Category Archives: school

Learning to Love the Machine

 

Over the course of this brief, but info-jam-packed term, a consistent theme has come out again and again: Technology is a tool that can be used for good or evil, and the more educated you are in using said tech safely and effectively, the fewer negative things will occur.

Moving into this week’s discussion, lets again put this overriding theme to the test, namely Have we become too dependent upon technology, and what we really need to do is unplug.

There are two thoughts that pop up in succession when I hear this: 1) That sounds like a great idea because I see so and so always on their device and it’s annoying to talk to them face to face; 2) If we all decide to bin our smart devices, then what? It’s not like this solves anything.

It’s easy to jump to the conclusion that technology is ruining the way we as humans have built and maintained relationships since we began as a race, namely face to face communities of individuals. Sherry Turkle, is the mouthpiece for this view that we are alienating ourselves more and more through technology, and need to take a serious step back and reassess what we are becoming.

I can agree with her perspective to an extent. In my mind nothing is more sacred than quality face to face time with my family and friends, where we can have physical, face to face interactions where body language, an important part of how we as humans interact with one another, is in play. Check out Dr. Larry Rozen’s iDisorder for an in-depth look at this.

However, simply turning our backs on all the ills social media has caused to a variety of unfortunate individuals and groups will not make this issue go away, but in fact will allow said issues to proliferate. If anything, you are further alienating yourself from the world at large, like an older individual who swears off learning how to use a computer, then ‘contents’ themselves for the rest of their days watching the Weather Network and doing the same puzzle over and over. You are missing out on a lot, and have no frame of reference when trying to understand the way contemporary society interacts.

That said, there needs to be a balance put into place between how much screen time we give ourselves, and to be educated in how to do this.

Last fall, in ECI832, we discussed at length whether there continues to exist a dualism between ‘in real life’ or IRL, and the digital. Nathan Jurgenson’s ‘The IRL Fetish’ does a great job of digging deeper into whether unplugging is actually even a possibility, as in our current age, especially if we have been using social media to any extent, this duality between ‘real’ and ‘digital’ doesn’t actually exist. Rather, we are more aware than ever before of our ‘real’ interactions, and “to obsess over the offline and deny all the ways we routinely remain disconnected is to fetishize this disconnection.”

So, to conclude, I hope everyone, after taking this class, has been able to reflect and come to the same conclusion I presented at the beginning of this post, namely that education plays a role in creating a healthy balance, and recognizes the benefits of technology outweigh the potential negatives. As educators (and parents) we have the responsibility to assist our children to learn how to use the tech responsibly and effectively so they are able to independently make positive choices that will assist rather than hinder.

 

 


ECI830 Summary of Learning

What a crazy quick class! I was glad to have the opportunity to make another video, and although time was a crunch, I think it turned out pretty well. As promised, here are the links to all the clips/audio I used:

Video

Fensler GIJoe PSA: Carnival

Fensler GIJoe PSA: Dance

If Google Was A Guy

Apple Promo Video (Early 90’s)

Are Parents A Threat To Children’s Privacy?

Faust I to Go

The Dirt Bike Kid

Using Twitter Effectively in Education (Alec Couros)

Alec Couros at BLC14 – Using Social Media in Education

 

Audio

Matoko Matsushida – First Light

 

Let me know what you think!


Let’s Iron Out the Details Before We Throw Our Educational System to the Wolves

Growing up in Regina, I can think back to the time when our high school received a new scoreboard in our gym; the Coca-Cola logo brightly emblazoned above, taking up a third of the scoreboard overall. I remember at that time as well, hearing parents and teachers grumbling about the decision to accept the sponsorship, and that it was hypocritical to market a soft drink company in a gymnasium.

…whether you like it or not

This was my first thought prior to listening to the debate, and my eyes were further opened to all the deals school boards themselves had made, and continue to make that aren’t simply in the gyms or the halls, but in the classrooms, putting both negative and positive pressures on how content is taught, and to what ends.

