Author Archives: alyssamckenzie

Summary of Learning EC&I 833

The following video is my summary of learning for the EC&I 833 class I took during the Fall of 2020. The focus of this course was on the history, foundations and practices of different types of educational technologies used by educators today. So much was covered during this course, it was difficult to sum up all that I learned in under 10 minutes, but this video does provide insight into what I would consider to be my “Big Takeaways”. I would highly recommend this course to anyone who is looking to put a few more tools in their tech toolbox. Thank Dr. Alec Couros and fellow peers for a great class!

Assistive Technologies and Learning and Independence for All

A crucial part of being teacher is creating lessons in which all students have the chance to learn and understand the material being taught. This is often referred to as “differentiation” in the educational world. An important theory behind creating lessons where ALL students can understand and be successful is called the “Universal Design for Learning” or UDL. The UDL guidelines offer a set of concrete suggestions that can be applied to any discipline or domain to ensure that all learners can access and participate in meaningful, challenging learning opportunities.” To ensure that that all learners can “access and participate” in different learning opportunities, teachers rely on a wide array of assistive technologies. During the latest ECI 833 class Kalyn, Megan, Leigh, and Jenny presented on a number of different assistive technologies that can help students of all different abilities learn in the classroom. These devices fit into one of the following three categories:

Prior to Kalyn’s, Megan’s, Leigh’s and Jenny’s presentation, I had never thought of something such as a pencil grip, as being a device that was categorized as “assistive technology”. I had always thought of assistive technology as something that had to use, well computer or electrical technology. After this most recent presentation I started to make a list of all the non-tech assistive technology I have had used recently with my students:

-graph paper to help students keep their numbers lined up when completing math equations.

-a q-card with visual reminders for writing cues

-a visual schedule on desk

-manipulatives in math

-writing on colored paper

-weighted vest

-various fidgets

I find that it is often easy to find low tech devices to assist students in the classroom, because these types of devices are often low cost. I can either purchase them through my classroom budget or the Learning Resource Team will often easily approve expenditures for these types of devices.

Some mid-tech devices I have recently used include:

-FM system

-C-Pen Reader

-ball chair

-audio books

Similar to Low-tech devices it is relatively easy to gain access to mid-tech devices, as these devices are still relatively affordable for schools to purchase.

Some High-tech devices I have used include:

-personal Chromebooks or iPads


-Speech to Text

As an educator, when using high-tech devices I find that I often rely on apps that can be downloaded onto devices such as iPAds. Common sense media shared some valuable apps for students with special needs of learning differences which can be found here.

According to the article Assistive technology: Impact on Education, Employment and Independence of Individuals with Physical Disabilities, one in seven Americans are affected or will be affected by a disability in their lifetime. I found this to be a profound statistic considering that many schools have limited access to high-tech assistive devices due to the high cost that is associated with purchasing these devices. Some further statistics the article shared included:

-About 76% of children who received AT were able
to remain in a regular classroom, and about 45%
were able to reduce school-related services.
– About 62% of working-age persons were able to
reduce dependency on their family members, and
58% were able to reduce dependence on paid assistance.
– About 80% of older persons were able to reduce
their dependence on others, and about half were
able to avoid entering a nursing home.
– About 92% of employed persons reported that AT
helped them to work faster or better.

Personally, these statistics demonstrate the effectiveness of assistive technologies not just for meeting the needs of students in the classroom, but that can help people to be successful and have independence in their everyday lives. Whether assistive technology is needed in the classroom, or to meet the needs of people in society, there can be a high cost associated with purchasing these devices. During the class presentation, we learned that the Canadian government currently has a grant that research companies can apply for to help fund in the area of research and development of Assistive Technology. What has not been made available through this grant is money for those in need of the assistive technology today, to purchase expensive technology that is already available.

I feel another challenge for those in need of assistive technology, especially when it comes to use in the classroom, is user knowledge. At times, high-tech assistive technology is available, but if the teacher does not know how to use the technology, it may remain unused. I think, there needs to be a greater push in the area of professional development for teachers on how to use different assistive technologies as well as more funding for devices that are needed for students with special needs in order to ensure that all students and people have the opportunity to be successful in not only in school, but in life as well.

