Author Archives: amayaander

Summary of Learning

And… that’s a wrap! This class was a quick blitz of learning and I thoroughly enjoyed it. When I first read the syllabus and saw the debates, I didn’t know what to think, but now I get it! They are the best way to vet these highly contentious issues of technology in the classroom.

My summary of learning video was a bit of a learning curve. I decided to use Powtoons; however after I was already committed, I discovered that I had to upgrade if I wanted over three minutes or if I wanted to have voice over past the first slide. Instead of upgrading I thought I’d screencast and voice over as I pause the Powtoon video. It certainly didn’t work as smoothly as I was hoping, but I learned as I went!

Thank you so much to everyone in this class who contributed to my learning. Enjoy my video!

Online Learning: Detrimental or Groundbreaking?

Online education is detrimental to the social and academic development of children.

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels.com

I thought that this was a fitting wrap up of a debate. It seemed to encapsulate many of the issues that were tackled throughout our class. By including both the social and the academic element, this debate statement cast a wide net in which we were able to one again discuss many of the recurring issues brought up in our weekly debates. I think that the agree team did an excellent job of reviewing some of the main points that were covered over the course of this class in regards to the negative effects of online education.

Here are the main points covered:

  • Some families fall behind due to the digital divide
  • Non school related pressure is put on students
  • Many parents aren’t able to help
  • Students’ location is hard to pinpoint
  • Possible adverse effects on physical health and brain development
  • unable to provide the same variety of learning
  • social learning concerns
  • many subject areas are unable to provide education true to their intention due to online nature ie. phys ed and science
  • the authenticity of courses is decreased when done online
  • online learning has long term effects on post secondary learning and in the workplace
  • authenticity around assessment can be lost
  • quality and variety of extra curricular cannot be met online losing the life skills learned through these activity
  • virtual learning is causing fatigue, stress and anxiety

On the other side of the debate, many points were presented that show the immense positives that online learning presented:

  • online learning can cater to specific students’ learning styles
  • the efficiency of time of online learning 
  • online learning does not waste resources
  • larger class sizes are less of an issue
  • learning has the ability to be more student centred 
  • convenience – students can learn where they are 
  • online learning reduces many costs to parents and schools

Digital Footprint Debate

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

As established over this course, technology is now a part of life and therefore, a part of education. It is true that some teachers may decide not to use cell phones, or will decide to keep technology as far away from their classroom as possible; however, students will inevitably be exposed to technology in school. For this reason, the education system should be teaching proper online safety and etiquette. The concept of a digital footprint is one that must be taught to students (ideally) before they begin incorporating technology into their day to day lives.

The agree debate team pointed out the importance of the family involvement in this teaching. Hosting workshops or seminars on the importance of digital footprints are a great way of teaching families while teaching students. Ultimately, most of the monitoring of online activity happens at home, so including family in this education is key. With that being said, the school is a safe and controlled environment in which students can begin building their digital footprint. Often when discussing digital footprints, people are bombarded with warnings and restrictions, yet the agree side discussed the idea of promoting students to create a positive footprint. This is something I had not taken time to consider until it was mentioned in their opening video.

The heart of this debate lies in the word “duty.” Ultimately, it is great for teachers to educate on students’ online presence and help them develop their digital footprints… but is it their duty? One can certainly argue that it would be a positive thing for teachers and even that teachers should, but “should” is different than “must”. I agreed with almost everything on the agree team’s opening statement, except for the line:

“Teachers have a duty to protect students and keep them safe online.”

The disagree team’s arguments tackled the important issue of whether this is a teacher’s duty or within the teacher’s realm to be addressing these issues. Until it is in the curriculum, it cannot technically be a teacher’s duty. I thought they did a great job of painting this issue in their opening statement:

The online world is quickly changing and if teachers do not have an awareness or understanding of this, how can they be expected to teach their students?

This debate presented some interesting food for thought. We see the problems, but what are the solutions? More PD? Adding specific digital footprint lessons into the curriculum? I am curious to hear my fellow colleagues’ thoughts.