I personally use Google and it’s attached app suite (docs, slides, classroom, etc.) extensively in my classroom. It being offered as free to individual clients, I hadn’t considered that divisions would be buying licenses to use them. Now, I don’t have a problem with Google and it’s perceived influence in the classroom. Google, to me, has innovation for the betterment of all as it’s main focus, and certainly, students have had much more of an opportunity to create, in an unencumbered way, as for the first time (in my knowledge), students can collaborate and share without the need to problem solve working through making changes to file extensions, etc. It’s also allowed my classroom to be largely paperless, which has been fantastic. Google offers a wide range of case studies that support the benefits of incorporating their tech into your school, and sure, it is Google providing the data, they do make a good many arguments.

So, Google in the classroom to be is a benefit, and if school boards need to pay to use these products, then so be it.

Pearson, not so much. My experience with Pearson products have never been positive. And according to all the woes being experienced in the United States thanks to their stranglehold over the education system, I’m not the only one.

Pearson is not about creating, it is solely about entering, compiling, and assessing data. A new product I have been encouraged to use with my students, Pearson Successmaker, is a levelled online reading program that allows students to work through texts and answer comprehension questions. The program tracks the data, and over time shows the [lack] of progress students have made. The issue with the program is, unlike Google, or other education apps like Duolingo, the program is not offering feedback to the user, rather it is solely for the teacher/admin/division. Even the data being accumulated for each student isn’t focusing specifically on specific reading difficulties, and unless the student is using it for 30 minutes, 4-5 days a week, the child falls behind, and there is no way to catch up so that the data shows gains. Rather, all my students, who through another assessment Fountas & Pinell (which has it’s own issues: different standards from SK curriculum) and my own anecdotal records have shown significant growth, Successmaker still shows them as being far below.

Any parent wanting to see the results of their child’s hard earned work at home then doesn’t provide an accurate depiction, and both parent and child end up feeling like all that effort was all for naught. Because, a graph still sadly trumps the teacher’s word. Science, right?!

Audrey Watters gave us a lot of food for thought, the first being that the relationship between schools and corporations has always existed, however the relationship has changed over time. The one that struck me most forcefully though was how the success of schools has always been put into question, and that by adopting a scientific model of management, consistency and efficiency could be maximized.

Almost better than the NES design wise, but in all other areas a big embarrassment.

Ah, Scantron, how I hated you. While I loved the opportunity to colour in some oval shapes to determine my fate on any given test, I always felt cheated because it never offered me any feedback, nor did it provide me the opportunity to use the content I had acquired in any real practical way.

It turns out Scantron, and the multiple choice test, was one of the first ways in which academic assessment was ‘legitimized’ by science. This data collection, and the scripted standardized tests provided to students were the first large scale means of collecting information that might provide insights into how schools and districts were performing. I’d like to think that the reason we don’t give kids Scantron tests anymore is because we’ve realized that these tests offer little but to justify higher up positions in ministries and to justify spending on education (or lack thereof), but sadly new technologies, namely the computer, have replaced the now antiquated Scantron.

After grading my students’ RAD tests (reading comprehension assessment, also sadly owned by Pearson) I then get the fun job of putting all the data into Pearson Inform, a convoluted program that makes a bunch of flashy graphs. And thankfully the RAD offers a lot of assessment that I can use alongside each student to build reading proficiency, but Inform does little for the individual student. If you don’t believe me, read Launa Hall’s excellent essay in which she speaks to how this data is being encouraged to be shared as a ‘data wall’ in classrooms and hallways which allow everyone to see one another’s scores as a means to motivate, but from her perspective has brought on nothing but shame, and further exposes those students who are at the bottom of Mazlow’s Hierarchy.

 

I know all my student’s abilities, and the growth they have made (teachers are professionals after all, right?) but entering this data into an overpriced piece of glitchy software seemingly justifies, and gives higher ups and the larger public the opportunity to either gloat, or condemn teachers/schools/divisions, without the personal touch of actually visiting said classroom/school/division or taking into account all the external factors that affect individual student success. This, as Audrey pointed out, is reliant upon the ongoing belief that started the scientific data collection in the first place: data collection is seen as objective and true, while teachers continue to be viewed as subjective and sympathetic; a poor litmus test of actual achievement.

