Category Archives: edtech

Equality and Equity in the Digital World

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.

IISC_EqualityEquity.png
A classic illustration of equality vs equity

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.

download

Often a barrier for technology is limited access in some developing countries and poverty stricken areas. Facebook created Free Basics, a limited internet service for developing markets, (which) is neither serving local needs nor achieving its objective of bringing people online for the first time. Maybe the intention of this service was meant to be a great solution for developing areas that do not have internet access, but instead it narrows what users can access and search for online.  Ellery Biddle, the advocacy director of Global Voices says, “It’s building this little web that turn the user into a mostly passive consumer of mostly western corporate content. That’s digital colonialism.”

3588.jpg
Protesters against Facebook’s Free Basics service

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”.

c85cbf32-1e40-48ef-8c14-7629d8c943c1.jpg

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.

blended-learning-graphic2

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 learning at 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.

Until next time,

@Catherine_Ready

Is openness and sharing in our schools a good thing?

This week during EC&I 830, two teams debated the statement

Openness and sharing in our schools is unfair to our kids

Initially, I fully disagreed with the statement because I think that it is openness and sharing that makes this era of education exciting and unique. Through Twitter, blogs and Youtube, I have been able to connect with parents and students and share what goes on in the classroom. As expressed by Team Disagree, sharing promotes connectivity and is the reality of today’s childhood experience. We have all this cool technology nowadays, so why wouldn’t we use it?

edtechpic_med

This is the point when I begin to realize that maybe technology and sharing in the classroom is not always so great. Team Agree explained in their opening statement that sharing in schools is not always negative.  But then they asked the question, “Are we being ethically fair and responsible with the amount of sharing?”

This question gives educators a chance to reflect on how we ask for parent/guardian permission to post photos of their children on the Internet. One of the suggested articles states,

“The challenge for schools is to balance their (and parents’) desire to publicize the great things that are happening in their organizations with their responsibilities to protect children and satisfy parental concerts about student privacy and safety”.

At my school (and schools in my division), a ‘media release’ form goes home at the beginning of the year that asks parents/guardians for permission to distribute photos, video, use a variety of social media platforms, etc.  My school has created a culture of sharing and celebrating student successes through social media, and we are very aware of which students can or cannot be included. In my role, I teach every student in the entire school, so I very quickly figured out which students I can include in my photos and videos at the beginning of the year. In past years I have a tried to use a blog to share what is going on in the Arts Ed classroom, but I have found that Twitter is a lot easier for quick sharing AND has the bonus of engaging with families and other educators.

screen-shot-2015-12-03-at-22820-pmpng

But, Team Agree then made me realize that when I post images on Twitter of students and student work, I am basing my decision on whether or not a media release form has been signed by the parent/guardian.  I rarely ask the student if I can post their image on my Twitter account – a discussion of permission usually only takes place when an older student expresses that they do not want their photo taken or posted anywhere. Upon reflection, I feel like I am doing a disservice to my students by not explaining the rationale for a post or including the students in the decision. I didn’t even think about the fact that these students will inherit a digital footprint that they had no part in creating.

18519959-vector-oops-symbol.jpg

When did the sharing culture shift to feeling like we have the right to post any picture on social media simply because it was a photo taken by the poster? In the early days of social media, I remember asking my sister if I could post certain images of my nieces and nephews, but now it isn’t even a conversation. A BBC poll showed that 70% of adults believe it is not okay to post photos of anyone else, including children, without permission, and 56% of parents avoid ever posting images online.  I think that if were to take this same poll, I would agree with these statements. But in reality, my practices do not reflect my opinion.

So, something needs to change. A good piece of advice by a spokeswoman for the NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) urges parents to consider the fact that “each time a photo or video is uploaded, it creates a digital footprint of a child which can follow them into adult life”. 

There is a lot of good advice in this suggested article  like parents should advocate digital consent and ownership so they can help teach their children to value it as well. Another campaign is the #talkb4sharing movement which asks parents to talk to their children before posting their images online. While this is directed towards parents, educators could use similar practices to encourage consent among their students.

C3I3cMBVcAAH5QU.jpg

(As a side note, Team Agree really struck a nerve when they discussed the fact that any innocent photo could be used by Internet predators. In fact, 50% of images posted on child pedophile sites were sourced from parent social media profiles. Shudder)

Where do we go from here? The first step is to think before we share.

think

Team Disagree helped calm my mind a bit and helped me to remember my original opinion that I think openness and sharing among our students is a good thing. In one of the suggested journal articles, the benefits of social media in education are explored and how it can be used to promote student engagement. Certain web-based applications can simplify the communication among students, between student and teacher and with parent and teacher. One could also note the negatives of this easy communication, especially with parent-teacher communication.  Boundaries are necessary so the ability to be in constant communication is not abused.

