Category Archives: The Great EdTech Debate

Removing the Rose-Tinted Glasses

Challenges children face today are similar to the past, but in different formats. For example cyberbullying/bullying and social media pressure/magazines. Is this the responsibility of educators, parents, or policy makers? Do we need to model and teach how to use these devices responsibly and thoughtfully? Are we setting limits because we are having difficulty keeping up with evolving technology?

Debate 5: Social media is ruining childhood

Prior to the debate I agreed with this statement. In the wake of several TikTokers who are being accused of violating their children’s consent and even safety. However, I love getting snapchats from my nephews, it allows me to see their daily life (and sometimes they show me cool bugs), but it is a controlled environments where they only have family added. I also had to make sure to remove them from viewing my stories, so there was trust between our family to maintain a safe space for them. Here are some notes I took during the debate:

Agree

  • Childhood play used to foster imagination, curiosity, and creativity. Social media has ruined this.
  • Play is an important way children learn
  • negative influencers on social media
  • cyberbullying
  • online predators
  • false marketing
  • Fasiha mentioned that kids will always find a loophole like fake accounts, factory reset devices, and they will find a way to get uncensored content

Disagree

  • Online socializing improves social bonds, and creates connections with people with similar interests
  • Can share your narrative
  • We must educate about safety and security
  • Jennifer during their opening statement mentioned the generational change of viewing the past with rose-coloured glasses. The assumption that we all want the same social experience.
  • Mike said it is a shared responsibility to teach responsible use and has observed that students are better at navigating social media in the past years.
  • Jennifer mentioned we need to continue pushing for laws protecting children. There are other apps to build responsibility by using safe platforms.

I actually changed my mind after the debate (as did many of us according to the pre and post debate votes)! I think there are ways to introduce social media on safe educational apps and scaffold responsible use. I think many of these issues come down to understanding guardians and educator roles in social media. There is a large responsibility on guardians to monitor, removing devices when necessary, and engaging children in a variety of activities. Kelly mentioned in the chat that maybe social media is ruining parenting. I think defining roles of parents (monitoring), teachers (modelling responsible and safe use), and policy (laws) are essential to protecting children online.

Debate 6: Cellphones should be banned

Prior to the debate I disagreed with this sentiment. I think that there needs to be an acceptable use policy clearly upheld for students; I believe we should model and practice responsible use in all situations.

Agree

  • technology addiction is similar to cocaine addition
  • decreases distractions
  • 50% of young people experience cyberbullying, we should stop this at the schools to create a safe space
  • Students spend up to 20% of their in-class time on cellphones
  • disconnect to connect
  • Echo brought up how students may use cellphones to spread rumors and gossip, and then schools are responsible for disciplinary action
  • Lovepreet shared that cellphones are distracting to those around them, not just the student
  • Amanpreet shared that students can take unwanted photos and distribute them.

Disagree

  • teachers need to do significant planning for the learners in their classroom, the first step is a drastic mind-shift. This means taking the time to discuss and explore digital literacy skills
  • Should they have two identities in school and at-home?
  • Increased student engagement, improve overall participation.
  • Increased accessibility. Cell phones give us a way to have a better tech to student ratio
  • Integral part of life, help students live one life, not two
  • Virtual and augmented reality, can make learning experiences more tangible to students.
  • Leona shared that teachers and parents have a hard job of being enforcers, but when our classroom has etiquette use cellphones can be valuable learning tools
  • Reid shared that they are useful for emergencies, and to communicate with families. Nicole R shared the dangers of having students creating mass panic and jamming cellphone towers during an emergency.

In our group discussion we talked about how not allowing students to access wi-fi to use apps like Snapchat and Instagram increases the digital divide because some students don’t have access to this at home and school is an opportunity to engage in the digital world. As always there is a need to define roles of teachers (modelling responsible and safe use), and policy (consistent/universal rules across schools/divisions) on protocols for cellphone usage in schools. There are also always nuances of specific contexts. Kim shared that they had a grade 6 class give access to cellphones, had the resources to build capacity, but there was still a miscommunication that caused a parent to misinterpret police presence at school. Gertrude shared that there are also cultural differences that influence the need for wide-spread awareness and come together to create a universal protocol. Many of these issues are part of a larger narrative surrounding technology use policies that needs to be addressed systemically rather than a teacher-by-teacher case where it becomes another issue that educators are expected to take responsibility for.

screenshot from Klein

In regards to guardians, teachers, policy makers, and tech companies who is responsible for protecting children? How can we clearly define these roles?

Happy Teaching,

Leah

Change the Curriculum?

This week it was time for Sushmeet and me to debate! We spent almost two weeks preparing for the debate, but lots of our classmates wrote diverse arguments for both sides with perspectives that surpassed my limited lens and subjectivity. So, lets get started!

Debate 3: Schools should no longer teach skills that can be easily carried out by technology (e.g., cursive writing, multiplication tables, spelling).

Pre-debate I felt that many of these skills will be replaced by technology in classrooms. To me, it makes sense that our language code develops as time progresses. As words and phrases are added to our dictionaries, the code increases to reflect cultural changes and spread of language codes. Sometimes it seems as if language is regressing back into visual images like emoticons, gifs, and memes. This translates into many areas of the curriculum like multiplication facts (calculators), spelling (spell check), cursive writing (fonts), and even graphing (exporting to charts, graphs, and tables). Now let’s get into support for both sides.