So, from a teacher’s perspective, I can understand the gains a publicly funded school can benefit from creating partnerships with companies. Especially with the forever ongoing cuts to education in this province, we can gain a lot from partnering with companies that will offer us discounts to access technology such as Chromebooks, that allow more students the opportunity to create and explore in ways previously unthought of. When the purpose of said collaboration has the end goal of benefitting student learning, it’s for sure a win. However, when our school boards invest a huge chunk of their budget to companies like Pearson, the goal isn’t student success, so much as it is the need for classroom/school/division accountability in the eyes of whatever higher power that calls the shots/holds the purse strings, and the ongoing goal of using data as a means to make classrooms/schools/divisions run more efficiently.

Moving towards a LEAN model will only exacerbate this issue. Creating a more ‘efficient’ way to run our education in the province is not focused on the quality of education being provided, rather it is a means to create a model that is less of a ‘burden’ on taxpayers. But by using this data, provided by Pearson’s costly assessments, has never been, and will never be an accurate assessment of how students are really doing, and should never be used to justify how money is allocated to schools.

Of all the debates and presentations we have heard so far in this class, this one had me the most worried, if because it made me think about the big picture of how education is funded in our province, and how, should we continue down the path we have been headed, we might end up offering a publicly funded education model that mirrors the United States, namely one that uses standardized assessments extensively to make decisions, that at their heart, are not in the student’s best interests. For further reading on this depressing subject, be sure to check out the excellent blog of Daniel Katz who writes extensively about these issues.


Use Some Logic: Social Media isn’t Really Ruining Childhood

Is social media really ruining childhood? I would say that this is an overblown belief. While certainly we as a society are continually playing catch up with learning how to use social media in a socially appropriate way, we as teachers, do have the tools and curriculum to help make a change in how the perceived negative effects of social media can be greatly overturned.

So much speculation due to lack of experience with the technology, and the combined nostalgia of our own childhoods provide most families and teachers with a negative impression that social media constitutes solely of trolling and hate, without any positive aspects. Much like how murder and scandal make the headlines, as a society we tend to overemphasize and even exaggerate the negative, without thinking of the positives. As you’re likely a teacher reading this, you would agree that teachers making selfless contributions to the community/school don’t make the news.

It is this type of speculation and exaggeration that dominated the debate, with many people in the class weighing in on how terrible social media is, with either personal anecdotes, or to share a story they have heard. What was missing was that, caught up in the fervor of pitchfork raising, we failed to think critically about the positives, and most importantly how we can work towards educating students in how to navigate the turbulent seas of the internet. Social media is here, and doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon. So, rather than simply getting caught up in how much better life was when we were kids (it probably wasn’t), let’s instead teach children how to use this technology responsibly, in a controlled and monitored fashion, through gradual release.

The agree side of the argument had the tidal wave of fear mongering on their side, and it was easy to be sucked under and pinned down by such examples. I totally agree with the fact that kids today are being subjected to the naked raw experience of the internet, with little in the way to filter out being subjected to anything that can be typed into the Google searchbar. Youtube comments are full of random comments, the majority of them positive, but many of them are negative in nature. The internet has provided everyone a voice in which to share their opinion to the masses, and yes, as a result, we are going to have a lot of people throwing up negative diatribes, or simply using it as a means to troll others. On the other hand, High Tech Dad (yeah, I know, the name of the site is brutal)  offers some good reasons why we should encourage children to use social media. 

As a parent to a child getting closer and closer to the age where they will have the opportunity to experience the aforementioned ‘horrors’ for themselves, I feel the fear. But, instead of getting stuck in obsessing over the issues, I’d sooner try and find potential solutions to the problem. In thinking about my own son’s future experience, I’m not going to simply allow him to go onto whatever sites he wants. Using the Common Sense Media curriculum, I can easily find direction into how to best monitor and support my child as they make their first clicks online.