An exciting point about social media in education is that is fosters collaboration and allows students to work together to achieve a common goal. Recently, my students participated in an activist art project with students in both RPS and RCS school divisions. We connected on Twitter using the hashtag, #YQRActivistArt as an outlet to share our work. While it was not used by a lot of schools, the hope was that it would be used to engage our students and see what other groups in the city were doing to create socially aware art projects.  Collaborative learning is meaningful for students and social media is one way to let students share and express their ideas.

Finally, Team Disagree helped me realize that, yes we need to be aware of what we post about our students online, but we have an opportunity to help our students build and keep a positive digital identity 

The EdTek White Paper explains that educators are very important in building students’ understanding about how technology can impact personal and future professional lives. Educators have a responsibility to teach our students how to create habits that will lead to a positive online identity. The article uses ISTE standards to provide recommendations and questions to help students:

  1. What info am I sharing?
  2. How secure is it?**
  3. Whom am I sharing it with?
  4. What am I leaving behind?
  5. What are my rights?

**Security online is expressed using the STEP method:

step

Our role as educators is to give students the skills they need to protect themselves online and create a positive digital footprint.

Let me reflect on the debate statement again:

Openness and sharing in our schools is unfair to our kids

download

I feel like the debate this week took me on an emotional roller coaster. First I disagreed with the statement, then Team Agree made me fear and question my teaching practices. Am I bad educator for not asking my students their permission to post photos? And what about the gross idea that pedophiles could be taking these images? But then Team Disagree calmed my nerves a bit and reminded me that openness and sharing in our schools promotes engagement and collaboration.  As a responsible educator, it is my job to inform and teach students ways to create a positive digital footprint and to help students understand consent and permission to post photos and work online.  I can do this by modelling good online behaviour and discussing sharing online with my students. I still have a lot of work to do in these areas and intend to implement some of the good sharing practices shared by both teams.

 

Until next time,

@Catherine_Ready

Openness In Education Reality Check

This week’s debate really made me think.  I started somewhere in the middle; on one side, sharing is a fantastic opportunity for our students to learn important practices, share their accomplishments, and interact with other like-minded people around the globe.  On the other hand, sharing can create a lot of issues with privacy, as well as cyber-bullying and consent to use specific photos posted online. This dynamic created a lot of debate in our class this week, and honestly a lot of debate in my own head.  g

Whenever the ideas of privacy laws and practices come up, it can be a very controversial and scary idea. What if what we post is wrong? What if we get in trouble? Can I lose my job for this? There are no shortage of horror stories out there to scare teachers into 6.gifnever posting a single thing on the internet again; class or non-class related.  I too, often think and rethink what I share online about my students, which to be honest is very limited. Beyond team, athletic, and grad photos, I hardly post about my students online. Everything remains nameless and it is almost always acelebration of accomplishments.

I think the biggest struggle I had with this week’s debate was a lot of the focus was on the
elementary stand-point and teaching young students how to be responsible online.  What should you post?  What shouldn’t you post?  A lot of conversations circled around the idea of parents being super involved with their child’s tech use and also the teacher helicopter-parent-main-imageoverseeing the practices. Seesaw, I’ve learned, is a great tool to engage parents and create important conversations with kids at home.  This technology is awesome because it can often bridge the gap between school and home life.  However, there is the down side of over-involvement of parents and the idea of “helicoptering.”  In fact, Robyn Treyvaud states in her article, Dangers of Posting Pictures Online, that “more than 1 in 4 children admit to feeling worried, embarrassed, or anxious when their parents post photos of them on social media,” which goes beyond the idea of hovering or helicoptering.  I know many of my friends are having children right now and seriously, the amount of “baby spam” I see in a day is ridiculous and the consequences can be even more serious!  It’s something I don’t think my generation really understands, making it even more important for the next generation to comprehend!  What parents post, even at a very young age, can affect a child’s mental health later on in life?  It begs the questions, do you want the whole world to see a baby photo of you?

I think both sides of the debate did a fantastic job of making their case!  When it comes to my world in a high school, photos, technology and phones are everywhere.  We even have a school Snapchat and Instagram account run by the Spirit Committee, run by a print screen.pngcouple of awesome teachers!  My students are on their phones constantly; I use Remind 101 to contact students and my athletes for various things like deadlines, practice changes, or just general reminders for the next day.  It allows my students to connect me as well without directly having my phone number. I also use Google Classroom for all the students’ homework, assignments, deadlines, and I also used it for Track and Field this year – creating an online platform for athletes to access permission forms, schedules, dates, and results.  It worked fantastically and never thought twice about using these online platforms with my students. However, everything I use and do online is “private.” I’m not sharing student photos to the internet, not posting on Twitter about our interactive activities, and although I feel my students are safe because of this, maybe I’m not properly preparing them for the online world?

gc.png
My Google Classroom!

