Category Archives: Change

Barbie and Tech

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


Voiceover – My mom

Skipper – Ryan (My Daughter)

Ken – My Dad

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

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

Ponderings from China

(Playground-v2.5, 2024)

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

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

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


(Chat-GPT, 2024)

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

AI: Here to Stay

(Playground-v2.5, 2024)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The gift of information” – Bruce Buffalo

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

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

The Age of Surveillance

(StableDiffusionXL, 2024)

Today, a classmate (Savannah) shared a post linking to an article about the Age of IoT, also called The Age of Surveillance. It was an exciting take on the term coined by Kevin Ashton in 1999 relating to supply and demand. Living in a society that fits the concept of The Age of Surveillance has been eye-opening regarding the give and take of technology advancements. The way I live in China is connected to technology and surveillance. I pay with my phone, book tickets, make reservations, contact friends, work, and more every day in China. Returning to Canada often feels like a culture shock when I don’t have access to technology and slightly more freedom from surveillance. I have learned that being a good citizen in China doesn’t worry me regarding surveillance. What do I have to hide? I like the convenience I can receive from my surveyed technology. It is the way the future is going.