It is done! When I decided to take this class, I intended to know how educators use technology for educational purposes. Many ideas showed up arguing that technology is a double-edged weapon. After all, I believe now it is educators’ responsibility to decide what, when and how to wisely use technology in the school system. I really appreciate my instructor’s debate method to keep us interactive with the content. I also thank my classmates for bringing up their experiences and visions to this class.
Learning Summary video link:
Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlUC3XXw7LM
Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQvd7U9Mryg
Technology can also be very costly, which means not everyone will have equal access to it and when provided with “free” or “reduced rates” users may only be able to get the basics. Lately, I have noticed that many technology apps that myself and my fellow teachers use have started to charge a cost or up their prices. However, there are some companies that are working to help make technology access more equitable. Flipgrid and Microsoft recently worked together to announce that the app Flipgrid will now be free for all and this includes all of their features.
Some other points that the disagree side shared was some of the sexism, racism, harassment, threats and abuse that occur online. Now I agree that this is horrible, I don’t believe that technology is to blame. These issues have been around long before technology and are more of a reflection of society than of technology.
Overall, I feel am with the agree side that technology can be used to help create equity. The agree side pointed out that technology can remove barriers, especially when used to help students using assistive technology. Benetech shares in that “assistive technology tools, are unlocking the world of content and knowledge for students with learning disabilities“. In my own classroom I have seen the power these tools have for students. It allows them to show what they learn in a variety of ways and provides opportunities for content at their level to help them be successful. When a student who struggles with reading is able to have content read to them or a student who struggles with writing can use a tool that will transcribe, it opens up the world of learning to them.
Technology can also remove the barrier of cost and open education can allow for anyone the opportunity to learn. As the agree side pointed out open access education allows for free and flexible learning. My favourites of these types of education is Khan Academy. Not only does Khan academy provide videos for learning it also allows for some practice work for students to apply what they have learned.
I just can’t believe that our time together is almost over and how fast this semester was and now, I am actually summarizing it and sharing my journey in ECI830 on Contemporary Issues in Educational Technology. This course was very different from the other courses I have taken with Alec. I found the debate format very engaging and an exciting way to learn. I wanted to take this course because I love technology and I think it is very important in education. As educators, I think It is very important for us to understand the issues influencing and affecting educational technology and this course would help me to dig deep into the various questions. Every week in our great Ed Tech debate we discussed different issues pertaining around educational technology. Each topic was thought-provoking. and the whole course of the debate took me deep into the topic and the issue. Listening to the agree and disagree team’s arguments gave me an insight of issues on both sides which aided my learning process
It was a great learning experience and collaborating with everyone made it more interesting and I gained an enormous amount of information. I would like to thank each and every one of you as you have all contributed to this great learning experience. Every week I was very excited to learn alongside everyone, reading your views gave me a different perspective on each topic and your comments inspired me, I look forward to working with everyone again. Thank ’s to Dr. Alec Couros and my fellow classmates for this extraordinary semester of insight encouragement and growth. Now, let me take you through my journey while I summarize my learning, I hope you like my video.
As we approach the end of EC&I 830, I’d like to thank my fellow classmates for their excellent collaboration throughout. You have all given me inspiration to become a better teacher. Your blogs have induced in me new ways of thinking. You have stimulated in me increased critical thinking and made me into a much more reflective teachers. I highly value your work and look forward to perhaps crossing paths with some of you in the future. Thank you again.
P.S. Please forgive my francophone pronunciation in my summary of learning. I don’t often use many of these word in English and I seem to be having trouble putting the right emphasis on the right syllables.
…it’s been a slice! Thanks so much for everything this semester as we worked through some pretty heavy course material. Every debate was a nail biter and I was grateful for the opportunity to explore the other side of topics I thought I was sure on. You’re expertise and time was so appreciated. To Alec, thank you for the support and guidance as I worked through another one of your courses – I can’t thank you enough for the chance to directly transfer what I learn in your class, into my own life and classroom. It has made schooling so relevant and practical.
Below is my official “Summary of Learning”. I have VLOGGED my way through the course sharing what I feel like are highlights from each debate! Enjoy.
I really struggled with picking a side on this debate because I think the bigger issues of racism, poverty, sexism, location and politics are so prevalent that it’s hard to stay on topic! Congrats to both groups on making the last debate so interesting. Sapna, Dawn and Jen took on Rakan and Amy to argue, “that technology is a force for equity”.
