Category Archives: digital citizenship

Disconnect to Reconect

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It is surprising to think that the little devices we carry with us have such a hold on us.  We constantly check in on our Facebook accounts, take photos, post them and check for likes and shares.  Very few of us go without cell phones for more than a few minutes let alone a few days.  The concept of unplugging has become a bit of a buzz word these days and the concept has been explored by tech wizards and numerous blogs.  Unplugging or detoxing has been lauded for it’s merits as an activity to cleanse the mind and the soul.  But is it all it’s cracked up to be?  Is it necessary to unplug when everything we do is linked to tech and social media?  Life is about finding balance and it just seems as though in the fight between screen time and living in the moment, screens are winning by a long shot.

be there

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The reality is that it’s actually healthy to take breaks from social media and technology from time to time.  Many studies have shown that cognitive function and memory are affected by constant social media checking and idle web surfing.  The brain is like a muscle.  Although it doesn’t move, it does require time to develop and grow after new information is added.  We could consider this processing time.  In fact, studies have shown that taking a break from screens and tech periodically can recharge the brain and improve memory.  Here are some other interesting stats…

  • 84% of cell phone users claim they could not go a single day without their device. (source)
  • 67% of cell phone owners check their phone for messages, alerts, or calls — even when they don’t notice their phone ringing or vibrating.(source)
  • Studies indicate some mobile device owners check their devices every 6.5 minutes. (source)
  • 88% of U.S. consumers use mobile devices as a second screen even while watching television. (source)
  • Almost half of cell owners have slept with their phone next to their bed because they wanted to make sure they didn’t miss any calls. (source)
  • Traditional TV viewing eats up over six days (144 hours, 54 minutes) worth of time per month. (source)
  • Some researchers have begun labeling “cell phone checking” as the new yawn because of its contagious nature. (source)

unplug

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I think we’ve all experienced situations such as the ones mentioned during the debate by Dean, Janelle, and Kyle.  I still find it incredibly rude when someone is in the middle of a conversation and the other person pulls out his/her phone.  As stated above, you may have even compulsively pulled out your phone when you saw someone else doing it (much like yawns being contagious).  Now I am not saying that I am without reproach in this regard.  I too carry my phone with me almost all of the time.  I do try to keep it in my pocket when in social situations and having kids has really opened my eyes to the dangers of not living in the moment.  I have been at countless swimming lessons, soccer games and play dates during which not a single parent was actually engaging with their kids or watching them at all.  What could distract these parents from watching their 3 year olds having a blast in the pool or scoring a goal?  As I look around the field or pool deck I consistently see moms and dads hunched over cell phones and tablets, unaware of what’s happening around them.  I am not in a place to judge at all.  Maybe these parents are responding to urgent emails.  Maybe they are preparing something for work the next day.  But, I can imagine that at least some of these parents are engaged in social media activities.  Here is another viewpoint on unplugging shared by a teenager named Lane Sutton, a tech and social media wonderkind.

So, I practice being in the moment.  I make a concerted effort to be in every story, joke or activity with my kids because they are such little sponges.  They notice what we may not always perceive.  My little girl said to me the other day, “Daddy put your phone away and come outside with me.”  She’s 2 and she is already realizing that with my phone in front of me she does not have my full attention.  I realize that we will never be able to denounce technology.  It is now too ingrained in our lives.  Social media has a stranglehold on the way in which we interact with the world.  Even my 87 year-old Grandmother checks her Facebook profile on her Ipad daily to see pictures of her grandchildren and great grandchildren.  The key has to be moderation.  Take some time this week to take a break from social media and screens and take part in an activity you love without posting the results or waiting for likes.  Enjoy the smiles on the faces of your family members without snapping a photo.  Get some exercise without posting your workout to social media or fitness apps.  You’ll find rejuvenation of mind, body and soul.

Here are some other great reasons to unplug:

1) Leave behind jealousy, envy, and loneliness

2) Combat FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)

3) Find solitude (there is value in having alone time)

4) Life is happening right in front of you (don’t miss out for FOMO)

5) Promote Creation over Consumption (take time to create something)

6) Once the device is gone the level of addiction can truly be understood (as we all know when we have forgotten our phones)

7) Life is about flesh, blood and eye contact

Everything in moderation, as someone once said.

-Almost everything will work again if you unplug for a few minutes….Including you!-  Anne Lamott

 

 

 

 

 


What’s your Story? Here’s the Story of my ECI 830 Journey

So what’s my story?  What did I learn?  ECI 830 has provided many thought provoking opportunities for reflection on the Ed Tech world.  Here’s my attempt to try and sum up my learning journey.  Because Alec & Katia classes are different than my Blackboard based U of S Educational Technology and Design  (ETAD) classes, I’ve included a short section at the start of the video that highlights how we learn in this class.  It will be added to my ETAD Portfolio because after I’m brave enough to post my summary of learning and share my last debate reflection this will conclude class 9 of 10 on my ETAD journey.  Next up is an independent study on Leadership – Is there a difference between our face to face and online worlds?

So here’s my video….
—The first part is more my style and then, like a fellow ECI 830 student mentioned, I stepped way outside my comfort zone and attempted to rewrite a song.  (I should mention my husband plays in a band (guitar and vocals)… I don’t sing…in public…or very loud… so this is way outside my comfort zone – hopefully your ears are okay after;)  It’s hiding at the end of the video.

–I’ve attempted to rewrite & perform the Johnny Cash version of I won’t Back Down – It’s now called, “I Will Step In.”  Special thanks to my husband, David, for recording the guitar & background vocals and not laughing at me while I attempted to sing it:)  He helped edit the musical track together for the song. (It was quite the process, first he recorded the guitar track, then I had to sing, then he added the harmonies… glad he’s a DJ, rockstar, shop teacher. And did I mention… he always sings the Johnny Cash songs that the band plays)

All images included in the video are sourced from Pixabay Creative Commons CC0 & Screenshots by Stephanie

Our debates reminded me of the Story of Two Wolves shared by a Grandfather to his Grandson.