Online Tools For Assessing Student Progress

ePortfolios in the K-12 classroom | Sutori

During our latest ECI 833 class fellow classmates, Trevor, Matt and Dalton did an informative presentation on a number of different online assessment tools. I found this presentation to be extremely beneficial as there seems to be a constant looming cloud hanging over schools as to maybe not if, but when teachers and students will need to move to online teaching and learning. While the tools Trevor, Matt and Dalton presented on would prove beneficial if teaching online, they also provide effective ways to asses in the classroom and engage students with technology at the same time. I found the following chart to be very informative about a number of different online assessment tools teachers can incorporate into their classroom or online lessons:

Formative vs. Summative Assessments - Diane Ries' Educational Blog

When choosing an assessment tool it is important to keep in mind the type of assessment you are wanting your students to complete, whether this is a formative or summative assessment. “Formative assessment is an ongoing, flexible, and more informal diagnostic tool. While summative assessment is, as the word implies, an evaluation of the sum product of the lesson. Summative assessments are more formal, structured, and often used to normalize performance so they can be measured and compared”. (Source)

Two assessment tools that I had not heard of before, but stood out for me during the presentation were Knowledge Hook and Class Kick. I felt like these online tools could provide effective ways to assess students’ progress in math and reading.

I liked the idea of Knowledge Hook as a math assessment tool because it seemed to be extra engaging for students as they got to build a “bot” or “Avatar”; something that my grade 4 students already love to do when using Raz kids. I also liked Knowledge Hook because it seemed like it could provide a quick snapshot of where students were at in math. As we have just started our multiplication unit, I was able to use this tool as a pre-assessment tool for this unit. Most of the students found the questions easy to complete and enjoyed completing the online activity. I think I will continue to use this tool as a pre-assessment tool for our math units, rather than a summative assessment tool.

Books Read GIF

In addition to Knowledge Hook I tried out Class Kick with my students. Recently our school moved to a new reading assessment program called Fountas and Pinnell. A large part of this reading assessment program involves students needing to orally retell what happened in the story that they read. I found this to be challenging for many of my students. I like how Raz Kids provides assessments where students can record themselves orally reading a short story and then can record themselves retelling the main parts of the story. One challenge is that there are only 4 assessments per reading level, and some students need additional practice with this skill.

This is where Class Kick was and will continue to be very beneficial. I was able to find reading passages in the pre-made activity section of the app. I could then assign the reading piece to students where they were able to record themselves reading the piece and could orally answer the questions presented on the page. It did take some time to teach students how to use the “record” feature for this app, but I feel it was time well spent for the long run.

What really stood out for me with this app during our class presentation was the student connection feature. This feature allowed students to ask a question, where a fellow peer could then assist them. In addition, students did not know who they were helping, but those who were receiving the help were notified who helped them. I found this to be a unique feature for students to engage with. I am planning on utilizing this feature when I have students complete their unit review for our Rocks and Minerals Unit. Check back later to see how it went!

In conclusion, there are a variety of online assessment tools that can be utilized to engage students in meaningful ways while still being able to effectively assess their progress whether it is in the form of a formative or summative assessment. The following article provides further insight on how technology is transforming everyday assessment.

The Social Dilemma: A Dilemma Indeed

Recently I got the chance to watch the Social Dilemma on Netflix. I learned a lot about the social web and the impact social media and technology is having not only on my own personal life, but on the lives of millions and millions of people around the world. What first caught my attention while watching the documentary was that “everything you do online is being carefully monitored and tracked”. For example, how long you look at a message for. Companies such a Google, Facebook, and Instagram use this practice of “surveillance” to ensure that advertisers are as successful as possible.


These tech businesses ultimately want the users to stay engaged on the screen for as long as possible. However, what is actually happening is that people or the users are actually changing their behavior. Online social media platforms are successfully changing people’s behavior through manipulation; without the users even knowing they are being manipulated. Through well developed AI programs and algorithms what users are actually seeing on their feeds has been manipulated. For example, as an expectant mother I was looking up certain items on google that I feel I will be needing in the near future to set up a baby room. Now, anytime I am on Facebook, most of the advertisements I see are related to pregnancy such as pregnancy clothing, baby items such as bottles and infant clothing. At first I thought this was an interesting coincidence, but now I know this is not a coincidence at all.

