Category Archives: technology

Disconnect to Reconect

reconnect

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It is surprising to think that the little devices we carry with us have such a hold on us.  We constantly check in on our Facebook accounts, take photos, post them and check for likes and shares.  Very few of us go without cell phones for more than a few minutes let alone a few days.  The concept of unplugging has become a bit of a buzz word these days and the concept has been explored by tech wizards and numerous blogs.  Unplugging or detoxing has been lauded for it’s merits as an activity to cleanse the mind and the soul.  But is it all it’s cracked up to be?  Is it necessary to unplug when everything we do is linked to tech and social media?  Life is about finding balance and it just seems as though in the fight between screen time and living in the moment, screens are winning by a long shot.

be there

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The reality is that it’s actually healthy to take breaks from social media and technology from time to time.  Many studies have shown that cognitive function and memory are affected by constant social media checking and idle web surfing.  The brain is like a muscle.  Although it doesn’t move, it does require time to develop and grow after new information is added.  We could consider this processing time.  In fact, studies have shown that taking a break from screens and tech periodically can recharge the brain and improve memory.  Here are some other interesting stats…

  • 84% of cell phone users claim they could not go a single day without their device. (source)
  • 67% of cell phone owners check their phone for messages, alerts, or calls — even when they don’t notice their phone ringing or vibrating.(source)
  • Studies indicate some mobile device owners check their devices every 6.5 minutes. (source)
  • 88% of U.S. consumers use mobile devices as a second screen even while watching television. (source)
  • Almost half of cell owners have slept with their phone next to their bed because they wanted to make sure they didn’t miss any calls. (source)
  • Traditional TV viewing eats up over six days (144 hours, 54 minutes) worth of time per month. (source)
  • Some researchers have begun labeling “cell phone checking” as the new yawn because of its contagious nature. (source)

unplug

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I think we’ve all experienced situations such as the ones mentioned during the debate by Dean, Janelle, and Kyle.  I still find it incredibly rude when someone is in the middle of a conversation and the other person pulls out his/her phone.  As stated above, you may have even compulsively pulled out your phone when you saw someone else doing it (much like yawns being contagious).  Now I am not saying that I am without reproach in this regard.  I too carry my phone with me almost all of the time.  I do try to keep it in my pocket when in social situations and having kids has really opened my eyes to the dangers of not living in the moment.  I have been at countless swimming lessons, soccer games and play dates during which not a single parent was actually engaging with their kids or watching them at all.  What could distract these parents from watching their 3 year olds having a blast in the pool or scoring a goal?  As I look around the field or pool deck I consistently see moms and dads hunched over cell phones and tablets, unaware of what’s happening around them.  I am not in a place to judge at all.  Maybe these parents are responding to urgent emails.  Maybe they are preparing something for work the next day.  But, I can imagine that at least some of these parents are engaged in social media activities.  Here is another viewpoint on unplugging shared by a teenager named Lane Sutton, a tech and social media wonderkind.

So, I practice being in the moment.  I make a concerted effort to be in every story, joke or activity with my kids because they are such little sponges.  They notice what we may not always perceive.  My little girl said to me the other day, “Daddy put your phone away and come outside with me.”  She’s 2 and she is already realizing that with my phone in front of me she does not have my full attention.  I realize that we will never be able to denounce technology.  It is now too ingrained in our lives.  Social media has a stranglehold on the way in which we interact with the world.  Even my 87 year-old Grandmother checks her Facebook profile on her Ipad daily to see pictures of her grandchildren and great grandchildren.  The key has to be moderation.  Take some time this week to take a break from social media and screens and take part in an activity you love without posting the results or waiting for likes.  Enjoy the smiles on the faces of your family members without snapping a photo.  Get some exercise without posting your workout to social media or fitness apps.  You’ll find rejuvenation of mind, body and soul.

Here are some other great reasons to unplug:

1) Leave behind jealousy, envy, and loneliness

2) Combat FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)

3) Find solitude (there is value in having alone time)

4) Life is happening right in front of you (don’t miss out for FOMO)

5) Promote Creation over Consumption (take time to create something)

6) Once the device is gone the level of addiction can truly be understood (as we all know when we have forgotten our phones)

7) Life is about flesh, blood and eye contact

Everything in moderation, as someone once said.

-Almost everything will work again if you unplug for a few minutes….Including you!-  Anne Lamott

 

 

 

 

 


Unplugging. What does it mean to you?

We ended our semester with a final Great Ed Tech Debate and it was definitely a great debate. The focus was looking at whether or not we have become too dependent on technology and if what we really need is to unplug. I think this is an extremely important topic to discuss for everyone, not just those of us in our class.  Technology has become a part of our modern day lives, but do we rely on it too much? Do we really need to be on our phones as much as we are? 