As a teacher and a parent, I can also advocate for my school/school board to ensure that a digital citizenship curriculum is being taught from an early age, and not simply a one hour presentation when the students are in Grade 7. If cyberbullying and other related issues are happening, wouldn’t it be better to provide every young child with a comprehensive understanding of how to use the internet wisely, and what to do when put in an uncompromising situation? I would argue that were all students provided this ongoing education, the rates of online bullying would dissipate, as more students would be aware of their rights, and would either know how to document the attacks in order to make a case against the bully, or wouldn’t be as willing to join in on bullying another student.

I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity to think this through from the perspective of my own son, as it has strengthened my resolve that this is an important topic not being covered to the extent that it needs to in schools. Much like Treaty Education, if we choose to ignore to teach this curriculum to our students, we are continuing to perpetuate stereotypes and myths, which inevitably will have the ongoing effect of keeping up the status quo, and ignoring the very real problems that are affecting individuals, as well as the greater community/society.
Thankfully I have taken ECI832, and have had the opportunity to disseminate the new digital citizenship curriculum in my school, and I will continue to advocate that this is something that NEEDS to be integrated into the classroom and the schools at large. To not do so will put our students at a serious disadvantage of repeating the same avoidable mistakes over and over again. 


Is Technology Truly Creating An Equitable Landscape in the Classroom?

Tonight’s first debate offered a wonderful way of looking at how technology has or hasn’t created a more equitable playing field in education.

The agree side had great points, all of which had me considering my own position as a teacher making every effort to meet the needs of the many students in my classroom. Certainly I have seen firsthand how much technology has improved the motivation and academic output of the students in my classroom. Students, for example, who are unable to read grade level texts, are capable of using apps and other tech that will allow them to listen to the text in order to understand content. Students are also able to use similar tech to record their voice, or to use speech to text to show comprehension or to express themselves. Several students who, prior to the use of this tech, were unmotivated and had to often rely on the teacher for scribe, which in a classroom with little support, gave the student little opportunity to work through problems with the teacher.

Aside from students using assistive technology, using this technology allows for greater opportunities for learning outside of the classroom. The use of Google Classroom, for example, allows teachers to provide videos and online applications that students can access outside of school time. This flipped design gives the students a better grasp of content, so class time can then be spent working on inquiry projects, and more time for students who still struggle with content and need further support.

This sounds idyllic, and easy to imagine just how much better achievement rates will improve based on these opportunities. However, the disagree side of the debate effectively threw a branch through the spokes of this smooth ride.

Thinking critically be like…

 

Ian’s side argued that these supports, that my classroom can afford to provide to its students, rely upon a number of factors, that when unmet, cannot meet the idyllic equitable situation the agree side argues technology provides.

In reflecting upon my own classroom’s success in finding an equitable balance of tech to meet and support all students learning, I pinpointed the following:

  1. Teacher training: I am one of the ‘tech’ teachers in the school, and have made it a priority to search out and learn how to use the best tools to meet my students needs. Many other teachers though, either do not have a technological aptitude, or have not taken the time  to understand how to use the technology provided to their students’ academic needs.
    This reminds me of a recent re-tweet shared to our Google + community, where George Couros speaks to the idea that teachers need to be responsible for their own PD, and this type of problem solving will make for a mastery that one cannot necessarily achieve by simply being told the step by steps. I totally agree with this sentiment, but I’m also quick to check that this type of thinking doesn’t support teachers struggling with technology, as well as it doesn’t take into account the time and pd opportunities that will need to be provided by schools in order to ensure all teachers are capable of achieving mastery.

  2. Student training: Without having a competent instructor teaching and monitoring the learning of how to effectively use the assistive technologies being offered, students will not be able to effectively take advantage of the tools to meet their greatest potential. As we all know, simply giving a student a laptop will not automatically equal success. Specific apps such as Google Read and Write will not be used to their fullest potential unless students are provided direct instruction into how best to use the tech for different end goals.
    As well, unless there exists consistent procedures and consequences regarding tech use, students will inevitably use the technology in ways that are distracting to learning.
     
