This is it! The end of EC&I 830! I cannot believe how fast this course flew by, and I also cannot believe how much I learned over two short months. It’s amazing the community we developed and how much we were able to challenge each other to grow and learn in such a short time span. It’s been a pleasure to learn with all of you.
I loved the style of this course and how it enabled us to be in charge of our own learning. We brought a lot of debate to the table, and I thank all of you for challenging my thinking and opinions. There is no one right answer to any of the topics we discussed and I think that makes this course so great!
Without further ado, here is my summary of learning video! Thanks again all for a fantastic class and I hope you all enjoy my video (I had a lot of fun making it)!
This week’s debate had me all over the place. Thinking of the phrase: “technology is a force of equity in society” has many sides and angles to consider and there is not one straight answer: yes or no. I found there was a lot of mixed reviews throughout our debate, and many elaborations for our reasons we think it is or isn’t. For example, yes, technology can be a force of equity because it is creating opportunities where they were limited before or no, it is not a force of equity because there is not equal access around the globe. These types of ideas were incredibly important to our debate this week, and I think through a lot of thinking post-debate, I have established that we may not be there yet, but we are working towards solutions for this inequity.
The agree side this week did a fantastic job opening the floor and I found myself agreeing with all the points that Jen, Dawn and Sapna shared. Their major points included the removal of barriers in education and skills, the use of open education resources creating equality through education, and then focused on the idea that the corporate system is the reason that technology is inaccessible for people in a lower socio-economic status and not the tech itself, and not the tech’s fault itself, showing that the tech isn’t creating inequity, but people by making these devices which have now become a necessity, cost too much money to afford.
The disagree side of Amy S, and Rakan countered well including some important ideas I would have never thought about in my internal debate. Their main ideas circled around tech creating bias, gender abuse, and racism online, as well as digital colonialism and economic inequality.
As a said before, I found myself agreeing with all the points the agree team shared. I see technology remove barriers all the time in the classroom. I actually once saw a two men sitting at Tim Horton’s using their cellphones and a translating app to communicate with their voices and have a real conversation. It made me so happy that technology has been able to reach a point where we can communicate with one another and create friendships with people that do not necessarily share a common language.
As for the classroom, I know I would have been in a real bind if I did not have my technological resources for teaching. I have taught A LOT of different subject matter and without open resources and the World Wide Web, my knowledge would have been much more limited as well as the material for my students would have been much simpler as I would be scrambling for activities and ideas on my own. For example, my first year I taught Law 30. Where did I turn but to the internet to find different ideas and resources to help supplement the material. I even found an activity to look at the laws often broken in different fairy tales and create a trial for the characters. Would I have been able to come up with this idea without technology? No way! It helped make my life less stressful and created equity in a situation where I was at a disadvantage.
There are also many assistive technologies out there to help students including Google Write&Read. Many students struggle with getting their ideas on paper and these types of apps help create an equity in the classroom so they too, can reach the outcomes of other students. However, access to these apps can be difficult if you do not have access to the technology which is what the disagree side countered.
Cost is a major downside to education as well as creating equity in the classroom. And like Amy R. said in her blog this week, Technology should be accessible to everyone because it has become essential to live. It has become a basic human right to be able to access this information and these devices yet corporations will not lower the price on devices, making it difficult for people of a lower socio-economic status to get access. People may argue that there is free access in libraries, and schools, but not everyone has direct access to a building like that. Sunny Freeman’s article states that even in Canada, only 62% of low-income quartile has access to the internet and it is difficult to dispute. Have you ever gone camping in a rural/northern part of Saskatchewan? Little to no internet access or even service exists! So like, the agree group said, we can fix this! We just need to lower the costs on devices, and create more opportunities for access in order to lessen the digital divide felt everywhere in the world, not just Canada.
