Author Archives: Carol Fisher

Barbie and Tech

I don’t often get to see my family. So, we all had a lot of fun working on this video together.


Voiceover – My mom

Skipper – Ryan (My Daughter)

Ken – My Dad

Lizzo (Voice Changer) – I may have had 2 pay $2 for the voice changer, but at least it sounded better than my singing! Ha Ha!

This has certainly been the best class I have had during my master’s degress so far. Thank you all and Katia for the fun!

I Know When You Are Texting In Class

Banning vs Policy

(Chat-GPT, 2024)

This is how I see today’s debate. I have worked at a school with an outright ban on cell phones and a school that welcomes them with open arms. 2024 was a challenging year for my community and cell phone usage. Three grade 12 students were caught using cell phones on campus to film in the female washroom spaces. It was terrifying for me as a woman, teacher, and mother on campus to think that my students, my daughter, or even myself could have been filmed. However, even though it was a traumatic year dealing with feelings of failure as a teacher and attempting to assist students with their complex feelings around the issue, I still believe that cell phones shouldn’t be banned in schools.

This video makes an interesting claim about separation and performance. In my classroom experience, losing the phone often causes my learners anxiety. It leaves them unable to concentrate in class. They worried about the outcome of their phones: Would they talk to the principal before they could have it? Would their parents be contacted? Would they lose the phone altogether? Having an outright ban in the classroom doesn’t curb these questions because students will continue to bring their devices into the school regardless. When we prohibit something, we build tunnels under Moose Jaw to gain access to it or at least hide it somewhere in school. When my previous school banned technology, students downloaded WeChat, China’s number one chat app, on their laptops. It didn’t matter which device it was on; they would find a way to use it.

Photo from Pinterest

This is why policy is essential. Just like citizens of a country follow government policy, or we teachers follow school policy, students must learn how to navigate the world through policies mandated by a particular environment. Do workplaces outright ban cell phones when workers take a break or respond to family? No, they don’t. Workers understand, for the most part, that cell phones perhaps can’t be used on the “floor,” but this depends on a particular space’s policies. Even the research on the KSL News video shared by the affirmative side of the debate indicates that school bans aren’t the answer. Students come to learn not only curriculum but also life skills. Isn’t it important to teach them how to follow policy and what consequences are in place if they don’t? Schools are meant to be a safe zone to make mistakes that could prove costly in public. Using cell phone policy in class, either school-wide or teacher-directed, is an excellent step toward helping our learners use their phones responsibly.

“Some educators and parents also argue teenagers need to learn to use phones responsibly” (Randazzo & Barnum, 2024).

Teachers and parents serve as role models for cell phone use. How many of us can say that we use the phone appropriately all the time? Most of us certainly don’t, myself

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included. That is why I now take mindful steps when using my phone around my students and my daughter. Gone are the days when I played on it during supper after I noticed that my daughter wanted to watch the Tablet while eating because her dad and I were on our phones. Gone are the days when I might silently send a text during class; I now loudly announce to my students when I am going to use my phone and why, just as I expect them to do so during class. Gone are the days of toileting scrolling. After the incident I mentioned before, the school implemented a new policy of phones having to stay in the class when students or teachers go to the bathroom. I try to make an effort to do the same at home. If we want to see change, we have to change.

Ponderings from China

(Playground-v2.5, 2024)

Going into the debate sign-ups, I had hoped to snag a spot in the AI debate, but it was a snooze-you-lose situation, and I snoozed. Was it the jetlag or my desire to eat some pie before I logged on to sign up? We will never know. Working with Ashlyn on the opposition side of the debate was a great deal of fun. Honestly and shamefully, I hadn’t considered equity and technology. I work at a school much like Allysia’s, where students all have devices, often two or three, to engage within school and at home. This debate had me thinking about a couple of areas regarding equity and technology.