I feel like it is my responsibility to help teach and guide my students through this online world they have become accustomed to.  I loved Amy’s point this week: “We need to stop
telling students how to live, but instead empower them to make the correct decisions regarding technology. We want students who use their powers for good, we do not want passive students.  Teachers can have an influence.
”  I think especially at the high school
level, students need to be empowered and use technology for good, like Amy said, instead of being the passive “likers” online.

Randi Zuckerberg stated in his article that, “technology and the world around us is evolving so quickly that even children a few years apart may experience two very different forms of childhood.” And I think this couldn’t be more true.  I know my childhood was vastly different than kids today and even looking at my current students.  I graduated high school nine years ago, and THINGS HAVE CHANGED.  EVERYTHING HAS CHANGED! I think it’s important that we don’t shut down these differences and Online-Worldinstead we embrace them, because if we don’t, they we run the risk of not helping our students be successful in the outside world. Their world is online, and it will continue to be for the rest of their lives.  They need to learn how to adapt and post appropriately online and protect themselves.  It lends itself to the idea that we cannot protect our students by banning the internet or posting pictures online because what is that teaching them?  They will rebel, and in turn post inappropriately online because they were never taught, nor was it modeled for them.

7.gif

I think digital literacy and creating a positive digital footprint is incredibly important for students.  What is the first thing their employer will do? Google them. What is the first thing someone just getting to know them will do?  Google them. They need to understand that their online identity will exist online whether they want it to or not. If they do not create it for themselves, and twist it into the story they want to tell, someone else will tell the story for them.  I think once students understand this concept, the rest becomes more simple than we think.

careerbuilderstats1.jpg

It becomes about education, about what they want a future spouse, family, employer, etc. to see online. There are many dangers to the online world, but the opportunities and positives far outweigh these negatives.  “Students are, for the most part, growing up in this digital world without any explicit or universally adopted rules about how to behave, and there is little guidance available to adults. As our digital connections and interactions grow, the lines between our education and personal lives, our career and private activities, become blurred” (EdTek White Paper, 1) and it is our job to help advocate for ourselves and for our students online.  I know after this week, I am going to try to be more involved with their online world and help my students navigate it.  I feel as though it is my responsibility as an educator to do this much for them and prepare them for their future, and their online portfolio that is all their own and no one else’s.

The Kids Are Confused!

“…there is a time and a place for tech – there are so many wonderful tools out there to stay connected to family members, to learn and grow, and to explore new concepts and ideas. But we need to make sure it doesn’t come at the expense of the blanket fort.” – Kid Complicated: Childhood Isn’t What It Used To Be

Photographer: Markus Spiske

As a kid growing up I feel like my life outside of school was pretty much a mirror for how things went at school. Things were pretty mainstreamed and many people followed a pretty similar pattern in their day-to-day lives. I remember ‘way back’ when you had to go to the store to buy groceries, get your photos printed – then physically go to a family gathering so everyone could see your pictures, the local newspaper took pictures at school/community events and printed them in the next weeks issue, you had to walk in to another room and pick up the phone to call someone, you checked the monthly calendar to see who was having a birthday that day and opened the fridge to see what was inside.

 

Photo Credit
Photo Credit: http://bit.ly/2Ho8jiV

Kids today are living life, outside of school, in a society that is completely consumed by technology and the rate at which that is increasing is exponential. You can order your groceries online and pick them up a few hours later without stepping foot in the store, be at a community event where your picture is snapped and be seen online in a matter of seconds – some call this news, check Facebook to ‘remember’ which family member or friend has a birthday today, pay for your child’s school hot lunch on your phone – never mind take your phone with you everywhere you go, pay all your bills online, print pictures, put them in ‘the cloud’ or AirDrop them to a friend, ask Siri to call someone for you and then get her to help you with your kids math homework!

So, if our society is being consumed by technology, what happens when technology isn’t present in today’s classrooms? Confused kids… that’s what happens!

Now before you go and hit that comment button to tell me that it can’t all be about technology all the time, check out my thoughts on balance from last weeks post – Meet Me In The Middle?.

Since we’ve got that out-of-the-way, let’s dig a little deeper into why I agree with Channing and wholeheartedly disagree with the debate topic from class this week: Openness and sharing in schools is unfair to our kids.