“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It’s a terrible fight and it’s between two wolves.”

“One is evil, he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, self-doubt and ego.

“The other is good, he is joy, peace, love, hope, serentiy, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.”

“This is the same fight going inside you – and inside every other person, too”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?

He replied simply, “The one you feed.”

There’s always two sides to the story, to the issue – careful which one you feed.

Thank-you for watching!  I truly appreciated learning with everyone!! Truly one of the highlights of my Masters class journey.  I can’t thank you enough for sharing your stories and different perspectives.  It’s truly added to the richness of the class.

Wishing everyone a restful and re-energizing summer and smooth sailing your Masters journey.

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No need to keep reading – this is just my reflection on how I came to learn what I did in ECI 830:)  It’s a more detailed description of what I tried to put into video with a top 10 things I learned.


What’s my story? 

The non-video version


Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase. – Martin Luther King Jr.

It started with a decision to apply to the ETAD program in April of 2014, a letter welcoming me to the program and the fun of trying to register and figure out classes. Class #1 started in September of 2014, the same day my daughter started Kindergarten.  Coincidentally, the same summer the Color By Amber came to Canada and I started a home based business all while I worked as a Learning Consultant.   Because when opportunity comes along you just have to go for it.

 

Change is an ever present force in our lives and you can either fight it or learn and grow .  So why not step out of your comfort zone and see just want you can do.

Fast forward to the count down to my two remaining classes.  I reached out to Alec Couros to see what might be available at the U of R and he suggested ECI 830 – Contemporary Issues in Educational Technology – one SUGA agreement and a “hey, so we just found out your are in our class from Katia and her I am.  Working on finishing class #9. (Okay this post means the class is almost finished:)

The more learning I do the more I find we are all connected by the stories we tell and those that we share. ECI 830 enabled me to step out of my ETAD comfort zone and meet a whole new network of amazingly talented, reflective and creative teachers. So here’s the story of ECI 830….Contemporary Issues in Educational Technology… which is really a fancy way of saying in the world around us;)

Having just finished a full year of amazing Kitchen Parties with the legendary Rick Schwier, I was excited to join my fellow colleagues each Tuesday night at 7 for our Great Ed Tech Debates.

I use zoom with my business team so it was great to see it in action live with an entire class.

Instead of textbook we shared articles each week and instead of lectures we debated ed tech topics.

We shared evidence of our learning through blogs, which is something that I’ve always wanted to do but have just never had the time to do consistently.
We used WordPress to share our ideas and interact with each other.

In ETAD, we typically posted behind the blackboard walls in discussion forums so this provided a public forum for us to share our ideas.

I’ve never met these educators before but they  are shaping my stories by choosing to share theirs.

Twitter gave us another chance to connect and share our ideas and grow our personal learning network.

Finding that online community that energizes and encourages you to grow is like finding a treasure.  Together we shared not only our stories but our articles, blogs, podcasts and TED Talks all intended to help us better understand the Ed Tech issues all around us.

While the class talked about focusing on Ed Tech trends and issues, it’s really a course that any citizen would benefit from.  Our topics don’t just affect our schools and our students, they affect our lives and our children….that’s who our students are.  These issues affect all of us.

Alec and Katia carefully crafted the debate statements to get us to dig deeper and think more reflectively about how the issue affect us and our teaching.

Let’s break that down who’s affected….

You – students, parents, teachers, admin, division, community members…

  • your kids, your family, your friends
  • your social media connections…

The conversations that you have matter and whether you choose to step in or just listen impacts the ripple effect of your legacy.

Does technology enhance learning in the classroom?

Technology is all around us.  It comes in many forms from the pencil with an eraser, scissors, to mobile devices, to the cell phone in your hand, to 3D printers.  There will always be technology.  It’s not inherently bad or good, it’s what you do with the technology you have that has the ability to enhance learning.

Should you teach anything that can be Googled?

Google is an integral part of our lives, if I said just Google it – you’d know what to do.  Does our 24/7 access to information replace what we need to teach?  It all depends how you teach; moreover, how you assess?  If your students can just google the answer, what is it we are teaching them?  Let’s remember that for information to become knowledge we have to think about it – Google doesn’t think about it it’s programmed to find connections – it’s up to us to use our brain to make sense of the world we encounter and as educators it is up to us to reflect on how we authentically assess students in a information based world.

 What we choose to value in the learning process is going to echo forward for years to come.

Our class challenged the notion that memorization is bad, just think of all of the processes you’ve learned that have become automatic.  It’s about what we choose to memorize and the purpose of investing in it.  I’m more of a connectivist – yes there’s knowledge I need to hold in my own brain but there’s also an immense of amount of knowledge that I can connect to in my learning network (Google or the human kind).

Is technology making our kids unhealthy?

Is it making all of us unhealthy? Again it’s developing an awareness.  Each week I find myself stepping back and looking at my world through a more reflective lens. Is my love of technology making me unhealthy? Or rather do I need to be more aware of the lifestyle choices that I am making?  Tech is just a tool – before mobile devices, TVs were bad influences and before that books contained information that might just make us want to stay in one place until we finished the story.

As Audrey Watters pointed out, we always seem to have amnesia when it comes to new technology – as if we are the first ones to struggle with the challenges of tech.  Are our problems must be more significant than those before us.

Isn’t it really about how we choose to use the tech? It’s how I choose to shape my life? You have to find the balance.

Is openness and sharing unfair to our kids?

