Author Archives: Nicole Romanow

EC&I 830 – Summary of Learning

Well this is it!! 10/10

My last assignment for my last Grad Class!! WHAT!?!? So bittersweet!

First off – I am a science teacher, so I have watched ALOT of Bill Nye in my day! So I thought I had to do a parody of his classic Science Guy ED videos! So Thank you Bill!

I tried to summarize as much of my learning from the class/readings as possible! Keeping in mind the time constraints!

I had to learn so much to make this video – it was a first! New things included:

  • How to work Adobe Spark (Creative Cloud?) – Thanks Daryl!
  • How to remove the background on photos
  • How to use my laptop to record videos (I used the laptop for all videos – so my apologies for the whacky sounds sometimes, I still haven’t figured that out!)
  • How to download gifs and turn them into mp4s
  • How to edit videos – I just used the “video editor” on my MS laptop

Special shout out and Big Thanks to Mike Wolf for agreeing to contribute to this video! He truly is a “Way Cool Techie” and very good at his job! Also to my two kids who also had parts in the video.

Please bear with me on the sound issues – but ENJOY!

When done right and under extraordinary circumstances, Online Education can work!

Debate #8: Online education is detrimental to the social and academic development of children.

Online learning has been around for a long time! When looking more into Flex ED, it states they started in 2005! When diving into RCSD’s online ED program, they started in 2009! I had no idea!

Both debate teams had really good points on the topic of online education. It was a bit difficult to separate arguments that were directed at forced COVID online education experiences and willingly chosen online education, but it was still really good!

The Agree Team pointed out the inequities of online education, where students may not have access to devices or the internet. That is something that RCSD’s online learning website states is required. In fact, RCSD Online Learning is very specific about what is required:

  • “Students will need consistent access to technology.
  • Students will need their own device – cannot share with siblings taking online classes
  • Tablets will work for some activities, but students will need a computer at some point.”

But after speaking with the principal of RCSD’s Online Learning school, Amy Sanville, I found out that RCSD provides students with devices if they do not have one! 

I had a fantastic conversation with Sanville, she said that at the moment there are a variety of reasons that students have chosen online education. These reasons include many that the Disagree Team mentioned, such as students with medical (physical and cognitive) exceptionalities and students who need a more flexible schedule. Sanville said that the most important thing with online education is engagement. That engagement is the “tipping point”. She mentioned when students are engaged and are supported, they are performing above average. The RCSD elementary online learning school has grown to 450 students this year! Here is a list of the positives and negatives from both Sanville (principal) and another friend who was a former online educator:

Positives/Things that WorkNegatives/Things that Don’t Work
Flexibility of timelinesLack of engagement, it’s harder to make those connections
Offer support groups – both online and face to face for studentsSome students need more instruction/care that can be provided via online
Offer field trips for those students who can attend (ex: Candy Cane Park)Easy to procrastinate (same as above?)
Offers an online guidance counselor for full time students Less accountability from the students 
Some students could complete courses quickly“Less respect/connection” with the students

I asked Sanville about what is done when there is not adequate support from parents/guardians, she replied with an excellent answer: what do you do when a face-to-face student does not have home support? It’s the same. As a teacher, you reach out, try and make connections, and make it work! She gave examples of doing home visits last year. The process is the same whether in online education or face-to-face.

I also asked Sanville about their elementary program, a point that was brought up in the debate. How do you teach the essentials of play and inquiry to primary students? She said that they do have “pull out” sessions where certain students are put into break out rooms for different reading levels and that they have field trip days to Holy Rosary school where they do physical education and arts ed. 

It was very interesting to hear about online education from an online educator!! Online education from trained educators makes a WORLD of difference! Especially compared to the forced push into online education that is caused by a global pandemic. 

COVID online education could not provide equitable experiences for all students, it could not provide a variety of programs, relationships/connections, or adequate monitoring or support, because we were (are) in a global pandemic! I think 99% of teachers did a pretty darn good job with what they had to work with!! (Teachers are superheroes).

https://twitter.com/neatoday/status/1125468778165415937

When a family (parent and child) willingly chooses to enroll in online education, I do think it benefits that student, because of all the reasons listed above. From what I read and heard about RCSD Online learning, they are going above and beyond for their students, making sure that they are engaged, that they have connections, supports, and a variety of learning opportunities!