Photo Credit: functoruser via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: functoruser via Compfight cc

The first group agreed that we do need to unplug because we are becoming too dependent as well as lonely. The connections that we make online may give us a false sense of our ‘real life’ relationships. Even though we are more connected now than ever before, many people are feel more lonely. As humans we crave intimacy and scientists have proven that to be intimate you need to be vulnerable which requires courage. Social media removes vulnerability and courage because we can pick and choose what we want to say, when we want to say it and how we want to say it. I’m sure we’ve all written a status or post to go back and re-write it 2 or 3 times until it’s exactly the way we want it to sound (or hope it to sound). It is interesting to think about that when we think about all of the statuses and updates we read in a day. How many are authentic? Or are they all authentic? Maybe even more authentic because we have the opportunity to think about what we want to say and put our thoughts together in a way that really gets our points out there?

Studies have also found that using technology can be just as addictive as drugs and that many millennials are becoming attached to their phones.  I think that there is a lot of pressure for students to keep up with everything on social media. Even for myself, I often find myself suffering from “FOMO” (fear of missing out) even though my friends and family don’t even update things that much. I find myself going back and forth between different social media apps throughout the day checking in to make sure I didn’t miss some major announcement like an engagement, pregnancy or birth. The constant ‘need’ to check in seems to be something that just happens naturally throughout the day. It’s almost as if I do it without thinking…it’s an automatic action. I often wonder why I feel the need to check in so often. I’m really not missing out on anything but the moment that’s happening right in front of me in ‘real life’. I try to make a conscious effort to put my phone in a different room while I am with my kids so that it’s not a distraction. But then they start doing something cute and I immediately go to reach for my phone to capture them on camera. Not having my phone with me, I usually run to grab it and by the time I get back the moment has passed. If I had my phone I would have been able to capture the moment.

Photo Credit: Martino's doodles via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Martino’s doodles via Compfight cc

But does capturing the moment on my phone have the same affect as capturing it with my own eyes without my device? A study has shown that we enjoy some moments more when we capture it with our phones. I would totally agree with these findings. However I do think that there is a difference between experiencing something while capturing every moment of it with our phones and experiencing it without capturing every moment with our phones. I think that taking pictures/videos can be a great way to experience an event. It’s nice to have something to look back on. But just like everything else I think there needs to be a balance. At a Garth Brooks concert I was at a few weeks ago, a lady in front of me recorded the WHOLE THING on her phone! She was basically watching the whole concert through her phone screen. Half the time the image being recorded was blurry because she was zoomed in and she wasn’t able to follow him the whole time because he moved all over. We made the comment that she will wake up in the morning and realize that wasn’t the best decision. Now if she had a tripod or something set up to record it so she could watch the whole thing in person and then be able to watch a quality recording of the video the next day, that would be a different story. I took some videos and a few pictures, but I knew I didn’t want to be on my phone the whole time because I would miss out on the experience I wanted in going to see him. I can watch youtube videos of his performances any day, so I wanted to make sure that I took it all in while I was there in person. Did I take some pictures and videos? Of course I did…two pictures before of me and the people I was with, and three short Snapchat videos of a few of my favourite songs. Do I regret not taking more? Not one bit.

Moving to the disagree side I have to admit I completely agree that it almost seems impossible to fully unplug. Even when we are in our cars, going for a walk or run, camping, travelling we are connected in someway. We use our phones to capture images that we will most likely share when we get a chance. Even when we are offline we are thinking about the online world. In reality, our offline and online worlds are not two distinct parts of our lives, they are our whole lives existing as one augmented reality.  It’s pretty clear that our online lives can exist without a lot of our offline lives, but do our offline lives depend on our online lives in the same way? Our offline lives existed long before our online lives, but this isn’t the case for our children who have been born with a digital life right from the day they were born without having any say about it. The idea of unplugging is something that our children will have to learn to manage more than we have had to because technology is still fairly new for most of us (10-15 years). Unplugging may also mean something different to each person. To me, unplugging is stepping away from social media most of all, and putting away our devices. I personally don’t worry about unplugging from TV but maybe that’s because I don’t use it too often, or I feel like when I do use it it’s to watch the news or a movie with my kids which I would consider to be positive uses.

Technology certainly plays a large role in our lives. It allows us to connect with people near and far. We can network, build friendships, meet new people and find communities that we feel welcome in. It allows us to video chat or FaceTime with no added cost. It helps us manage our personal lives including our mental and physical health. I think we can all see value in technology and appreciate social media but we have to be aware of the amount of time we spend on the devices we have. When it starts to take precedence over quality time spent face to face with our family, friends, spouses and kids I think we need to take a step back and think about how we can unplug and reconnect with the people around us.

Photo Credit: rbatina via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: rbatina via Compfight cc


Unplugging. What does it mean to you?

We ended our semester with a final Great Ed Tech Debate and it was definitely a great debate. The focus was looking at whether or not we have become too dependent on technology and if what we really need is to unplug. I think this is an extremely important topic to discuss for everyone, not just those of us in our class.  Technology has become a part of our modern day lives, but do we rely on it too much? Do we really need to be on our phones as much as we are? 