The Debate on Cell Phones

Cell phones should be banned in classrooms.

Photo by Tracy Le Blanc on Pexels.com

This was another thought proving debate that wrestled with many different angles. Right off the bat, my inclination leans towards the agree side. I realize that this is highly indicative of my own work situation. I believe that the age of the students you’re teaching is a factor in this discussion. Being that I taught most recently at the grade 5 level, cell phones were not a priority or a preference in my classroom. If I was teaching a 7/8 classroom or was placed in high school – that would be a different story. Another factor is the amount of access to technology your school already has. In the school that I was previously teaching, there was a set of classroom laptops that were readily available most of the time. Because of this, I didn’t feel the need for cell phones in the classroom. Though it is true that some students would have liked the autonomy of being able to listen to must as they worked, I chose instead to have certain days that I would play quiet music for the students to listen to. If there were any students who didn’t want to listen, I had a class set of headphones that they were welcome to wear. Beyond listening to music, there were few things that students had a need to use their phones for.

The agree team made the following points:

  • Cell phones are similar to Cocaine in terms of their addictive nature.
  • Big tech companies collect data on children and by limiting cell phone use we can limit this exploitation.
  • Students are so attached to their phones that they have no-mobile phobia (fear of being without phone).
  • Overuse of cellphones causes attention issues, stress and anxiety.
  • Studies show that when students have their phone on their person, they will check it 11 times in the classroom per day.
  • It is impossible to regulate how much time students are spending texting and checking social media in classroom as opposed to using their cell phone for constructive purposes.
  • If teachers rely too much on cell phones they risk losing access to information due to connection issues within the classroom.
  • Study shows students who receive text messages in classroom receive worse grades than those who do not.
  • It students are able to bring cell phones into the classroom, schools run the risk of having to deal with theft.

The disagree team countered with these points:

  • Cell phone use can be successful used l and beneficial to students’ learning as long as teachers take time to set expectations at the beginning of the school year.
  • Our goal should be to have a digitally integrated life starting in the classroom, but considering the greater context of community and society.
  • Cell phones provide collaborative learning experiences especially for students who do not have other forms of technology.
  • Using cell phones keeps things interesting and exciting.
  • Cell phone usage ensures more accessibility. They are more commonplace than laptops and they take up less space in the classroom. Sometimes they are more reliable than the laptops provided by the division.
  • They aid in the ease of remote learning. Furthermore, most students have data plans meaning that students aren’t bound by wifi connection.
  • Phones are a way of life – this is clearly shown in our own blog posts we made at the beginning of this course. Most of us couldn’t go a day without our cell phones because of the many tools they provide us in our day to day lives.

As I mentioned previously, I know that my personal stance on this subject is based on my own teaching experience including the age of my students and the resources available at my school. Other factors that would change the situation would be the general socioeconomic status of the group you’re teaching as well as behavioral considerations. As someone with ADHD, I know what a distraction my phone can be – even as an adult. Some students may have the self control to limit their cell phone usage, and some may not. Many teachers use the approach of limited access where phones are stored in pouches at the front of the room. Way back in my internship, I used this method. It was a fight for the first month of classes, but the students ended up getting into this routine. When we needed the phones, students got them from their pouch and when we were done, they put them back. However, this doesn’t come without risks. A fellow college dealt with phone theft during class time… this situation made her very wary of continuing the use of that system in the classroom.

Another riveting debate for the books! I am looking forward to the final week of debates.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Childhood? Never Heard of it.

Social media is ruining our childhood.

Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com

I think that this debate could reach deeper levels than our class timeframe allowed for. With that being said, both sides brought up valid considerations. First and foremost, “childhood” is a general term and there are both negative and positive aspects of technology depending on the exact ages we are discussing. For example, the societal standard that preteens are up against due to social media is a vastly different topic of conversation than the potentially addictive nature of screentime for a three year old. Though there are many benefits presented by technology, I lean more towards the side that agrees with this debate statement. Technology seems to have become a significant source of distress and distraction for people of all ages, but the age at which it begins seems to be dropping lower each year. Instead of stopping to smell the roses, people stop to post a picture of the roses, pose with the roses, get bored after one look at the roses, or they miss the roses completely because they are staring at their phone. Analogies aside – youth are overly consumed by the instantly gratifying and often illusory online world and I think that it is doing more harm to our youth than it is helping them.