Again it’s about the choices you make…. although I may be a bit biased.  In a social media, knowledge based world where your life, as Alec pointed out, seems to be public by default and private by effort.  I think we (educators and parents) have to teach our children how to become thoughtful, digital citizens that are aware of how their actions will impact their future.  Every generation has things to learn and learning what and how to share may be one of the top five things to understand. Like the agree side explained, you are essentially creating a digital tattoo that will live years beyond you.

What do you want your legacy to be?

Is technology is a force for equity in society?

Let’s step back from technology – how do you create equity in your classroom?

Tech has the potential to be a force for equity, but it depends on how you use the tools you choose to use, how you choose to use them and the prior knowledge that your students bring to the table.

Equity doesn’t just happen, people consistently choose to look, listen and reflect on the environment they are creating in their class. In a diverse world, it’s important for us to recognize that culture shapes the way our brains make sense of the world.  So you are going to have to step out of your comfort zone and choose to value equity.

This is the week I learned about Storientation = sharing your story builds connections, listening to the stories of others develops trust and being aware of your organization’s story shapes the path you are on.

Like Malcom Gladwell shared in the “Tipping Point” and Chip and Dan Heath explained in “The Switch” – it’s the small consistent choices that we make that truly shape the path and move us toward our goals.  Tech is only one piece of the puzzle.

Is Social Media ruining childhood?

Social media has changed childhood.

As educators and parents, we need to be aware of what we choose to share and the medium we choose to share it in.  If you are choosing what you post on social media, you are branding yourself.  Changing the identity of a brand isn’t easy so learning strategies to think through things before you post is an important strategy in continuing to build a digital footprint. You wouldn’t send your child to the park unsupervised to spend the day with strangers, so use your not so common, common sense.

Make the effort to be aware of the world you live in and make the best choices you can to help build resilient children that have a well developed tool box of strategies to not just cope but thrive in today’s social world.

Has public education sold it’s soul to corporate interests?

Of all the debates this this one opened my eyes… not that I was oblivious to education’s connections to business. It’s part of life. Schools will always need supplies, tools and tech from the non educational world, what tugged at my heart was …it’s not something I actively reflect on very often. I love google, office, windows, android, apple, share point…. I use the tech I have access to – to create the best learning opportunities I can for my students and staff.  If it’s free, all the better… but how do my choices ripple out?  When I choose to use Google Apps because it’s free for education do I ever stop to have the conversation with my students about why I chose this tool?

I’m reminded of a conversation I had with my Coordinator or Student Support Services. Attribution theory – as we reviewed IIPs she reminded me it’s great to explicitly teach students the strategies they need but we also need students to learn to think about why choosing that strategy in that context works.  It’s important for them to attribute their success to choosing the tool or strategy appropriately.

After all if I tried to use one thing for everything, it just wouldn’t work, but if I step back and choose the tool or strategy that best fits the situational need, then I’m more likely to find success.

What have I learned on this journey?

  1. If you are too comfortable with what you know maybe you haven’t thought about it enough
  2. Learning is messy and that’s good.
  3. It’s all about perspective.  We each come to the table with different ideas and strengths and that’s the best part – it’s how we learn by sharing ideas and challenging each other to think outside our comfort zone
  4. If you walk into a room and you think you are the smartest person you are in the wrong room!  You become like those you interact with, so choose to surround yourself with people that are going to challenge you to grow outside your comfort zone in positive ways.
  5. The more I learn the less I know & there’s always more to learn
  6. There’s always two sides to every issue, every story has at least two sides.  It’s important to respect and listen to the challenges and questions raised by those that lie outside your initial zone of comfort…. you always have to listen first.
  7. Dean Benko explained that you have to find the balance – when you do you will find a state of flow.
  8. It’s not about the technology its about what you do with what you have… then again in our last debate … does it matter the kind of tech you have?
  9. Data and information are just that – knowledge is created by individual minds drawing on individual experience.. making value judgements based on their experiences….tech makes info and data easier to access, more visual and what seems at first easier to interpret… but that of course depends on who created the parameters of what to graph out? Just because it looks pretty doesn’t mean it’s any more valid – you have to think critically and look deeper.
  10. Our ultimate goal is to encourage our students (our children) and those around us to become an engaged, multi-literate learners that care enough to think critically about the information, the environment and it’s sources that they encounter and choose to make a decisions based on their experiences.  As Toffler says,  the future belongs to the those who can learn, unlearn and relearn.

To reach the end is really to begin again and write the next chapter.

So here’s to the next chapter. 

to reach the end

 


Is Social Media Making us Unsocial?

Growing up in the 21st century means that childhood is defined by, and inextricably linked to, social media.  Children as young as grade 2 or 3 now have personal devices.  Children in elementary and middle school have multiple social media accounts even though many of these require minimum ages of 13 or 14.  It has become a way to connect, to chat, to post our thoughts, feelings and emotions.  It provides answers to questions, gives feedback, and affirms or negates our feelings.  It acts like a catalog of all the information available to us which is shared by others.  It documents our lives in incredible detail if need be.  Social media helps students connect with other students across the globe, collaborate together, post progress and receive feedback.  It is a force of the 21st century world and it is a crucial part of our lives that cannot be ignored.

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However, can we accept blindly every new app and innovation that comes along without knowing how they impact us?  Of course we should right?  I mean, technology is always good, it always moves us forward, it always makes life easier and simpler.  After-all, many of today’s modern conveniences were once new inventions as well.  The difference here lies in the deeply personal aspects of these social media platforms.

As Alison Graham explains, the goals of social media platforms are connections and socialization but it seems that the more we participate, the less social we actually become. Personalized technology that becomes so ingrained in our psyches that we literally become addicted to the likes that somehow indicate we have worth in this world.  Herein lies the problem, with the blind acceptance of social media platforms, it shifts focus away from others and onto the self.  As time goes on, the socializing aspect for which the apps were designed ceases to be the true driving force behind their use.  The self often becomes the true reason for the constant posting and checking for likes.  One researcher even tells of a young man who’s desire to take the perfect selfie drove him to suicidal tendencies.   It tends to drive narcissism to the point where phycological trauma can occur.

