difficulties technology has in a classroom setting. For one, many of the articles and arguments brought up the fact that devices are a huge distraction to learning. Cell phones are filled with distractions such as games, social media, music and videos. In the Maclean’s article, we learn that technology surveillance is not as easy as it sounds. Keeping track of what our students are doing on laptops (or even worse, their phones), when you’ve got 20+ students is simply impossible. Although we live in an age where technology is only going to continue developing, these are issues that are becoming more and more common as more and more students acquire these tools. Even looking back five years ago, most elementary school students did not have cell phones at all. Fast forward to today, and most grade 2 students have an Iphone. This is a reality that we need to address, and although the article does mention the benefits technology can have in the classroom, we cannot move forward until we start teaching our students when and how to use it.
Studies have shown, including this one , that computer use doesn’t actually improve student test scores. In a matter of fact, countries where students spent less time behind a screen were actually performing much better than students who used computers on a daily basis. As most schools are increasingly spending more and more funds on technology, we need to make sure that this money is getting used correctly. As most teachers will tell you, technology is useless unless you take the time to learn how to use it (take this article for example). This isn’t just you knowing how to set up a projector, a blog, or how to run a program. It’s actually knowing when to use the tech, how to integrate it into a lesson creatively, teaching our students how to use it and showing them ways to maximize the possibilities of this technology. Technology shouldn’t be a crutch, it should be a pair of wings (okay, that was sort of lame, but you get the point).
Again, that money our school boards are spending on new equipment is useless if we’re not spending equally as much money on Professional Development and training. I’ve seen a million cool ways that we can use a SmartBoard (Incredible historical games, mind-blowing math lessons and interactive lesson plans just to name a few), but I have NO CLUE how I can do those things on my own. This P.D. thing isn’t just something I’m pulling out of nowhere, we really do have to train teachers to use this technology (I know this because I’m one of those teachers!)
CONCLUSION: TECHNOLOGY, THE DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD
Although I’ve experienced my fair share of difficulties integrating technology in the classroom, I will never deny the benefits it has on teaching and learning. The times technology has worked in my favor have been incredible pedagogical experiences where my students and I have both flourished to new heights.
I’m slowly learning from my mistakes, and as time goes on, I know that I will learn new ways to integrate technology in my classroom effectively, creatively, and hopefully in the coolest ways possible.
Here’s a list of some of the points and personal reflections, realizations and conclusions that have resonated the most with me after reading and hearing this awesome debate:
– First of all, technology and students need to be monitored. Letting our students run amok on their computers isn’t going to do any of us any favors. Set some serious ground rules when working with tech and show your students how YOU want them to use the technology. Handing them a laptop with zero guidelines will almost always result in some sort of horseplay. Allowing students to bring their cellphones can be a great way of integrating their own tech as a personal learning tool, but when these tools also have the latest Beyonce album, Instagram, and wacky Donald Trump videos, you can’t expect those kids to stay on task.
– Second, using tech has its place in the classroom, but you need to know when to apply it. Moderation is key, and anytime you’re going to use it, it should have a specific purpose. There’s a time and place for everything, including the tools that we use. Which leads me to the next point…
– Learn HOW to use the technology that we have at our fingertips. Sure, I can have the latest Virtual Reality equipment, but if I don’t even know how to turn it on, what’s the point? It doesn’t stop there though! You might know how to actually use the technology, but be open to new ideas on how to apply it and how to integrate it into the classroom (this is where collaboration can do some serious wonders). If you’re only going to be using your SmartBoard to show Bill Nye the Science Guy videos off of YouTube, you’re not really doing the SmartBoard any justice.
– Identify the needs of your students. We have so many types of learners in our classrooms. Some experience difficulties with comprehension, whereas some need assistance with typing or reading. Some students are visual learners, and some respond better to the idea of technology. We have these tools that actually help students with learning difficulties and disabilities. Use this to your advantage. As much of a distraction some tech can be, it does in fact have its practical uses. We need to arm students with the tools to succeed. Sometimes these tools are more than what we perceive them to be.
I can go on forever, but at the end of the day, I see the value of technology in the classroom as an asset and a step forward towards the future. Whereas I saw the birth of the internet and social media, the new generations are being born right into this golden age of technology. There is no “hey remember when we used to have to call each other on land phones to hang out?”, so why force our kids to think that way? This is the future, so as educators, we need to just get with it already!
MY final words.
Technology absolutely enhances learning, but be sure to know that it also brings some of the biggest distractions we’ve ever had to deal with in the classroom in the entire history of learning. As long as you keep these things in mind, technology can help your classroom grow in all sorts of directions you never thought possible.
Hi everyone! My name is Chalyn Smith and I have been a Special Education classroom teacher at Kitchener Community School for the past 5 years. I have been teaching at Kitchener since I received my Bachelor of Education after degree from the First Nations University of Canada in 2011. The program that I facilitate is called a Structured Learning Classroom (SLC), which was a created to meet the needs of all learners within the public elementary system. My classroom focuses on providing a safe, nurturing and caring environment where my students feel comfortable building relationships with all team members and students. I strive to meet each student’s social, emotional, behavioral and educational needs. I encourage and focus on the strengths of our students.
I am blown away thinking that this is my sixth graduate class at the University of Regina in Curriculum and Instruction. I love the flexibility of the online courses offered by Alec, this is my second course with him and Katia as I took 831 last semester. Meeting in person last week allowed me to again see some familiar faces. I enjoy looking at different classmate blogs, and challenge myself to explore even more this semester. Luckily my wonderful co-teacher Kayla (who I share my classroom with), convinced me to jump into the debate with both feet, eeeekkk we present next week with Steve. Hopefully we can convice you all that technology does not actually improves learning. Wish us luck!!
I managed to create my 831 blog last semester and since beginning to blog and leaning more about technology I’ve tried to increase it in the classroom. I have attempted to do mini lessons on such things such as formatting, email, and all the other things little I had overlooked. Currently I share all sorts of cool articles and video’s off Facebook (wow I love the save link feature), I also have began to use Kahoot and the students love it. I am lucky to have 2 iPads, a student laptop, and 4 Chromebooks permanantly homed in my classroom. If anyone has any cool ideas or suggestion to add to my tech toolbox please share.