“…as is always the case with digital technologies, the affordances are not necessarily realized and learning is by no means guaranteed. After all, not all uses of social media are educational or of sufficient quality to contribute to knowledge building.” – Professional Online Presence and Learning Networks: Educating for Ethical Use of Social Media by Dianne Forbes

I’ve said it many times before but I believe that as teachers, it is our job to prepare our students for their future, by giving them the skills they will need to be productive members of society. These preparations have to be purposeful and not done on a whim. When I was a kid growing up in a small town Saskatchewan classroom, my teachers didn’t just hand out the papers to us and say figure it out. They gave us the tools for what we needed in order to understand and complete the task at hand. There were projects that we had to be worked on and problems to solve. Sound familiar? If you’re involved in education, I believe it should, as this is what teaching and learning look like.

Teaching and learning really are no different today. However, the options for creating learning opportunities are endless! The tools for learning, that we now have, are greater and more wide-reaching. When we know that social media can, as shared in Exploring the Potential Benefits of Using Social Media in Education, provide our students with opportunities to create, collaborate, communicate and engage in the learning process – why wouldn’t we teach them how to do that?

If we aren’t bringing technology into our classrooms, how are our students supposed to know how to navigate the world outside of school? They need opportunities to explore social media in a safe and guided environment so they can make informed decisions when they walk out of the school doors.

The question this week was whether or not it is unfair to openly share our students work and pictures online. I believe there are a few things we can do that ensure we are being fair to our students when sharing online:

  1. We need to have division-wide procedures in place that teachers can clearly access/understand and be able to follow.
  2. As a teacher  – get informed. Learn about your division’s policies and ask for clarification if you do not understand.
  3. Involve students and their families in the choice to post online and honour their personal preferences.
  4. Educate students and their families on how to appropriately and safely navigate the social media world

When we share without a purpose or specific intent, then we fall into the unfair category. Scott McLeod offers some insight into how school divisions, schools and families can approach the sharing of student photos. I feel it is important to mention that I think if we are sharing things without due process and specific intent, I think it is our teaching practices that we need to question, not whether the sharing is or is not fair.

 

Meet Me In The Middle?

“Long before there were schools as we know them, there was apprenticeship — learning how to do something by trying it under the guidance of one who knows how.” – ‘The Objective of Education Is Learning, Not Teaching’

This week in #eci830 my group was tasked with the challenge of presenting an argument that suggested schools should not be teaching anything that can be googled, our opponents argued the opposite. What was ironic about the debate was that both sides spent a fair amount of time talking about critical thinking skills.

In our opening statement, my group discussed the need for educators to understand that:

  1. Knowledge is changing at a rapid pace
  2. Schools need to prepare students for that change in knowledge
  3. Technology allows for efficiency

Channing explains each of our introductory arguments further in her post, Educating The Google Generation.

Whether someone felt they agreed or disagreed with the idea that schools should not be teaching things that can be googled before the debate, I think you’d have been hard-pressed to find someone who didn’t agree that critical thinking skills are vital to student future success, after the debate! So if critical thinking is so important, just what does that look like and what does it mean?

What I found most interesting about this video was that it really doesn’t matter where in the world you live, what language you speak or your life experiences – critical thinking skills are valuable!

https://www.flickr.com/photos/acidmidget/13910556505
Photo Credit: https://flic.kr/p/nceeP8

Every day we are bombarded with information all around us. Whether it is in a store, on a billboard, on social media, the radio or pretty much anywhere we go – there is something to be consumed.  As educators we have to ask ourselves, what are we doing to prepare our students for the overwhelming amount of information they are being exposed to? Though both groups in the debate disagreed in some areas, Kristen highlighted in her blog that we did agree on the idea that critical thinking is something students NEED to have an opportunity to practice.

So we then have to ask ourselves how are we providing our students with these opportunities? I believe that we need to change how we look at learning, as a whole, in order to truly prepare our youth for a world that we don’t yet fully understand. The skills students will need to be successful are not things that can be memorized or copied. Rather, they are abilities that these individuals will possess! I believe that when we give students the skills they need, to learn about the things they are passionate about, they will internalize (I like that word better than memorize) the information they need to be able to share their knowledge and passions.

If we truly want to provide opportunities for students to develop critical thinking skills I think there are a few changes we need to make in education. Often times while planning units and lessons I have found myself questioning some of the things in our Saskatchewan Curriculum. Not because I don’t think learning is important but rather because I don’t think we allow for enough autonomy in our students learning.  Now, dependant on the age of your students, this certainly looks different but I think it is possible. As a bit of a side note, I do think we need concrete knowledge in areas like reading, writing and math but I do believe there are ways to provide student choice in these subjects as well.