First, my school actively participates in a charitable organization called the Pfrang Association. The charity aims to raise money to send young people from the northern part of Jiangsu province to school. The idea for it came about from tragedy. A local German family was murdered one night, the Pfang’s, when some young men broke in to steal from them and didn’t expect them to be home. The family and school were rightfully upset and angry until they learned that the young men who broke in had nothing to their name and little education. From this knowledge, they transformed their anger into helping hands to help teens access education by offering them all the necessary supplies and computers and paying tuition. Living where I live, I don’t see a lot of evident poverty in China, but it does exist. Meeting and seeing people come in from rural communities is shocking to me as a foreigner but also to even my Chinese husband. They don’t have cell phones, they often don’t have education, and they struggle to maneuver into the technologically advancing Chinese society. Seeing a large, white woman like me is often deeply shocking for them.

The Digital Divide isn’t just a Canadian and American concept; it is global. The video interview with Billy Buffalo also showed his community members struggling to get cell phone service in the middle of Alberta because the service towers nearby were all facing away from the reservation. One gentleman notes in the interview that the internet was vital to him because while he admitted to being addicted to it, it was helping him with his alcohol addiction. It is difficult to say that technology has led to more equity when these are still issues of today.


(Chat-GPT, 2024)

Second, I think about the censorship that comes with my location and how that impacts my students (and my family). Just as social media giants can develop the habitus of their users, so can agencies controlling access to certain technology. I remember a key conversation with my husband about Nancy Pelosi visiting a certain area. His technology told him it was a hoax, whereas mine even came with pictures as evidence. Is it equity when all users are left in the dark regarding certain issues? Some may argue that it is, but in my mind, this situation creates further gaps. Information sharing is critical to bridging gaps. I love Buffalo’s expression that information is a gift. The affirmative side of the debate today was right in being solution-focused. However, as Muzzafar found in her 2016 article, the initiatives aren’t sticking. They aren’t being made mandatory, which means the solutions remain in the realm of theory rather than practice.

AI: Here to Stay

(Playground-v2.5, 2024)

AI has been consuming my life these last couple of years, as I previously stated in a prior blog post. David Bremner, the previous vice-principal of BIS, introduced me and my TOK students to AI. During my TOK exploration of knowledge and technology, I invited David to guest lecture in my class. He had us run through some scenarios based on ethics and AI, similar to the train track questions we have all seen before. My students loved the lesson, and I had the privilege of joining as a student as well. After class one day, David showed me how to properly use Chat-GPT. I was making a unit plan for the graphic novel Grass by Keum Suk Gendry-Kim at the time, but the novel was so new there were no helpful resources. David asked Chat to make a unit plan for me. Now, was it perfect? No, but it offered me multiple possibilities I hadn’t thought of based on the knowledge it pulled up about the author and her other texts. I was hooked!

I knew already before sitting down to listen to our classmates’ debate that I was firmly on the side that AI would revolutionize education. Sorry, opposition debate team! I didn’t change my mind during the debate either. My current school, NIS, has allowed me to join even deeper into the AI movement, and I often get to debate with naysayers of AI in my daily practice. Thankfully, the team I work with are forward thinking and pushing forward with incorporating AI in our school regardless of others banning it. This quote,

“Beyond using AI tools for educational purposes, it is crucial to educate students about AI itself, including how to develop AI technologies and understand their potential risks.”

from the World Economic Forum best encompasses what I believe about AI. AI is part of our world, and we cannot widen the Digital Divide by keeping our students away from this technology. There is no need to be afraid. I shared the argument that people were also afraid of fluorescent lightbulbs, which were not that far into our past, yet they are still here to stay.

We can push against it, or we can embrace it to support our learners and ourselves. If people aren’t careful, technology will run on without them.

Taking a moment to examine the opposition side, the following article cautions educators to consider their values before jumping into using technology. This has been a common stance that I have seen. However, Dr. Shannon Doak at NIS has offered me a better stance in that AI is something that is fluctuating, so we, as educators and leaders, must be flexible in our approach. This is one of those cases where caution needs to go somewhat out the window, and the willingness to make mistakes comes into play.

A second prominent argument is that student privacy is at risk. This is 100% true! Many AI tools require students to be at least 13 years old to use, but with all age-gated technology, it is easy for our youngsters to bypass them. That is why, just as we need PD, students need it regularly, too! All of my students are on Magic School at the moment because it offers helpful reminders about the type of information they input into AI, which hopefully serves as a helpful reminder when they use other platforms.