The agree side contrasted childrens’ lives before and after the era of technology:

Before:

  • children spent time outside with nature and with friends
  • letting imagination go wild was encouraged
  • it was understood that the intellectual foundation laid in childhood gets the ball rolling for future learning
  • play was emphasized as it was the most important way children learned

After:

  • children suffer from reduced attention span
  • children have behavioural issues connected to their desire for screentime
  • youth form superficial friendships and feel a void of human connection
  • youth are subject to negative influences on social media
  • cyber bullying is pervasive and ubiquitous

The disagree team fleshed out multiple arguments including:

  • social media offers many learning platforms for a variety of ages
  • the internet offers the opportunity for youth to connect with role models
  • assistive technology is available for those with disabilities
  • the internet has unending amounts of support groups that would otherwise be unavailable for people seeking allies
  • the internet eliminates the issue in the past of lack of representation for people of minorities
  • social media can bring youth together, give them a voice and open a world of opportunities

Overall, I think that technology has the potential to enhance childhood, but at this point I think that it generally is hurting rather than helping. Ultimately, big tech companies, who control most of the sites that children will use, do not have the youth’s best interest in mind. Children do not have the critical thinking skills or discipline that is needed when navigating the addicting and powerful tool of the internet. I think that supervision is an important piece as technology is here to say. I’m confident that more apps will be developed, controls will be able to be set, and laws may be put in place in the coming years. It is important to find ways to monitor and supervise children online so that the long list of positives will outweigh the unfortunate list of negatives.

SJW Teachers

Out of all debates thus far, I found this to be the most contentious and engaging! It is rare to meet a teacher who is not strongly passionate about their career and its ability to shape youth and thus change the world into a more equitable place. One of the beauties of this job is the privilege and inspiration of having wonderful coworkers who have dedicated their lives to a profession that they see as deeply meaningful and impactful – this cannot be said about every job!

Teaching is never neutral.

Even if a teacher does their best to keep political/moral beliefs out of the classroom, the ethos of the community, school and school division is always injected into the learning experience. To some degree, this is expected. The question stands – is it a teacher’s professional responsibility to use technology and social media to promote social justice? Ultimately I believe the answer to this question to be NO. However, a large discussion can be had upon answering the question – should a teacher use technology and social media to promote social justice?

Photo by Kelly L on Pexels.com

Here are the arguments that I found to be most effective for the agree team:

  • People should have the same rites regardless of race, religion, etc. and this is something teachers have a duty to fight for
  • Many people think teachers should stay neutral, but we all know that teaching is not neutral
  • Social justice allows students to become critical thinkers 
  • Social media is a large part of student’s lives outside of school – we must teach them how to use social media 
  • Social media has opened up a world of opportunities and allies

The disagree team followed with these arguments:

  • It is important to preserve objectivity WITHOUT indoctrination
  • Personal opinion should not be brought into the classroom – we shouldn’t be bringing the personal into professional 
  • Can we really expect all teachers to have the perfect political/religious opinion?
  • Many organizations may be corrupt and we can find this out after the fact – we find out the real truth once it is too late
  • Mistrust can exist when teachers’ beliefs don’t align with students’ familys
  • Go to a rally, write a letter to to an editor’s but do not post activism online
  • Performative activism is just as a good as staying silent

Here is a question that I would love to hear opinions on:

Should teachers’ personal social media be open and available to students? Let me know what you think! The answer to this question really shapes the debate of the overarching question of teachers’ use of social media to promote social justice.

