Category Archives: EC&I 830

Debate #7 – Last, but not Least

“It is not enough to be compassionate.  You must act.”  – The Dalai Lama

This debate was by far the most emotional one for me, considering what is happening in the world at the present moment.  People are moved to act, to fight the injustices of our world.  But, how that related back to the classroom is such a complex issue which was highlighted by both sides of the topic:  Educators have a responsibility to use social media and technology to promote social justice.  This topic was far different than any of the other six we had and I believe comes with more long term impacts.

Michala and Brad were quick to point out that there is tremendous risk when it comes to dealing with social justice in the classroom, and that adding technology increases that risk further. I was shocked to hear that when Brad did a recycling project within his classroom I was disheartened to hear that he received backlash from others. However, I recognize that regardless of the opinions of others those students underwent meaningful learning that cannot be taken away.  I believe that it probably taught them a valuable lesson about the fact that when it comes to doing what it is right a person cannot be worried about what other people think.

I find this topic of social justice in the classroom completely foreign to me due to my own experience growing up in China where the idea of social justice is ultimately non-existent.  In fact, the voices of people are repressed and any opinions put on social media would be immediately censored and taken down.  The fact that it is even possible to create a forum to teach social justice within the classroom environment is phenomenal to me and I think that it will create much more critical thinkers and citizens who will challenge the actions of others in order to work for justice.  However, it is important to note that children are very vulnerable and can be at risk of easily being swayed by the opinions of others.  Educators need to remain neutral and allow students to create their own opinions.  My hope is that educators can give their students a voice in order to be meaningful advocates in their own lives.

Summary of Learning

The past six weeks have flown by and have been filled with thought provoking conversations. I really enjoyed the debate format and learned so much from hearing both sides of each topic. This class pushed me to examine and challenge my opinions and for that I have Alec and all of you to thank!

I was really hoping to try a new tool to create my summary of learning and had my mind made up about using VideoScribe. I watched all the how to videos and was ready to begin creating. However, I did not leave myself enough time to be able to play around with it and I found I was getting frustrated as features were not working the way I wanted them to. I have heard great things about it and love how the final product turns out. It’s not that it was difficult to use, it was just finicky and I was in a time crunch as I wanted to be sure I met the due date and have a final product I was proud of. After some time invested, I decided to abandon VideoScribe and went back to a tool I was familiar with, WeVideo. I wanted to make it look a bit different than just using all of the stock images so I also used Canva and Google Slides to create backgrounds and other images. I am pleased with how it turned out!

Openness and sharing in schools are unfair to our kids

Melinda and me agree that as David Wiley stated, “openness is the only means of education” and “if there is no sharing and giving feedback, there is no education”. We still believe though that openness and sharing in schools are unfair to our kids for a number of reasons. 

When it comes to openness and sharing, our children’s privacy can greatly be jeopardized. With our growing immigrant population, we feel that first of all the language barrier needs to be addressed. Schools need to make sure that our families completely understand the media release form that is sent home at the beginning of the school year. With the help of Microsoft Translator, Talking Points etc. schools can provide translations as well as additional examples to make sure parents are aware of what the media release form implies.

The story of the 4-year-old Karim from Toronto even made us wonder if posting students’ pictures on social media should be part of the media release form at all? Karim’s parents not wanting their child to have pictures posted on social media decided not to sign the media release form. This resulted of Karim’s picture being left out of a school project and he didn’t make it to the class picture either. When the case reached the superintendent’s office, the parents were told that this is the only way to completely protect Karim’s privacy.  