The documentary also talked about how these sites and technology can be very addictive, due to the dopamine it can release in the brain. For example, it is a release when you get a “bing” on your phone for a new message or a new like. However, this is having detrimental effects on the self esteem of young girls. The documentary presented some daunting statistics, that as a teacher and as a future parent can simply not be ignored. Many young people will post a picture and then wait just to see how many “likes” they get. For many young girls, social media has created a “perceived sense of perfection”, that in reality is often unattainable. Since 2010, the suicide rate in girls between the ages of 15-19 has increased by 70% and the rate of pre-teen girls aged 10-14 has increased by over 150%. According to this documentary, this pattern follows the development and use of social media. For example, the current generation X is the first generation to have used social media since middle school. This made me think of a video I watched awhile back by Simon Sinek. He presented a video on how Millennials use their phones and the impact this has on the work place, as many are now working starting to work in the corporate world. He points out how the dopamine addiction we get from our phones, instant gratification, and the ability to form deep meaningful relationships are just a few of the issues that are causing a number of struggles for Millennials in the work force.

According to the documentary “kids nowadays are more anxious, depressed and less likely to take risks” and they are linking these to the findings to the fact that kids go home from school and go on social media. I have also noticed, that in the past three years alone, I have dealt with more and more cell phone issues at school and I teach 9 year olds!

In addition, I found the fact that these sites are actually controlling the information we see to be, well, quite scary. It makes sense that we are seeing more polarization in the world related to politics. The algorithms of these sites are designed so that we see what it is we want to see. But only, what solely agrees with our political view. However, this does not allow for open and honest conversation between viewpoints, because what one person sees is not necessarily the same as someone else. This is having huge impacts on society as a whole. There seems to be more people fighting and even violently fighting, rather than being able to sit down and discuss different viewpoints. I also feel that this leading to the actual political parties themselves being more polarized then ever. Fake news is also not helping this situation either. The documentary mentioned that “fake news on Twitters spreads 6 times faster than real news”.

I think that as parents, teachers and society as a whole we are aware of these issues that are arising as a result of social media use. I agree with the documentary that technology is not going anywhere, in fact it is only going to become more entwined in our everyday lives as we move into the future. I think it is more important than ever for teachers to focus on lessons about self-esteem, digital citizenship and the importance of having students listen to and relate to both sides of an argument. I think parents need to be aware of how much time their children are spending on social media and I know it is a monumental challenge, but to be aware of what their children are actually doing while they are on technology. I know how easy it is to say well take the phones away or don’t give them a phone in the first place, but I think the real challenge is teaching our youth about how social media actually works and to keep them involved in activities that challenge them to talk face to face. The following is a great article by Common Sense Media on the most up to date research and guidance for parents on social media use and their kids.

Tools to Help Teach Online When Face to Face in NOT an Option

Last March 2019, educators around the world, Canada and here in Saskatchewan had to transition from teaching face to face to teaching remotely online. This proved to be challenging for many teachers as they had to drastically change their teaching practices, while at the same time find online tools that could be utilized by students to help them achieve outcomes while still finding ways to interact on a social and emotional level. As a grade 4 teacher, I will admit this was a huge mountain to climb looking back, and is still a looming possibility as I continue to teach through the pandemic with many schools around the province of Saskatchewan having to undergo partial or full lock downs already.

It was very beneficial during these trying time to have Catherine, Amanda, Nancy and Kristina present on tools that can assist teachers when they need to provide online instruction to their students. I found the article they shared from Common Sense Media on some of the best tools that can be utilized when teaching online to be incredibly helpful. Some of the tools such as Seesaw, I was familiar with as I used them last year when we first moved to online teaching. I personally like this tool because I find this tool to be very user friendly for younger elementary students and an app parents find easy to access as well. If I have to move to online teaching this year, I feel that I would like to incorporate the use of Nearpod, Peardeck and Screen-Cast-O-Matic into my teaching repertoire.

When I think back to my time teaching online last year, I think the two biggest challenges for me was providing a place where students could still interact with each other socially and emotionally as well as keep them engaged for longer periods of time. I know that if I have to move to teaching online this year I will follow Amanda’s advice on creating instructional videos or only instructing for 6 minutes, rather than trying to give instruction for 15 or more minutes.

