Author Archives: reidquest2022

Debate #8: Is online education detrimental to students?

This all depends on personal and professional experience when it comes to online education.  From my perspective and experiences, online education was detrimental to the development of the students I had.  Many students did not have access to technology, and others did not have internet access.  When the pandemic began, and forced schools to online learning, it could not have been worse for many of my students when it came to their social and academic development.  I would post a link to our meeting time every morning, but very few, if any would show up.  Due to this, we had to print off homework every week and hand deliver it to students’ homes.  Many students were unable to complete the assigned work because they had no assistance besides the typed-out instructions that were provided in their homework packages.  This was detrimental to many students because they essentially missed out on close to two years of their education, and online instruction was not fair to them because they did not have the technology to receive the same level of instruction some of their peers were able to receive.

Years ago, when I first enrolled in university, I could not have imagined doing online learning.  I was a social butterfly who had more fun attending classes to socialize and make new friends than I did learning new material.  As a graduate student, I could not be more thrilled to be doing online learning!  I enjoy that I can come home from work, make supper with my family, read my daughter a bedtime story, put her to bed, then walk downstairs and log on to my class.  If that were not the case, I would likely be in a rush every night prior to class, and hardly have valuable time to spend with my daughter.  My goal is to finish my program by taking all my graduate level classes online because it is so convenient!  Many of my coworkers are currently enrolled in universities throughout the country taking graduate classes, and not setting foot in the province where the university is situated. 

I do not think I can adequately answer this question, as I teeter on both sides of the debate.  I am biased when it comes to this because most of my students were unable to do online learning due to not having technology or internet.  Therefore, online education is detrimental to some, but not all students.  I would be interested to hear some of your experiences with online learning, where most students had technology. 

Thank you to those who took the time to read my last blog.  “Catch ya on the flippity flip. -Michael Scott.” -Reid Quest

Debate #7: Do teachers have a responsibility to help students develop a digital footprint?

If teachers have a responsibility to help students develop a digital footprint, there needs to be professional development opportunities in place to assist educators.  If you do not have any social media accounts, or platforms, how can one adequately educate their students on it?  If an educator does want to help develop a digital footprint for their students, what happens if their beliefs or outlook on what should be posted does not align?

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I believe it is important to teach students about a digital footprint, so they can develop their own platform if they choose to share their thoughts online.  However, I do not think teachers have a responsibility to help students develop their own digital footprint.  I would argue that most students already have a digital footprint prior to attending my class, so I believe it is up to the educator to teach on this topic and responsible use, but ultimately, they have already created their digital footprint.  I reflect on my own digital footprint from when I was a teenager, and my views, outlook on life, and the things I posted do not reflect who I am now.  Odds are, that is the case with most people.  Therefore, the digital footprint will not adequately describe who the person grows into years down the line.

Debate #5- Has Social Media Ruined Childhood?

Both groups presented tremendous arguments and rebuttals on this topic, and I was teetering on both sides throughout the debate.  I believe many generations do not fully comprehend what it is like to live in the generation that follows theirs.  It is easy to look at present day social media as ruining childhood because they are attached to their devices, feel a sense of validity and success when they receive “Likes” and crushing disappointment when the do not.  Prior to this, people believed childhood was being ruined due to children playing video games and not playing in the street with their friends.  Well, many of those children received full-ride scholarships to university because of their gaming and that set them up for their future.  Prior to that, people believed rock music was warping their children’s minds and ruining their childhood.  Prior to that, people believed the generation following them was not as hard working, compared to when they were growing up and they had 10 siblings who mended the farm to help their families survive.  This cycle will continue to evolve in the future, with past generations not fully understanding the present.  The point I am making, is that it is easy to point the finger at social media platforms and blame it for ruining childhood.  There are valid points one can make for this argument, like bullying, online predators, internet trolls, etc.  All of this is horrible, despicable behavior from those who partake in that sort of thing, but all of this has been around forever.  It has essentially evolved with the times.

With the exception of Twitter, that I use as a news outlet, I HATE social media.  When I share my views to people about this, I get the same responses over, and over again: “You’re like a grumpy old man.”  “You’re crusty.”  “How do you survive without it?”  Well, quite frankly, I could not care less about the pictures of the supper some feel the need post, the selfie with a cup of Tim Hortons coffee informing everyone that you burnt your tongue, the complaints about the price of gas, or the Trump loving fanatics I have not seen since high school who feel the need to post a picture of their new MAGA clothing.  It is all meaningless to me.  However, it is not meaningless to the children who are using these platforms.  The addictiveness of social media is worrisome, obviously, and so is the bullying that occurs.  However, social media is not going anywhere.  It is something that we need to live with and teach students about their digital footprint, and how the things one posts on social media is there forever.  They need to be taught the intricacies and nuances or proper social media use. 