As Jessica Baron highlighted in the article Posting about your kids online could damage their future, when it comes to the consent form, we notice a conflict between the parent’s freedom to post and a child’s right to privacy. Since the pictures posted of children become part of their digital footprint, we believe children should have a say regarding this matter. According to psychologists, “When kids get to their early teens, they have a massive change with hormones, a sense of self-awareness and wanting to form their own identity… If their parents are constantly posting, it’s robbing those kids of the opportunity to work out how to express themselves.” A 2016 survey conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan found that while children ages 10 to 17 “were really concerned” about the ways their parents shared their lives online, their parents were far less worried. About three times more children than parents thought there should be rules about what parents shared on social media.” Parents have to work out what’s right for them but be aware that this is another person, another human being, who may not thank them for it in 15 years to come.

Additionally, children’s personal data that comes with oversharing can be misused on social media. Much of the time, students and parents are not aware of its adverse impact of openness and sharing when their personal life is exposed to the public.  Either their parents’ or their own online oversharing could also potentially lead to “online grooming”, which “takes place when someone builds an emotional connection with a child in order to gain the child’s trust for sexual exploitation or abuse, or recruitment to terrorist or extremist causes”. Sharon Kirkey in the article Do you know where your child’s image is? describes the darker side of sharenting. Facebook, Instagram and other social media accounts serve as the perfect place for pedophiles to lift, manipulate and photo-shop children’s pictures posted by their parents. According to one Australian study roughly half of images shared on pedophile sites are taken from social media sites. The idea behind the article is not to silence parents, but to help them be aware of the safety concerns. “A recent study of 152,000 reports to Cybertip found 80% of images and videos involving child sexual abuse involved children under 12. The majority was under age 8, and more than 3% involved babies and toddlers.”

Another reason why we feel openness and sharing is unfair to our kids is the use of Open Educational Resources. Knowing how to read laterally and finding accurate, quality information in a timely manner can be very stressful. When it comes to showcasing learning, in order to be able to show off their performance, students often fall into the trap of plagiarizing and copyright.

Technology in the classroom has even more of an impact when students can continue their ed tech use at home. However, not all students have the same access to technology due to a lack of Internet access and devices. Those students are more likely to fail to complete their homework because they lack a reliable computer or internet connection at home. The limitations caused by the digital divide often make sharing and openness impossible. These barriers cause an ‘opportunity gap’ that can lead to a negative experience when students are trying to apply for further studies or enter the work force. 

One more issue in terms of openness is the unsupervised sharing in our schools. In many schools, students are allowed to use cell phones during lunch break. The main concern is that this is where cyberbullying, sexting, and sharing pictures/ videos without permission happen. The solution to this problem is not to ban the cell phones and forbid sharing but as our peers Skyler and Alyssa suggested, to bring them in the classrooms and teach our ‘digital natives’ through examples to be respectful and responsible digital citizens.

Please check out our Wakelet resource collection and our video why we think openness and sharing in schools are unfair to our kids!

ECI 830 Summary of Learning

Here is my Summary of Learning:

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

Thank you to everyone for an excellent course!

EC&I 830: Summary of Learning

I just want to thank everyone for an incredible class full of sharing, and collaboration. I learned a lot from all of you, and I hope to take many more classes with you in the future. Please enjoy my summary of learning.

Summary of Learning

We made it people!

…and I am still working against my own self interest, even right down to the very last minute.

After input from many of my classmates, including Amy, Curtis, Jasmine and Dean I decided upon challenging myself to create a WeVideo for the first time hoping to really work that “innovative” part of our rubric by exploring the exciting new tools it had to offer. I created an outline (Thanks for the idea Curtis) and I began work on a simple video outlining my key learnings from the course.

I began animating, got lost for almost an entire week in stock pictures and footage, got back on track after some tough (self) love, finished my summary early – aaaaaaand hated it!

Although the key learnings from each debate were important to me, and valuable experiences, I felt as though reducing them to single sentences (after writing thoughtful blogs on each, and reading my classmates thoughtful examinations) just simply didn’t do the learning of this course justice.

Therefore I began again, and opted for a more personal but less impressive option of screen capturing my thoughts on the course over a presentation. I know it’s not exactly innovative, but I felt as though it were easier to simply speak to the content of this course that helped me to grow.