Photo Credit: functoruser via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: functoruser via Compfight cc

The first group agreed that we do need to unplug because we are becoming too dependent as well as lonely. The connections that we make online may give us a false sense of our ‘real life’ relationships. Even though we are more connected now than ever before, many people are feel more lonely. As humans we crave intimacy and scientists have proven that to be intimate you need to be vulnerable which requires courage. Social media removes vulnerability and courage because we can pick and choose what we want to say, when we want to say it and how we want to say it. I’m sure we’ve all written a status or post to go back and re-write it 2 or 3 times until it’s exactly the way we want it to sound (or hope it to sound). It is interesting to think about that when we think about all of the statuses and updates we read in a day. How many are authentic? Or are they all authentic? Maybe even more authentic because we have the opportunity to think about what we want to say and put our thoughts together in a way that really gets our points out there?

Studies have also found that using technology can be just as addictive as drugs and that many millennials are becoming attached to their phones.  I think that there is a lot of pressure for students to keep up with everything on social media. Even for myself, I often find myself suffering from “FOMO” (fear of missing out) even though my friends and family don’t even update things that much. I find myself going back and forth between different social media apps throughout the day checking in to make sure I didn’t miss some major announcement like an engagement, pregnancy or birth. The constant ‘need’ to check in seems to be something that just happens naturally throughout the day. It’s almost as if I do it without thinking…it’s an automatic action. I often wonder why I feel the need to check in so often. I’m really not missing out on anything but the moment that’s happening right in front of me in ‘real life’. I try to make a conscious effort to put my phone in a different room while I am with my kids so that it’s not a distraction. But then they start doing something cute and I immediately go to reach for my phone to capture them on camera. Not having my phone with me, I usually run to grab it and by the time I get back the moment has passed. If I had my phone I would have been able to capture the moment.

Photo Credit: Martino's doodles via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Martino’s doodles via Compfight cc

But does capturing the moment on my phone have the same affect as capturing it with my own eyes without my device? A study has shown that we enjoy some moments more when we capture it with our phones. I would totally agree with these findings. However I do think that there is a difference between experiencing something while capturing every moment of it with our phones and experiencing it without capturing every moment with our phones. I think that taking pictures/videos can be a great way to experience an event. It’s nice to have something to look back on. But just like everything else I think there needs to be a balance. At a Garth Brooks concert I was at a few weeks ago, a lady in front of me recorded the WHOLE THING on her phone! She was basically watching the whole concert through her phone screen. Half the time the image being recorded was blurry because she was zoomed in and she wasn’t able to follow him the whole time because he moved all over. We made the comment that she will wake up in the morning and realize that wasn’t the best decision. Now if she had a tripod or something set up to record it so she could watch the whole thing in person and then be able to watch a quality recording of the video the next day, that would be a different story. I took some videos and a few pictures, but I knew I didn’t want to be on my phone the whole time because I would miss out on the experience I wanted in going to see him. I can watch youtube videos of his performances any day, so I wanted to make sure that I took it all in while I was there in person. Did I take some pictures and videos? Of course I did…two pictures before of me and the people I was with, and three short Snapchat videos of a few of my favourite songs. Do I regret not taking more? Not one bit.

Moving to the disagree side I have to admit I completely agree that it almost seems impossible to fully unplug. Even when we are in our cars, going for a walk or run, camping, travelling we are connected in someway. We use our phones to capture images that we will most likely share when we get a chance. Even when we are offline we are thinking about the online world. In reality, our offline and online worlds are not two distinct parts of our lives, they are our whole lives existing as one augmented reality.  It’s pretty clear that our online lives can exist without a lot of our offline lives, but do our offline lives depend on our online lives in the same way? Our offline lives existed long before our online lives, but this isn’t the case for our children who have been born with a digital life right from the day they were born without having any say about it. The idea of unplugging is something that our children will have to learn to manage more than we have had to because technology is still fairly new for most of us (10-15 years). Unplugging may also mean something different to each person. To me, unplugging is stepping away from social media most of all, and putting away our devices. I personally don’t worry about unplugging from TV but maybe that’s because I don’t use it too often, or I feel like when I do use it it’s to watch the news or a movie with my kids which I would consider to be positive uses.

Technology certainly plays a large role in our lives. It allows us to connect with people near and far. We can network, build friendships, meet new people and find communities that we feel welcome in. It allows us to video chat or FaceTime with no added cost. It helps us manage our personal lives including our mental and physical health. I think we can all see value in technology and appreciate social media but we have to be aware of the amount of time we spend on the devices we have. When it starts to take precedence over quality time spent face to face with our family, friends, spouses and kids I think we need to take a step back and think about how we can unplug and reconnect with the people around us.

Photo Credit: rbatina via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: rbatina via Compfight cc


In the blink of an eye

This semester seemed to go by in the blink of an eye! I forgot about just how quickly spring classes fly by. For my summary of learning I decided to try something different and make a movie using iMovie. I haven’t used iMovie since I was an undergrad 10 years ago and I am definitely rusty. My editing skills peaked at the 10 second mark and went downhill from there (ha ha) but I did my best to make it work.