I found the points the group shared from Jennifer Gonzalez to be extremely helpful as well when thinking of the possibility of teaching online again in the future. For me some of the main takeaways from Jennifer’s article were:

-Make sure to provide both synchronous and asynchronous communication

-Make sure to have a way to keep everything organized (I would do this through Google Classroom)

-Include lesson designs that allow for student choice (I would provide more options that just work sheets and activity pages through SeeSaw)

-Provide multiple modes for delivering content ( I would include videos of myself teaching, others teaching, videos and encourage students to research and create their own videos to share with others through apps such as Flipgrid).

-Provide different ways for students to demonstrate their learning ( I would have students complete web based activities, student discussion activities utilizing apps such as Flipgrid, and allow students to complete interactive quizzes, and activities through apps such as Khan Academy, Seesaw, or Google tour).

-Limit the number of platforms and messages sent in a day ( I would make sure to try and send one weekly update and not introduce students to more than one new app or platform a week, to help ensure that students nor parents get to a point of feeling overwhelmed).

In conclusion, while I personally prefer to teach face to face I know the possibility of having to teach online this year is very probable. I do feel that I am better equipped than I was last year to undergo this endeavor, but this is due in large part to the online classes I have been able to take that explored numerous online tools and how to use them for remote teaching. I know many teachers that have not had this opportunity and I feel as teachers, we need a lot professional development in this area as it not the traditional method of teaching so many of us are accustomed to.

Presentation Tools, Productivity Suits and the Question of Multitasking

I’d like to begin with a shout out to fellow classmates Allison, Shelby, Jocelyn and Daina for a great presentation on the history and uses of presentation tools and productivity suits!

Excited Hockey GIF - Excited Hockey Kid GIFs

The presenters discussed and used a number of different presentation tools including, but not limited to PowerPoint, WeVideo, Adobe Spark and Prezi. If your looking for some additional tools that were discussed during the presentation check out the following link:

In addition to presenting on a wide array of presentation tools the group discussed productivity tools and suits. One productivity tool that stood out for me as a true game changer for both education and the business world was the Word Processor. The Word Processor was and still is a computer application that is used for the “composition, editing, formatting and possibly printing of any sort of printable material”. According to the article, Computer History: Tracing the History of the Computer- History of Word Processors, the term “word processor” has been around since the 1960’s, but it wasn’t until 1986 that word processors began to be utilized by the masses in general.

Personally, I don’t remember a time where the word processor or as some may more commonly know it as “Microsoft Word” didn’t exist. I remember early on in my elementary schooling using Microsoft Word to type up and create reports in a variety of subject areas. It has only been within the last three years that my school division has moved away from Microsoft Word as a desktop tool and other desktop Microsoft tools such as Microsoft PowerPoint and Excel, to the online productivity suite called G Suites.

I won’t lie, it took me awhile to get used to G suites. I still feel that I can do more, and have an easier time using Microsoft tools verses the Google Suite tools (however, this may be due to my familiarity with Microsoft tools for such a long time). What I do really like about the G Suite is that students can collaborate and work together on a single doc or presentation. This feature is not available on the desktop version of Microsoft products. However, I recently learned that Microsoft has its own productivity suite called Microsoft 365. During the presentation we spent some time comparing the two productivity suites. In terms of collaboration, it seems as though the Google Suite might have a bit of an edge on Microsoft 365. However when comparing the strengths and weaknesses of the video conferencing features of Google Meet and Microsoft Teams, I would have to say in both privacy and user ability Microsoft Teams wins out. If your on the fence about which suite to use for your business or classroom check out the following article G Suite vs Office 365: What’s the Best Office Suite for Business?

A lot of these tools have been created to help make working online easier. These tools allow us to do multiple tasks online, and with the ability to have multiple tabs open, with the potential to do multiple different things at one time. But, can you actually complete multiple tasks online at the same time, or do we simply become more distracted? James Hamblin points to this dilemma in the following video.