Daniel also made a great point in his blog this week: “Some affluent people thus think by simply dumping the highest tech in the poorest places in society, inequality will be solved.” This will not solve our problem when there is no education to help those educators or students use the technology and unlock its potential for the classroom and for their future. If we are going to increase technology use in the classroom, we need to also increase the professional development and resources for teachers to USE the technology as well.
I think it is super important that if we are going to increase technology and use programs like One Laptop Per Child, they need to be used appropriately in order to avoid digital colonialism which is what Amy and Rakan hinted at in their opening video. It’s a very thin line between introducing and advancing a third world country and pushing Western beliefs on an already established society. For example, in this article, Facebook is offering free internet to places with low economic status but with a catch.
“Free Basics is a Facebook-developed mobile app that gives users access to a small selection of data-light websites and services. The websites are stripped of photos and videos and can be browsed without paying for mobile data.
Facebook sees this as an “on-ramp” to using the open internet: by introducing people to a taster of the internet, they will see the value in paying for data, which in turn brings more people online and can help improve their lives.”
The catch is that they cannot access all the internet, only a few select sites and they need to pay more for more access. This in my opinion does not create equity, but increases the divide showing “you can afford this” or “you can’t afford this.” This idea is also restricting language, with the majority options being only in English, and if that’s not a Westernized view/Digital Colonialism, then I don’t know what is!
Another solution to the idea of making education more accessible is Open Education Resources (OERs), Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), and Virtual Classrooms. Having these types of resources online have created a lot of opportunity for remote classrooms and cities. They may not have the resources physically, but they can access the information online ending the digital divide.
The article, Analysis: How OER Is Boosting School Performance and Equity From the Suburbs to the Arctic shows how students and classrooms in Kotzebue, Alaska are able to still access high-quality materials within budget cuts and limited resources. Layla Bonnot says, “With OER, districts can adapt content to meet their local needs, maximize education budgets, and ensure access to resources and educational rigor. By being able to serve all students — whatever their race, gender, ethnicity, language, disability, family background, or family income — OER supports the goal of educational equity.”
Of course, there are still other down-sides that are creating unequitable circumstances like the ideas of gender and racial bias online, and that AI could possibly be racist and learning its racist behaviours from humans, but I hope that we are moving in a positive direction away from these ideas. Lizzie O’Shea stated in her article that technology’s biases are not bad necessarily, as long as we recognize them as such and move towards making these racial and gender roles more neutral.
O’Shea said, “To make the most of this moment, we need to imagine a future without the oppressions of the past. We need to allow women to reach their potential in workplaces where they feel safe and respected. But we also need to look into the black mirror of technology and find the cracks of light shining through.”
And after listening to both sides of the debate, I couldn’t agree more. We are imperfect, so our tech is imperfect too. As long as we recognize our faults, and are trying to work towards solutions, then I think we are accomplishing something. Is technology creating equity in society? In some cases yes, and in some cases no. Technology is not going anywhere, and it is becoming a more crucial part of life and should be demanded by all of society. It has huge potential to create equity in all walks of life, but it is how we go about making sure it is accessible, fair, and neutral to everyone that is the most important part.
I started off by testing out my hand-sewing skills and after a few trial and errors and re-watching a couple of videos, I felt like I had the hang of it. To begin, I know I was reliant on my mother for reassurance because as noted in other blogs, I am a slight perfectionist…I crave perfection and the idea that I can learn from making mistakes is absurd. If I make mistakes often enough, I will quit. It’s been my nature from a young age, and this project really challenged me to be okay with making mistakes, and learning from those mistakes. Beginning with hand-sewing was a slow and confidence building technique I needed to start this massive project! The great thing about hand-sewing was it was easy to fix mistakes and redo stitches. I was able to do this quite a few times until I felt like I had gained a comfortable understanding of threading a needle, making a stitch, and sewing buttons.