First, let’s look at disagree group’s opening statement:
Their main points included 3 topics that really addressed deep issues rooted sexism, racism and colonialism that are embedded in the technologies were seeking out. In the article, “Tech has Become Another Way for Men to Oppress Women” it points out that the voices of many of the management systems you can purchase are women’s voices – why? That many of the large technology corporations are still a boy’s club and that many online outlets and social media sites continue to be hunting grounds for harassment. Rakan and Amy pointed out HUGE biases in facial recognition software that have racist bias built in – meaning that the technologies do not recognize certain races or accents so the programs don’t function as they should. Finally, they looked at the idea of colonialism in technology using the example of Facebook internet in developing countries – although people would be connected, and in turn bridging the divide, they are exposed to western ideology through adverts and directed media. We start to get into the “white savior” idea and then the bridge that was created is burned. All of these points are so incredibly valid and were not where my mind first went when this topic was presented.
Okay, let’s check the agree side’s opening statement:
This team made many great points about technology and how it does in fact equal the playing field in society. Some of the stand outs for me were the idea that, assistive technology helps balance and equalize your classroom by allowing students with disabilities function more similarly to their classmates, that almost anyone should be able to find access to some technology with access to the library and free wifi, not to mention, that you don’t necessarily have to the best of the technology, you can get creative to offer your class the opportunity! Check out this youtube video if you want to know more. Finally, there are so many OER’s available now that people can receive high quality, legitimate education online at the click of the mouse. They point out that these education resources help equalize the divide between who can afford post secondary and who can’t or just don’t have physical access.
This was a really hard week for me to choose a winner because of the over arching, yet under lying issues embedded throughout the conversation. However, I will select the agree group as the winner this week WITH ONE CONCESSION – we need to continue the conversation of how we can eliminate or at least address the colonial viewpoints and opinions that run through our day to day regardless of whether the technology is helping to equalize the educational playing field.
As my classmate Sapna brings up to conclude her post this week, “Finally, we have to understand that the power of education is to bring equity in the society and technology aid’s that belief. Technology surely has the potential to enable solutions to some of the most pressing problems the world is facing today and now it is up to us to decide how to embrace it.” Technology is not the bad guy, our personal bias and belief systems can hurt how the technology is created and the companies selling the pieces can inhibit who is able to purchase it, but the technology itself is just one small piece in a large pot of issues.
Thanks for reading, and again, thank you for the important debate this week.
The words equity and equality are often used when it comes to education or technology. Some might argue that equity is that everyone gets the same and another could say that it is making sure individuals get what they ‘need’ so as to level the playing field. Of course, there are also conflicting opinions in the field of technology. So here we were Me, Jenand Dawn arguing that Technology is a force of equity in the society. Going into the debate I was enthusiastic and slightly a bit anxious because it was my first open debate and the disagree team had some very convincing and great points. The debate was a lot of fun and I learned so much from listening to the disagree team’s perspectives but it didn’t change my perspective and I fully agree to our stand that technology is a force of equity in the society.
As a team, we focused on how technology has removed many of the barriers people face in the past. What was unimaginable in the past is practical and common today, how connected the world today is and how it has revolutionized communication and bridged the digital divide. Technology has contributed a lot to promote equity in the society and yet sometimes it is blamed and made a scapegoat. Why blame the technology when we as a user and people who are responsible to deliver it in an appropriate was have failed? We don’t have the will to deliver it in a right way which in return creates conflicting opinions about the technology. The article 6 Ways Technology Is Breaking Barriers To Social Change narrates how technology is changing the world from artificial intelligence to big data to the ubiquity of smartphones, but many working to change society are just starting to understand how to harness tech forces for good. When we are at the phase of understanding to harness these tech forces in the right way, we should not jump to the conclusion that technology is creating inequality in the society.
The disagree team did a great job and came up with some thought-provoking statements and facts. They stated that technology is designed in ways to promote gender inequality, racial inequality, digital colonialism and economic inequality but it was hard for me to agree to this and to be honest as Esthersays in her blog post even I never took the time to really think about how technology can actually promote inequality! Their perspective kept me thinking on how can something(technology) so radical and innovative be so narrow? And as Daniel states in his post, even I think that no issue related to technology or its application in society is black or white. There are always nuances related to how technology influences people and society.