Check out the video below.

I am so grateful to all of my classmates for their contributions to my learning in a course where community is truly curriculum.

Until next time,

The Great EdTech Debate – CHAPTER SEVEN -Educators have a responsibility to use tech and social media to promote social justice.

Phew, what a fantastic way to end the debate portions of this class. When I think of what I wanted out of a course regarding Contemporary Issues in Educational Technology – our last debate topic (Educators have a responsibility to use tech and social media to promote social justice) would be top of mind.

As a participant who choose to argue a topic that I didn’t necessarily ideologically believe in, going into each topic I am always so curious regarding how the team that I picture having the more difficult argument to present – will structure their initial argument. I know that it was difficult for me, and required far more research than I anticipated to argue against my own predisposition.

In light of the current circumstances, and growing amount of educators I know who are using their social media channels to speak out – I (foolishly perhaps) assumed for this debate that Brad and Michala would have a more difficult stance to take. But as we would later find out, our class was very divided on this issue, with a 50/50 split in the initial debate vote. This division was helped along by their reasonable and measured arguments. It’s important to note however that they mostly argued not that teachers should remain completely neutral or silent on all manners of social justice, but that the use of technology and social media in such endeavors was not the correct route to take.

They put a voice to all of the matters I consider myself before pressing “tweet” or even publishing a blog, the concerns we as educators all have about being misunderstood or misrepresented by words on a page. Words void of your inflection, relevant context or your truest intentions.

When you post about a topic that is deeply personal, and you feel passionately about – how do you allow that connection and passion to come through in a limited amount of characters, AND remain professional to the high standards (rightly) applied to educators? That’s not a question I will pretend to have the answer to.

They also spoke to my own concerns in terms of my online engagement and my ability to follow that engagement up with real and meaningful action in terms of the Social Justice issues I consider important.

There is no time like the present as an educator to discuss social justice issues with your students.  The days of unbiased and neutral stances are a challenge and while I believe there is space for that so children can form their own opinions, there are other times when explaining your stance and acting upon it speaks much louder than any words on a post.

Michala Hegi

Although some of this concern was abated after giving one of my favourite journal articles on this topic another read.

While the link between technology and equity may not always be clear, there is evidence that technology is a powerful support for social justice causes. The research is clear: for Millennials, technology — specifically social media — has become a platform for civic engagement. A 2013 Pew study found, among other things, that in the year preceding, a full 67% of 18-24 year olds had taken part in a social media-related political activity, and 43% of all social network users had gone on to learn more about a particular issue after reading about it online (Smith, 2013). Additionally, even online “slacktivism” (less engaged activities such as retweeting and sharing posts) can have a positive effect: a 2015 study determined that “peripheral users in online protest networks may be as important in expanding the reach of messages as the highly committed minority at the core,” that is, the mobilization that is made possible by those outside of the core of the movement plays a key role in spreading and sustaining political movements (Barberá et al., 2015, para. 20).

Katia Hildebrandt (2018) in : Nurturing #TeacherVoice: Why educators’ online
presence matters to educational equity. Texas Education Review, 6(1), 34-38.

When considering the fact that teachers perhaps should not engage in Social Justice work in online spaces, I think that Michala herself sums up what I found to be their strongest and most thought provoking argument in her title of her blog post on the topic: “Teaching Social Justice in Schools Through Personal Connection”.

I do think that Brad and Michala were on to something with their point that difficult topics including discussions on systemic racism, injustice and inequality are a conversation and not a tweet or a post. I believe that Context, empathy, and connection and relationship are essential to the work of anti-racist education.

In terms of the argument in favour of the debate statement, I think it’s obvious that my opinion remains in agreement – despite the pause I was given by the aforementioned “disagree” team and my classmates in our honest and frank discussion.

I feel it’s easiest once again to refer to Katia’s eloquent writing to summarize my thoughts on the topic (especially since I read her words the first time and thought “YES!”).