Then came the real test. I began my quilting process. I did not expect there to be as many steps as there were and beginning on the sewing machine was terrifying and infuriating. I know when I get frustrated, I need to step away. The sewing machine was frustrating and annoying to figure out, but with some help from Youtube and my mother, I got the hang of the ancient machine. What I don’t think I mentioned in my blogging was that I tapped into my school resources and borrowed a sewing machine from the school. SO MUCH EASIER!!! I am so grateful l did this, as I am confident my quilt would not have turned out as nicely and I would have ran into a lot more problems and would have needed to troubleshoot a lot more.
I had to select my shirts, and then cut them all, which was again super time-consuming. It was at this point in the project that I was questioning my idea and questioning whether I would have enough time to finish. I used my grandma’s tools and advice for cutting and interfacing the t-shirts. In this, I also learned that I like to take a lot of different ideas for how to accomplish a task, and work it into something that makes sense to me. I received advice from my grandma, ladies at the quilt shop, and the internet. From these sources, I combined methods to complete my quilt in a way that made the most sense to me. Having advice from so many sources could get confusing, but I also enjoyed having different options and ideas for how to complete this quilt successfully.
Once the cutting was finished, I feared making mistakes on the sewing. I pinned my flannel to my t-shirts, and I began sewing. It wasn’t even that bad! Again, I needed reassurance that I was doing okay and my mother was a great support to answer every call or she was there just to make sure. This support and reassurance was key to my success because I probably would have struggled more or even questioned my methods has she not been there. I found having a person to directly talk to, bounce ideas off of, and reassure my work an incredible resource and helpful for the success of the project. It wasn’t a constant, “Am I doing this right?” but a gentle “good work” which is what everyone needs on occasion.
I learned a lot about my learning style in this process. I found out that this is not relaxing at all, and until I gain more experience, I will not find it relaxing. The most stressful part of the project was thinking I would screw up and upon thinking more
about it, I figured out why. I was working with t-shirts, but not just any t-shirts. These shirts hold a lot of meaning, and memories for me. If I screwed up, the shirt and the memory was gone. This was a high pressure project because it was SO meaningful for me. I’m grateful I took the risk, but I feel that if I was using regular material, I would have been more relaxed with making mistakes and not as rigid. I learned that I am an independent learner, and I enjoy things I can do on my own that give my brain a break from a stressful day of teaching, as well as challenge me in other ways. It was nice to break routine, and make time to learn a new skill. Overall, I really enjoyed this project and I learned a lot about sewing and about myself as a learner!
I finally finished! Sewing that is…with the machine! My quilt is all put together and I am so so happy with the results. I ran into a few problems finishing it up, but nothing new. Mostly, my needle kept unthreading and my lines weren’t lining up as I had to sew my rows back to back. It was frustrating to see it not be perfect lines when I finished a row, and I need to remind myself that this is my first project, it’s a huge project, and I have room for error since my seams will be hidden by the extra material.
All said and done, I’m incredibly happy with the results and now I only have to complete it by hand stitching all the corners! Because there is so much material in the corners of my t-shirts, I cannot sew over top so I have holes in the corners. Not a bad thing, as I made sure to reverse stitch on either sides but if I accidentally put my toe or finger through the quilt, it could tear and I don’t want that! I will need to hand stitch and knot the corners to make it stronger. Then wash it three or four times and I will have a completely finished t-shirt rag quilt!!
I’ve learned so much throughout this project, especially about myself and what I need in order to learn. I need time (chucks of it), and I need to do whatever it is in a way that makes sense logically to me, but I also need reassurance and quick feedback to make sure I’m actually on the right track. I learn well on my own, and I learn by example. It’s very interesting to me that I learn this way because I have always thought of myself as a “drill and practice” type of learner, so to find out that I actually am also a “visual” learner adds a cool dynamic to my learning style. Did you guys learn anything interesting about yourselves during this process? I find I learn completely differently/more dynamically now, but more to come about that next post!