Assuming that all teachers’ social media was accessible to students, sharing one’s personal opinions on social media wouldn’t necessarily be indoctrination; however, it would directly or indirectly sway the thoughts and opinions of students. To think that students already have apt critical thinking skills would be naive. Students are highly impressionable and do not yet have the skills to sift through information critically. It is our job to hone this craft, not to put students in a position of employing it based on our postings. From one school division to the next, not all values/beliefs/teachings are consistent and even within divisions, from one teacher to the next, they can be vastly different. Societal issues that are contentious and potentially divisive should be navigated within the family context. It is my belief that teachers should stick to curriculum when shaping students and keep personal/political beliefs outside of the realm of their teaching and influential scope of students – especially when it comes to public postings!

I loved following this debate and appreciated all the differing opinions. Each teacher has a specific skill sets that brings life to their mission of shaping our youth. I admire the passion of all of my colleagues and do see the value in using online presence to spread awareness and promote change.

To Teach or Not to Teach…

Photo by Olya Kobruseva on Pexels.com

“Schools should no longer teach skills that can be easily carried out by technology.”

This is a highly controversial and pertinent debate. There is SO much to consider here and though I was pulled on both sides, ultimately by the end of the debate I knew quite firmly where I stood.

Beginning with the agree team, they argued the general use of technology by highlighting several points. The ones that stuck out the most for me were as follows:

  • students can receive immediate feedback which keeps morale and engagement high
  • teachers are able to identify learning gaps very easily
  • teachers have less cognitive bias when assessing students
  • it is important to model and teach responsible digital citizenship for students’ future

The disagree side also raised some very enticing points:

Teaching spelling:

  • important for real-life tasks such as applying for jobs
  • spell check does not help writing
  • 6% of Canadians don’t have access to wifi at home

Teaching handwriting:

  • important for fine motor skills, retrieving memory, improving reading scores and reading comprehension
  • helps with writing composition
  • helps with classroom inclusion (dyslexia)
  • Students who take notes by hand often show more success

Check out this article on a more in-depth look at the importance of teaching handwriting in schools!

Reliance on calculator:

  • it is import for teachers to spend more time on the process of learning – students do not go through the process of trial and error when using a calculator
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Overall, though I am generally pro-tech, in this particular debate, I thought that the disagree side held a stronger argument. Though the inclusion of technology in the classroom is not only important, but necessary, there are basic skills that need to be taught within the classroom and should not fall by the wayside despite the ability of technology to complete these tasks for students. These skills often build the foundation for higher level learning. Technology should enhance education rather than replace.

Our Debate

Our debate team took the stance that technology is inequitable. Initially, I felt that the side we had chosen would be easier to find points for than my fellow debaters’ side. After the debate, one of my own personal take aways was: existing inequities are not necessarily a reflection of technology itself but rather a larger reflection of society.

Equity vs. Equality

Photo by Sora Shimazaki on Pexels.com

A point that was brought up by one of my fellow classmates was whether we were debating that technology was/wasn’t equitable or equal. This was not something I had spent much time considering when planning our arguments. Ultimately, technology cannot be equal due to inadequate funding. On the other hand, the question of it being equitable is something to be explored. There are unending points presenting both its ability to create equity as well as how it perpetuates inequity, but beyond that, if we were to ask how to proceed in making it equitable there are infinite amounts of considerations. For example, if you were to narrow down the conversation to technology in North America that would present a different set of considerations than if we were to discuss countries who operate under dictatorships with issues of censorship.

Another consideration that was brought up by a classmate was that technology is not simply just screen-time. In our points, we focused mainly on the issue of screen-time/laptop use. There are tons of technologies that can be used within the classroom that do not require students to be in front of screens. There is no doubt that many technologies have changed the lives of disabled students in a way that never could have previously never been imagined.

Overall, I very much enjoyed engaging in this conversation. As always – I felt like there were a wealth of solid points on both sides and I appreciated many of the considerations raised by my fellow colleagues. I’m looking forward to see what the next round of debates has in store for us!

The First Round of Debates!

