Author Archives: kendyllherauf

Technology & Equity

I really enjoyed listening to, and a participating in this debate. At this point, I think technology has increased the equity gap in education. That’s not to say, however, that it doesn’t have the potential to eradicate the gap. What was super awesome about this debate was that we had some insight into what equity could look like. It was awesome to hear from Allysia who works at a private school where all students have technology to support their learning. I think that, if society were to replicate this, things would be equitable as technology can support people in many different areas of need. I am going to choose to think about it like my 3 year olds favourite book right now; If you Give a Mouse a Cookie.

If you give a student a laptop..
They can access Google Read and Write!

If you give a student a laptop..
They can research using resources they otherwise may not have access to!

If you give a student a laptop..
They can explore graphic design!

If you give a student a laptop..
They can visualize mathematical concepts in a way they couldn’t imagine!

And if you give ALL students laptops..
They can access anything THEY need!

Should I Stay or Should I Go Now? (Cell phone edition)

Okay, I’ll just say it. The word “banned” is just a little too strong. So to briefly answer the debate question about whether cell phones should be banned from the classroom or not, no. Probably not banned.

To shed some light on this, I switched schools last year from an elementary school to a K-12 school. During this transition I was pretty shocked at the impact cell phones were having on active learning and engagement in the classroom. I think, because I taught in an elementary school, it was just a basic expectation that cell phones were not to be used in class unless instructed by a teacher to do so. Students came in, they put their phones in their designated slots, and we went on with class.

In a highschool, it’s a little different. I can’t even be certain as to why. My best guess is that there’s a little more freedom afforded to high school. For example, students might have spares, they drive to school, they arrive at different times, so it’s less concrete to say “as soon as the morning bell rings your cell phone should be in the slot”. When these freedoms are afforded to students we are letting them know we are treating them with a level of respect that reflects their independence and their ability to make grown-up choices. That respect then translates into the classroom similarly. Unfortunately, I think it’s the addiction (or something near close to) that then makes the balance between giving students an inch and them taking a mile.

I genuinely don’t believe students WANT to be addicted to their phones. I don’t think they want to be sitting in class and having zero desire to learn important information that will help their future selves. They probably would love to have the will to focus, even with a cell phone on their desk, and not be temped to pick it up and cruise TikTok. I say this because I, myself, would also love to not be addicted to my phone.

We’ve tried a couple different strategies at my new school. We made social media apps inaccessible on our Wifi system, but this didn’t work as more students had data than we thought. We then moved on to implementing a cell phone policy where students are not allowed to have their phones at any time except during breaks. The cell phones are, however, allowed in the classroom in a designated slot. This allows the opportunity for students to use them if the teacher directs them to, “text mom” for if they forgot their lunch or something along those lines, and also to listen to music via their airpods as well. This system isn’t perfect, but I would honestly say it’s the closest we’ve gotten to some sort of balance.

Issues we still run into are burner phones, students saying they left them at home then we later see them with them in the hallways or going to the bathroom to use them, etc. Having hard and steady consequences have helped us enforce this policy, but we need to in order to be able to run it. Again, it’s not perfect, but I would say it’s the closest we’ve ever been to a balance!

Summary of Learning

“This course was super engaging.”
-My husband

I actually think my husband could write a review of this course because it was so engaging, that after every debate I went straight up to him (a calm, listening ear) and told him all my thoughts and feelings on the different topics. I think that’s when you know it’s an engaging course; it kinda consumes you 🙂

I had some pretty big take aways from this course, but the biggest one is that no issues were resolved. There’s a reason these are contemporary issues, because they’re ongoing! We have a lot of work and time we need to spend in addressing these issues, and it won’t happen overnight. I swear my motto of the course is that I “can’t hear ‘it’s not going anywhere’ one more time!”….. but that’s because I just feel like we’re so far past that point. We know technology isn’t going anywhere, it hasn’t since its advancements hundreds of years ago. We’ve addressed that, but it’s time to move on with the nitty gritty; the problem solving. How do we balance technology and non-digital spaces, how do we navigate teaching young impressionable people when robots sometimes do that for us.. let’s not banter about technology’s persistence, let’s get to work.

In my Summary of Learning video I mention a very upsetting situation that occurred last week in Buffalo where a man, unfortunately, lost his life. A child was a witness to this devastating event. A part of the video I reference to address what appears to be a strong desire for/addiction to cell phones, however my reference to that event is not to diminish the devastating circumstances surrounding the event. I am cognitive of the sensitivity of the situation and do not mean to be critical of anyone involved or witnessing such a traumatic event. I simply mention it because it received a lot of attention online due to the child’s reaction and as this is a class discussing contemporary issues, this video is of relevance.