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People will argue that these anxieties have always existed and that alarmists are making too much of what we call social media addictions.  When I was growing up, social time with friends was just that…time to socialize.  Talking and laughing about what had happened that day, riding our bikes to another friend’s house to see if we could organize a soccer game.  Some would argue that we look back at our childhood through rose coloured glasses in which we see a delightful world free of stress and anxiety.  Of course stress and anxiety still existed before the age of social media.  However, the difference lies in transparency of lives lived completely in the online environment. If your social status, well being, and self worth comes completely from what is said about you on social media, it’s little wonder that students can not handle being without their phones.  A recent CNN documentary called #Being 13 looked at 13 year olds across the United States and their lives lived on social media.

  • 61% of teens said they wanted to see if their online posts are getting likes and comments.
  • 36% of teens said they wanted to see if their friends are doing things without them.
  • 21% of teens said they wanted to make sure no one was saying mean things about them.

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The Huffington Post released a study in which parents were asked if children were more susceptible to mental health problems in this day and age.  The results indicated that social media was one of the driving forces behind mental health issues for youth.  This is something that cannot be escaped whether it’s negative feedback on a selfie, bullying comments posted on your Facebook wall, or being left out of a group of friends.  The digital online life follows students back to the privacy of their homes each night. Compulsively checking and rechecking to see what others have said about them has become normal for many teens.  This new phenomenon, which has been deemed lurking,  tends to lead to late night with little sleep as students scroll through feeds, answer texts or hit like and follow to show that they are “socially engaged” in popular culture.

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So what does this all mean?  First of all, as adults in a digital world it once again comes back to the idea of modelling proper social media use.  What warrants a post or picture being placed online?  Who will we allow to see it?  What message are we trying to convey with this content?  I always ask my students to THINK before they post anything.

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Secondly, it’s important to set limits for social media use.  This falls on the shoulders of the parents but it is something that can be discussed at school as well.  Have students reflect meaningfully on how much they are online.  What are they doing during those hours and are they balancing for a healthy lifestyle that involves enough sleep and exercise?  It’s perhaps unfair to compare our childhood with the one in which students now find themselves.  However, it is more than fair to help students find a balanced and healthy approach to life.

 

 


It’s time for a bus trip – Technology & Equity – Are they headed in the same direction?

It’s time for a little bus trip as I used to explain to my science students.  I’d say it’s important to try and stay in your seats as best you can, but if you feel that you’ve been bounced out of your seat into the aisle or you are standing at the door ready to jump let me know and have faith that we will circle around and get you back on the bus… and if I’ve run you over with the bus – know that you are okay and we will come back to get you.  Turns out that analogy was one of the best we ever used.  Students weren’t afraid to tell me they were falling off the metaphorical bus.  It was a safe way for them to express their stress.  So tonight’s post is a journey, but stick with me we are going to end up in the parking lot of technological equity:)  (And FYI I worked with Grade 10, 11, 12 students) So keep your arms and legs inside the bus:)

The more I learn the less I know for sure?  The Great EdTech debate continued in fine fashion Tuesday night with two intense debates. First up was our discussion of the statement:

Tech Creates Equity in Society?

My first thought …. Does it?  I’m a strong supporter of technology.  It makes sense to me.  It helps me learn.  I’ve seen it work for students, but how often do we stop and think about big picture ideas like this?  Reflection is a key piece of learning how to teach more effectively.

Years ago I worked as a Differentiated Instruction Facilitator (DIF). It was then I had the privileged of learning the role from an amazingly talented DI facilitator. I’ll never forget how valuable the conversations we had with teachers and in particular with each other were to our learning.  Sharing the role gave us us time to process, debrief and examine learning situations from a variety of perspectives. It’s when we had time to step back and look at the bigger picture.  (time… reflection really does take time)  Now… you can have those conversations with yourself and you can blog them like this, but interactive conversation that challenges you to think outside your comfort perspective is priceless, even a little scary, but you will grow (and maybe occasionally get run over by that bus;).

This cartoon reminds me of some of our differentiated learning discussions.

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“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to
climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein

Image from Rockin Teacher Materials

Fair doesn’t mean equal.  And equal isn’t the same thing as equity. In Equity vs Equality: 6 Steps Toward Equity, Safir (2016) noted ” If equality means giving everyone the same resources, equity means giving each student access to the resources they need to learn and thrive. As those of us who are parents know, each child is different” (para. 6).  It seems like a relatively simple concept – differentiation. I appreciate Carol Ann Tomlinson’s explanation:

The idea of differentiating instruction to accommodate the different ways that students learn involves a hefty dose of common sense, as well as sturdy support in the theory and research of education (Tomlinson & Allan, 2000). It is an approach to teaching that advocates active planning for student differences in classrooms.

Common sense:) That’s important in so many aspects.

Safir recommended 6 steps to help create equity.

  1. Know Every Child
  2. Become a warm demander
  3. Practice lean-in assessment
  4. Flex your routines
  5. Make it safe to fail
  6. View culture as a resource “Culture, it turns out, is the way the brain makes sense of the world.”

You’ve heard all of her points before, but as Malcom Gladwell explained in The Tipping Point – in the end it’s the relatively small things done consistently that cause change to tip. I did however learn a new word:) Storientation.  Safir (2015) elaborated in “The Power of Story in School Transformation” that by paying close attention to people’s stories you can transform your classroom.  She highlighted 3 types:

  • Your Story – sharing your experiences shows vulnerability and models social-emotional experiences.  Just think about how you connect when you hear someone else’ story.  (Brene Brown – Daring Greatly is a great read on this topic)
  • The stories of others – truly listening to other’s stories develops trust and connections
  • The organizational story “Organizations carry their own core memories” (para. 8)

I’ve had the opportunity, as a Learning Consultant, to spend time in many classrooms from Pre-K to Grade 12.  It’s truly been the best PD opportunity of my life.  What I can share is that teachers work very hard to differentiate learning for students and to create equitable learning environments.  It doesn’t just happen by accident.  Equity develops in classrooms because teachers create a learning environment where it’s safe for students to learn, mistakes and all.  In life, it’s as much about what we learn from our mistakes as is is from what we learn when we get it right.

