Author Archives: Catrina Hunter

Teaching Students to Be Kind Online

By the time my kids are old enough to use social media, I am hoping that it somehow becomes uncool or just goes away it. I realize that this hope is…highly unlikely; however, my maternal instinct is to protect my daughters from anything that might be harmful to their self-confidence, knowing all too well that some kids (or adults) base their self-worth on the number of likes they receive on a post. When my oldest daughter asks me when she is allowed to have a phone, I tell her she can get one when she is 20, which sounds similar to what my dad used to tell me about when I was allowed to have a boyfriend. When I was 13, I thought his dating rules were “totally unfair” but now as a parent, I completely understand where he was coming from. He wanted to keep me safe from anyone who might hurt me, in the same way I want to protect my girls and keep them safe. But thinking about this topic from the perspective of a parent just solidifies how important it is for students to learn the skills to be responsible digital citizens (even though sometimes I wish I could raise my daughters in a time before social media existed). Here are two ways I have approached the topic of digital citizenship in my classroom. Last year, our school was asked to create a submission for SaskTel’s “Be Kind Online” campaign which “aims to end bullying and cyberbullying in our communities” and “help empower those committed to changing online behavior for the better.” The requirements for the project included making a video to post to our school’s Instagram and TikTok accounts showing how our students spread kindness in our school, both online and in person. My colleagues and I were excited about the opportunity to take part in the campaign knowing that it would be a great way to approach the topic of digital citizenship in our classroom. In the process of creating this video, students had the opportunity to collaborate, laugh and have fun with their peers while also reflecting on what it means to be a kind and respectful digital citizen. The project was an engaging way for us to discuss the important topic of digital citizenship with our students as it opened up conversations about the importance of treating others with respect regardless of whether you are behind a screen or face-to-face.   Earlier that same school year, another colleague of mine stumbled upon an Instagram account created by students from our program, about our program. Once she found the account, she obviously had no choice but to check it out. Most of the posts were completely harmless — funny memes, cute pictures, inspirational quotes — but, after scrolling a little further, she came across an anonymous post criticizing me and my colleagues. I won’t go into detail, but let’s just say the post was not an example of students “being kind online” and we as teachers were all hurt by what our students had posted about us; however, because we are also mature adults, we knew we had a responsibility to help our students learn something from the situation. Even though it was uncomfortable, we recognized that addressing “the post” was a teachable moment related to appropriate and respectful online behaviour. We wanted our students to know that even though it was likely more difficult to talk to us in person about their concerns, that it would be more appropriate and less hurtful than posting something critical about us online. We also discussed how it can be easier to say something hurtful online (not just about a teacher, but about anyone) when you aren’t saying it to that person’s face. Although the conversation was tough, I am glad we were able to guide our students and give them some tools to navigate similar situations in the future.  I am looking forward to finding new ways to teach about digital citizenship in my classroom more consistently. I am teaching a Wellness 10 class this semester, and supporting students in the development of their digital identities would be a perfect connection to the curriculum. As I think ahead to planning this content, I would love to know what other teachers are doing to support student learning in this area. What are some ways you approach digital citizenship in your classroom? What resources have you used? What strategies have worked well for you? And finally, what resources should I be using at home with my own kids? 

AI Technology: Cheating tool or my new personal assistant?

One day last month my husband was playing around with ChatGPT and he asked me to enter a prompt. I didn’t know a whole lot about this technology, other than what he had explained to me at that moment, and I wasn’t sure what to ask it to do; however, knowing I would be taking EC&I 830 in a few weeks, I asked it to write a 1000 word essay on the contemporary issues in Educational Technology. In literal seconds, ChatGPT produced a five-paragraph essay with compelling information about the topic. Strangely enough, the essay didn’t make any mention of the impact AI would have on the future of education. For as good as ChatGPT was at creating a well-written essay, it may have missed a fairly key point related to current issues in this field. I was honestly blown away by the AI tools Alec shared with us last week. My initial reaction to this technology was pure and utter amazement. Again, I knew very little about ChatGPT and AI technologies before starting this course but after seeing them in action, I was intrigued to learn more. After realizing the possibilities, I immediately signed up for a few accounts and started trying them out.  The first AI technology I attempted to use was Tome. I prompted it to create a slideshow to promote the Balfour Arts Collective to incoming students. This task was on my to-do list for an upcoming Information Night we are hosting in February, so I thought Tome could save me a few hours of work. For whatever naive reason, I didn’t think this tool would know anything about the topic I selected, but in a matter of seconds it produced a totally usable slideshow with a pretty convincing sales pitch. I mean, after reading it, even I was convinced I would be a great fit for the program. Of course, the product needed a few edits, but overall Tome completed this task in record time. Check out the rough version of the slideshow here. Not too shabby for 20 seconds of work. The next thing I played around with was ChatGPT. I am a dance educator and I wondered how this tool might be used by my students (or myself) to create dance choreography. Knowing that ChatGPT wouldn’t be able to create a visual representation of movement, I wondered if it could provide a description of a dance, similar to how I write out my choreography when I want to remember it (i.e. step touch R/L x2, pose for 4 counts arms in a v, walk forward for 4 counts R/L/R/L, walk back for 4 counts R/L/R/L). Here is my initial prompt and the response I got: Not exactly what I was hoping for. So after talking to my colleagues and trying their suggestions, I tried again prompting ChatGPT to use a form of dance notation called Labanotation. This yielded an interesting response. Check it out: So, although this AI-generated “choreography” is not super innovative (maybe even a bit cheesy), ChatGPT did a fairly decent job of describing a dance phrase that could be followed and performed by someone with a basic understanding of dance. Pretty cool if you ask me. But more importantly, this got me thinking…a dance choreography AI tool could be my claim to fame and my next million-dollar idea. Now I just need to find someone with the tech skills to make that happen.  After testing out a variety of prompts in ChatGPT, I have to admit I LOVE IT. Initially, I viewed AI tools as something students would use to cheat on essays (this article provides an interesting overview of these challenges), but I never thought of them as tools I could use to make my job as an educator easier. Over the past few years, I have struggled to find a work-life balance; new tasks are often added to teachers’ plates with no additional time to complete them. But the idea that these AI tools could save me time with prep and marking is pretty amazing. Of course, as teachers, we will need to learn to navigate this technology and understand the impact it will have on the subject areas we teach. We will also have a responsibility to teach our students how to use these tools in appropriate ways. But for right now, I’m just going to enjoy having a few more minutes of free time thanks to this amazing new technology.