With this being my third class with Alec & Katia you would think that doing the summary of learning would get easier but IT DOESN’T! At least not for me. I find that each semester everyone sets the bar higher and higher which is fantastic for my viewing and learning pleasure, but not so fantastic for me when it comes to creating my own summary. From what I have seen so far everyone has done an AMAZING job of not only summarizing your learning, but doing it in a creative way! You’ll see from my video that my artistic abilities are nothing to write home about especially after seeing what Dre can do (talk about talented)! I always find it so difficult to sum up my learning into a short video and to match the video/pictures up with my voiceover. I tried to focus on the points that stood out to me in the class rather than trying to talk about EVERYTHING (because that seems impossible). I do find the whole thing challenging in so many ways, but I am happy with my final product.

Thanks to everyone for sharing your knowledge throughout the semester and presenting such awesome arguments during the debate. Personally I thought the debates were a great way to encourage us to view an issue from both sides and to critically discuss both sides of the issue. I like that it forced everyone to get involved and allowed us to have some pretty powerful discussions. I’m looking forward to the fall semester and hope to see some of you in the Zoom room again! Have a  great summer everyone!

 


Can We Fight the Future?

simpsons2

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In many ways I’m disappointed that this class has come to an end.  Discussing edtech issues with fellow educators from all over the country has been a privilege.  I have definitely had to evaluate my point of view and it has undergone changes again and again.  I have been challenged to think critically about how I use technology in my classroom and I have even been presented with issues that I had not previously considered.  It was intriguing to speak with fellow educators who have very different viewpoints on educational technology.  It was very encouraging to discover that whether teachers are for or against edtech, a genuine love for students and a concentration on their needs was foremost.  Throughout the course I came to several key realizations which I will attempt to summarize here.

edtech501bumpersticker

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The first debate covered the merits of technology in the classroom and I came to the conclusion that technology for the sake of itself is a perilous venture.  Each integration of technology in the classroom must be weighed and measured for it’s ability to enhance the learning for students.  Teachers should not be scared to abandon certain aspects of their edtech strategy if it proves inefficient or contrary to learning.  Secondly, we discussed whether we should be teaching content that can be found on Google.  I came to a strong realization that there are certain pieces of information that must be scaffolded and therefore must be memorized.  However, I also am a strong believer in challenging students with critical questions and real world problems that cannot be simply searched.  Practical application and skill development are key skills for the 21st century.  When it comes to the role of technology in our health and wellness, I came away with the notion that in many ways screen time, online bullying, and the stresses placed upon children due to technology are indeed affecting our youth.  Although there are many instances in which technology can provide health benefits, if we are truly considering all health aspects including mental health, it seems as though a balanced approach to tech use with youth is warranted.  Ian makes a great point about the resiliency of kids which i think is necessary to keep in mind.   In the fourth debate we tackled the question of openness and sharing in educational settings.  I am still of the opinion that we need to do right by our students and be cautious with how and why we share on social media.  However, some of the greatest lightbulb moments in my classroom have come from making connections with classrooms and individuals from around the world.  It has truly opened my students eyes to a different worldview.

open

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Tech for equity was another tough topic to tackle but due to my experiences overseas, I still had to come to the conclusion that although technology has made great strides for equity and that the bar continues to be raised, there is still much work to be done.  There are definitely many more marginalized voices being heard because of technology but at the same time, without equal access for all, it can hardly be equitable.  Social media is a huge reason why so many more people are interconnected.  However, it is also clearly playing a major role in the development of children in our society.  As previously mentioned, the sheer number of hours spent in front of screens on social media is staggering compared to even 5 years ago.  In my opinion, this is also an area teachers must approach with good modelling and a balanced strategy.  The appropriate use of social media for positivity must be a part of every classroom.  As Andy states in his summary, “with the right dosage and application, technology has the ability to enrich our lives, not harm them, but it must be used appropriately, responsibly, and we must be explicitly taught directions for use.”  If not, we will continue to see students who are depressed, overweight, stressed out, lacking sleep and unable to communicate face to face.

Lastly we discussed the corporatization of education and the role that companies now play in the future of our children.  Once again I was reminded that these types of decisions must always be made with students’ best interests in mind.  Education is a market that is ready to be tapped by many companies that would love a piece of the pie.  We need to ask ourselves, what’s the cost to our kids? and is it worth it?  I’m looking forward to discussing the overuse of technology and the necessity of unplugging from time to time as well.

In general I have come away with several key learnings from the course this term.  I’m calling these Luke’s Keys to Edtech Use.  Although they may seem simple, when applied to the issues discussed above, they have proven to be extremely good reminders when implemented in practice.  In essence, we will not be able to fight the future.  This is the way the world is headed.  What we can do is insure that students are first and foremost, that we are giving kids a balanced education, and that we are modelling what it means to live in a digital world.  Can we fight the future?  I certainly think we would be foolish to try.