I can relate to the video, in the sense that at this very moment I have seven other tabs open, and I just paused writing this blog to answer an email. To me this isn’t necessarily multi-tasking. This is stopping one task to focus on another. I know as a teacher there are multiple tasks that I do in a day, often at the same time. For example, while my students are completing work, I have answered the phone, dealt with a bloody nose and answered questions about the assigned work. I must say, I am much more practiced at multi-tasking during a regular school day than online. I found the extensions that Daina pointed out in her blog post to be very helpful in limiting distractions that can arise while working online.

In conclusion, I think that as a whole, we need to find time to be present in the moment. To focus on what we are doing rather than on what we could be doing, or what we need to do next. I think this applies to both when we are working online or offline and to our everyday lives. Something I am continuing to work hard at is making sure to separate my job and my home life; to leave school at school and be present at home. Recently with the new Covid-19 guidelines and limited hours I can be physically at the school, this has proved to be even more challenging.

Audio-Visual Technology: Changing Education As We Know It

During the latest EC&I 833 class, Lisa, Tammy, Kaileigh and Tarina did a fantantastic presentation on the history and use of audio visual (AV) technology in education. I learned that the dawn of AV technology began in 1870 with the invention of the “magic lantern” and continues to be a field that is changing rapidly, even today. How we teach and learn has been greatly impacted as a result of this kind of technology. The following video provides a brief description into what we learned about the history of AV technology.

As an educator I would have to agree with the video that AV technology has changed “how we teach, learn and has created a new sub-culture of students”. To further support the use of AV technology in the classroom, the article The Importance of Audio Visual Technology in Education, points out two critical reasons for using audio-visual technologies such as smartboards, DVDs, iPads, mobile phones etc. in the classroom:

  1. It creates a stimulating and interactive environment which is more conducive to learning.
  2. We live in an audio visual age which means that having the skills to use AV equipment is integral to the future employment prospects.

I would agree with the article that these are two strong reasons that support the use of AV technologies in the classroom. The article also points out two weaknesses of using AV technology in the classroom which includes:

  1. Schools can be reluctant to recognize the benefits that the technology has to offer.
  2. A child’s technological ability often outweighs that of the teacher.

Now while at times, I do agree that a child’s experience with AV technology does sometimes outweigh that of the teacher, I can not pick out one day since I started teaching in 2012, where I have not used some form of audio-visual technology. I disagree that just because a student may know more about a certain technology that teachers are simply not using it. I also feel that schools, especially in the past few years have been working hard to ensure that new AV technology is readily available for use in the classroom. I would say what is limiting the use of new AV technologies such as iPads and Chromebooks in the classroom is economical and is due in large part to the amount of money school divisions have to purchase such devices. For example, some schools are now 1:1 and every student has his/own device, while other schools either have class sets of iPads or Chromebooks that can be booked out for classroom use or have a certain number of devices in each classroom.

While there may be limitations to the amount or type of new AV technologies available in schools, this type of technology has not only had a profound impact on the way we teach and learn in the classroom, but has also been impacting how students learn at home for decades. One such way is through educational TV programing such as Sesame Street. The following video provides a brief history of the creation of the hit TV show Sesame Street.

Dr. Neil Postman was quite critical of this type of educational programing. Postman once wrote that “We now know that Sesame Street encourages children to love school only if school is like Sesame Street. Which is to say we now know that Sesame Street undermines what the traditional idea of schooling represents. As an educator and someone who grew up watching Sesame Street, I strongly disagree with Postman’s statement. However, after reading fellow classmate Dean Vendramin’s blog on the subject, I gained a bit of a greater appreciation for the context in which Postman was speaking.

“Whereas a classroom is a place of social interaction, the space in front of a television set is a private preserve. Whereas in a classroom, one may ask a teacher questions, one can ask nothing of a television screen. Whereas school is centered on the development of language, television demands attention to images. Whereas attending school is a legal requirement, watching television is an act of choice. Whereas in school, one fails to attend to the teacher at the risk of punishment, no penalties exist for failing to attend to the television screen. Whereas to behave oneself in school means to observe rules of public decorum, television watching requires no such observances, has no concept of public decorum. Whereas in a classroom, fun is never more than a means to an end, on television it is the end in itself.” (source)

Now while the contexts may not be the same, the end goal of both classrooms and TV shows such as Sesame Street is to help students learn. I personally think that Sesame Street provides a great context in which to kick start a child’s love for learning. In addition, even more exciting AV technology is being developed for classroom use, called Virtual Reality (VR).