This week, I was on a roll! I completely finished sewing all my individual squares! I was
super excited and with only a couple of hiccups between forgetting to put the foot down before sewing, forgetting to reverse stitch, and having my needle unthread…all super frustrating and tedious tasks but once I started going, I was in a rhythm and it was actually quite relaxing after my insane week of student-led conferences and planning. Once I finished my squares, I was very relieved and thinking, “I’m actually going to finish this blanket!”
Then came the hard part…figuring out how to put all those squares together! I revisited a couple of my quilting blogs for some advice and guidance. I figured out that the absolute easiest way to get things fitted together was to start by sewing my rows together, individually. This task was actually easier than I thought as I am creating a ruffle quilt. That means messy seams, and mistakes are allowed, and I don’t need to worry about being perfect. I laid out my row, and then took two shirts and placed them back to back to sew the seam. This way, the seam would be in the front of the shirts, and once I’m finished it SHOULD ruffle after I wash it a couple of times. My only concern is that my ruffles are too big. I think I want them smaller, but this also means I need to sit down and CUT (that dreaded word) all the shirt seams down. Right now, I have zero patience for that, so I will decide that later on. I continued, connecting the row of shirts together to get a product like this! I’m super happy with the way it looks right now!
Once my rows were connected (I should mention, I only did three), I needed assistance to figure out how to sew it together. Mom to the rescue! We sat down and thought through some options. This video also really helped us both visualize how it was going to work! The best one was to do essentially the same thing as I did with the rows, but I would need to skip the part where four shirts meet because I would lose my ruffle and the material is wayyyyy to thick to sew through. We began by folding two rows over back-to-back and sewed to the end of the first shirt, making sure to back-stitch as far as it would go, then pulling the shirt out, and starting on the other side, again making sure to get as far back as possible to avoid holes! I may need to go in an hand-stitch the corners but we will see how it holds up. Overall, it wasn’t as difficult as I thought but it was more difficult to sew straight seams as the farther I went, the more material I had, and the heavier the quilt got. All said and done, I finished and sewed three rows together! I’ll hopefully finish the rest up this week and I will have a finished quilt!!!
This week, we were charged with the task of evaluating an OER (open education resource) and I chose the American Institute of Mathematics since I have been teaching Calculus for the first time this year! I wanted to check it out and see if there are any resources or lessons that could help me on my way to building my curriculum. I was slightly disappointed by what I found. To begin, the homepage is wordy and heavy texted. There are limited pictures and seems more like a mathematician’s website than a teacher resource (which is what I was hoping for)!
I did watch a pretty cool video about how mathematicians are working with strawberry farmers to create an optimal profit which could be used to supplement a lesson of sorts, but there weren’t really any teacher resources on the homepage.
I began checking out some of the other pages and links and although easy to navigate, there aren’t a lot of resources for middle years or high school students. There is a whole page dedicated to Workshops and a Problems List, however the problems are far above my students’ head as well as my own. It’s definitely a well-organized site but more for a higher level of education than what I currently teach, and as I moved on, I found what I was looking for: the Online Textbook Initiative!
Our Calculus textbook was brand new when I was in high school (8 years ago) and it is STILL being used. A new resource would be awesome for my students so I checked them out and was pleasantly surprised. There is an evaluation criteria and it even gives information about the textbook: exercises, solutions, etc. There is a plethora of textbooks to choose from for a variety of different courses and material and although I didn’t look at every one, they do seem to be of high-quality and focused on university course material. This is again, above my level of teaching but might be a good place to check out for my AP course next semester!
So although it is a high-quality website with a TON of resources, workshops, and problems, it is mainly a university website which is too bad because I was really excited to find some new resources for my students. I’m sure if I weed through some of it enough, I’ll be able to some examples, and problems for my students to use. But, I was disappointed in the text heavy layout of the website and pages as it makes it much more difficult to read and decipher. The language is definitely for those who understand mathematics and teach it at a much higher level than me. For high school or lower, it would not be very user friendly if you do not “get” the math language! I’m sure it would be a useful website for mathematicians, and university students, especially in terms of finding some free textbooks to use instead of paying the big bucks for them!