  3. Access: My school, located in Regina (small, but nevertheless a city), is part of a school board that has made it a priority to provide schools with the infrastructure to access high speed internet, as well as equitable tech support for students that have been assessed as needing the technology. This makes it easy to forget that in rural areas or on reserves, either the funding, or the location, makes it impossible for students to access the technology the students need. 
  4. Access in homes: Many of my students now have computers and access to the internet. Ian’s group pointed out however, that there is a divide in how the technology is being used by students, depending on factors such as socioeconomic status, to lack of parent’s understanding on how to support their child at home to use the technology effectively to support their child’s learning. I realized that this point held true, as some students with families who are more affluent have shown more growth versus other students whose parents may be not around (due to work, etc) to monitor student’s use of online tech. 
  5. Technology does not replace one-to-one support: Many schools are currently caught up in the fervor of technosolutionism, which has led to the belief that all students, regardless of disability, will be able to find success using technology. The issue is that not all disabilities offer technological supports that provide an equitable seat in the classroom. With the increased push for an all integrated classroom, combined with a budget crunch, many school boards are simply replacing EA’s and TA’s with laptops. I have seen firsthand how this model works wonderfully when the technology meets some children’s needs (and they have all the above supports in place), but fails miserably when a student is incapable of working independently, and the technology is not fit to support their specific needs.      

So while technology certainly is working towards creating an equity that didn’t exist in the past, we still have a long way to go before assuming that technology is the catch-all solution to all learning challenges in and out of the classroom.

Banner image: MIN STEMME


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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

CC: Vanderbilt University

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

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

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


Just Google It?

Tonight’s first debate was over whether schools should be teaching anything that can be Googled. This was an excellent debate topic as it is very relevant to the frustrations I have as a teacher in my own classroom. Process to me needs to be the main focus in the ways teachers are teaching, however, it would be callous to assume that on the other hand students shouldn’t be required to memorize basic facts that support higher levels of thinking and computation.

One thing the debate topic doesn’t address is the fact that nearly everything taught in the classroom, from basic skills to specific facts on a specialized topic, is accessible in some form through Google. Basic skills need to be taught, learned, and memorized in order for a child to then later work upon this base to develop specialized skills that are specific to their interests and set goals.

In our current education model, teachers have the ability to offer a flipped classroom where students can access and learn the basic content off of a website, and even practice the skill using a Google searched, or teacher recommended online app. The only issue, as was pointed out in the debate is that this ideal model ignores the social inequity that exists in our society. Personally I have seen this model work very well for students who have 1) access to online tech at home, 2) Have consistent support and routines at home that support extended learning outside the classroom, 3) Are at a level of Bloom’s taxonomy where purposeful practice and study is diligent and is being achieved independent of a guide or mentor overseeing this progress. Unfortunately, the majority of students in my classroom do not necessarily have the support, or the dedication to push themselves to learn and practice simply through technology.

Technology, as we argued last week, is simply a tool, that when used effectively (both in and out of the classroom) can pay dividends towards motivation, memorization, and application of any particular skill, whether it be the multiplication table, Japanese, grammar, etc. This isn’t to say that it is always the ideal means of teaching however, but can be a lead or supplemental to the understanding of any given topic.

I will attempt to add Xzibit memes to every blog post from here on in…

 

Curriculums are moving away from the memorization of facts, and are pushing for experiential and hands-on ways of applying basic skills towards higher level thinking processes. This provides students with the opportunity to put these basic skills, learned both through online sources and in the classroom, through  a variety of different applications, moving towards increasingly challenging and more abstract (outside of the initial frame of reference to which it was taught/learned) applications.