As described in the video “VR Cardboard” can be used to allow students to not just see a different place in the world, but actually get to experience it, as if they were there in person.

In conclusion, I think that AV technologies have truly helped make the classroom and home a place where students are engaged in their learning. I do think that part of our jobs as educators is to entertain students in learning. However, keeping our students entertained is not the only goal. Just as Sesame Street advocated to “motivate children across the globe in the act of learning”, I too think that as educators today we have a lot of tools in our toolbox to help students be motivated learners and to take charge in what they want to learn to be prepared for their futures.

The Value of Logo, Coding and Papert’s Theory of Constructionism

During our latest EC&I 833 class we spent some time using technological tools that were used in the past to help build skills such as typing, math facts and even coding. We explored these technological innovations as part of a discussion on how educational technology has been evolving over time. A few tools that we tried included:

Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing ( I remember using a tool very similar, but it was called All the Write Type)

Number Munchers ( A tool I still think students would find fun and useful even today)

WebQuests ( I will admit, I have utilized a webquest a few times throughout my teaching career thus far)

While some of these educational games never underwent a modern day make over, there are still some sites that provide a way to teach students some of the valuable skills. For example, teachers and/or parents can sign their children up for typing practice using the website Some modern math game sites and apps I have used include Xtra math, Sumdog and Khan Academy. Now while these sites do help students build their math or other skills, and allows them to apply their knowledge, they don’t necessarily encourage students to create, which a focal point of the constructivists theory.

According to Wikipedia, “Constructionist learning is when learners construct mental models to understand the world around them. Constructionism advocates student-centered, discovery learning where students use information they already know to acquire more knowledge”. Seymour Papert took this one step further, advocating that technology can be a driving force in helping students to be drivers in their own learning and can help them apply their knowledge and acquire more. He believed one way this could be done was through coding and he created Logo program. He compared the logo program to having someone immersed in a new country to learn a new language.

During our EC&I 833 class we had the opportunity to try out Papert’s original Logo program. We were to complete the activities from the Programming Logo workbook. What really stumped me was Exercise 3 where we had to get the turtle to go sideways first instead of up and then across.

What I learned was that I needed to hit rt 90 then fd 50 or I would continually be moving up and down. When doing this activity I thought how this would be extremely helpful for people whose jobs rely on map reading. A friend of mine is a pilot and he was telling me a story about how one day all of his electronic equipment went down. He could not rely on the planes electronic map or his iPad’s map application. He had to pull out his map and the degrees on a paper map he needed to follow. I think this program would be also be useful for anyone wanting to go into engineering or architecture as they have to build a variety of things and need to have accurate measurements and angles. In addition, I think this program would prove useful for carpenters or home builders as their work relies heavily on perfect angles and measurements and how many plans have been digitalized now.

The new Lego Mindstorms EV3 robotics platform will be available in the second half of 2013.

This also reminds me of @MeganLinMoore and her blog post Evolved Perspectives of Education Technologies. In her post she talks about Lego Mindstorms. With Lego Mindstorms, children can build and program Lego robots. What I found most interesting is that Lego originally released its Mindstorms Robotics Interventions Program in 1998, and named the program after Seymour Papert’s book “Mindstorms: Children, Computers and Powerful Ideas”. I feel Papert’s ideas are a driving force for our education system today. Our school has a robotics club that meets a few times after school, we have some coding bots that we can use in our classrooms to teach students how to code, and our school library continues to add books about coding to its collection each year.

This leads to the question of what is the real world benefit of students knowing how to code? Will knowing how to code actually make our students smarter? Are these the kinds of skills that students will need to be successful in their future jobs? I think that the answer is yes. According to an article by Raise Smart Kid, there are 14 benefits of coding. Some of the skills coding helps to develop include; computational thinking, problem solving, perseverance, algorithmic thinking and creating. An article published by CIC News, discussed Canada’s tech jobs outlook for 2020. The article points out that there is currently a shortage of people trained to work in the tech sector for the 2020 year. In particular it points out that a person who has the ability to code in languages such as Java and Python will have a wide array of job opportunities in some of Canada’s largest cities.