How come I had to do all the thinking on my own?

I just am not sure what to say about the debate we had yesterday; “AI will Revolutionize Education for the Better”. I felt a certain type of way prior to the debate and I felt the same amount of concern after the debate. I think I feel concern about AI in general, not just in the education realm, however education is so largely influenced by societal practices. I think I have an overall fear of AI. I know so many ways it’s awesome and exciting. I am just so filled with uncertainty of what is to come down the road.

It’s starting to feel a little repetitive:

  1. New technology is introduced
  2. Most experts in the field are excited, many people are open to it, but a large amount are timid and scared.
  3. Everyone says “it’s not going anywhere so we better embrace it!”
  4. We learn more about the impact of the technology on society as it is introduced.

So here I am, still scared, unwilling to fully dive in until I know more about AI.

A few months ago I was on an airplane and watched a younger adult (probably 19 or 20) work on a university paper. I was baaaarely creeping, it was just a very easy sightline 🙂
I watched her generate all of her work in AI, and then copy and paste it into some “paraphrase” site, and then hand her work in. I hated every second of it. I wanted to tattle! Who am I wanting to tattle on someone, let alone this young girl I didn’t even know. I think now, in pinpointing these emotions, I felt defensive. I think I feel a little angry, and upset that I feel I had to grow up doing all the work myself. I had to write all the university papers on my own (often times until 2:00 AM), I had to sit there and do all the research to support my arguments.. I had to do all of that. How come a newer generation is just getting to bypass that. I know they’re not SUPPOSED to just bypass that, but they will, and they do. And I don’t know if I can hear “it’s not going anywhere so get used to it” anymore at the expensive of me feeling so defensive.

Is this how previous generations felt? Am I way off, or am I allowed to balance a feeling of injustice and concern for future generations all at once?

A Digital Day in the Life

Late to the game on this one as I was busy prepping for our tech debate on Wednesday!

Every morning when I wake up, I admittedly give my phone a good 2 minute scroll. I’ll check the most important three items: text messages, emails and Just Bins. (Joking about Just Bins…. Kinda).

Professionally, I use my phone and computer quite a bit! During my commute to work I often call my superintendent to have some discussions about what has been going on or what we’re working on at school. I love doing this, it genuinely starts my day off so productively and I feel already set with direction and intention by the time I get to school.

Upon arriving at school I generally tackle any pressing emails before most staff arrive and before I start greeting students. Throughout the day I will text and email frequently, usually communicating with families or while planning upcoming events. I also send out weekly “Weekly Looks” to staff digitally as they appreciate having something in their phones or on their computers they can look back to at any time.

As a staff we use Google Forms to gather feedback regarding changes or decisions that impact everyone, we use OneNote for student-related documentation. And again, emails, emails, EMAILS! I generally make three or four “rounds” a day popping into classrooms and notice some really amazing things that teachers do with technology, primarily in the realm of making a mundane task a bit more exciting!

Social Media; Tequila for Childhood

Going into the debate of “Social media is ruining childhood”, I had casted an easy “agree” vote. After listening to the debate my answer remained unchanged, however, I believe it is because of what I particularly value of childhood.

I think we need to be cognizant when entering this debate that we all value different aspects of childhood. To me, childhood is all about play, being outdoors, participating in activities, learning, making friends, and having each individual discover their interests. When I think about my childhood in particular, I think about playing outdoors with friends, staying up later than we were supposed to to make airbands, playing sports, etc. A lot of people think back to their childhoods and think “ahhh those were the days”. This is because (for many) we’ve so carefully crafted our childhood in our minds as a great time in our lives, free of responsibilities and stress. Many may also think negatively of their childhood as perhaps it was indeed stress-filled with an immense amount of pressure or responsibilities.

When I think about Social Media, especially with youth accessing it, I think about a large burden (stress, pressure, anxieties) being put on kids. I think there are appealing proponents to social media for youth, but I think it takes a very quick turn after that. During the debate, the affirmative side presented a lot of convincing statistics to support their claim that social media is, indeed, ruining childhood. One of the statistics was along the lines of a 150% increase in deaths amongst children. This is vague, I know, but if we just sit back and think about that figure for a moment.. it really is mind blowing.