However, Technology has done wonders in the field of education. It has been a medium to reach even the unreachable students. Web-based platforms have allowed us to remotely replace or facilitate many interactive processes such as purchases, booking appointments, and banking activities, buying flight tickets etc. Getting an education online is the next frontier for web-based convenience, and there are a number of reasons why this is an effective and attractive platform. In her ted talk video Daphne Koller a professor of computer science at Stanford University and a co-founder of Courseraexplains how College education has traditionally been a privilege reserved for society’s elite, she narrates the advent of the Internet which has torn down barriers to education, allowing the world’s citizens to access higher education online for free. She explains how online classes can provide a “real class experience.” Students receive grades on homework assignments and earn a certificate upon successful completion of a course. The structure of online courses guarantees student engagement and
interaction. Finally, she states how free online courses elevate education to a human right. Education for all would unleash boundless creativity for innovation and support lifelong learning. The article How OER Is Boosting School Performance and Equity From the Suburbs to the Arctic is another example and speaks of how Open educational resources bringing Equity in education. The article narrates a story of Kotzebue, a village in Northern Alaska, which knows the meaning of “challenge” when it comes to education. With the help of OER, school districts adapted content to meet their local needs, maximize education budgets and ensured access to resources and educational rigor. By being able to serve all student whatever their race, gender, ethnicity, language, disability, family background, or family income OER supported the goal of educational equity
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), Open Education and Open educational resources, Virtual classrooms and many such technological benefits are leveling the educational playground. There was a time where one was supposed to get this education and knowledge by enrolling to the expensive educational institutions, it was reachable for only privileged class, but today the whole educational arena has changed, the concept of open education and open educational resources has revolutionized the field of education, it has replaced the traditional classroom and made education free, affordable, Flexible and accessible to all.
Accessibility: Open Education allows students to take courses at their own convenience, on their own time and place. Open learning systems are very effective and importantly Accessible when compared to its traditional counterparts. The rich resources in online communities help students to overcome hurdles. Open education has attracted many students who were very unlikely to gain higher education.
Affordability: The word free attracts everyone and in my view, the concept of free education is best served by open education. There are hundreds of lecture hours
Flexibility: Open education offers students the flexibility to choose what to learn and when to learn and how much to learn, in return putting them in control.
UNESCOalso believes and states that universal access to high-quality education is key to the building of peace, sustainable social and economic development, and intercultural dialogue. Open Educational Resources (OER) provide a strategic opportunity to improve the quality of education as well as facilitate policy dialogue, knowledge sharing, and capacity building. Technology and Internet are constantly expanding and it can accommodate everyone irrespective of race, culture, socioeconomic status and break barriers. Equity means giving each student access to the resources they need to learn and flourish and technology serves that purpose and acts as a force of equity in the society.
Finally, we have to understand that the power of education is to bring equity in the society and technology aid’s that belief. Technology surely has the potential to enable solutions to some of the most pressing problems the world is facing today and now it is up to us to decide how to embrace it.
Just this week it hit me that I have come to more than just the end of this class but the end of my time spent in classes taught by Alec and it feels a little weird to know this will be my last summary of learning! I’ve been lucky enough to have the opportunity to take all 5 grad classes offered by Alec throughout my program and I have to say, if you are new to your degree and passionate about educational technology, take them ALL! They’ve changed how I run my classroom and how I think about preparing my students for their future!
Without further ado, my summary for #eci830…
This summer I will finish up my Masters degree and I am thinking come the Fall I will be feeling a little lost without blogs to read, twitter to check and posts to write… don’t worry too much, I am sure I will find something to spend my time on!
The last week of EC&I 830 has arrived and I am happy with my growth as a learner and educator. I was also pleasantly surprised to learn that I have been implementing a lot of the educational technology ideas mentioned throughout the course. But there are many practices I have not been implementing, like seeking student consent and permission to post online and only relying on a parent/guardian signed media release.
After reflecting on my current use of technology in education, I made the realization that sometimes I resort to substitution or replacement models. It’s not always intentional, but could be because it is easy and what has always been done. An example are the very fancy projectors that were installed in my school this year. While we had training on the various capabilities and functions (touch screen, whiteboard, saving images, etc. – similar to a SMART Board), I often found that function would not work when I needed it, so I stuck with using the tool simply as a data projector. There is nothing worse than trying to get technology to work in a room full of students, breaking the engagement and losing focus. But, one day in the fall I decide to do a little research (thanks, Google and YouTube!) and really figure out how to use the projector, including an app that could be downloaded on my phone to act as a document camera or tool to share images directly to the board. Now with my knowledge of the TPACK and SAMR models, I am excited to use this example of technology in more innovative and exciting ways. It is as simple as taking the time to learn about the tool myself before implementing with my students.