So why does all of this matter? To be clear, there are many reasons why the nature of teachers’ online presence matters, but perhaps the most important is this: If we as educators are online, and we remain silent about issues of social justice, if we tweet only about educational resources and not about #BlackLivesMatter (which, I would argue, is deeply related to educational inequities and the school to prison pipeline), if we blog only about new tech tools and not the horrific conditions in many of America’s public schools, we are sending a clear message: These issues are not important. Indeed, silence speaks just as loudly as words — the absence of teacher engagement in discussions that relate to equitable education creates what Eisner (1985) described as a null curriculum: an absence or void in what is taught or discussed that carries with it a powerful lesson about what does and does not matter. As educators, we are modeling for our students (and the world) that it is fine to keep our mouths shut about important issues while we are online.

Katia Hildebrandt (2018) in : Nurturing #TeacherVoice: Why educators’ online
presence matters to educational equity. Texas Education Review, 6(1), 34-38.


Thanks for joining me in my musings over Contemporary Issues in Educational Technology.

Use your #TeacherVoice below to tell me how you feel about this topic.

Debate #7: Social Media and Social Justice

June 11th’s debate was on the topic of educators have a responsibility to use tech and social media to promote social justice.  Mike and Jacquie on the agree side, Brad and Michala on the disagree side.  On the prevote, I voted with the agree side of the debate.  However, as a few days have passed I am doing more reflecting on the conversations that have been had.

Mike and Jacquie argued the following points.

  • Equip students with the tools and skills for a more equitable world
  • Challenge, confronts, and disrupts misconceptions, untruths, and stereotypes.
  • Provides students with resources needed to their full potential
  • Draws on all student’s talents and strengths.
  • Promotes critical thinking and supports agency for social change.

Brad and Michala countered with the following.

  • Using students as tiny foot soldiers to push the educator’s own personal agenda.
  • There is a need to stay neutral and get students to use critical thinking to determine for themselves.
  • “Picking fights with people”, and the creation of internet trolls.

The Main Take-Aways

My main take-aways from this debate stemmed from the important conversations that we are had in our group conversation.  For me, the conversation is in two different places.  The role of teachers using social media for social justice.  As well as the role of educators using social media with students for social justice.

Role of Teachers Using Social Media for Social Justice

In the blogpost, Teachers Must Hold Themselves Accountable for Dismantling Racial Oppression, Kelisa Wang states, “educators have a responsibility to hold themselves responsible, and hold others mutually accountable to repair of our country and race relations”.  Although the article focuses on race relations in the United States, I believe that we have a responsibility as educators in Canada to reconcile and abide by the calls to action within the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Social media can be a way that we can help to reflect and share some of those learnings and steps towards reconciliation. Kelisa Wang provides three ways that we as educators can change the narrative.

  1. Holding ourselves individually and mutually accountable – Educators need to say something when they see it.  As a person with the privilege, we need to challenge everyday bias head-on.
  2. Ensuring representation is at the forefront – Challenge to ensure that people who are not currently at the table are represented on your committee.
  3. Caring about more than ourselves – This is not about personal merit.  It is about representing and providing equity for those who do not have the privilege.

I do believe that teachers need to responsible for using social media and social justice.  However, it needs to be done thoughtfully as we have all seen the impact of someone who has been someone who was attacked by someone with an opposing view.  Eductors do have a responsibility to do this work beyond social media.  Educators have to do the work of educating ourselves about the impacts of colonialism and racism.

Role of Teachers Using Social Media with Students for Social Justice

In the TedTalk video Social Justice Belongs in Our Schools, which was shared as one of the viewings, Sydney Chaffee said it best, “We don’t just teach subjects, we teach people”.  We want our students to become active citizens.  When I was in the classroom, I was mindful to empower students to articulate their own opinions. Chaffee stated the importance of teaching multiple perspectives of history.  I think this is key.  We need to have representation in our classroom, diverse literature, furthermore decolonizing our libraries.  However, the key is to “empower students to articulate their own opinions.” Much of the work of teaching social justice is rooted already in the curriculum. We have opportunities to have these meaningful conversations and essential key learnings, but we need to provide multiple perspectives and multiple narratives.