Some changes I would make in my education dream world…

  1. Change the mindset around the role of the teacher from the knower of knowledge to a guide for students
  2. Provide guiding questions rather than answers/final destinations of learning in curriculum documents
  3. Integrate digital citizenship skills into all areas of the curriculum as a mandatory piece
  4. Eliminate traditional grading practices in the K-5 classroom
  5. Remove the idea that students of a certain age need to meet a certain ‘level’ by a certain time. Keep growth and development as a staple but remove the constraints of time.

In the real world, I believe we must seek to find balance in our classrooms, finding the middle ground for integrating tools like Google and learning skills like how to read!

All week I had this song in my head and I think Zedd, Maren Morris and Grey say it perfectly… meet me in the middle!

Why Teach it When You Can Just GOOGLE it?!?

“Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth learning can be taught.” 
— Oscar Wilde

homer simpson mind blown GIF

In this week’s debate in my EdTech ECI830 class, the topic was about whether schools should continue to teach information that could be Googled.  While both groups brought to light the importance of a teacher to guide thinking, I think that there was great support for a shift in how education in Canada is delivered. We need to change traditional learning, of the teacher being the knowledge keepers, to teachers being more of a facilitator of learning. More practical skills to build the knowledge. More meaningful learning…more meaningful from the students perspective and not being told the information is meaningful. Sounds easy right?

There were so many great learning moments for me in this week’s #eci830 class that made me stop, think, reflect and rethink critically.

I found one of this week’s readings, ‘The Objective of Education is Learning, Not teaching‘ very interesting and profound to what we were talking about in class.  Traditional education focuses on teaching, not learning…..The article states,“It incorrectly assumes that for every ounce of teaching there is an ounce of learning by those who are taught. However, most of what we learn before, during, and after attending schools is learned without its being taught to us. A child learns such fundamental things as how to walk, talk, eat, dress, and so on without being taught these things. Adults learn most of what they use at work or at leisure while at work or leisure. Most of what is taught in classroom settings is forgotten, and much or what is remembered is irrelevant.”

This paragraph makes total sense to me. This is what learning is and this is how learning is happening. It leaves me to think, why is our school system not shifting in how education in Canada is delivered? or maybe it has and we are not giving it enough credit?!?

Image result for critical thinking nursingI think that teachers are evolving from a “keepers of knowledge” as Shelly discussed in class this week to more of a “facilitator of knowledge”.  Being a nursing education instructor, this is primarily what we do. We facilitate adult learning. We can not possible teach nursing students everything they need to know about everything. Critical thinking is a process that lets your brain do more for you as you make decisions and solve problems. This is nursing! Our students need to be resources and know where to find the information and to think critically. This application results in higher quality and faster problem solving, decision making and innovation. Clinical skills in nursing are obviously important, but critical thinking is at the core of being a good nurse. The nursing process is way in which we as nurses try to thinking and give care. The nursing process is a scientific method used by nurses to ensure the quality of patient care. This approach can be broken down into five separate steps.

Google has a vast amount information, which is the composition of millions and millions of experts and “so-called experts”. In nursing we are continuously teaching what resources are reliable, creditable, evidence based best practices and research driven. The article posted this week called, “Teaching Students Better Online Research Skills” reinforces this importance. All of this information can be found online for our students to access. However, this does not make us, as nursing educators, indispensable. Our role as educators needs to continue to evolve to empower and guide students to use the information at their fingertips in a professional, accountable, positive manner to build and enhance current knowledge.

I came across Shelly’s blog this week. Within her blog I read the article she posted about called, “The Changing Roles of Teachers: What Research Indicates. Part I of II.” This article really resonated and made me reflect as a nursing educator and how I am helping prepare nursing students for the 21 century. This article spoke about the “aim of 21st century teaching as the development of knowledge, higher-order skills (such as the 4Cs of creativity, critical thinking, communication, collaboration), and character, as well as the establishment of lifelong learning habits and an ability to learn how-to-learn with technology as the central roles in the new picture of teacher effectiveness.” Moreover, Partnership for 21st Century Learning, stated that the role of teachers is changing to be:1) a planner for 21st century careers, 2) an instructor for different ways of learning, 3) a technology designer for learning. It is becoming imperative to integrate the teaching of information literacy and technology skills into to regular curriculum (Chu, Tse, & Chow, 2011). Such skills are essential for effective functioning in today’s knowledge society. Effective integration of technology into the classroom depends on teachers who have the knowledge of how to use technology to meet instructional goals.

Overall, I think both sides of the debate made many convincing points that really got me thinking about the potential for changing our mindset around what and how I teach in nursing education.  As many have said within their blog posts as well as during the debate, times are changing and the skills that children, young adults and adult learners need moving forward are not the same as the ones they needed when we were starting their education. How can we make sure everyone is playing their part in this? Teachers do NOT have to do this alone. From the points of the agree side- they mentioned several times that things are moving at a ever changing speed. We are educators need to keep up and show students how to access this important information so they can keep up moving forward.