Do we have the resources to be proactive – not reactive?

Debate 7: Educators have a responsibility to help students develop a digital footprint.

Another great debate! In the beginning I was in agreement with the statement, but after the debate I voted against it! Awesome job by both teams! But now that I have read into it more, I must again side with the Agree Team…

During the debate, the definitions of digital citizenship and digital footprint were brought up. 

https://pubsaskdev.blob.core.windows.net/pubsask-prod/83322/83322-DC_Guide_-_ENGLISH_2.pdf

According to Dr. Couros and Dr. Hildebrant’s 2015 document “Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools”, digital citizenship is:

“The norms of appropriate and responsible online behavior” and “the quality of habits, actions, and consumption patterns that impact the ecology of digital content and communities” (p. 4)

In Buchanan et al.’s (2017) article, they describe a digital footprint as:

“the information and data that people generate, through purposive action or passive recording, when they go online” (p. 275)

https://medium.com/@llnimetz/how-to-optimize-your-digital-footprint-for-college-applications-d3239a319ca8

I see these as VERY similar things! And therefore I believe teachers should share the responsibility in learning and teaching their students about BOTH being a digital citizen and leaving a positive digital footprint.

Couros and Hildebrant also go on to write about the “rights and responsibilities we have in online spaces” and in our participation in the online community. Again, I see this as a crossover point between both digital citizenship and footprint. Students need to be taught about their rights and responsibilities as an online citizen, INCLUDING how to make and utilize a positive digital footprint.

Couros and Hildebrant (2015) quote Eric C. Sheninger: “schools are not doing their part to educate students on digital responsibility, citizenship, and creating a positive footprint online” (p. 7). The Agree Team’s statements connected with this quote. The Agree Team stated that educators are in the best position to undertake this work on educating students about digital awareness and it is an educator’s duty to protect students (in all environments). 

I have to agree. Educators are in a prime position to model and teach students about digital citizenship, including their digital footprint. They both go hand-in-hand. The EDTek White Paper (2015) states, “for teachers, this means understanding, advocating and modeling appropriate online behavior to help students effectively navigate this complicated landscape” (p. 1).

And that’s the KEY point – teachers must understand the concepts, hardware and software of digital citizenship and digital footprints. This is where I take a stance with the Disagree Team. They stated teachers are not educated or prepared to teach these topics! Where is the professional development? (Sorry Jennifer O – I know you are doing an amazing job!) Where are the pre-planned lessons that can fit into those grade 6 outcomes on identity? They are not a priority. In an education system that is literally hanging onto budgets, staff, resources, by a thread – Where does the time and money go? How many ED Technology staff are there per school division? With one or two teachers who are the ED Tech consultants, they must prepare, implement, share, and service the education technology for an entire division!?! Bananas.

Finally, I really connected with Kim’s comments on Big Tech companies lack of accountability and how they pass the buck. This happens EVERYWHERE! Kim gave a great example of how other big companies pass the buck to the individuals: oil and gas companies saying that consumers should just drive/use less. This reminded me of how sugar companies and food producers (ex: Kraft) say that consumers have a choice in what they eat, and they do not take responsibility for today’s health problems. 

https://theconversation.com/big-tech-isnt-one-big-monopoly-its-5-companies-all-in-different-businesses-92791

Who will hold these big companies accountable? Do the masses have to boycott their products? Is this where social media could be used to share information on these big companies, to make people aware and educate them on what is happening? I would agree that education pieces are out there. Take Netflix’s 2020 documentary, The Social Dilemma. It very much educates the public on Big Tech’s dangers. But was anything done about it? I remember when that documentary came out, some teachers at my school were showing it to their classes! Could that be a jumping point for teachers? To start the conversation on digital citizenship and digital footprints?

Just thoughts!

Could Cell Phone Bans Be the Big Push for a Better Understanding of Technology Use on our Limited Earth?

Debate 6: Cell Phones should be banned in the classroom.