I conclusion, when I think Papert and his Constructivist theory, I do believe that there are many skills that can be gained through learning how to code; not only does coding help develop skills such as problem solving, collaboration and creativity, there seems to be great opportunity in the current and looks to be future job market which utilize these skills.

Learning Theories and Their Influence in the Classroom

A number of instructional theories that were developed years ago, still heavily influence the education system today. These theories include: Behaviorism, Cognitivism and Constructivism. Up until recently, I hadn’t given much thought to the specific learning theories that have impacted me as a teacher and the different methods of instruction I use over a course of a day in my classroom. However, after some thoughtful examination, I can name many instances in which behaviorism, cognitivism and constructivism have all had a role in the way I deliver instruction to my students each day. In addition, technology continues to have a major role in the way I deliver content to my students today and as a result I see aspects of connectivism being a part of my teaching repitore.


Ertmer and Newby (2013) describe behaviorism as a theory which “contends that responses that are followed by reinforcement are more likely to recur in the future” (p. 48). By using reinforcement, an individual can progress from basic to more complex skills. When thinking of behaviorism what comes to mind are many of the classroom management strategies I have used both in the past and currently. During my first year of teaching, I taught a grade 7/8 split. I found my classroom management strategies being challenged daily. Closer to the end of the year I told the students that if they could not behave in the classroom we wouldn’t be able to go on a field trip at the end of the year. Needless to say we did not go on a field trip that year. The next year I had most of the same students as I taught the grade 7/8/9 split. We had a discussion, and decided that if they could get to 250 “good behavior” points by the end of the year we would go on a camping trip. Well we did go that year, and honestly to this day it was one of the most enjoyable field trips I have been on to date.

The Primary Peach: How to Set-Up a Classroom Economy

Another classroom “behaviorist” system I have used is called the “classroom economy” developed by Raef Esquith. With this system students are assigned a job, given a monthly salary, and can earn bonuses by completing assignments, being at class on time or being caught being kind to a fellow peer. At the end of each month students are required to pay a standard rent for the desks and can choose to spend their money on items that are sold at the weekly auctions. Students are required to do extra cleaning at recesses if they do not have enough money to rent their desks at the end of the month. I don’t use this all year, but I have found students to be highly engaged with this activity. In recent years, I have been able to utilize technology and teach students how to use google spreadsheets and formulas to keep track of the amount of money that they have in their “bank accounts”. While this activity does encourage positive behavior in the classroom, it also promotes life skills such as budgeting.

Now while there are many “behaviorist” methods I use in my classroom, I know that this is not a model for everyone and I think it is important to recognize students of differing abilities. For example, a student ADHD will struggle with impulse control and therefore may have difficulty behaving for a reward or consequence. To this day I have found that one of the key teaching strategies I use is having a positive relationship with the students I teach. As Theodore Roosevelt once said ” Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care”.


Ertmer and Newby (2013) describe cognitivism as a theory that ” stresses the acquisition of knowledge and internal mental structures and focuses on the conceptualization of students learning processes and addresses the issues of how information is received, organized, stored and retrieved by the mind” (p. 51). For me the ideas behind this theory are a large part of the curriculum that we as teachers use everyday. The outcomes state what the students need to know and the indicators suggest ways that students can demonstrate their understanding of this knowledge. For example, in grade 4 the outcome HC 4.1 states that students will: Investigate the interdependence of plants and animals, including humans, within habitats and communities. The indicators use words such as identify, classify, draw upon, analyze, construct, and describe; all of which are words that lead to teachers to create lessons that concpetualize knowledge in different ways.


According to Ertmer and Newby, constructivists focus on creating meaning from experience. It is critical that learning takes place in “realistic situations and is relevant to students’ lived experiences” (Ertmer and Newby, p. 59). Constructivists advocate that learning needs to include practice, knowledge and contexts. The constructivist view does not just focus on learning a concept, but rather challenges the learner to apply their knowledge to different situations. To me this means higher order thinking tasks.

When I think of the influence consructivism has had on my teaching I think of Michael Fullan’s 6 C’s.