Luke’s Keys to Edtech Issues

  1. Keep Kids First
  2. Take a Balanced Approach
  3. Model Model Model

key

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In the spirit of the debate format of the class, Steve and I decided to record a podcast in which we tackled and summarized some of the issues presented in this course. We expound upon these in the following podcast.  We also researched some helpful links in our show notes to further explore these topics.  Please enjoy the debut episode of “Steve’s Wrong vs. No I’m Not”


Have we sold our soul?

This week was by far the toughest debate topic for me to wrap my head around. Maybe it’s because my head was in the sand with regards to this topic prior to the debate. Before the debate I hadn’t really given that much thought to the role that corporations play in our schools. Obviously I know they are involved as we use their textbooks and resources on a daily basis. But I hadn’t really thought about what they are gaining from having their materials in our schools. I know how businesses work and I know that they are getting richer anytime we buy resources from them but I have never given it much thought beyond this.

Photo Credit: One Way Stock via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: One Way Stock via Compfight cc

I found myself reading a lot of blogs this week because I wasn’t quite sure which side I agreed with. Just like Erin, I feel that if schools want to have resources and funding that sometimes we might have to go beyond what the government is giving us. Let’s be honest, in recent years education hasn’t exactly received any huge payouts by the government so it would be helpful if we could look to the private sectors to help out. However, that being said we need to be mindful of the reasons why corporations want to be involved because most of the time it is to benefit themselves in some way. Kelsie did a great job of discussing this in her last post. We need to consider the reasons corporations want to be involved with education and ask ourselves the why questions.

In our chat on Tuesday we brought up the idea of companies funding schools or providing bursary’s where students receiving funding would have to agree to give back to the company by working for them for an agreed term. My friend was given a scholarship from Shoppers Drug Mart in while she was in pharmacy at the U of S and part of her getting the scholarship meant she had to agree to work with Shoppers at a location in a smaller city in Saskatchewan for two years after completing school. I think this is a fair way for them to help out. She was given help in paying for her school and in return she provided them with work for two years. After the two years were up she was able to leave and work wherever she wanted. Not a bad deal, but I know that’s not always the way things work.

Photo Credit: torbakhopper via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: torbakhopper via Compfight cc

One thing that really struck me while reading and thinking back to the debate and chat was the idea that education is thought of as a business. Typically most businesses make money, in terms of education, that just isn’t the case. Schools don’t make money. We spend money. We spend money on resources and teachers to provide an education to students who we hope will become contributing members of society. The money is spent on investing in the future through these students. It seems as though the government is always looking at ways to cut spending and save money in education. I agree that there are probably areas that we can save money like transportation, printing and supervision but in my mind, if we cut back in those areas in order to save, that money should be put towards other areas. I feel like if we do cut back that they will just continue us to cutback in all areas rather than taking the money and using it for educational assistants or more support staff.

In terms Pearson and everything I learned about that corporation this week, I don’t know what to think. First off, I didn’t realize they were a British company (I had assumed Canadian). I also didn’t realize that they create so many of the standardized tests for the United States. I thought that we had a pretty large number of standardized tests here in Canada but I was amazed to hear how many some states have. My problem with these tests is that they are all the same. There is no adaptations for anyone and I believe them to be biased in many ways. At my school we find that they can be culturally biased so students who have come from other countries struggle to answer the questions properly. We have to question what the goals of the standardized tests are. Are they really helping students? Is the data helping teachers see student weaknesses? Are students taking the tests seriously (insert student groans and eye rolls here)? We mentioned in class that teachers have a good idea of where their students stand academically without the tests, so does it make sense to have them? I know the standardized part of it plays a big role in government decisions and statistics because all students are scored using the same evaluation and test. I don’t teach any classes that involve standardized tests so I can’t comment much more on them but John Oliver always does a great job of shedding light on a controversial topic in a humorous way and he does just that in this video about standardized tests.

The last thing I wanted to comment on is the idea of evaluating teachers based on standardized test scores. There are so many ways this could go wrong. You could have the teacher that teaches ONLY what is on the test and leaves out anything else in the curriculum missing valuable material. You could have a dishonest teacher hint towards answers or give answers to students to increase scores. What about when students find out that teachers are being paid and evaluated based on the test scores? If they don’t like you, will they purposely answer incorrectly? These are all things that we have to take into consideration and I don’t believe that we should pay teachers based on these scores. There are far too many things that could go wrong if this happens. Teachers should be evaluated by superintendents or school administration who are able to observe the teacher teach on a number of occasions.

I think I just rambled on and on and I’m not sure I made much sense, but I’m not sure I fully understand all the details in order to provide a strong response. It’s a different look at education involving politics and business which I’m not well versed in. I hope I was at least able to give you something to think about.


Good intentions and what is morally just make EdTech equitable.

Equity versus equality.

Equity involves an attempt to level the playing field for all as exemplified in the picture below.

equality doesnt mean equity

Health Equity via CommunityView.ca

The importance of this concept was made more apparent in the presence of “straight pride week” posters and social media posts appearing recently in light of pride week… and people sometimes fail to make the connection that equality is not equality without equity. And despite the use of social media to spread this hate and discrimination, technology still can be used as a force for equity.

straight pride

Straight Pride Posters Removed via Worldnow

 

 

Equity, education, technology and well-intentioned actions.