As mentioned in my first blog post, in my classroom at the moment, I have very slack rules when it comes to cell phone usage. But after the experiences of this year and witnessing how students’ cannot peel their eyes from their cell phones, I am swearing to myself that next year I will start with a strict no cell phone policy during instruction time. 

https://giphy.com/gifs/the-simpsons-class-dont-care-W1VdPHo8Ft3Es

In the debate the Agree side spoke of many of the issues that are occurring with continued cell phone use in the classroom such as, technology addiction, distractions, cyberbullying and cheating. It was super cool to learn a new word during this debate: nomophobia (stated in Carel’s 2019 article)! I did not know this was a thing, but I can say that I have both witnessed other people experience nomophobia and I have to admit – I have experienced it myself! 

Breanna Carel’s article not only introduced me to the word nomophobia, but I also connected with her statements on multitasking. Now if you recall, in our first debate on whether technology is enhancing student learning, we referenced a TedTalk that spoke about multitasking – and how our brains can’t do it! But what is interesting is Carel’s theories that students are in fact “task switching” – which is having cognitive costs on student learning. The second connection I made with Carel’s article is the proximity of a cellphone to students. Every semester I have our addictions counselor, Rand Teed, come and speak to students regarding mindfulness and every time he comes to my class, one of the first things he says to the students is to put away their phones and make sure even the vibration is turned off. Because even that vibration will pull your attention away from what you are trying to focus on!

The Disagree side also made good points, points that I thought I was implementing in my classroom with cell phones. I believed that using phones increased student engagement and accessibility – and yes at times it does! But it is not 100%. The Disagree Team is right, with proper planning and implementation, cell phones can be used appropriately to enhance student learning.

https://oakmonitoronline.com/1744/opinion/calling-for-a-middle-ground-on-cell-phone-use/

Which is why I will not completely BAN cell phones from my classroom starting in the fall. But only “ban” them from instructional/teaching time. Students will be allowed to be on their cell phones once instruction/activity/demo/whatever is done. Again, as most of you said, discussions (negotiations?) with students regarding cell phone policies in the classroom is important. Students should be a part of those conversations!

What was SUPER interesting about this week’s readings was the idea from the Selwyn and Aagaard article on the sustainability of technology (computing). To be honest, I never thought of the environmental or ethical impact of educational technology. I mean, I knew about the effects of mining for metals to make batteries and other parts of tech devices, but the bigger picture of the effects of digital technology consumption on the environment – never. 

Selwyn and Aagaard (2021) brought up some really interesting points/questions! Including:

  • “In a resource-constrained future it will make little sense to expect every teaching and student to individually possess their own personal digital devices” (p. 15)
  • Introducing what “Computing Within Limits” means (p. 16)
  • “How can schools reframe device use as a communal endeavor?” (p. 16)
  • “How can the superfluous [unnecessary] use of technology be discouraged in schools?” (p. 16)

Selwyn and Aagaard state that there needs to be a shift in school cultures and understandings regarding digital technology – a new framework that would value “mutuality, responsibility and humility”! WOW! What a concept! This brings me back to worldviews – and how our education system is made in a Eurocentric/Western worldview. I believe what Selwyn and Aagaard are suggesting is a transition to a more Indigenous Worldview! One that centers communal learning, respect, and reciprocity. Very cool!

Well wish me good luck next year in implementing no cell phones policies in my classroom!

Pointing Fingers: Who is to Blame? Children? Parents? Technology?

Debate 5: Social Media is ruining childhood. So many questions with this debate!

First off, taking a page from Christina’s book, what is the definition of ‘childhood’?

Oxford Dictionary

According to the Oxford Dictionary, a “child” is young, “below puberty”, which depending on many factors, can be as young as 8-10 years old! (The Agree side defined childhood as, “from infancy to age 12”). 

The Agree side had many good arguments, including that social media robs children of having an authentic life, the effects of social media on children’s physical health and the effects of cyberbullying on children’s mental health. 

This reminded me of a conversation I had with my optometrist the last time my kids were at the eye doctor. Both children did not need glasses but I asked about the prevalence of glasses in youth today. She said that she has seen an increase in the amount of youth who need glasses, she believes this is because of the amount of time children are spending in front of screens.

Her opinions are supported by this study done in the UK in 2019. Where “the percentage of 13-16 year olds in the U.K. who need glasses has nearly doubled over the past seven years — from 20% in 2012 to 35% in 2018.” The optometrists did state that more research needs to be done to determine the long term effects of screen time on youth. What was interesting is that this study also asked parents about getting their children off screens, and that “73% of surveyed parents (2,000) said it is a “challenge” to get their children to stop staring at some type of screen for a few hours.”