The final argument I will address is the issue of bias. The debaters addressed this in their opening statement by stating that AI is assigning gender to certain job roles. I remember this being an issue with Google’s Gemini when it was “woke,” according to several users. This won’t change with AI. AI is created by those who are biased. Therefore, that will continue into the online space. However, this is a great lesson for students. We teach students about navigating bias as part of our current curriculum. Using AI to determine that bias is just one way of making the educational outcomes more relevant to our learners.

AI is here to stay. I am on board…are you?

“The gift of information” – Bruce Buffalo

Summary: The Al Jazeera piece follows Bruce Buffalo as he attempts to bridge the Digital Divide in his community of Maskwacis. Buffalo embodies a Robinhood-type persona by “stealing from the rich and giving to the poor” regarding broadband access. He runs a single-person non-profit project hoping to gain better internet access for Maskwacis. The video speaks to nationwide issues that stem from colonization, such as drug and alcohol addiction and loss of identity. The video also follows Bruce as he attends the Digital Futures conference in Canada, his worries about being the only “First Nations” person there, and his need for donations to complete his project. He is pleasantly surprised to find people who want to help fight the Digital Divide in Canada. By the end of the video, Bruce is successful in creating his access point and expresses further dreams of building the network from within the community and offering jobs to locals. However, a captioned note at the end reads that Bruce could not secure funding to maintain the access point and had to shut it down.

Evaluation: The article offers a life perspective of how the digital divide impacts Canadian Indigenous communities, especially those who live on reserve. Buffalo speaks candidly about the government actively avoiding putting better access in his community even though it is in the middle of the province of Alberta. The video offers several clips of Buffalo in the community spreading his message, as well as him trying to create ways to gain access for the community. The Al Jazeera video is raw and offers a remarkable firsthand account of the Digital Divide in Canada, near us in Saskatchewan.

2016 Issues Still Problematic Today?

Muzaffar, S. (2016, December 28). Opinion | what good is declaring broadband a “basic service” without regulating retail prices?: Opinion | CBC news. CBCnews.

Summary: The opinion article discusses the 2016 Canadian legislation around the basic right to broadband as simply a target and not a requirement for Canadian citizens. The author also mentions the government’s inability to set price regulations for telecommunication services. The article further describes the 2016 climate of Canada being anti-immigrant and having poor previous records of supporting Indigenous communities. There are further comments about access needing proper infrastructure, which the author notes does not exist.

Evaluation: The author of the opinion piece is the founder of TechGirls Canada (TGC) and has various author qualifications in the field she is discussing, highlighting her ethos to speak on the matter. This article openly describes itself as an opinion piece, meaning their statements are biased. The author is upset by the lack of regulations surrounding the 2016 policy. However, their opinions are still relevant today due to the telecommunication companies’ monopoly over Canada. The author had little trust before writing this piece, which made their opinions more negative.

Mathematically Considering the Digital Divide

Howard, P. N., Busch, L., & Sheets, P. (2010). Comparing digital divides: Internet access and Social Inequality in Canada and the United States. Canadian Journal of Communication, 35(1), 109–128.

Summary: The research utilizes Gini coefficients to demonstrate how Canada has made drastic changes in closing the Digital Divide, whereas the gap is still wide in the USA. They argue that Canada’s creation of culturally relevant content is partly the reason for the closing gap. The article further offers historical context relevant to Canadian and American telecommunications and information about previous studies that measured the Digital Divide.

Evaluation: The article is mostly fun of aging data because it was published in 2010. While much of the historical context about the Digital Divide between the two countries is accurate, the article must present more evidence to support that Canada is closing the gap. As of 2024, the programs mentioned in the article are few and far. Many initiatives are no longer happening or have been replaced. However, suppose you are someone who enjoys looking at graphs and figures. In that case, this may be an interesting read from an economic and mathematical perspective.

Food or Wifi?

OperationMaple. (2014, July 30). Starving for the internet. YouTube.