Do we use social media to teach these narratives?  I personally don’t think social media is the correct approach to teaching social justice.  As I said above:

  • Multiple perspectives, and narratives
  • Allow students to form their own opinions
  • Representation in the classroom
  • Effective teaching of social justice within the curriculum.

In Conclusion

Do educators have a role to play personally when it comes to social media and social justice?  Yes, they do.  But do they have a responsibility to move beyond social justice and social media? Absolutely.  Whether or not educators are posting on social media, the importance is that they are doing to work beyond social media.  Listening, reading, and learning.

Do educators use social media as a means to teach students about social justice? Not necessarily.  Chaffee states the goal is working for justice, and it can create the following: As educators, let’s do the work of diversifying and decolonizing our work.  It is our responsibility to shoulder this work.


Great Ed Tech Debate: Educators have a responsibility to use tech and social media to promote social justice

Teachers to what extent should play a role in using tech and social media to promote social justice is definitely a controversial topic. Mike and Jacquie representing the Agree side, just as the article Should all educators have a professional social media presence? Yes, underline the importance of educators teaching students about how social media influences learning and modelling its effective use in order to help students become ‘enlightened and empowered learners’.

Mike and Jacquie also encourage teachers that instead of being a ‘silent participant’ they should take the role of a person with perspective when it comes to teaching social justice. Sonia Nieto along with her colleague Patty Bode, define social justice as both a “philosophy and actions that embody treating all people with fairness, respect, dignity, and generosity“. She describes four major components of social justice in education:

  • Challenges, confronts and disrupts misconceptions, untruths and stereotypes.
  • Provides students with resources needed to their full potential.
  • Draws on all students talents and strengths.
  • Promotes critical thinking and supports agency for social change.

After the debate, I feel there is no question wether teachers should teach social justice or not. I agree with Christina that “educators have always had the job to nurture and guide students to become positive leaders in our communities” and the Pro side describing that the educator’s job is to “empower students to create their own opinion”.

But when it comes to wether or not to use social media to promote social justice, I am more leaning towards the Disagree side represented by Michala and Brad who believe in the importance of teaching social justice, but they also think that educators should be neutral and should use social media wisely.

According to the article Must Teachers be “Neutral”? teachers are encouraged to let students make informed decisions for themselves” otherwise, “rather than think, many students will merely agree with the teacher.” Teaching students that there are multiple views and different viewpoints will help raise critical thinkers. I think sharing personal views openly on social media makes people more vulnerable, especially if they contradict the ideology represented by their schools. As Amy mentioned when her school participated in the Pride Day, there was a push back from the parents. Having multicultural schools with various religions and beliefs, schools need to respect the families’ cultural background.

At the end of EC&I 830 class based on debates, I think this would be a great way to teach social justice to students. A great example for this is described in the article The power of teacher neutrality, where the teacher instead of correcting the student when he made the statement that a car is a living thing, opened up the conversation to the classroom and made it into a great learning experience. Students had the opportunity for deep thinking, develop debating skills, collect data, refine the definition of living things and practice defending their ideas and beliefs. They ended up making a more detailed description of living things and learnt more about cars as well. By doing research, students can see both sides of each story that helps them be critical thinkers and make their own informed decisions. I wouldn’t feel comfortable enforcing my own ‘social agenda’ on anybody, especially knowing that everything students post will become part of their digital footprint that can be easily twisted haunting them later on in life. Time and place definitely play a big role when it comes to deciding whether or not to stand up for particular social justice issues on social media. Certainly my childhood experience and hearing Altan’s story make me be more cautious …

Thank you for reading my last reflection on the current issues in educational technology! 🙂