That article on screen time then took me to another article on guess what – PARENTING! This article summarizes a study done (in Canada!) on what giving technology as a “treat” does to a child’s desire for technology. Researchers said that by rewarding children with technology it actually increases a children’s want for technology. But, this article also touched on many of the topics that were discussed in the debate, including:

  • How childhood is an important development time, a time for forming habits, etc.
  • The amount of time the parent is on a device (and it’s correlation to the amount of time the child is on a device)
  • Mentions the Canadian Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines (see below). These guidelines are made by the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (I did now know that is a thing). These guidelines are outlined by developmental stages and each has a recommendation about the amount of screen time that is appropriate.
  • The effects of screen time on the social and academic skills of youth
https://csepguidelines.ca/guidelines/children-youth/

As a mother of a 9 and 6 year old, I feel that it is very much the responsibility of the parent to both teach about and monitor technology use. The Disagree side spoke about the responsibility of both parents and others to “push for laws to protect kids”. We know the risks of social media, so what are we going to do about it?

During the height of the pandemic, I caved and allowed my then 7 year old to get Facebook Messenger Kids to video chat with friends. A few things came of this:

  1. The amount of teaching/educating I had to do to learn about the App – how parent approval worked, what the child was/was not allowed to do, etc.
  2. The amount of teaching/education I had to do with my child. How to properly video chat – not just hang up whenever they feel like it, to actually SPEAK to the person on the video chat, not to send 1,000,000 emojis at a time, etc.
  3. How addicting technology can be! Presently, we have rules about screen time and when/why video chats (or any technology) can be used!

I do believe it is difficult for parents not to cave into the pressures of allowing more screen time. As Dr. Brenna Hicks said, parents can be lazy and make excuses for why their child/ren have so much screen time. Hicks speaks to the power of social media, about how it is an addiction. I can see this already, in both my children and my students. Social media CAN also be used for good (as the Disagree side said, to make new connections, especially for marginalized students).

Is social media “ruining childhood”?? Well that depends on a lot of factors! But one more story to end this post: A few weeks ago, I brought my 6 year old to my 9 year old’s softball game. My 6 year old was bored and at first she was shy and clung to me, but after a few innings she warmed up and joined other younger siblings in/around a puddle near the bleachers. At the same time there was another young child that was also there at the ball game, but they were engaged in watching a cell phone. Now, one can say that the child on the phone is missing out on social interactions and skills! Or one could say that the child was shy and does not like being around new people. OR one could say that was the parent’s decision to allow the phone in the first place… 

Is that a big deal that the kid was on the phone during a ballgame? No. But it will be interesting to see what the long term effects are from children using social media. 

Does teaching today’s students, as we taught yesterday’s, rob them of tomorrow?

Debate #3 Reflection: Should schools no longer teach skills that can be easily carried out by technology? What a fiery debate! I agree with Matt’s blog post – teachers are passionate! And maybe a tad competitive…??

I am very much on the fence about this topic. I have two daughters, one in grade 4 and one in kindergarten, and I am a full supporter of “the basics”: spelling and multiplication practice and the repetition of letters to remember them! I questioned my fourth grader when she came home with no spelling words at the beginning of the year! And during February and March, my kindergartener spent every night identifying her letters! 

BUT! As a high school teacher, I am witnessing a need from students for correct answers, for “how tos”, repetitive practices, with a one answer end. Where is the innovation? The creativity? The problem-solving? The curiosity?? Giving students assignments and projects that require all those things (e.g. open-ended, no procedure) are usually met with groans and huffs. 

The Agree Team did a great job of stating the importance of prioritizing learning the application of technology in education over the basics. What also sparked my interest was Erica Swallow’s article on Tony Wagner. Wagner’s quote: “The world doesn’t care what you know. What the world cares about is what you can do with what you know” struck me! He is right! What can you DO with what you know? How can you APPLY it? On the May long weekend, I was speaking with a friend who works in the HR department at Viterra. She asked if we still did student-led presentations in high school anymore, because Viterra was seeing that new hires could not or did not want to present in front of their peers. Is public speaking a basic skill or more? Is public speaking something that should be prioritized? In this example it doesn’t matter if the employee knows the statistics on pension investments – but how they can communicate that information with the company. 