Just because I am not a huge proponent of using social media myself, does not mean I think it is ruining childhood.  I do not understand the need for “Likes” or to post every waking moment of your life on social media, but many individuals do.  I cannot say it is ruining childhood just because I do not understand it.  Do I think my childhood that consisted of riding bikes and shooting hoops all day was more exciting?  Definitely, but this is a new world and children will need to navigate their way through the social media day and age.

Debate #6- All educators have had an issue with cell phones at some point, but should they be banned?

I am not going to lie, cell phones in the classroom have been a thorn in my side since I began my teaching career.  Every year begins the same way, with maybe 3-4 students in my class who own cell phones.  I outline the classroom rules, and expectations for cellphone usage, and it goes relatively well for the first few months.  However, after every birthday or holiday, more and more students have a cellphone, and then they are addicted to the device.  This is when I begin having major issues with cellphones.  Before I know it, they whole class owns one and we need to repeat the class rules and expectations almost daily.  When I signed up for this debate, I was thinking how difficult it would be to be a proponent and debate on the side of embracing cellphone usage and utilizing them because of the frustrations it has caused in my classroom.  Once my group and I began the research, a whole world of possibilities and reasonings as to why cellphones should be embraced in the classroom altered my opinion.

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We are living in an age where most people own a cellphone and it is a part of their everyday lives.  No matter what rules schools or classes have, students will always find a way to bend or break the rules on this issue.  The potential a cellphone has in a class setting is forever changing with new, innovative ways to utilize in the classroom setting.  The research for this debate has altered my approach to this issue, and I want to use many of the free resources for augmented and virtual reality, like Google Expeditions, Unimersiv, and CBC VR.  The idea of going on a “field trip” to see the wonders of the world, or all the opportunities educators could use for teaching science are endless. 

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The panic and fear caregivers have when it comes to sending their child to school, due to the tragedies that have occurred south of our boarder for the past couple decades is understandable.  Students who own a cell phone provide a sense of safety, and a communication tool for caregivers to check in on their child to ensure they are safe.

Katia brought up a valid point about students who do not own a cell phone, and if an educator has a “cell phone hotel” and all the spaces are filled with the exception of one or two students, it could cause a sense of embarrassment or have other students think differently of them.  As an educator and father, this tears me up inside to know that some may feel left out if they do not own a phone, or if their family may not be able to afford one.  Valid reasons such as this have me believe cellphones do not have a place in the school, but the pros outweigh the negatives on this issue in my opinion.  Therefore, cellphones should not be banned from schools.

Debate #4: Do teachers need to use social media to promote social justice?

When the pre-debate poll was first presented, without fully thinking this issue through, I was on the agree side.  However, after processing this information, I realized how I do not use my social media to promote social justice.  I hardly use social media at all.  I teach digital literacy and social justice, but I do not believe using social media is something that is required of me for this issue.  The only social media I have is Twitter, and I have one account for this class, and I have a personal account that is protected and private so only my approved followers can see.  Do I have anything to hide?  Absolutely not.  I follow news outlets, sports teams, and I never Tweet, besides on the one I have for university classes.  Some may wonder why I never tweet.  Well, the answer is simple.  I do not feel like what I have to say is important enough for anyone in the world to care about.  Yes, my students, caregivers, and coworkers’ value my opinions.  However, I do not feel like I need to broadcast that for the world to see just to get a point across.  I would guess all my students have social media, with the exception of one or two.  However, there is not one of them who have a Twitter account, and I was told, “only old people like you have Twitter” by pretty much all of them.  Their social media accounts are on different platforms, so if I felt the need to post something on social media, my students, guardians would not see it, therefore I would be Tweeting to no one who values my opinion. 

I am thankful for those who do share their views and insights on social media, whether I agree with what they stand for or not.  It helps me form my own opinions on how I feel about a particular topic.  Posting one’s opinions is a slippery slope, and it has gotten many educators in trouble in the past and will continue in the future.  I am sure there were educators who had anti-mask beliefs during the pandemic and did not agree with the school wide mask mandate.  I do not know any teacher personally who posted anything negative about this, but I am sure someone, somewhere posted something about it.  With it being such a controversial topic, I am sure that would have upset and angered many caregivers who are being educated by that person. 