So, let’s remind ourselves as teachers that first of all, students need to learn how to use the tools effectively to maximize their learning, and to realize that Google is not the end all of knowledge: in order to develop and master any particular skill, we must apply the skill in a variety of situations to help us refine the skill to use it most effectively. Do we need to do this all the time? No. There are many random facts, such as knowledge of all state capitals or how to fix a broken PS3 that are one time uses which don’t offer much in the way of a starting point for further exploration. However, with a skill based question in mind, Google serves as a jumping off point to take and refine ideas to improve one’s own skill set. Take cooking for example. When I need to find a killer recipe, I head over to seriouseats, as through researching different sites, I find their writing and recipes consistently motivating, challenging and, well, tasty! This interest though, while it certainly started through the use of seriouseats moved me into ordering cookbooks, talking to and cooking meals with others, getting feedback from friends and family, etc. Through using Google as a means of acquiring skill and culinary information, I have build up a level of skill that has been refined through ongoing practical application and real world feedback.

Anders Ericsson was the scientist behind Malcom Gladwell’s popularization of the fact that it simply takes 10,000 hours to master a skill, whether it be composition, to basketball. Giving students easy access to technology that will allow them to better research and practice any given chosen skill is then very beneficial for motivation in working towards achieving these 10,000 hours.

While driving home from the lake this weekend I was listening to a Freakonomics podcast about this very same topic, and it turns out, it isn’t simply the 10,000 hours that makes a master. Rather it is the deliberate practice of a skill, or rather the meta-cognitive understanding of how the skill is put together that matters most, paired with a mentor who is consistently ensuring that the deliberate practice is maintained and is working toward meeting the ongoing SMART goals being set.

I enjoyed listening to this as it kept me from falling asleep at the wheel, and that it again cements the idea that technology is a very effective tool when used appropriately. Like anything, if the tool and the process is not being used effectively, growth will not occur. Simply going out and running at a slow rate for a long period of time will not push the body to create the changes that will enable you to become a better, faster runner. Instead, doing the research into what the most effective means of running for the specific goal you have in mind, paired with a way of tracking and monitoring growth will enable your body to make the necessary adaptations through stress.

Google is amazing, but it isn’t the end of the road.


WEEK 1 RECAP: Technology in the Classroom Enhances Learning

Wow, what a fun week! I am always a little apprehensive about group work, especially when time is of the essence, but I have to say I lucked out with two fantastic partners in Erin and Kyle. The format of the debate was also new to me, as I hadn’t done any formal debate since high school in history class. Rather than simply talk for the first 5 minutes, we decided to do it in style, showcasing just how much more a visually engaging video might provide a better platform for our opening argument. Check it out below:

In the end we came up with a fairly comprehensive list of what we believed were solid strengths for technology being an asset towards learning:

  • Decreased learning challenges for LD and EAL learners
  • Increased collaboration (between peers, between teacher and students, and on a global scale)
  • Connects students to experts within different fields (i.e. via Twitter)
  • Increase student engagement
  • Supports personalized learning
  • Gives a voice to those uncomfortable sharing face-to-face
  • Provides students with an increased audience (blogging)
  • Allows students to be producers and not only consumers of knowledge (shift from read-only culture to read-write culture)
  • Open source resources mean students are learning from up to date sources, not outdated textbooks
  • Allows students to create a positive digital presence which will be beneficial beyond the K-12 school experience
  • Breaks down geographical barriers (distance learning for individuals from remote communities)

While much of this was culled from simple online searches and the personal experience we have had with technology on our own learning and that of our students, there do exist many studies that conclusively show the benefits of technological aids on learning. Adebisi, Liman, & Longpoe’s (2015) article on Using assistive technology in teaching children with learning disabilities in the 21st century provides not only a solid overview of the benefits of assistive tech as well as many options available to the learning environment, but as well a reminder that this technology is but a tool, and needs to be used appropriately to enhance learning:

• Assistive technology can only enhance basic skills, and not replacing them. It should be used as part of the educational process, and can be used to teach basic skills.

• Assistive technology for children with disabilities is more than an educational tool; it is a fundamental work tool that is comparable to pencil and paper for non-disabled children.