What I also liked about the Wagner article was his emphasis on curiosity and inquisitiveness! This makes me think of my children’s TV shows like Elinor Wonders Why and Sesame Street. Where asking questions is encouraged and in Sesame Street’s case, it models what to do when you have a question: “We look it up!”. 

This curiosity is also a priority in my science classroom! I actually started this semester with a clip from Ted Lasso (thanks to Walt Whitman) about being curious!

And it was followed by this quote from Helen Keller:

The Disagree Team also did an amazing job. One of the articles that caught my attention was from the Calgary Sun in 2014. First, I was interested in the article’s big concern about Alberta’s PISA rankings, are those standardized tests really the best to evaluate students? Do students and their countries need to be ranked? A topic for another blog post… Second, I was intrigued by a parent’s (a physician!) comment on her child’s math program. While many studies do prove that student’s math skills are declining, I am interested in how an individual not from the teaching profession is being questioned about this. Why aren’t grade 3 teachers being interviewed in this article? Are educators not professionals? I understand that parents are just looking out for what is best for their child, but is that also the curriculum writer’s job? A teacher’s job?

So what is the answer – prioritizing the basics or the “Core Competencies and Skills”?

So many factors play a part in this! Do I dare say the cliche: a balance between the both? Can it be done? What will the future hold with technology taking on so many roles in our lives?

“The Teacher who Takes Pride in Never Revealing [their] “Opinions” to Students Models for Them Moral Apathy.”

Bigelow, B. & Peterson, B. (2002).

Debate #4 Reflection. I have to agree with this incredible quote (above) by Bill Bigelow and Bob Peterson, editors of the text, Rethinking Globalization: Teaching for Justice in an Unjust World. In their introduction, they emphasize the point that neutrality in education is “neither possible nor desirable” and that educators should equip students to develop their own critical analysis of important issues (2002, p. 5).

These opinions are not new. In the Metcalf article (1952!), he references an oldie, but a goodie – John Dewey – and Dewey’s ideas on reflective thought. Reflective thought = critical thinking! Dewey truly was on to something! This “intelligent valuing of reflective thought” is what teacher’s need to prioritize. 

This is what I thought the Agree Team was arguing for in Debate #4. And I have to agree with them. Jessica concluded the Agree team’s argument with what I thought was an amazing statement: “We CAN model professionalism while still advocating for social justice”.

Again this statement is supported by Torrey Trust, who states in their 2015 blog post, “Educators should act as role models, guides and leaders. If we don’t teach our students about the benefits and consequences of using social media, who will?”. Acknowledging that our classrooms are part of the real world and that outside events greatly affect the school community is important. And I believe teacher’s do have a responsibility to use technology and social media to access, connect to, and dissect information that is out in the “real world”.

I must confess that the Disagree Team did raise some interesting points, especially about the idea of “slacktivism” and “woke washing”. An example of this actually happened on May 31, 2022 with the Faculty of Education! They had posted a new profile picture of the progressive Pride flag as a background to their logo. It was quickly removed and a message was posted on the Faculty’s Facebook page on June 1 (see left). In conclusion: one should follow all the fabulous tips for using social media to show genuine support for a cause that were shared by Dalton and Brooke! 


What I took issue with in the debate is the focus on social media. The debate topic clearly states “to use technology and social media”. I thought I would share an example of how I have used technology to promote social justice:

Last June (2021), I asked my administration permission to celebrate Pride at my high school. I teach at a Catholic high school, therefore permission was needed (don’t get me started…). I was told I could celebrate Pride – but not say the word “pride”! The reasoning behind this is the blasphemous meaning of the word??? I still do not understand it… BUT in response I used a lot of technology:

  1. I used my laptop to write a letter that I would email to board members, the division director and the province’s Catholic bishop
  2. In the letter I referenced (linked) an article from the CBC about an Ontario Catholic school division that was celebrating Pride
  3. I emailed/texted my like-minded colleagues to see if they would also sign the letter (they all did)
  4. The group of like-minded colleagues and I then formed a WhatsApp group to discuss progress with this issue
  5. After getting in a bit of trouble, a Microsoft Teams meeting was held with the group of staff, superintendents, the director, the bishop and some other church people to talk about what Saskatchewan Catholic school divisions could do to better recognize and support 2SLGBTQIA+ students and staff and educate staff and students on 2SLGBTQIA+ topics…