I had posted in the chat during the debate that if, after using a certain type of deodorant, there was a 150% increase in deaths, that deodorant would no longer be sold. We seem to want to protect social media at a higher expense. I’ll throw out this comparison and see if people would like to contribute to or dispute the analogy. Social media is equivalent to alcohol.

Think about it..

It’s fun and appealing at first, you might even get a little bit of a high from it when you start, but it can turn dark very quickly. You might find you thrive on one (TikTok?) and cannot handle another (Instragram?). It can certainly take the edge off of socializing and it’s quite accessible.

With all these similarities, perhaps we do need to treat it far more like alcohol. An option would be requiring valid identification to be verified before creating profiles on social media accounts. I guess what I’m trying to say is we need to find a better way for people (young and old) to “enjoy responsibly”..

“Technology Enhances Learning in the Classroom”

Myself and my partner were given the challenge to debate against this state this past week. To be honest, I was the last to sign up for a debate topic last week (the Herauf family is BUSY in the summer!) so I actually just kind-of got stuck with this position. So, certainly being in an Ed Tech course, I knew debating against a topic like this would be a challenge as we generally are all in this course because we know what technology can do and can bring to our classrooms. I will however say, I pride myself on being good at arguing; undoubtedly my husband’s favourite quality of mine…….

Now, does technology genuinely enhance learning in the classroom? I mean, yes, in so many ways it does, but thinking back to my grade 6 Debate Club I know that the first part to a debate is defining the statement. What are we talking about when we say “technology”? If I were on the affirmative side I would have leaned heavily into the fact that technology is an extremely broad term to really paint a picture of the vast benefits of technology. Does technology mean electricity? Lights? Pencils? White boards? If so, I think all of those things have CERTAINLY enhanced learning and provided a far more productive learning environment for students. Perhaps, for the sake of this class we’d be focusing more on personal devices such as laptops, iPads, SmartBoards, cellphones, AI, softwares, etc. I would also then like to define the word “enhance”. Does enhance mean to promote? To make better? Because that’s I think where a lot of people got really hung up. One of the quotes from the chat during the debate was “I think the biggest difference is the word support vs. enhance – that was a game changer for my vote”. Someone then replied “I completely agree, it depends how this technology is being used in the classroom. If it is just used to replace then is it needed?”.
I think we also need to define “learning” as well. I know whenever I ask my 5 year old if she’s watching a “learning show”, her definition of “learning” is pretty different than mine!

So let’s define technology as “newer advancements within the last 20 years such as laptops, iPads, cell phones, AI, softwares, etc.”

Let’s define enhance as “to make better”.

And finally let’s define learning as “acquiring new skills, knowledge, understanding or thoughts as pertained to a desired outcome”.

After all that work…… the best I can come up with is…..

Sometimes. Actually, most of the time.

I know, I know! What a let down of an answer. But although I do REALLY believe that technology can ALMOST ALWAYS enhance learning, there is still a small part of it that really hinders learning. I’m primarily referencing cell phones. To preface this argument, I do know that a large part of cellphone usage is in reflected in both classroom management and class engagement, meaning would kids really WANT to be on their phones as much if they were genuinely engaged in active learning in the classroom?

I don’t want to take away from all the opportunities afforded by technology including Desmos, Google Earth, Zoom, etc. I think those are a few really important tools we can use in our classrooms to explore topics that may seem unimaginable or that allow us to access other people’s perspectives. Those are tools that certainly enhance learning, and again, for the most part, I completely agree with the statement.

One argument from our position in the debate was that, in a perfect world, student would be actively engaged in learning all the time. However, that’s simply not the case. We know that kids are, in a way, addicted to their phones. And much like my 5 year old, I am sure many of them are willing to argue that them being on TikTok “is learning”. Please remember though, for the sake of our definition of learning as stated above, when are considering learning to be a part of a desired outcome. So if a teacher is teaching about Rome, but a student is on their phone watching Joey Chestnut win a hotdog eating competition, they’re not learning. Again, in a perfect world, this wouldn’t be the case, however we’re working children who have developed an addiction to technology that we haven’t yet figured out how to best navigate. Because of the idea of distraction, technology does not ALWAYS enhance learning, but it certainly has the opportunity to in a lot of varying ways.

Final Project and Summary of Learning

That’s a wrap!
EC&I 832 is coming to an end.. and to say I’ve learned a lot wouldn’t quite do it justice. I think any “educational technology” course is so relevant and practical.. I feel like I’ve walked away with an entire toolkit.