So what I am saying is, I think “googling it” helps me teach and aids my students growth and learning. At the end of the day, we want our students to “learn”. However that looks. I believe technology, google and online tools are strengthening education as well as nursing education and are preparing students for this fast paced, ever growing “real world”.

In closing, Alec said something that really suck with me this week and I believe is key and pulls this debate topic together for me, you can do it right both ways, you just have to use it RIGHT… but you have to do it well.”

Image result for both ways

 

 

 

 

To Google or Not to Google

Should we focus on teaching things that should be googled?  I still stand by my debate team and say a resounding yes!  For our debate, we decided to focus on three key ideas:

  1. Critical Thinking Skills Without the Aid of Google
  2. Memorization Holds a Key Part in Education and in Life
  3. Google is Hindering Our Ability to Concentrate and Focus

To watch our introduction video, click here!

After the debate, I realized there is even more we could have focused on, including the einsteinidea of “fake news” and our students’ ability to interpret it, and the idea of curiosity as a skill.  I touched on this slightly in my closing statements, but I hold strong on the idea that children and teenagers NEED to be curious!  If they are not curious with their ideas, then where is the creativity?  Where is the innovation?  Where are the skills that they will NEED in the future?  The “agree” team posted a video: Knowledge is Obsolete, so Now What? spoken by Pavan Arora and I do agree with them.  Some knowledge is becoming obsolete, but not all of it is obsolete.  Key math skills, and basic understanding of the English language are incredibly important!  And whether my students believe it or not, they will need to add, subtract, create ratios, convert measurements and be able to do it quickly and will not always have the assistance of their phones.

eat grandpa
Examples of the consequences of bad grammar!

autoWhen it comes to English and writing skills, everyone will need to know how to properly write an email, a cover letter, and important text messages.  You cannot text your boss that you are ill, and send something full of abbreviations and misspellings.

Of course, Pavan’s argument goes beyond this.  He discusses the idea that children of today, will not have jobs that exist today, so how do we educate them so that they are ready?  He states our job is to “teach our children how to access knowledge, how to assess knowledge and how to apply knowledge.”  Our group never stated that teachers should not use google or that students should be banned from using it for research.  Our focus was to use it with purpose and not simply answer students questions by saying “google it.”  Students need to use their critical thinking skills first and develop their own opinions before they start accessing the internet and using someone else’s opinion for make their opinion.  Things like facts, should be checked and students need to figure out how to weave the web to find the good stuff, the right stuff and make educated decisions based on the information found.

The same goes for memorization.  Imagine having a conversation with someone who didn’t know the basics of the discussion and everything they had to say, had to come from google.

5a5343f99e00de5d5277df0111180fd5

These ideas of fact checking have their place, but it is much easier if we teach certain skills and basic understandings so that students CAN apply the higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy.  Memorization is the base of the levels so students need some ideas or thinking critically or innovative will not happen easily!

blooms

Students always ask me why we have to study Hamlet.  I’ve thought about it, and is it necessary, no, but is it relevant, absolutely.  I tell my students, what better way to learn than from a story.  There are many life lessons from Hamlet that can be applied to the real world, and probably some irrelevant information as well but sometimes a piece of literature can help a student through a situation or they find a quote that really means something to them, and they hold onto it.  In a world where mental health is a huge concern and we are trying to advocate for it, I show my students Hamlet – a depressed character who has been through a lot (the murder of his father and the marriage of his mother and uncle) voicing how sad he is, and no one listens.  We discuss the importance of listening to each other and helping each other.  He even has soliloquys about dying and wanting to die.  Some of my students can unfortunately relate to that so we discuss the ideas of suicide and how Hamlet really feels right now.  We talk about mental health and the differences between then and now and I would say it’s the most important thing we discuss in my class.  to beAnd you know what, they don’t forget it.  I have students come back and tell me, it is still their favourite Shakespeare play and they still remember the story!  Of course, there are also ideas of following through with your actions and thinking before you act; watching the effect you have on others around you, and many other life lessons that are better experienced through literature than life itself (I mean, I don’t think anyone wants to plot the murder of their uncle and see what consequences follow, so probably better to read about it 😉 )I think Shakespeare also helps interpret language we don’t understand, students have to find meaning in it, and it helps them understand bigger ideas, and see how far our language has really come and it’s awesome to watch!