*Unfortunately, little progress has been made on this topic. The Division has now had a year to make decisions and official policy regarding celebrating Pride, and that has not happened and attitudes and opinions have changed very little regarding this topic. It is ridiculously frustrating, but on the bright side, my school now has a successful GSDA up and running and we refuse to go away (and we communicate via MS Teams)!

In conclusion, I must agree with Alyssa Dunn and her statement:

“By remaining neutral – teachers are enacting the opposite of neutrality by “choosing to maintain the status quo and further marginalizing certain groups”

Education is inherently political and is ground zero for the systemic marginalization and oppression of many groups of people. Teachers are responsible for using any method (including technology and social media) to promote social justice.

Has technology led to a more equitable society?

Wow. I am still unsure of this question and debate. I agree with both sides! Well done both Teams!

Listening to Kymberly Deloatche’s stories about John the store greeter and her son who loves to dance, I have to agree that technology has indeed created a more equitable society. When I have student’s whose first language is not English, the closed captions on videos are incredibly helpful! John Ward’s article on digital technology taught me that there are such things as digital schools in a box! What an incredible initiative by Vodafone. Currently, the Vodafone Instant Classroom project is being held in 4 countries, which are Kenya, DR Congo, Tanzania and Sudan. But, after reading this my critical mind starts thinking: Is the Vodafone company being altruistic? What is their motive in educating refugee children in those four countries? Where are they getting the funds from?

All children have the right to access education. Matt Jenner refers to one of UNICEF’s missions: to ensure that all children have access to an education. What is interesting is that Jenner does not reference UNICEF’s 2017 report: Children in a Digital World. In this report, UNICEF is also on the fence with this debate. On one hand they state that:

If leveraged in the right way and universally accessible, digital technology can be a game changer for children being left behind – whether because of poverty, race, ethnicity, gender, disability, displacement or geographic isolation – connecting them to a world of opportunity and providing them with the skills they need to succeed in a digital world.”

On the other hand (and on the same page), they state:

“But unless we expand access, digital technology may create new divides that prevent children from fulfilling their potential.” (UNICEF, 2017, p. 3)

Retrieved From: https://ekostories.com/2016/05/10/lorax-literature-moral-obligation/

This report was informative and interesting! The report repeats many of the messages we heard from both debates including how technology is increasing access to information and the need for teacher training and strong pedagogy when it comes to integrating technology. What I did learn from this report is a digital gender gap. Globally, 12 per cent more men than women use the internet! I also was reminded of the safety aspect of technology, including abuse and privacy issues that many children face.

The new divides that technology can create were discussed in the debate as well. The digital injustices are real and they are “layered and complex, and reflect the systemic and structural barriers” (Weeden & Kelly, 2021). The Pro Debate team did talk about these inequities. In their video they mentioned 62 factors of education inequities, many which are systemic and well outside the teacher’s control.

This access to technology made me think of my sister and her work. She is a lawyer that works for Pro Bono Law Saskatchewan. In her work she has experience with and aids those individuals who are marginalized and who lack access to technology. When I asked her about whether technology is making society more equitable she gave examples of how the processes for applying to the office of residential tenancies has gone online and how they had to fight to continue to allow paper filing.

She thinks that for things to be equitable there always has to be an in person option for filing/applying for different things. But even in saying that, she reflected on if the majority of processes go automated, which means less front line staff and less people who file paper, this might mean that people who are filing in person (who do not have access to technology) will have to wait longer than those who do the process online… So is that equitable?

Does Technology Enhance Student Learning?

As per my first blog post, I cannot live without technology; I utilize it for just about everything. As for technology in the classroom and whether it is enhancing students’ learning, I am caught on the fence about whether I truly believe it is enhancing student learning.

Yes, I believe that technology improves access to information and efficiency in communication and grading, but is all of this “education” really helping students to acquire the skills, knowledge and understanding they need?