Technology can be a force for equity in society. It can provide health and learning alternatives for those at risk or at a disadvantage and seek to level the playing field for individuals. These actions are practised with good intentions for helping others. Some emphasize that using these technologies widens the achievement gap between rich and poor students and that may be the case in some instances, exacerbating socio-economic divides. Well-intentioned actions (more on this next week) can lead to further issues and may place importance on skills related to certain forms of technology that may make individuals more equipped for life in another culture rather than helping them to develop their own. As it applies to education, every effort needs to be made to educate our youth to put them in the best position to be successful learners and citizens, and while there are potential repercussions, decisions made in good conscience/faith need to be encouraged while productive feedback is provided. Well-intentioned actions may be flawed, but with the students in mind and the potential for enhancement of their learning, the process of integrating these technologies is worth practising. Technology, apps, robots and devices are developed with the intention to serve a need in society and many of these needs today are to bridge gaps, regardless of the paycheck associated with it (there is a host of issues with that as well, however). Just as there are needs in society, there are needs in the classroom. Literary needs, language needs, even motor skill needs. 

Socio-economic divides, do these technologies actually help?

Technology in the classroom may not actually improve performance in classrooms. And the introduction of these new technologies when made available to all will likely only be used by those with the resources to acquire it. This doesn’t mean it isn’t worth creating or practising. By that logic, a new, expensive, potentially life-saving practice for heart disease shouldn’t be allowed or encouraged as it will further push the divide as rich people with heart disease will be able to live longer while those who cannot afford it may not be able to. Morally, all should have access to it, but is our reality consistent with this? No. And there is the potential that this technology can someday be made more accessible for all. But for now, one student, even if there are rich that has a learning disability and there is an app that helps them learn, it’s worth it. I understand the associated issues with what the creation and subsequent use of technologies provide, but what is the potential solution then? Equal/equitable access for all so that these technologies may not be privatised? Complete societal upheaval and restructuring? It’s not feasible. I don’t intend to be pessimistic, mind you, quite the contrary. The creation and use of these technologies for health and learning present an opportunity for learning and well-being… and when these occur, equity can follow and I am optimistic despite potential short-term gap widening, the benefits and morality of equitable tech casts a shadow over it.

 

The moral question I ask is: Is an act done with good intentions and is morally just, but has potential consequences, wrong?

A loaded question. And while bad decisions have been made in the past with good intentions, with the right research and preparation, the moral good that technology can provide in the learning and health for some outweighs the potential gap-widening problems.

Debatable, no doubt. Thoughts?

Logan Petlak


Does social media need a time out?

This week we looked at whether or not social media is ruining childhood. The debate was really well done by both sides and although I agreed with the statement that it is ruining childhood, after reading some of the blogs this week I don’t know if I truly feel that way. If there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s being really indecisive and sitting on the fence ha ha. Thanks to Jeremy and Amy for making it hard for me to stick to my original stance on the agree side.

Let me start with discussing the agree side which was the side that I was originally leaning towards. There were a few reasons I was leaning more towards this side than the other. The first is the issue with different mental health issues that can be brought on by technology.  Stress, sleep deprivation, cyberbullying and depression are all issues that children deal with when using technology and social media. I know what you’re thinking – “these issues existed before technology and social media were around.”  And you would be right in saying that. Stress, bullying, sleep deprivation and depression have been around since the beginning of time I’m sure. However, I do believe that technology and social media have played a big role in the intensity of these issues in adolescents. Technology adds to stress because we are constantly comparing ourselves to others through social media.

Stress might come from maintaining a large network of Facebook friends, feeling jealous of their well-documented and well-appointed lives, the demands of replying to text messages, the addictive allure of photos of fantastic crafts on Pinterest, having to keep up with status updates on Twitter, and the “fear of missing out” on activities in the lives of friends and family – Pew Research Center

Bullying has always existed, but recent bullying statistics show that there are more ways to bully someone using technology compared to times when technology didn’t exist. Technology makes bullying a lot harder to escape because it can follow the victim long after they have left. Sleep deprivation caused by increased use of technology and having devices in our rooms can lead to decreased attention span, drowsiness, depression and decreased grades. Social Media Depression may be something that we need to have more open conversations with our children (and even ourselves) about.

I also agree that social media is hurting the development of face to face communication skills in our youth and even adults. It is also difficult to communicate through text because we can easily misinterpret the tone of the message being sent. Take a look at this short video and see if it looks familiar. I’m sure most of us have been in a situation where we have misinterpreted a text or email and have had to clarify what we meant over the phone or face to face. When it comes to communicating face to face 55% of communication is body language, 38% is the tone of voice, and 7% is the actual words spoken. Body language and tone of voice play a huge role in this and when we communicate using technology those aspects are removed. It can be difficult to communicate face to face if we don’t develop the right skills to do it. In order to better communicate face to face we need time to practice.