Using the 6 C’s students are challenged to use their higher order thinking skills. They can apply and construct their knowledge to real world situations, which align with the constructivists view on learning theories. A big part of the 6C’s is communication. It makes me think of a more modern theory called “Connectivism” that has come about as a result of the digital age. Connectivism acknowledges that learning is not just an individual task, that occurs as a result of ones own experience, but that knowledge can be gained through the experience of others. Thinking of google and how easy it is to access endless amounts of information, connectivism points to the need for people to decipher through all of this knowledge to know what facts they find to be real and which ones perhaps are fake. I am finding to this be especially prevalent today with the constant flow of information regarding Covid-19, and the need to be able to tell which information is true and which information is not.

I agree with George Siemens point of view that “technology has reorganized how we live, how we communicate and how we learn”. In addition Simons points out that past learning theories focus on how humans actually process information rather than on the value of what is actually being learned. I think this is an important point to consider, given the current technological age we live in. What has changed for me the most as a result of technology is the need for students to be taught about digital citizenship and how to safely and appropriately navigate this new world of endless information. I think it is important that as teachers we equip students with the skills they need to only communicate appropriately, but also sift through all the information that is readily available at their fingertips.


Ertmer, P., & Newby, T. (2013). Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Constructivism: Comparing Critical Features From An Instructional Design Perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly 26(2), 43-71.

Siemens, G. (2001). Connectivism: A Learning Theory For A Digital Age.

Defining Contemporary Educational Technology

Classroom“Classroom” by James F Clay is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

When first thinking about what contemporary educational technology entails, I thought of all the modern digital technologies being used in classrooms today to either teach or support the learning of students. For example, SMART boards, online learning environments, Chromebooks, and the Google Suite, just to name a few. However, after our most recent EC&I 833 class and some further reading, my thoughts on this term have changed significantly.

There is a great historical basis to the current technologies and methodologies being used in classrooms today. During class we learned that centuries ago Aristotle described three different types of knowledge.

Episteme- scientific and universal knowledge

Techne- technical knowledge

Phronesis- practical knowledge

By recognizing that there are different types of knowledge it makes sense that there are different ways of acquiring this knowledge. In modern times, this idea that there are different kinds of knowledge and different ways of acquiring this knowledge could be summed up using the TPAK model.

This model demonstrates how technology with a pedagogical directive can be used to deliver and facilitate learning. Another way of looking a the different types of knowledge and ways of acquiring it is through Dale’s Cone of Experience.

During class, I found it to be very interesting that none of the information found on Dale’s Cone of Experience is scientifically sound, yet is often used for instructional directives. It does however provide a good visual for different ways of using media.

Through the examination of different kinds of media we began to discuss the difference between soft vs hard technologies. Hard technologies are those such as a refrigerator or basic telephone. Soft technologies are those in which the user has control and can manipulate such as the modern iPhone and its many apps and tools that can be used. Our professor Alec made an important point stating that “creativity belongs in the mind of the person using it”. This made me think of all the different kinds of technology we use in the classroom that might not be deemed “technological” but are in fact a kind of technology.

In the article called A short history of educational technology, the author Tony Bates discusses the different types of educational technology that have been used throughout the centuries, starting with oral communication, to written, to radio and TV and right into today’s digital age and the dawn of social media. To some extent all of these different types of technology are being used in classrooms today. A point in the reading that really stood out to me was that “new technology rarely completely replaces old technology”.

I read an article awhile back titled How the Ballpoint Pen Killed Cursive, written by Josh Giesbrecht. The article examines how the design of the ballpoint pen better supports printing, while its predecessor, the fine point pen with its fast and smooth running ink was a great tool for handwriting. Now while cursive writing is no longer in the school curriculum, I sill think there is a need for students and adults alike to know how to hand write in certain situations. For example, when a person needs to sign their name for a passport, driving license or when writing a cheque for the bank. I believe that a handwritten name is part of a person’s identity. This demonstrates that while a new technology ay not fully replace an old technology, certain skills may become lost or no longer deemed necessary when new more “efficient” technologies are developed.

I agree with Giesbrecht that through the “process of examining the historical use of ordinary technologies as a way to understand contemporary ones”. In conclusion, when I think of what contemporary educational technology entails I think of all the different means teachers and students alike use to learn, create and gain knowledge about the world around them. I think that students benefit from using a variety of technologies both old and new to gain the knowledge they need to be successful in today’s society; after all one size doesn’t fit all.