Summary: In today’s climate, it has become a fundamental human right to access the internet. Everything we need to do must happen online. Applying for a job? Well, that happens online. If you do not have a job, you may not have the funds to have Wi-Fi access to apply for one. People are having to choose between having the internet and having food. The video discusses a campaign by Acorn Canada to help make the internet more affordable to those who currently cannot afford it.

Evaluation: The nonprofit organization created the video, providing a biased opinion. It was also older, from nine years ago. However, the problem persists today in 2024. There is still a monopoly on services provided in Canada and limited competition. It is reminiscent of the few airplane companies on Canadian soil. No competition means they can charge insane fees, and people are left with nothing to do but pay them.

Things I Wish I Knew about Social Media

Social Media isn’t ruining childhood; it simply contributes to some of the negative (or positive) experiences children face. Just as people were scared of the new type of lightbulb when it was invented, society fears Social Media. I tried to keep an open mind

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during my classmates’ debates. Still, as someone who found solace in Social Media as a child, I can’t find common ground with those who say it is ruining childhood. I ended up watching The Social Dilemma, and while it was heavily swayed in favour of Social Media is a negative, one comment made near the beginning was that “There’s no one bad guy.” Many ills in the world contribute to the trauma of our youth, as our debaters mentioned many times. All of these factors add to the ruin of childhood. Honestly, I probably wouldn’t be around today if it weren’t for Social Media and all the people who helped me deal with the trauma of my childhood. School and the people in them were what ruined my childhood and that of many others. Did I find bullies online? Sure! But, I found the emotional pain inflicted by my real-life bullies far outweighed those online. Candice Odgers, on Open to Debate, further supports the point that Social Media has little bearing on the mental health of children – “Social Media use does not predict mental health problems.” There are a plethora of issues that contribute to the mental health of our youth; Social Media may only be a small portion of that. Like me, children use online media to seek help and converse.

Living abroad offers me a different perspective on Social Media and online

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communications. While some may argue that communication platforms do not constitute Social Media, they often involve sharing parts of life. My everyday go-to, WeChat, uses Moments, and WhatsApp has picture-based statuses that can be saved for others to view. This medium is essential for connecting my learners to their old friends and family in their home countries and friends who leave and change to new schools in new countries. We also use Social Media to collaborate with other IB schools worldwide (and teachers) to improve our practice to reach our personal bests.

The Social Dilemma mentions technology addiction, an issue with Social Media. It can be addictive in the same way slamming back bags of chips and energy drinks can be. This is where adults in our lives need to step in and teach moderation. Children will parrot what others are doing and need to see healthy habits/balance to thrive in tech spaces or healthy diets. The documentary further talks about the art of manipulation being at the center of controlling this addiction. However, as someone who gave a lecture about rhetoric in a previous Ed course, I know this is the route we take in all parts of life to get what we want, aside from being online. Manipulation has been around since the existence of communication. We cannot solely hate Social Media for manipulative practices when everything and everyone does the same. Social Media is indeed a drug, as The Social Dilemma states. Still, just with all other drugs, we choose to use it and may need help to control the usage or to stop using it. Parents and teachers are the ones who can help when they see children getting addicted, but it means tuning in more to our learners and children. I can see my daughter developing some addictions, but do I think that is ruining her childhood? No, I don’t.

In thinking positively about Social Media, I consider all of the short-form doses of learning that have helped me improve small areas in life that also reach children. As an older adult, I think of Sidney Raz’s short series “Things I Wish I Knew in my Thirties,” which teaches me simple tips and tricks. I have been using so many simple tools all my life that he educates me on as a fellow person in their thirties. Children have access to

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all kinds of information as well. This American Academy of Pediatrics article speaks to the enhanced education students can receive from online communication tools. My daughter follows some Minecraft users online who have taught her all about rocks and minerals in English. Her second language is expanded daily thanks to her online access (and Bluey). The Caloia (2022) article focuses on Gen Z struggling with focus and attention. Still, it offers solutions like disengaging from Social Media to focus on routine. Places like Social Media help students note that they may have different attention spans than others and things they can do to help. Unplugging from Social Media will not somehow get me nor my daughter to make the bed in the morning.