This example also leads into our third argument about deep-reading and reading for understanding.  Of course, the internet and the process of skimming are valuable skills but so is reading and actually remembering what you read.  I know I struggle to focus on the computer, especially for long articles or even books online.  If I print them; totally different story!  Anyone else??  The idea of reading and understanding is becoming a lost art and I know my students struggle with it.  Lots of them turn to Sparknotes or other websites to tell them what happened in the novel instead of reading it themselves which can be really frustrating as a teacher.  5There is so much more to a piece of writing than just the summary and it can help them become better writers, and critical thinkers if they actually attempt to interpret the writing for themselves.  Even looking at the ideas of themes or choices characters make can help them deeply in terms of their depth of knowledge and understanding of other people.  In Is Google Making Us Stupid, Nicholas Carr makes an excellent stating, “our ability to interpret text, to make the rich mental connections that form when we read deeply and without distraction, remains largely disengaged” when we are browsing the internet.  I think he is 100% correct.  I know the “agree” team argued this point stating that it’s a different type of skill we are gaining and I totally agree.  And I think it is excellent that we can skim dozens of articles to find something meaningful to use for our own research but I’m also talking about stories and books and those need to be read to be truly understood.  Deep reading is a valuable skill and one I’m worried we will lose if we don’t continue to make kids read!  What will happen to all the old literature, the beautiful stories, and even our own history if we only skim it in the future?

balnvr

So to conclude, I still think there is a place for memorization and facts in the classroom.  There is value in teaching things that can be found on the internet.  Do I think we should erase the internet all together?  NOPE!  It’s not going anywhere and we do need to teach our students to be responsible digital citizens and be able to navigate the web responsibly and effectively for information.  It all depends on your purpose.  And honestly, if we are teaching students that the first response to a question is to google it, I don’t think we are teaching them correctly.  We should let them be curious, think about the answer, find their own idea, and then turn to the internet because that will have more meaning, they will remember the lesson more, and they will automatically think more deeply and critically about the response they found if it contradicts their own.

Technology & the Classroom – Finding Balance in 2018

“Technology could be seen as the culprit, or it could be harnessed to improve engagement and effectiveness.” 6 Pros and Cons of Technology in the Classroom in 2018 

We’ve all heard a colleague say it…

” I just don’t have the time to learn about all this new technology I’m supposed to be using.”

Does anyone else worry about the state of education when they hear these words? Maybe it’s just me, but I think we have a problem if this is how some are looking at technology in education.

Photo Credit: BECCA PONS [bp] + CREATIVE Flickr via Compfight cc

Now, don’t get me wrong, I get it – we are busy! We have about 101 things on our plates each day that we need to accomplish in order to feel like we are properly supporting the students in our schools. Most days, I feel like I get done about 25% of the things I set out to do. There are also those days where I feel like a super teacher because somehow I have managed to cross EVERYTHING off my list… until I make another but I’ll take the celebration while I can.

This week in #eci830 we were tasked with the creating a response to an in-class debate on whether or not technology in the classroom enhances learning and both sides of the debate presented valid points. Prior to the debate, I would have told you I was 100% on the agree side of this statement and I still am but the disagree side challenged my thinking!  If we aren’t challenging what we think we know, then are we really learning?

While reading the article from the quote below there were two phrases that continued to come to my mind: hidden curriculum and teachable moments.

“Students may be more enthusiastic about studying a subject if they are preparing a PowerPoint presentation or a video clip instead of a written essay. However, they might spend more time and effort on the presentation than researching the subject, and complete the project knowing very little about the subject.“ –  Negative Effects of Using Technology in Today’s Classroom by Timothy Smith

I certainly do not believe that technology is going to be the ‘be all end all’ in education but what I do believe is that it is not going away. If we think back 10 or even 5 years, the changes in technology in our world are enormous. As educators, we are tasked with the job of preparing our students for life outside of the K-12 education system. If we are truly preparing them for that world then we need to realize that how we have taught in the past is not going to work. We can’t expect to continue to use teaching methods from 20-30 years ago and integrate technology all at the same time. There simply are not enough minutes in a day for that and I’m not convinced that makes for best practice! Removing some of “what we’ve always done” and thinking in ways that allow for engagement of all not only benefits students but also allows the teacher to engage in the learning process with students. I think this is why I kept going back to the idea of teachable moments and the hidden curriculum.

When teachers are willing to let go of the idea that they need to be the one who holds all the knowledge and embrace that learning alongside students is also learning, we are in a space that then allows for a change in teaching practice and pedagogical growth. For me, this does not mean that we need to see technology used all day, every day in our classrooms. To me, this means balance. When bringing technology into the classroom, balance combined with informed and intentional teaching practices, in my opinion, is what creates learning environments that will prepare our students for life outside of the classroom.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Do you see balance in this video?

I this video I see a few things: students who are engaged, collaboration, hands-on learning, technology, pencil paper tasks and excitement for learning.