My final project had me creating an AI handbook for our school. Being on mat leave this past year, I felt a little bit behind in understanding AI as ChatGPT was already being used by students in the classroom and here I was, so removed from the classroom I felt so far behind. This was a good reminder, for me, how some people feel this sense of anxiety in not knowing where to start in tackling certain technologies when you feel as though other people have already been successful in implementing these technologies in their lives. This AI handbook was a thought prior to me returning back to work after mat leave, but its importance became even more evident upon returning to work. Having kids hand in multiple attempts at essays or papers that are completely AI generated sparked something for me, that many students genuinely do not know how to appropriately manage the powerful tool of AI quite yet. This handbook includes references to our division framework to show parallels between what we strive for in our students (in both digital spaces and non), an introduction to digital citizenship for parents and students, as well as an introduction for AI, tools, limitations, and implementations, and even some division success stories of people using AI. Overall, I feel this is still pretty preliminary in development but do think schools and school divisions could benefit by having an AI handbook ready to use by parents and students. Below are a few sample pages from the handbook:

This handbook was only made possible by the content of this course enlightening me on AI, as I genuinely had little to no understanding of it!

However, my learning of AI is just the tip of the iceberg of content I picked up from this course. For a more extensive look at all I’ve learned this semester, please check out my summary of learning video!

Major Project Update

The date is September 5th, 2023. A naive, ambitious Kendyll messages her EC&I 832 prof describing her excitement for her final project, asking if she could explore not only ONE of the recommended topics for the final project, but to fuse TWO of the options together. Both are so intriguing to her and she couldn’t simply pick just one. She asks for permission to create an “AI handbook” for her school, either for educators or for parents/students on the navigation of AI/digital literacy in the classroom.

“Any thoughts on this? Thanks!” she says, hoping her prof says yes. He agrees to it ecstatically. Everything is great in Kendyll’s world.

The date is November 13th, 2023. A tired Kendyll sits at her computer, absolutely overwhelmed with the surplus of information from her EC&I 832 course, now knowing full well that she simply would never be able to cover ALL the information she has learned in a simple handbook, let alone for one single demographic.

This course has been extremely informative, and the amount of resources and tools suggested have been overwhelming (yet certainly much appreciated). I’ve now come to learn I wouldn’t be able to keep my final project as broad as I had hoped. Instead, I am now focusing on creating an AI Handbook for students (only). Although I would have loved to made a handbook for digital literacy and AI for multiple parties, I simply don’t think it would be feasible. After returning to work after a mat leave (and missing a large amount of the initial impacts of AI in the classroom), I have learned there is a large gap in the educational piece for students to learn how to effectively use AI in school. So although I am still in some of the primary stages of actually developing the handbook, being able to comb through the vast amount of resources has been the task at hand as of late! Stay tuned for future progress reports. I can’t wait to see where “future Kendyll” is at!

Literacy, literally.

When I think of literacy I have, what appears to be a “flowchart” of thoughts run through my mind as I process the word. My mind instantly takes me to reading; literacy of comprehension and understanding written text. Soon after my mind seems to recognize other aspects of literacy, and usually goes straight to a book I read by Eric Gutstein called Reading and Writing the World with Mathematics Toward a Pedagogy of Social Justice.

This book was the first time that I understood math was not just an isolated subject; one of just computing for computing’s sake. I learned that there was more than just solving equations to appease a teacher, there was solving equations to help the world, a far more profound meaning given to solving for “x”. It was around this time that being “literate” in the world meant more than just being able to read. It meant being fluent and being able to navigate in a way that promotes change.

This brings me to the final stop of my flow chart; understanding how to navigate multiple areas and subjects, including digital literacy. Once we become fluid readers, we don’t second guess most words, the formation of sentences, phonetical awareness seems to come naturally, etc. This is because we are experts. We are fluent readers, we are experts. We know how to navigate words, and we read to get to an end goal, to gain a clear understanding. This would be the same parallel as being literate in other subject areas. With digital literacy, once we become literate, we know how to navigate in digital spaces. We don’t question the building blocks and foundations of media, we navigate them for understanding and for change. A classmate of mine, Jennifer Owens so clearly describes this in a YouTube video of hers, how we can use media literacy as an agent for change; in this case for social justice, not unlike Eric Gutstein has in the area of mathematics.

Navigate, read, write and change. These are models of exploration through digital spaces for media literacy.