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Photo Credit: leighblackall via Compfight cc

Still with me on the bus trip?  We are taking a right onto Tech Boulevard. It might feel like a single lane highway with lots of oncoming traffic at times, but we’ll make it:)

So let’s add the technology lens.
There are many potential ways that technology can lay the foundation to create equity, especially if you apply the theory of universal design for learning “Many accommodations are “necessary for some, and good for all”, we should remember that assistive tech can support learning of all students” (Sider & Maich, 2014, p.3). Take the Voice note feature in

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Google Read Write.  When paired with a graphic organizer in a Google Doc, it can be a very powerful tool for a student that struggles with the act of writing.  Built in features can help a student listen to the text and then record a response.  In this case, it’s about the student sharing evidence of their learning. Writing isn’t a requirement of the outcome. Plus this tool can work for students that struggle with reading and writing and it can also be a useful tool for all of us.  A way to capture our ideas in the moment and play them back so we can organize and make sense of them.

Photo Credit: GillyBerlin via Compfight cc

Effectively matching an assistive tech support to a student is not a matter to be taken lightly.  Each learner has different needs and some assistive tech supports are easier for all students to have access to than others. There are also varying costs associated with assistive tech supports, which may impact who has access to it. Schools can support some requests while others may fall to the parents.

When you think about technology supporting student learning, I think there are two important questions to ask.

1.What’s the need?
(i.e. what specific support is needed to increase successful learning.  Is there a diagnosis? A professional report recommending specific technologies?)

2. What evidence of learning is the outcome asking the student to demonstrate?
(i.e. if there’s no reference to writing in full sentences, could the student just record his/her answer for you?)

Okay, so you’ve figured those out.  What supports are needed to scaffold the technology into the every day learning of the student?  Who’s doing that?

Don’t assume all the stakeholders are on board. Parents can offer insight into how they can support.  The teacher will need to be willing and able to incorporate this into their teaching and they will.  Just remember to check in with them and see where there comfort level is at.  What PD is needed?  What’s the time commitment? Lastly, don’t forget the student.  You can purchase the tech to support the student but if the student decides it makes them look different or doesn’t want to use it… that’s a whole other bus trip.

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Photo Credit: pantheist_bear_god via Compfight cc

Let’s step back for a moment and consider they ways in which technology isn’t creating equality but rather increasing the digital divide. The disagree side shared an insightful and provocative article by Audrey Watters entitled Ed-Tech’s Inequalities.  It will make you think about the proclaimed powers of Ed Tech – Techno-Solutionism (“the simplification of complex societal problems into apps and algorithms.“)  While tech may offer potential solutions, the reality of our world is this: Of those with access to technology and internet the benefits the people gain is related to their socio-economic status. The Matthew Effect… the rich get richer and the poor get poorer… in terms of tech use it means that what a child does with their internet access is tied to their parents which it connected to their upbringing and socio-economic status.  Students from more affluent homes will use technology in more creative ways to develop their digital literacy all while more likely being engaged with a parent. Children from lower socio-economic families tend to have very different expectations about the use of technology and how they engage with it. Often more drill and practice than engaged thinking.  It’s not just that we have access it’s how the tech is being used. Watter (2015) noted it’s even who is developing it in the first place that affects how tech develops.

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Photo Credit: Programa Acessa São Paulo via Compfight cc

Back up the bus…. how does all of that play out at school?  Have you stopped to consider just how much your actions and selection of technology potentially impact student learning? Have you stopped to look at how your students are using the tech? You can use the SAMR model to help guide your reflection.

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Image is the creation of Dr. Rueben Puentedura, Ph.D.

Tech certainty has the potential to give students a voice and empower them to demonstrate their learning in many ways, but don’t forget to step away from the hype.. or for me to step away from my love of tech (note to self = not everyone loves tech as much as me).  We need to step back and consider:

What’s the best tool (tech or perhaps it’s a pencil with the revolutionary eraser that I referred to in an early post)?  In the end, what’s going to have the biggest impact on student learning?

And with that our journey ends in the parking lot of technological equity…. does it exist? I guess that all depends what side of the bus you are on:)

Thanks to my ECI830 classmates for raising so many thoughtful points. Be sure to check out their blog posts this week:


Stay tuned for links to some of my favourite reads from this week.

 


Start the conversation…. Sharing Matters

 If you teach them how to share it’s more than fair!

This week the Great EdTech debate challenge fell to our team.   We represented the Disagree side of the debate which focused on: Openness and sharing in schools unfair to our kids.

If you are interested here’s our opening arguments.

As I first read through the questions, I wondered is it fair not to share?  Teaching in and of itself is sharing of knowledge.  Our goal as educators is to share our knowledge of a concept in a variety of ways that encourages deeper understanding in our students.  As Wiley and Green (2012) pointed out in Why Openness in Education, we even judge educators on their ability to share and impart understanding to students (para. 5 & 6).

So sharing is part of what we do as educators…. rather it’s the what, how and where we share that we really need to think about?  If you think back to when you were growing up, some of us perhaps, didn’t have to worry about the photo someone snapped at a gathering or comment that was shared.  Our networks were smaller.  Perhaps your embarrassing photo made the yearbook or a friend actually had the roll of film developed.  The chances of widespread distribution and repercussions were on a smaller scale.  Now don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t fun if the wrong person got a hold of a photo or some how continued to share things.  It wasn’t however on the same scale as social media provides today.  So keep in mind that many of us who are now parents didn’t grow up in a world with social media or cell phones (mobile phones came in bags and you could only use then in case of emergency because who could afford the cost per minute).