The last thing that I have to say about it affecting childhood in a bad way is the false sense of ‘friendship’ they are receiving. Although this study has shown that 52% of students feel social media has helped make their friendships stronger I have to question that. I have to question whether having over 1000+ friends on social media makes students feel like they have a truly strong group of friends or gives them a sense of belongingness and popularity. It doesn’t matter how many friends you have on social media, studies have shown that out of all the friends you only have 4 close friends from that list.  Now when I think about that and think back to my days in high school, I would say that I had a friends list of 30-40 people that I would have considered ‘friends’ but out of those people there were only 3 other girls that I would have considered my best friends. So has social media changed the fact that although we know a lot of people and may call them friends, we really only have a handful of people we can go to to talk about real life or look to for support? I don’t think it has which might be interesting to think about.

I do agree that social media and technology can connect us. It allows us to keep in touch with family and friends (especially the ones who don’t live near us). We can reach out to family and friends and share information with them. I have to admit that although it connects us, I have found that I personally will pick up the phone less and less to call people to catch up. Instead I sift through Facebook waiting for them to update something about their life. Which is completely silly. If I want to know what’s up with them, I should call. But most of the time I don’t. So although it can provide great opportunities to connect us, if you are like me, it has potential to create some distance that doesn’t need to be there.

I really like this article that gives 5 reasons social media might actually be helping your kids.  I think discovering new interests and helping with creativity are definitely big pluses. I also agree with this article stating that it gives a sense of belonging and helps them express themselves. It is great that it provides a channel for them to express themselves, but we must teach them to do it in an appropriate way. Just because you can post something publicly and reach a large number of people doesn’t mean you have to throw out common sense or proper manners. We need to be teaching students that social media is a great tool for promoting issues and shedding light on them.

I think there are a lot of things that we can be worrying about when it comes to social media and technology. We do need to be mindful for their mental and physical health. We need to also be aware of the sexualization of young girls through the media as Shannon talked about. But we can’t blame technology for everything. I don’t think that technology is the problem even though my blog leans more towards the agree side. I do believe all the points I discussed but I know that we can use technology in positive ways to prevent those negative issues from becoming big problems. We as parents and teachers need to work with our children to harness the positive aspect of technology. We need to teach our children common sense, morals and manners. I feel like we blame technology because it’s easier to blame technology than to blame ourselves for not speaking up or having discussions with our children. As times change, our parenting needs to change. It’s not technology that needs a time out, we are the ones we need a time out. We need a time out to think about how we can create balance and healthy technology habits for our children so that social media and technology have a positive impact on our lives rather than negative one.

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From Pexels.com


Life’s not fair

Have you ever been told that life’s just not fair? I remember complaining about things as a kid to have my mom tell me that sometimes life isn’t fair. I would love to believe that we could someday live in a world that is fair, but what does fair mean? Does fair mean equal? I don’t believe that fair means equal. As many of my classmates have pointed out, equal means that things are the same. Danielle compares equity and equality by providing some webster’s definitions and this would further my point that for something to be fair it doesn’t mean that things should be or are equal. Equity on the other hand can provide fairness by levelling the playing field for each individual by giving them the support they need to meet their goals. Kyle shared a great picture that depicts the difference between equality and equity. So now that we have taken a minute to discuss the difference between equity and equality, we must think about the role technology plays in this. Is technology a force for equity in society?

 If equality means giving everyone the same resourcesequity means giving each student access to the resources they need to learn and thrive. – Shane Safir 

I want to focus on technology in the classroom before looking at the greater society. Simply throwing laptops or iPads at students and expecting it to have some sort of huge impact on their learning isn’t realistic. As Kelsey states, technology is a tool.  Students still need to know how to find information and use the computers properly. If they need to write an essay or a paper, the computer won’t do it for them. They still need to know how to form proper sentences and create a paragraph that makes sense. In order for them to do this, they need to be given other resources such as reading and writing support. Students cannot be given a calculator and expect that they will suddenly understand math. Sure they might be able to add, subtract, multiply and divide using a calculator just like everyone else can, but take away that tool and suddenly we are back to a unequal playing field. Tyler discusses assistive technology and how it can help students with disabilities by creating a more equal playing field. I totally agree with this, but just like he said, we have to remember that not everyone has access to these tools. We must also consider the time and money that has to go into implementing this tools and putting them to use. Not everyone has the money to be able to make use of the tools.

A report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found that students who used computers more than others actually had poorer scores. They also found that using computers increases the socio-economic divide that already exists in society.

The OECD’s education director Andreas Schleicher says school technology had raised “too many false hopes”.

I would have to agree that we need to focus on reading and math skills as a way of closing the gap as opposed to assuming that more access to technology will give us results. Sure technology can help. But we cannot think that technology is the only answer. There are amazing apps and websites that can help students learn, but we need to make sure that we are focusing on the fundamentals and making sure that technology is used as a way to enhance learning as opposed to technology being used to be the teacher. If we are looking for ways to crete equity in our classroom without using technology, Shane Safir has some great ideas on edutopia.