What would I change about this learning environment? I don’t think we should remove technology from the main classroom, I think we need to integrate it into what we are already doing. There is no doubt these students are learning and developing problem-solving skills. However, are they seeing the connections that can be made with what they are doing in their classroom? Perhaps a better understanding of the school set up here would be helpful.

What do you see or think about how these students are engaging with technology?

 

 

Technology Enhance Learning! Or does it?

Andre Francois

There are two sides to this coin!

Does technology enhance or not enhance learning, is a complicated and convoluted question.  We live in a fast paced and ever growing day and age of technology. Personally, I don’t think this will slow down anytime soon, or even ever. As adult educators, it is our responsibility to teach and that includes technology. Technology is growing at a rapid pace in the health sciences and medical world as well. As a nursing educator with the SCBScN program, I feel it is critical to continue to grow students and integrate technology into our curriculum in every shape and form to enhance nursing education.

In this week’s EC&I 830 class our debate topic was; Technology in the classroom enhances learning. I would say I would have to agreed, that technology enhances learning. Kristen, Jana, and Katie did a great job at defending their side of the debate. However, I can also identify with some of the points Wendy, Kyla, and Amy C. discussed on the disagree side of things as well. I have highlighted a couple points that stood out to me that were argued as well as what was within the readings for this week.

Cons of Technology Pros of Technology 
  1. Technology is distracting
  2. Impacts social skills

IIII COMMUNICATION: TECHNOLOGY, DISTRACTION & STUDENT PERFORMANCE

  1. Helps engage students
  2. Provides opportunities to all kinds of learners (can include everyone)

6 PROS & CONS OF TECHNOLOGY IN THE CLASSROOM IN 2018

I think one point that stood out for me from the debate was when they said technology enhances learning by moving from teacher-centred learning to student-centred learning. I would have to agree with this. Most recently I personally took a classroom and lab based class (Pharmacology) and turned it into a blended learning style. Historically, we were hearing students say that they needed more hands on practice as well as more time to learn this content. Getting more classroom and lab time was not going to be an option. Therefore, I felt a blended learning approach would be best.

The existing course comprised of a print course manual that was disjointed from the online course. I set out to transform the course for the May 2018 offering into a coordinated lab experience whereby students would have clear expectations on how to prepare for lab, and what to do during lab and post lab to enhance their learning. I wanted the course to be engaging, fun and user-friendly while using technology to my advantage. The course manual and previous lab elements were converted to “e-Books” on Moodle. This meant students would have a streamlined navigation system to easily find what they needed. I sequenced the content into learning chunks and adapted previous exercises from print based to online interactives. I used H5P interactive, an innovative technology which creates HTML5 

exercises that are mobile-friendly and provide immediate feedback to the learner.  Every lab contains a variety of interactives, including question quiz set, interactive video, and hotspot activities.

After doing all that, how can I not agree that technology enhances learning!

 

In addition to supporting why I think technology enhances learning, Saskatchewan Polytechnic issued a article discussing “Bring surgery to life through virtual reality With the help of advanced technology, student will now be able to get a close up look into an operating room, without having to leave the classroom! AMAZING!

With every great thing there come downsides. I do support technology in the classroom but I think there needs to be perimeters. Every student (no matter the age) need rules that they have to follow. Moreover, it is critical that there is implementation of a digital citizenship across the life span. Yes, even at the university level and within the workplace. This is something that needs to start before kids begin school. Students need to understand how to use technology appropriately.  It is a must that we teach our students to be come positive digital citizens!

I liked the SAMR visual because it is a model that supports, teachers, and helps to understand the integration of technology. This idea was made known by Dr. Ruben Puentedura. It shows a progression that adopters of educational technology often follow as they progress through teaching and
learning with technology. It is a framework through which teachers can assess and evaluate the technology used in the classroom. As teachers move along the continuum, computer technology becomes more important in the classroom but at the same time becomes more invisibly woven into the demands of good teaching and learning. Below I have included a short YouTube video done by Dr. Ruben Puentedura.

 

During the discussion, I really liked a point that Amy Snider made when she stated that “pencils and sharpeners were once new technology”. Can you imagine!?! Do kids even know what that is anymore? This really put things into perspective for me.

Overall, I think that I am on the “agree” side of this debate, and would say technology enhances learning in the classroom. After this weeks debate, class discussions and the readings, I would have to say there is a lot to think about and consider in our classrooms and how we are using technology to enhance teaching and learning! Looking forward to the next debate!

EC&I 830 – Contemporary Issues in Educational Technology

Let the educational technology journey begin!

“To understand their world we must be willing to immerse ourselves in that world. We must embrace the new digital reality. If we can’t relate, if we don’t get it, we won’t be able to make schools relevant to the current and future needs of the digital generation.” – Ian Jukes