Agree

  • If we want a more equitable educational program we must reimagine our education system to make space for social justice practices, by removing unnecessary skills for today’s society there is more room for higher level thinking, 21st century skills,

the whole education process can be reformed and restructured, including the main drivers and principles for reinventing schools in the global knowledge economy, models for designing smart learning environments at the institutional level, a new pedagogy and related curriculums for the 21st century, the transition to digital and situated learning resources, open educational resources and MOOCs, new approaches to cognition and neuroscience as well as the disruption of education sectors” (p. v, Shaping Future Schools with Digital Technology)

  • More personalized programming through implementation of technology.

Future education will fully consider the personality and development of each student. With the effective and wise use of AI technology we can surpass the personalized and small-scale education of the agricultural society, we can surpass the non-personalized and large-scale education of the industrialized society, and we can then establish a personalized but large-scaled educational system (p., v Shaping Future Schools with Digital Technology)

  • Faster formative feedback to guide the learner and more time for teachers to give learners quality feedback from higher-level thinking tasks.

Knowledge and skills delivery will be dramatically supplemented by artificial intelligence while other aspects of educating and cultivating become more and more important. New technology will save teachers’ time and help them care more for the students’ soul, spirit, and happiness since there would be time for them to have further communication with students, to inspire students for more motivation and interest to do more creative and innovative learning. Future education will enter the era of co-working between teachers and artificial intelligence. (p. vi, Shaping Future Schools with Digital Technology)

Now I have to say that I agree with most of what we argued, but I do believe that some of these basic skills are foundational to higher level, complex problem-solving.

Disagree

  • Spelling affects marketing and quality of work. Without it we lose our language code.

That advice reflected a societal approbation of the ability to spell—which at the time could be defined as the capacity to write words that conform to the orthography of a given language—that had been pervasive since at least the 16th century and grew in importance with the rise of the printing press and printed books” (Spelling, (2021), Pan, S.C., Rickard, T.C. & Bjork, R.A.)

  • Cursive writing is linked to motor skills, memory, comprehension, and other improved brain functions.

“there’s plenty of evidence of cognitive and academic benefits. Brain scans reveal neural circuitry lighting up when young children first print letters and then read them. The same effect is not apparent when the letters are typed or traced” (Cursive Writing: Berger, T. (2017, March 10))

  • Students cannot complete higher-level problem solving in mathematics without basic skills.

“students do not know their fractions, cannot do long division or basic subtraction and borrowing operations. The bottom line: “Students don’t have the skills at hand to engage in problem-solving and higher-level math.” (Mental Math and Computation Skills: Bennett, P. (2021, June 6))

I agree that some of these skills are valuable, but also that technology has an increasing role in our daily skills. Overall, technology isn’t quite ready to overthrow these skills.

Debate 4:  Educators have a responsibility to use technology and social media to promote social justice

Whew, we had two heated debate topics this week! Let’s get into the team’s arguments.

Agree

  • Teachers shouldn’t be neutral about social justice issues and we have a responsibility to use our privilege to speak up against discrimination.

for us to say our role is to be neutral is to operate from a place of privilege. Not privilege as in wealth — that’s just one of many types of privilege, and one that most educators don’t have. Our place of privilege is choosing not to pay attention to these stories or take a position on them because we are not personally impacted” (Angela Watson’s Truth For Teachers: Some Things a Teacher Shouldn’t be Neutral About (September 1, 2019))

  • Social media can increase student voice can make a difference in communities. Our classrooms can be sites of activism.

What I learned from this assessment is that young people are ready, willing, and able to engage in difficult conversations. They are interested in fighting for their lives, our lives, and their nation. They are leaders—even the quiet ones.

There is power in student voice, and it isn’t a voice any teacher can give. We don’t give voices. We make space for them in our curricula and classrooms, or we don’t” (Using Social Justice to Promote Student Voice: Lorena Germán (2020))

Disagree

  • There are more effective ways that students can engage in social justice.

“Without offline action, gestures like using a hashtag or posting a black square come across as performative, opportunistic, and lazy. Critics are often quick to call out these minimal efforts as “slacktivism.”” (Genuine Social Media Activism: A Guide for Going Beyond the Hashtag)

  • If teachers engage in social activism, there is a possibility of professional repercussions and possibility of influencing students beliefs and opinions.

“They want to preserve their objectivity in front of their students. They don’t want to hurt their relationships with parents, students, or colleagues who might have different beliefs than they do. They worry about professional repercussions, especially when posting from an account that they use for work-related reasons” (Teachers, Politics, and Social Media: A Volatile Mix)

Overall, I believe teachers should be able to engage if they choose to. There are some who wish to engage in social justice, and some who do not. For me, I will choose to use my privilege to be an ally. If there were to be repercussions I am privileged to be able to either use a lawyer to speak more, or find other employment in time. This isn’t a choice everyone has, so they should also have a choice in engaging in social justice.

If you made it this far, great job!

Happy Teaching,

Leah