In terms of the digital divide in society and the socio-economic gaps, I don’t think that technology will solve all of our problems and create equality. There are far too many issues that technology can’t solve such as poverty, abuse, and mental illness. Can technology help? Absolutely. But it isn’t the driving force that will create equality in our society. We have seen some great ways that technology is helping communities that don’t have access to doctor’s 24/7.  I think it’s great that we are trying to bridge the gap and make use of technology when we can. There are certain situations in which we can close the gap, but we will have to look beyond technology for the most part when looking to create equality in society.

I feel as though I sounded like I am totally against technology and don’t think it has any value but that really isn’t the case. I do think there are situations that technology can be used to bridge the gap. I don’t think it is the solution to all of our problems though. I also don’t think that throwing computers to students will bridge academic gaps for all. The academic gaps in our classroom stem from issues with basic skills like reading, writing, thinking and problem solving. Technology can assist us in providing support to students who are struggling, but we must work with them. Technology is just a tool. We must work with our students to meet their needs by providing them with resources that will help them thrive. Technology isn’t the only resource.


Is Social Media Making us Unsocial?

Growing up in the 21st century means that childhood is defined by, and inextricably linked to, social media.  Children as young as grade 2 or 3 now have personal devices.  Children in elementary and middle school have multiple social media accounts even though many of these require minimum ages of 13 or 14.  It has become a way to connect, to chat, to post our thoughts, feelings and emotions.  It provides answers to questions, gives feedback, and affirms or negates our feelings.  It acts like a catalog of all the information available to us which is shared by others.  It documents our lives in incredible detail if need be.  Social media helps students connect with other students across the globe, collaborate together, post progress and receive feedback.  It is a force of the 21st century world and it is a crucial part of our lives that cannot be ignored.

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However, can we accept blindly every new app and innovation that comes along without knowing how they impact us?  Of course we should right?  I mean, technology is always good, it always moves us forward, it always makes life easier and simpler.  After-all, many of today’s modern conveniences were once new inventions as well.  The difference here lies in the deeply personal aspects of these social media platforms.

As Alison Graham explains, the goals of social media platforms are connections and socialization but it seems that the more we participate, the less social we actually become. Personalized technology that becomes so ingrained in our psyches that we literally become addicted to the likes that somehow indicate we have worth in this world.  Herein lies the problem, with the blind acceptance of social media platforms, it shifts focus away from others and onto the self.  As time goes on, the socializing aspect for which the apps were designed ceases to be the true driving force behind their use.  The self often becomes the true reason for the constant posting and checking for likes.  One researcher even tells of a young man who’s desire to take the perfect selfie drove him to suicidal tendencies.   It tends to drive narcissism to the point where phycological trauma can occur.

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People will argue that these anxieties have always existed and that alarmists are making too much of what we call social media addictions.  When I was growing up, social time with friends was just that…time to socialize.  Talking and laughing about what had happened that day, riding our bikes to another friend’s house to see if we could organize a soccer game.  Some would argue that we look back at our childhood through rose coloured glasses in which we see a delightful world free of stress and anxiety.  Of course stress and anxiety still existed before the age of social media.  However, the difference lies in transparency of lives lived completely in the online environment. If your social status, well being, and self worth comes completely from what is said about you on social media, it’s little wonder that students can not handle being without their phones.  A recent CNN documentary called #Being 13 looked at 13 year olds across the United States and their lives lived on social media.

  • 61% of teens said they wanted to see if their online posts are getting likes and comments.
  • 36% of teens said they wanted to see if their friends are doing things without them.
  • 21% of teens said they wanted to make sure no one was saying mean things about them.

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The Huffington Post released a study in which parents were asked if children were more susceptible to mental health problems in this day and age.  The results indicated that social media was one of the driving forces behind mental health issues for youth.  This is something that cannot be escaped whether it’s negative feedback on a selfie, bullying comments posted on your Facebook wall, or being left out of a group of friends.  The digital online life follows students back to the privacy of their homes each night. Compulsively checking and rechecking to see what others have said about them has become normal for many teens.  This new phenomenon, which has been deemed lurking,  tends to lead to late night with little sleep as students scroll through feeds, answer texts or hit like and follow to show that they are “socially engaged” in popular culture.

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So what does this all mean?  First of all, as adults in a digital world it once again comes back to the idea of modelling proper social media use.  What warrants a post or picture being placed online?  Who will we allow to see it?  What message are we trying to convey with this content?  I always ask my students to THINK before they post anything.

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Secondly, it’s important to set limits for social media use.  This falls on the shoulders of the parents but it is something that can be discussed at school as well.  Have students reflect meaningfully on how much they are online.  What are they doing during those hours and are they balancing for a healthy lifestyle that involves enough sleep and exercise?  It’s perhaps unfair to compare our childhood with the one in which students now find themselves.  However, it is more than fair to help students find a balanced and healthy approach to life.