I believe educators can promote social justice without the use of social media.  Some may agree, some may disagree, but ultimately, I do not believe it is our job to share every tidbit of our beliefs on social media to spark change.  So, the answer for me is simple: No, teachers do not need to use social media to promote social justice.

Debate #3… It was heated… and awesome!

Last nights ed-tech debate did not disappoint!  Both groups did a tremendous job in preparing their arguments and rebuttals.  To begin with, I was one of the individuals (17.9%) who agreed that schools should no longer teach skills that can be easily transferable by technology.  Does that mean my opinion is correct?  Absolutely not, but based on my teaching experiences thus far in my career, and the grade level I am teaching, I feel as though I need to utilize the resources I have in order to get my students prepared for high school.  Although I do believe it is important know basic math skills to get by in one’s day to day lives, at what point does a calculator become a necessity?  As an eighth-grade teacher, I have students who are not at grade level in Math and do not know basic multiplication or division.  This can be traced back to numerous reasons, such as attendance issues, lack of internet access and technology during the pandemic, therefore being unable to “attend” school, and students with exceptionalities, which would make a calculator vital when it comes to Math.  As students get to high school, and in higher levels of Mathematics, a calculator is a necessity and a requirement to pass the class.  The point I am trying to make, is that if students do not know basic multiplication or division by the early stages of their education, a calculator becomes a useful tool in order for them to learn the outcomes at the grade level they are at. 

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After discussing this issue with coworkers, and the administrators at the school I teach at, cursive is no longer in the Saskatchewan Curriculum, and it has not been over a decade.  Besides writing my signature every now and then, Monday night was the first time I attempted to write in cursive since I was in elementary school.  Although I do think it is important to have your own signature, I cannot think of many cases as to when one would need to know or use it when almost everything is electronic.  In our breakout room, Nicole made an excellent point that nurses need to know how to read cursive in the nursing profession.  That is something I did not know, so in some cases I can understand how it can be useful.  My wife and I recently purchased a home, and we figured we would need to go into the lawyer/realtor’s office to sign and initial documentation.  All of it was electronic, and our “signature” was our name in cursive font.  Although I see the importance, from an onlooker’s perspective it feels like it is becoming a thing of the past.  I look at teaching cursive (even though it is supposedly no longer in the curriculum) the same way as teaching Roman numerals.  I remember learning this in the third or fourth grade, and maybe this is still in the curriculum (I am unfamiliar with the younger grades curriculum), but I cannot think of a use for knowing that besides the odd clock that has Roman numerals, or trying to figure out what Super Bowl is being played this year. 

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I am contradicting myself, but everyone needs to know how to write!  If we are reliant on technology for everything, there is no chance for success later in life.  What is currently happening with Regina Public Schools and lack of internet/technology, students need to know how to put pen to paper.  Arkin made a great point in the chat group that technology is great when it works, but what happens when it does not?  I will go one step further; if all classes go paperless, and students go from kindergarten to grade 12 using nothing but technology, what happens in university when finals are upcoming, and one needs to write an essay using pen and paper?  I have never heard of in person classes using technology for final exams, so how does one pass university if they do not have the basic skill of being able to write pen/pencil to paper? 

This is a tricky one, because I understand both sides of the argument.  However, I will once again admit that I agreed that schools should no longer teach skills that can be easily carried out by technology.  I know 81.9% of you disagree with me, and I completely understand that!  However, I am basing this on my own personal experiences as an educator, and everyone of us have different experiences!

Debate #2: Has technology led to a more equitable society?

The second of the two debates did not disappoint!  Both groups did an excellent job articulating their arguments and they both clearly conducted excellent research on their topic.  Assistive technology has increased opportunities for those with exceptionalities, and literacy rates have been growing higher than ever.  However, there are many inequities throughout education, and many have opportunities with technology that others lack.  There are disparities within our own communities with some having access to technology at school and home, while others may only have that opportunity at school, or not at all.