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Image from Meme Generator

 

 

Is the answer to attempt to remove technology from our lives and avoid any device that could capture our image so that facial recognition software can’t identify us?  I guess you can try but for the large majority of us it’s not practical; moreover, sticking our head in the proverbial sand won’t make the issue go away, but someone might make a nice meme out of it.

In my experience it’s about having the courage to step into the conversation with students and talk about what’s going on.  Is oversharing happening?  What type of images are being posted?  What if you just like or comment – does that make you part of it?  It also means that we need to model or attempt thoughtful digital citizenship the best we can.  This means that we need to know what engaged, thoughtful digital citizens do.  While we may not all have access to Digital Learning Consultants and I have to say thank-you to Thad, Kirk and Robert for their ongoing encouragement and support during my years as a teacher and consultant.  It makes a difference to have knowledgeable and reflective people to talk to about digital issues.  So as the Agree team mentioned during the debate, we live in the real world and ongoing to access to PD and support people may not always be possible; however, we do live in an age where there is ample helpful information online about digital citizenship and digital footprints. I first learned about the elements of Digital Citizenship on Mike Ribble’s website.

Mike Ribble Retweet.JPG

What about oversharing?  You know it’s going to happen and it’s like a digital tattoo.  It has the potential to fade but never really go away. How do you prevent it?  I think it begins with open communication with our children.  As educators and parents,  we have a great opportunity to talk about the pictures we take and how we share them.  When you snap that pic and post it to Facebook, do you talk to your child about where you are posting it?  Am I posting it publicly for everyone to see on my profile or am I sharing it with a select group of people in a secret Facebook group?  Think about the conversation potential that exists with our Pre-K and K teachers as they document and share student learning with parents.  I’ve seen our early learning teachers engage in thoughtful conversations about what they are sharing and who will see it.  As a parent, I really appreciate getting the updates of what my daughter is doing in class.  Plus hearing her voice as she explains it is priceless. Sharing matters.

Worried about oversharing?  It’s happening all around us and it may be impacting our lives more than we know.

 

On the flip side, I remember back to a time when I was co-teaching my Bio 30 class with a teacher of a grade 5 class in a different community.  We skyped everyday and each grade 12 was paired with a grade 5 student in the 1:1 learning project.  We talked often about the expectations and how we needed to be engaged digital citizens, yet a grade 5 overshared info – nothing earth shattering but enough that the Bio 30 student was concerned.  What it did do was generate a healthy discussion about what was appropriate to share in our wikispace discussions and how we can learn from the experience.  We were working in a safe private space, so it was a great learning opportunity for all of us.  One that will hopefully remind us all to think before we share.

So starting the conversation early will help engage students and teachers in thoughtfully sharing positive experiences to grow their digital footprint, which in turn helps model the practice to parents and family that may not have considered those aspects.  Kathy Cassidy shared in her video that yes what we share in social media is permanent but because of that it’s a great way to look back and see how much we have grown. She also talked about the value of modeling how to use social media and in doing so how we influence student’s understanding of the world and practice empathy.

 

Steven W. Anderson shared Meredith Stewart’s tweet, “If you aren’t controlling your footprint, others are.”  He encouraged readers to start building their brand – their digital identity.  You do this by sharing and creating positive online footprints, but as the Agree team pointed out – you need to watch out for bouncing.  When a photo that you have shared gets used for something else. As Anderson pointed out, not only do you have to actively build a positive identity you have to monitor it.  Alec Couros noted in our follow up conversation that just googling our names doesn’t truly include all of our digital footprint.  We need to consider the data that is tracked in all the apps that we use.

Alec discussed how facial recognition technology is now available and when he showed us how it worked with his own images, we realized just how many people there are out there that look just like him.  We have to learn how to be aware of the footprints we are actively creating, as well as those that are being created without our consent.

Should all of this scare you as an educator away from sharing? or considering the sharing of student work?  It’s important to consider the positive impacts of sharing. Rather than only relying on standardized assessments to ensure academic standards are being met. Bence asked “what if learner work were shared on a wider level so that the work could speak for itself.  She shared examples of how being transparent with what’s happening in the classroom has added “another layer of authenticity to education” (para. 4). Learners have become more active participants in their own education especially when they know the audience is more than just the classroom.  As with any online venture in education, Bence encouraged educators to check with their schools and districts to ensure practices align with responsible use.

Here’s part of our closing arguments from Tuesday night – sharing matters and it’s important to teach our children how to share.

You are welcome to check out our team’s resource list.  We’ve selected a number of articles and guides to help educators grow their understanding of sharing.

These resources are a great place to start.

What will matter in the future as our Facebook babies grow up and realize just what their parents and teachers have shared?  I can only imagine where we will be when I think about how things have evolved in the first half of my teaching career… or even in the last 5 years for that matter.

What matters today is that we start the conversation. Hopefully if we start today and engaging in ongoing conversations about digital citizenship, we will all learn to pause before we post and think about the potential ripple effect.

Regardless of social media or old fashioned information sharing asking ourselves the following question will impact how we try to live our lives.

What legacy do you want to leave behind?

Special thanks to Lisa and Haiming!  What a great team – glad to have had the chance to work with you!

As I’ve had a chance to read through other blog posts, these are a few that have stood out to me:

  • Jeremy Black  explained we all need to engage in digital citizenship education.  He suggested introducing it to parents at meet the teacher nights as a way to engage parents.  He noted that it’s also about sharing the resources we have with parents.
  • Erin Benjamin shared her decision to share student work using Seesaw and how she shared expectations with parents and students.  It’s making the time to explicitly teach the students about digital citizenship and then apply it to their learning that truly makes a difference. Learning about digital citizenship in authentic situations truly makes a difference.