• Children with disabilities use assistive technology to access and use standard tools, complete educational tasks, and participate on an equal basis with their developing peers in the regular educational environment.

• The use of assistive technology does not automatically make educational and commercial software/tools accessible or usable.

• An assistive technology evaluation conducted by a professional, knowledgeable in regular and assistive technology, is needed to determine whether a child requires assistive technology devices and services and should be specified in the children’s instructional plans.

 

• Assistive technology evaluation must address the alternative and augmentative communication needs, that is, ability to communicate needs and change the environment for children with disabilities.

• To be effective, an assistive technology evaluation should be ongoing process.

It is in these points that I believe our awesome adversaries (that had the arduous position to argue against tech as a benefit to learning) had some strong arguments. Technology, in the form of PC’s, tablets, etc. has become more and more prevalent in the classroom, each with their own variety of educational apps. The issue, which I also agree with, is that without explicit instruction on how to use the apps appropriately, tied with tech support in the classroom and solid classroom management, technology can and will be used inappropriately, resulting in distraction and less overall effort toward completing tasks.

I think Kyle’s counterargument, in that technology as a tool has been used for centuries, and that teachers need to rise to the occasion and become competent in understanding and using the same tech as their students in order to teach them to use it effectively, and to assist them in using their tools and their time effectively.

In case you were wondering how the video was made:

After meeting and deciding on three focuses, we each recorded our separate sections using the voice record on our phones, and sent them up into the cloud. I then used an app called Clip Grab to pull videos off of online sites that fit the content of the voice recordings. Using iMovie, I then cut all the clips to appropriate sizes, removing irrelevant content that didn’t fit with the content. Sticking the audio clips in the audio track, I then cobbled together all the smaller clips into a narrative. Finally I added the titles which had relevant quotes and information I felt were necessary to get the point across.
To wrap up, here’s an interesting article I found that corresponds to how much more effective visual ads are in catching the attention of a viewer, over traditional text or speech based forms of advertisement.

Oh, one last thing, Ian (and Urkel) has done a fantastic job of working through the pros and cons. Check it out here


Major Project Rollout

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

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

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

Reflecting Upon the Need for Media Literacy in Our Classrooms

Digital Literacy Implementation: Not as Easy as it Seemed…

On the Digital Citizenship Trail: Bushwakking Through Articles

The Benefits of Incorporating Peer Assessment into a Game Development Project

Making Parents Accountable: The Missing Piece To Digital Citizenship Education

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

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

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

Back Breaking Major Project

What’s the Point?

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

 

 


ECI832 – Summary of Learning

Yay! The summary is done! I’ve used a mash-up approach to my summary of learning, which like in ECI831 seemed to fit the class. You’ll notice right away that I am taking clips that I have found online, and have repurposed them (in some ways more obvious than others) to fit the content of the video. Many of the clips were found on archive.org, a website that offers a wide variety of public domain, or Creative Commons licensed work. Other clips were taken from youtube using a Chrome add-on. The last time I made my summary of learning for ECI831, I wasn’t so worried about copyright infringement, as I knew that this was for educational purposes, because I was using select clips, and lastly because I figured my audience would be in the +10’s, and so I would fly under the radar.

This class, and the research I did when compiling the website I made for my final project, helped me to better understand what is and isn’t ok. The best way to quickly summarize how fair use works is to watch this video by Common Sense Media:

This helped me to ensure that anything I was using was justified because it fell within the 4 Points of Fair Use. The only portion I gave credit to was the music, which was something I just didn’t have the time to do myself. Lindstrom is an amazing musician from Norway, and aside from the track being solid, it also met the time requirements for a song without needing to loop, and thus draw attention to.

I wish I had a better mic as the sound quality of the voice isn’t as great as I would like. I would also have liked to have had access to higher quality video files, as when they are blown up full screen, they lose a lot of their quality.

The video was created entirely in iMovie.

I hope you enjoyed the summary. Let me know what you thought!