Many First Nations communities throughout Canada are in the stages of revitalizing their Indigenous language.  Many communities rely on Elders to assist in teaching future generations their language because in many areas, language is dying with the Elders.  Technology has been instrumental in assisting schools in teaching Indigenous languages.  Many schools in Saskatchewan have been replacing French classes with Cree language classes.  Is the teacher fluent in Cree?  Perhaps, but technology and community members are readily available to assist in this regard.  Technology has helped revitalize many Indigenous languages in schools throughout Canada.  However, not all communities have internet access to assist in language revitalization, technology, or the funds to ensure their language thrives for future generations. 

When I look at this argument through the lens of teaching in a larger urban center, I understand the argument that technology has led to greater equity in society for some, but that is not my experience teaching in a low income neighborhood.  I cannot justify that it does lead to greater equity in society when I see areas struggling and not thriving the way others are due to technology.

Debate #1: Technology in the Classroom Enhances Learning

The members on both sides of the debate provided excellent insight and provided valid evidence on their side of the argument.  The pre-vote was interesting to see with 92.5% of onlookers agreeing that technology in the classroom enhances learning, and 7.5% disagreed.  Technology has changed drastically in the past 30 years, and it has changed the way we live and work.  In his TED Talk, Jason Brown made some valid points on how more children than ever have media devices on them at all times, with 16% of 8-11 year old children owning 5 or more media devices, 72% of 12-15 year old  year old children own 3 or more media devices, and 51% of households with a child between the ages of 3 and 15 have a tablet.  This data was measured in the United Kingdom in 2011, so in 2022 those numbers are inevitably higher.  By using technology, students can access more information than previous generations.  Thirty years ago, students could only gain information by asking people, or by reading books.  Today, educators and students can connect to individuals throughout the world and provide a level of learning and instruction that has not been used in past generations.  With technology in the classroom growing every year, it is important to utilize it to your own potential and relate lessons based on students’ interests.

I utilize technology daily in the classroom, but I completely understand why many disagree and feel that it does not enhance learning.  The group on the side of the debate who disagree made some valid points that made me second guess some of my beliefs.  Are there issues I run into with technology on a regular basis?  Absolutely!  Students find ways to bend the rules of using technology in the classroom, and they become distracted because of it.  I completely agree with the notion that having a device where one can communicate with their peers, browse social media, and explore the technological world is an addiction.  At times, I feel as though I am addicted to my phone and I need to make a conscious effort to live in the moment and put my phone away at times.  However, this is much different for students in my class who are 12-13 years old who do not fully comprehend what these devices can do.  Obesity and anxiety are two major issues that are affecting students throughout the world, and the abundance of technology readily available contributes to these issues.

Overall, there is no denying that we are living in a growing technological society, but it is up to the school and teacher to determine how to navigate through this confusing time to get the most out of their students with the resources you have.  I feel as though there is no winning to this debate, as everyone has their own opinions on it.  However, the post-vote to the debate changed drastically with 51.3% of the class agreeing technology enhances learning, and 48.7% disagreeing.  Great job to both groups!

My Daily Tech Routine

The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is check the Score application on my phone to catch up on who won the west coast Major League Baseball games.  When I was younger, I was able to stay up past 8:30 every night to see who won, but that all changed when I became a father.  Following this, I check the weather, do a quick scroll through of Twitter, and check my banking before I get my day started.  I usually arrive to school an hour prior to the bell ringing, and during that time I am on my computer checking emails, communicating with parents on Edsby, posting assignments, or planning my day. 

I am trying to limit the amount of paper my class uses on a daily basis, and do as much as we can electronically because we are progressing towards a paperless world.  As I was typing this, I thought of Michael Scott from The Office when he was developing an advertisement for Dunder Mifflin. “It all starts with an idea.  But you can never tell where an idea will end up.  Because ideas spread.  They change, grow.  They connect us with the world.  And in a fast moving world, where good news moves at the speed of time and bad news isn’t always what it seems.  Because when push comes to shove, we all deserve a second chance to score.  Dunder Mifflin.  Limitless paper in a paperless world.”

Once I am home from work, I use my cell phone to listen to music as I cook and clean after supper.  After I put my daughter to sleep, I am watching her on the Google Nest since we use it as a baby monitor.  During this time, I am checking emails, and likely watching or following a baseball game on my tablet.  I always knew using technology was a big part of my life, but I did not realize how reliant I am on it until I was reflecting on it while writing this blog. 

As for using social media, I had Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, etc.   However, I realized how much of my day was being consumed by it.  I deleted all of my social media accounts except Twitter.  I use it as a virtual newspaper, but I never Tweet.  However, that is bound to change after enrolling in this course. 

Until next time…

Reid Quest