What Students Think

MS Forms Results, May 12-13, 2022
Forms Submission May 12, 2022

In preparation for this debate I had the idea to poll my grade 10-12 students (yes, using technology – MS Forms) about their views on technology in the classroom and whether it was enhancing their learning. I only had 24 students respond (that’s what I get for making an “optional” assignment…), BUT of those 24, there were many that said that technology does enhance their learning! Many said that access to the internet and Google were advantages, along with visuals for better understanding. Many also answered “both”, that technology both enhances and hinders their learning, with the most prevalent reason being that technology is a distraction (10 students!). 

Distraction

Forms Submission May 12, 2022

This idea that technology is a distraction is mentioned in just about every source on technology use. In his Ted Talk, Richard Chambers (2017), states that people are checking their phones over 150 times a day, that these distractions and redoing of tasks are making us less effective learners and producers. In another Ted Talk, (from the pro side), Jason Brown (2016), speaks about students “drifting away” by their cell phones, which takes away from valuable learning time. 

Moving Forward

This debate could not have come at a better time, call it serendipity! At this moment I am witnessing my love for technology integration in the classroom clash with misuse of technology in the classroom. When I read Strauss’s (2014) article on Clay Shirky, I could not believe what I saw! Shirky’s comments on how he used to have a “laissez-faire” attitude about technology in the classroom, is exactly my attitude and policy at the moment. But as this school year comes to an end, I am debating whether I will follow in Shirky’s footsteps and ban technology in the classroom all together or follow Michael Brouet’s advice and have my students put away their phones – physically away from them – when teaching a specific skill. I do have phone “pockets” in my classroom that I currently just use for quizzes and exams.

Again, I asked my students what they thought about when teachers completely ban technology from the classroom. Many groaned, some stated that they needed their phone for music to calm anxiety, and others insisted that even without their phones they would become distracted and zone out. But, this again brings me back to the Shirky article, where he speaks about “coming to see student focus as a collaborative process”, where my role should be to help students focus on a single task. To start and finish a lesson, assignment, or lab without distractions. And I think I can enhance their learning (and retention?!?) by requiring each student to shelf their device, unless the assignment requires it. 

ES 20 Students Pond Dipping!

I am also reminded of my gained knowledge from past graduate classes on culturally responsive pedagogy and Indigenous Education. What does education for all look like? How can teachers create environments for the best learning? In Fall 2021, I took a class with Jeff Cappo, the Indigenous Coordinator for Regina Public Schools. His work around land-based education is incredible and something that I strive for. Is it serendipitous that he posted this just a couple of days after our debate? I think so!

Questions Moving Forward

  1. More for middle/high school years – What is your classroom cell phone policy? And why?
  2. Does your school have a “bring your own device” policy? What does it look like?

I NEED Technology: A Love/Hate Relationship

When I interned in 2009, I was fortunate enough to have a Coop that had a Smartboard and projector, something that was not common back then! I planned everything using the technology and visuals.

I was hooked! For my first teaching position I was placed in an elementary classroom with no projector. I could not teach like this. I ended up buying my own projector to use for my first two years of teaching.

Twelve years later, technology is part of just about every aspect of my life. I wake up, to an alarm on my phone, and will check my phone before leaving work (Facebook or Twitter). I exercise using a fitness app on my phone. I get to school and immediately turn on my projector so I can display each class’s agenda (on Word) for the day.

All lessons start with a Powerpoint or Word document for reference, most lessons include a Youtube video, all reviews include a Quizizz (virtual quiz) to help study, students are allowed to use the Quizlet App to make virtual cue cards, and all class materials are posted to MS Teams daily. Also, students use a variety of programs (Powerpoint, Canva, etc.) to write up “photo labs” for my science classes.

Communication between students and families is also all virtual. If it is not by email, it’s a message on the Remind App or on Teams messenger.

Once at home, communication for my children’s school is also via technology, either through email or Seesaw. Their teachers frequently send messages and videos about the day’s events through the Seesaw App. Even the softball coaches use an App to keep a schedule and communicate messages!

I rely on my phone for my alarm clock, my calendar, my grocery lists, communication with family, friends, kid’s activities organizations and of course sharing on social media! I am addicted to technology, it is an amazing thing BUT I also am very aware and cautious about the time I spend on my phone, especially with/around my children.