Photo by Olena Bohovyk on Pexels.com

The first set of debates brought up a lot of issues that I had not considered. As educators in this new online era, the use of technology is inevitable; however we still have a lot of choice regarding how we use it and how much is used within the classroom. Navigating the positives and negatives of this usage is our job. It is important to keep in mind how our use of technology is affecting children. We all know people that are adamantly on one side or the other of the technology debate… but I think we all know that the proper position lies somewhere in the middle. Ultimately, it is not the technology that makes a difference, it is the teacher. An educator can use all the technology they want, but if they do not have passion, empathy and expertise, technology itself does not create engaged students.

I tend to lean more towards the position that technology does enhance learning. Here were the points that I found most pertinent to that position:

  • Technology is the Future

There is no denying that our world is moving in this directing. Students need to learn skills that will allow them to navigate the digital world.

  • Increased Student Engagement

The majority of students enjoy the use of technology within the classroom. This can mean a wide array of different activities with tech – not just laptop time.

  • Adaptations

The supports for students with a myriad of disabilities are endless and groundbreaking.

I like that the first debate covered a very general statement. There were a lot of directions that this debate could go in and I felt that the debaters covered things from angles that I may not have considered. It was definitely interesting to see how the voting shifted after things wrapped up. Personally, my vote did not change based on the points that I heard; however it is clear to me that there isn’t a correct answer as technology within the classroom is so nuanced. There will always be positives and negatives that present themselves with the use of technology in education.

Just Another Day in the Life…

Currently because I’m on maternity leave, my day doesn’t involve my classroom or students, so this blog post is much different than the post I would be writing in September! With that being said, here are the major ways that I use technology throughout the day to stay connected, educate myself, and aid my day to day tasks:

Google Home

I bought a Google Nest Mini when I was looking for something that would play white noise for my baby throughout the evening and during her naps without having to recharge/change batteries. Now, I have three Google Nest Minis throughout the house and I love how everything is connected! I can control multiple lights, my baby monitor, smart vacuum, thermostat and dishwasher all from my phone! This has been such an upgrade in my quality of life. The first thing I do each morning is say “Okay Google, Good Morning” and the Google Nest tells me the temperature and goes through the top new stories for the day. When wanting to know the answers to simple questions, I can ask Google and get the top responses within seconds. The convenience is top notch.

Jorte Calendar and Planbook.

Paper calendars are a thing of the past… am I right? I have had all my appointments and reminders on my phone for as long as I can remember now. When I am teaching I still use this same calendar app, but my main day planner for teaching is Planbook. Though you do have to pay for a yearly subscription, it is my favourite school planner with tons of awesome options.

Podcasts, LibriVox or Audible

When I am not working, I constantly need something in the background of whatever I’m doing to stimulate myself! My main go-to is usually listening to a podcast, but every couple months I listen to an audiobook. LibriVox is completely free and has most of the literature you’d be looking for if you are into the classics. Audible has a paid subscription, but has more contemporary releases.

Spotify and Bandcamp

As do many of you, I use Spotify to satisfy my music needs. I love the curated playlists for finding new music and when playing music for baby as I wouldn’t know where to begin with children’s music otherwise. In the last few years I haven’t been as active in creating or recording music, but I in the past I used Spotify and Bandcamp to promote the album that I released titled, When We Saw Stars (shameless plug).

Facebook/Instagram/Facetime

I use these sites to connect with friends and family living in Regina or living away. Especially with having a baby, I find it even more important to connect with my family who live in various parts of Canada and aren’t able to visit often. I can’t imagine a world where this type of connection wouldn’t be possible… it makes the distance so much more bearable!

URCourses, Discord, Google Docs , WordPress

Of course while being in my master’s courses I have been utilizing the above sites to navigate the assignments, group work and connection with fellow classmates. This is my fourth class of my program. Already I have been introduced to a lot of new online tools. This is my first time using Discord, first time creating a blog and my first time attempting to use Twitter!

The list goes on, but these are the most important ways I use technology in my life. I truly don’t know what I would do if any of these devices/platforms weren’t available. They really enhance quality of life!