 

 

 


Sharing and openness. A moral imperative, even on social media.

Sharing is a moral imperative.

This week we debated the necessity or disservice of sharing and openness in schools in the context of social media and education technology. And, much like many of our discussions, it involves statements or hesitations from some that we could apply to other arguments about childhood and life. Observing my opening sentence, read the italicized and consider if that phrase, not in the context of social media, but rather of students of the past. Is or was sharing and openness not encouraged, with emphasis on competition instead? Perhaps not in schools, but at home?  Once upon a time, ‘openness’ and sharing emotions was discouraged as part of social pressures on males (The Mask You Live In). But in today’s world, openness and sharing is a given, a moral imperative. And sharing and openness in social media is no exception to this fundamental moral imperative. But sharing is a learning process, parents and educators need to learn themselves and guide students through the process of now understanding sharing not just in the historic sense of “Billy, let Tim play with your toys too”,

it’s become “Billy, don’t feel like you need to let Tim know about every single thing you’re doing today on Instagram”. We can share learning, or perhaps important life events, but where is the line in what we should share? Juan Enriquez presents the idea that everything we share leaves that digital tattoo. So, while I would argue we need to share, we need to be aware of the implications of what we share about ourselves and others. Much like presenting ourselves professionally in public, like at a social gathering, today social media is where humans gather and “humans are wired to share”. Rachel Botsman, makes this argument in her case for collaborative consumption.
https://embed-ssl.ted.com/talks/rachel_botsman_the_case_for_collaborative_consumption.html

 

Learning about sharing. How do we share better?

There are a lot of reminders out there about why we need to be aware of our digital footprint. Sometimes there is that fear about what we put into the big scary internet, but we (teachers and students) can use it to our advantage. This requires some learning to take place. In discussion with my grade nines, we stumbled onto an apparent digital citizenship learning curve. In many ways, as student’s raised in the social media age, they hit certain milestones or realizations about what is “okay” online far sooner than I ever did. Like any bit of learning, however, there are gaps. Some learn to avoid “oversharing” younger, yet fail to understand the idea of creating a positive digital footprint and post profanity or inappropriate content. As a young educator, I am fortunate to have been raised in the beginning of the social media age, but learned through mistakes and failure; different generations have different exposure and opportunity. So, rather than a trial by fire, or through personal experience depending on the generation of teachers, educators need a guideline for teaching digital citizenship in our school, thanks Alec and Katia. Find your line and use the resources to teach about openness and sharing through social media responsibly.

Where is the ideal line between sharing too much and not enough though? We can be aware of our digital footprints, but one person’s definition of a good digital footprint may be slightly different than another, much like one individual’s thoughts on sharing may be different than another. Where is your line?

Logan Petlak


Opening up: How Digital Citizenship Education Can Assist In Avoiding Costly Mistakes

Tonight’s debate centered around the idea of whether opening up the classroom and sharing in schools is unfair to our children. The agree side initially had a strong argument from the angle that the permanency of the web, and the digital footprint that now follows individuals around for life is a dangerous one that has caused, and continues to cause issues for people in their personal, and especially their professional lives. The term bouncing was new to me, although the concept was something I was familiar with. This is the concept where an individual or group shares some personal information, or photo, and that is then used by another and put into an entirely different context. 

Here’s a great example of how a simple photo taken by a mom turned into the Scumbag Steve meme:

Bouncing in many ways has become the popular way in which to gain followers when posting memes on Instagram. Accounts such as champagneemojis (follow at your own peril) simply find photos, vines, or short videos online, and caption over top of them, either for comedic, or more often in order to troll. Of the friends who I speak to who have Instagram, the majority of them subscribe to such accounts for the “LOLZ.” 

The agree team also had a good point in that the majority of parents and educators who are responsible for providing positive feedback and modeling proper behaviour simply aren’t doing a great job. I would agree that most families likely don’t think how their own actions have an influence over their children’s use, and teachers as well are making snafoos in terms of sharing photos of their students through their personal Twitter or Facebook accounts.

Made with http://generator-meme.com/

 

This brings us to the salient points provided by the disagree team. The disagree team argued that in providing students an opportunity to practice digital citizenship in a safe, monitored environment, students will be more aware and comfortable in when and what to share, and how to navigate situations where their privacy or integrity might be compromised. Kyle gave us a great example of how a photo of him was captured of him, in what looked like a compromising situation. I would argue that said student who captured the photo of Kyle would have thought about the consequences of his sharing the photo were he to have had an education in digital citizenship.

Now, to jump back to the concern over parents and teachers not being competent enough to teach these digital skills. Like any other curriculum mandate, such as Treaty education, teachers are expected to then keep up to date with this curriculum in order to best meet the needs of their children. And thankfully, unlike much of the resources provided by boards in regard to Treaty ed that then must be significantly adapted to meet the needs of their students (in elementary classrooms, from my perspective), there are a TON of great resources that are student friendly, easily understandable for teachers to administer, and that are current. Here are the two best:

An Overview of the 9 Elements of Digital Citizenship – A breakdown of Mike Ribble’s 9 Elements, all including links to relevant activities and lessons.

Common Sense Media’s Scope and Sequence Digital Citizenship Curriculum – Hands down the best reference for lessons and activities specific to grade level.

These websites also offer a lot of great information for parents specific to modeling and supporting in a positive way:

The Parents Section on digitalcitizenedu has a lot of great information for parents to better understand digital citizenship, as well as how to support their child as well as to be more aware of their own online habits.

Another solid argument the disagree team had was the idea of strengthening connections between the classroom and home, and how such a connection would further build on a child’s ability to retain information and activate higher level thinking processes. This reminded me a lot of the concept of the flipped classroom, where students have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with content ahead of class, as as to quickly bypass lower levels of Bloom’s taxonomy, so students can begin to apply and evaluate content.