As I reflect on the course, “Contemporary Issues in Educational Technology”, it has been apparent to me that the issues in educational technology continue to change very quickly. With the rise of new apps, devices and technology access for young people, our roles as educators are constantly evolving. Some common themes that have been woven throughout the class discussions and debates for me:
-the importance of teaching digital citizenship
-thinking of technology as a tool
-teacher roles are shifting to the role of a facilitator
-we must teach critical thinking skills and technology can be used to assist this teaching
-technology can enhance student learning by promoting engagement and help with motivation
-educating students and families about how to create a positive digital footprint and identity online with appropriate safety and privacy measures.
I have learned a lot throughout this course, but I most excited to take away fresh and innovative technology ideas to incorporate in my teaching. It is important to continue to focus on safety and building a positive presence online. Since students have easy access to technology all the time, our role as educators is to teach students and families proper digital citizenship and how to build positive digital identities.
For my summary of learning, I decided that the best way to share my learning as an Arts Education teacher is through song. At the beginning of the course, I tried to use images “fairly” in videos and blog posts, but I simply relied on the fact that it was for “educational purposes” to justify my choices. Our class discussion in the Google Plus community made me realize that I maybe don’t quite understand all the ins and outs of fair use. One of my classmates, Brooke referred to Common Sense Media in her blog post, and after a bit of Twitter following and searching on YouTube, I found this great video from Common Sense Education:
I wanted my final project to fall into fair use guidelines, so I composed my own song (lyrics and music) and used my nieces and nephews to create a music video to go along with the song. This allowed me to talk about consent and permission with their parents and the kids – explaining how the videos would be used. They were pretty excited about the idea, and I used it as an opportunity to practice how to explain building positive digital footprints for Kindergarten to Grade 9 students. Thank you to Sarah (15), James (12), Claire (7), Ella (6) and Patrick (6) for helping me create the video!
This week in EC&I 830, two teams argued the statement:
Technology is a force for equity in society
The general consensus during our class discussion was that Team Disagree had a tough side to argue as nearly two thirds of the class sided with Team Agree. That being said, Team Disagree raised some very valid and important points in their opening and closing statements and rebuttal.
The image below is the first thing I thought about when I read the debate statement. Equal distribution and use of technology will not work in our society – it can’t be a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Instead, equitable distribution and access to technology is required to have positive and successful integration of technology. Therefore I completely agree with the debate statement this week, provided there is equal opportunities for all.
Although my ‘agree’ opinion did not change before or after the debate, my eyes were opened to some of the negative aspects of technology and equity in society. One of the points Team Disagree focused part of their opening statement on is the issue of gender inequality in the technology world. In one of the suggested articles, technology is considered another avenue for men to oppress women. In fact, many women have come together to reveal the sexist culture in Silicon Valley tech and venture capital firms.
The article also expresses the idea that, “we have to challenge the presumption that it (the workplace) is neutral and allow women to reach their potential in workplaces where they feel safe and respected”. I have never really considered the idea that technology can be biased against women, but it does make sense. I know I don’t question the fact that certain tools like Siri are set to a woman’s voice. Although you can change this in the settings, it is interesting that the default is often a female voice. As the article describes, we need to have a neutral technological system for gender and social equality.
The term “digital colonialism” showcases one way that our society is not making technology equitable across different socio-economic groups. Instead of giving these groups “internet” (like Free Basics) that pushes certain messages or propaganda, Biddle explains that we need to fix, “the barriers to internet access (which) include signal availability, device ownership, education, digital literacy and electricity”.
Finally, bringing the technology access closer to home, a Huffington Post article explores access to internet in Canada. The Canadian Internet Registration Authority’s 2014 Factbook (CIRA) states that while 95 percent of Canadians in the highest income bracket are connected to the internet only 62 percent in the lowest income bracket have internet access. Some communities in Canada (like Nunavut) only have 27 percent of communities with internet access. Unfortunately, the CIRA explains that Canada has no national strategy to improve access, speed and prices.
Team Disagree made some very good points in their rebuttal that for technology to be equitable in society, internet should not be a luxury. It needs to be affordable and accessible to everyone and we need to redesign systems that discriminate against social status, gender and race. All this being said, technology is here to stay, so we need to find a way to make it equal and fair for everyone. This issues raised in Team Disagree’s argument are a great starting point for how we can improve technology to be an even better force for equity in our society.
Team Agree opened their argument by suggesting that technology has achieved a lot in our society, like removing barriers (ex. helping people read) and connecting the world (ex. real time video chat). Most importantly, they focused on the idea that technology is not the problem and neither is the “digital divide”.
In my own experiences and those expressed by my classmates during our class discussion, we have seen how technology can help remove learning barriers for students in schools. A big discussion took place on how one school division (my division) redistributed technology across all schools for equitable use among students. During my short career so far, I have only taught in community and lower socio-economic background schools. The equitable distribution plan has been crucial in my teaching and use of technology, because many of my students do not have access to reliable internet and technology at home. It has also affected how I prepare lessons and assignments, as I have to assume that students will be able to complete assignments with technology at school, but not necessarily at home.
Some students have an assigned laptop (assistive technology) that follows them throughout their school career. As a teacher, I know that I can design instruction that will allow these students to have the most success because they are guaranteed to use the assigned technology to help with their learning experience. An example is the ‘Read&Write for Google Chrome‘ extension that is used throughout my division. This tool has a variety of options including reading text to the student, dictation and simplifying text which has been extremely valuable with students who have reading difficulties. A couple of years ago I taught in a school with a high EAL population, and ‘Read&Write’ helped my students (with a variety of English speaking and reading levels) to achieve their learning goals.
Another reason I agreed with the argument is the availability and affordability of online education. A few great examples provided by Team Agree include Open Education Courses (OEC), Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), Open Education Resources (OER) and Virtual Classrooms. The suggested article explores that a process that is helping share knowledge is, “the use of ‘open education resources’ (OER) – freely available, high-quality materials that can be downloaded, edited and shared to support teaching and learning.” Team Agree explains that open education is based on fairness (among gender, socio-economic status and ethnic origin) and inclusion (a basic minimum standard of education should be available to everyone).
During my B.E.A.D. program (Bachelor of Education After Degree) at the University of Regina, I was able to complete my program in a shorter time period and maintain working nearly full time by taking courses through Athabasca University. This was my first experience with online education, and I do admit that it was a challenge at first. I found that by not having classmate interaction and only assignments to complete that I needed a lot of self-discipline to stay on track. I eventually figured out the time management piece and overall felt that the experience was positive.
My first “blended learning” course was for Standard First Aid. The course required completion of online modules and quizzes prior to attending a one-day in class session. This is a great model as it allows for a deeper understanding of the information and can then be applied in person during the one-day course. I enjoyed this experience as it did not take up my entire weekend and I could work on the modules at my own pace and schedule. My husband is currently enrolled in professional development learning through his work. The course started with a one-week intensive in person to dive into the course material with the instructors and other classmates. He then has one year to complete a variety of modules and assignments through an online portal. There is continuous contact with course instructors and motivation to complete the coursework with an online course community.
And of course, EC&I 830 is my first “blended learning” web based academic course. I think one of the benefits of this being an educational technology course is that there is lots of engagement online through blog comments, Google Plus community, Twitter and of course, our weekly Zoom sessions. This keeps the motivation for learning and completing course work in a timely fashion, something I struggled with in my Athabasca courses.
This brings me to the point raised by Team Agree that the concept of open education has revolutionized the learning classroom and allowed for digital inclusion. Instead of referring to a digital divide, the term inclusion was used to reframe the divided in a more positive way. This can be achieved with equal and equitable access, affordability and a mindset to embrace the digital world.
A Forbes article explains that many advocates believe that digital technology has the potential to expand access to education to underserved children around the world. In 2015, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan called technology the new platform for learningat the annual South by Southwest conference and said, “technological competency is a requirement for entry into the global economy”. For this to happen, we need to increase equity for children and communities that are historically underserved, and one way is through digital technology. This solution almost seems too easy – to help poverty stricken communities have better education, all we need to do is supply the students with technology! An example is the “digital school in a box” provided by the Vodafone Foundation, which supplies a laptop and 25 tablets pre-loaded with educational software to a refugee settlement in Kenya. I think this is an awesome initiative and it is great to see organizations looking for ways to support education around the world. But in reality, it is a band-aid fix – as it is only a temporary solution to a problem. What happens when the technology is out of date? What about all the other underserved areas in that community? Or the underserved areas in our own country?
The increase of technology and the digital world has give many different groups around the world a chance for better education. I completely agree that technology is a force for equity in society, but the complicated part is how technology is distributed and used. I think this is still a learning process and we will continue to see many trial initiatives as possible solutions to the complicated issues of technology access. By being aware of the issues raised by Team Disagree (like inequality among different gender, race and socio-economic groups), we can continue to improve distribution, access and affordability of technology to remove the digital divide. Technology is here to stay and grow, so it is society’s responsibility to search for solutions that close the accessibility gap. Both teams presented great arguments this week which served as a reminder that issues that existed before technology will continue to take place with technology use. As educators, we must continue to focus on teaching digital citizenship to develop positive online identities. As members of society, we need to rally for equal and equitable technology access in our communities.