 

CC: Vanderbilt University

Providing a window for parents into their child’s daily school activities will further enable parents to support their children in better understanding the concepts being covered in class. And, yes, not all parents will do this. Not everyone will. So how do we get parents thinking more about their child’s interactions with digital citizenship and sharing, as well as how they can support their child’s learning outside of the classroom?

Easy! At the beginning of the year, during the meet/greet teacher night, hold a quick run through of digital citizenship (you’ll be teaching it throughout the year, so I’m sure you’ll want to let the parents know, just as you would tell them about all your exciting math units), and provide parents with information online that will help them out. This will at the very least put the bug in their ear, and will hopefully get them thinking about their own digital citizenship related habits.

Another way of facilitating this would be to encourage your admin to look through the SK Digital Citizenship Curriculum with you, and to start the conversation on how to roll this out school wide. If all staff were offered a crash course in how to teach digital citizenship, as well as provided resources in how to facilitate it, fewer teachers could use the crutch that they don’t think they should be responsible for teaching it, or don’t know how. In tandem with a school-wide roll out, a digital citizenship primer for parents could be set up. Providing links to relevant resources on the classroom or school website would help support parents when making the important decision to support their child in making the right choices when sharing and using online tools.


Just Google it? Just Google it right. Building from simple to complex.

Statement: Schools should not be teaching anything that can be googled.

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No2Google Logo via No2Google.com

 

Disagree.

The picture below isn’t necessarily related, but it was one of the pictures that came up when I searched, “Yes Google”, and I feel compelled to use it… it helps if you imagine Psy singing “Heeeeeyyyyyyy educators, Goo, Goo, Goo Goo. Google ain’t so bad”. This builds into my post, while illustrating both the problem and potential solution of simply “googling it”.

2012 iHeartRadio Music Festival - Day 1 - Show

LAS VEGAS, NV – SEPTEMBER 21: Rapper Psy performs onstage during the 2012 iHeartRadio Music Festival at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on September 21, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Isaac Brekken/Getty Images for Clear Channel retrieved via Business Insider)

Building from simple to complex googling.

Apart from the fact that so much can be Googled (and Googled and found mistakenly, as seen in picture above), the policing of instruction to avoid this next to impossible. However, like any potential problem-causer, it provides opportunity. How do we roll with this? How do we make a positive out of a negative? How do we build from simple to complex?

Terry Heick visited the thought that: “complex questions can’t be googled.” He went on to state that the answer Google provides can be a stopping point… and that it “… creates the illusion of accessibility,” or “obscures interdependence of information.” All valid. This can happen from simply using Google without education, but it reminded me of Dave Cormier’s details on using MOOCs appropriately through the cynefin framework and the rhizomatic learning… specifically that answering complex questions requires a particular approach to learning, that we as educators can seek to facilitate. Terry Heick then concludes with an awesome point that alludes to this need for educators and highlights the importance of teaching about proper use of Google and why Googlable (new word?) concepts should be taught in schools: “none of this (the above concerns) is Google’s fault.” Educators (and parents, for that matter) bear the responsibility to inform students of how to use technology like Google and Wikipedia to foster ideas and “cultivate curiousity”. So much can be Googled, so teach students to think critically, and recognize that every teacher can do this regardless of grade or specialization, as evidenced here, and through digital citizenship as Jeremy Black referenced.

Connecting critical thinking to maximizing Google.

“Before students can think critically, they need to have something to think about in their brains.” Ben Johnson made this comment, and used it to remind us of the importance of memorization and still keeping this as part of instruction. This speaks to the baseline knowledge that may come from using Google and other information sources. Finding the simple answers that “Googling it” may provide is the beginning to deeper parts of cognitive function in individuals, leading to fostering curiosity that I made reference to before. My phrase I tend to use in course outlines in senior science echoes the overlap between memory, critical thinking and curiosity: “in order to remember these terms, I will push you understand these terms.” This simply reflects my angle of looking at it, but there are many ways to aid in memory.

 

Final thoughts

Ultimately, the proper use of “Google” falls to educators to ensure students continue to ask complex questions and follow links to continue pursuing knowledge and continue to connect to new ideas with that new knowledge. Memory may play a dominant role in this process providing the fundamental information that sets a foundation to curiosity and challenging complex questions.

 

Agree? Disagree? Comment!

– Logan Petlak


Major Project Rollout

IAMADIGITALCITIZEN (Follow the link to visit the new website!)

I am ecstatic to be done! It’s been a fun and challenging semester. Let’s talk about the major project first. This project initially looked entirely different. As I learned more and more about digital citizenship through this class, I realized that creating a practical resource for myself and other teachers, admin, and parents would be the best use of my time, as it would have purpose outside of this class. Too often in other classes term papers get written, then are left to collect dust on a shelf, or (cyberdust?) on Google Docs. I’m really happy with the results, and am glad I decided to create a resource that would support all those invested in teaching and supporting digital citizenship.

The following links provide a chronological summary of the content that speaks to the final project over the course of the semester:

Reflecting Upon the Need for Media Literacy in Our Classrooms

Digital Literacy Implementation: Not as Easy as it Seemed…

On the Digital Citizenship Trail: Bushwakking Through Articles

The Benefits of Incorporating Peer Assessment into a Game Development Project

Making Parents Accountable: The Missing Piece To Digital Citizenship Education

Four Strategies Every Teacher Needs to Meet Necessary Future Literacies For Students

Encouraging Teachers to Open the Doors to Digital Literacies in Their Classrooms

Using Read & Write for Google Chrome to Support Literacy Growth in the Classroom

Back Breaking Major Project

What’s the Point?

Common Sense Education’s Scope & Sequence VS. Ribble’s 9 Elements