Category Archives: debate reflection

The final debate….

High five 3d rendered illustration

 

I have to give a huge shoutout to Carol, my partner in our debate today, as I reached out to her beforehand not only in hopes that she would work with me BUT to help me sign up because I was at work when it  opened (Go Riders!). We had just done a debate, in separate groups, in a Spring class, and I liked her style, I wanted the chance to work with her in case our paths don’t cross again, she is in CHINA after all! It was an interesting last debate of the semester, let’s walk through it a bit!

The opposition started strong with some research-backed points regarding possible solutions in both classrooms and overall sustainability to current inequities. Their opening statement also challenged our point regarding the digital divide. That same article offering possible solutions also discusses the usage of the term digital divide as not being the most fitting or appropriate in every scenario and instead suggests using “digital differences”. Both sides quickly realized after our opening statements and rebuttals that we were all looking through very different lenses when we looked at equitable society and technology and this formed a multitude of perspectives for the discussion.

Carol and I really wanted to make three main points very clear. First, that the digital divide is real, and it is not just a problem that Americans are facing. Although a lot of great examples and statistics were provided in the Without a Net documentary, there is an apparent divide in Canada as well. And if you continue to look deep enough, you will be sure to find in everywhere. Secondly, the idea that social media is creating a habitus within society that spreads inequalities through language, symbols, and more. Lastly, that access is one of the leading causes of inequalities in technology and is why we are not able to level the playing field for all.

I was pretty comfortable debating this side today because I felt strongly about the way in which we were arguing, but working with Carol and completing our research, I did learn more about the inequities technology is creating. I gained new perspectives that I am not sure I would have stumbled upon without getting the opportunity to do this as a team! One of the articles that I enjoyed the most was the Huff Post article, where Eamon Hoey, a telecom analyst stated, “I see young people today who will be without jobs if we continue down this course because we’re in a knowledge economy and knowledge transfer depends on high-speed networks and we do not have that in Canada — at least not in rural areas.”

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What a great two weeks of debating, teams! I am looking forward to viewing everyone’s summaries of their learning experiences next week. Until then, take care y’all!

Sand running through the bulbs of an hourglass measuring the passing time in a countdown to a deadline, on a blur background with copy space

Phones away please…If I see it, smell it, or sense it, it’s mine!

Yes, I claim that I can smell my students’ cell phones just to keep them on their toes (or rolling their eyes). Is anybody out there still reading from debate #1? Today’s cell phone debate created such engaging and, at times, heated discussions. At the end of it, all points made were well-researched and valid in their stance. Let’s get into it!

Pro Side
From my experience and where I stood with the pre-vote, this side had some work to do if they were going to try and sway me! Their three main arguments were very clear, cell phones create unnecessary distractions, they distract from academic performance, and they are used inappropriately during class time. In one of the introductory articles for this debate, it was interesting to hear that some people believe cell phones are wreaking havoc on a student’s ability to learn.

High School: Male Student Using Cell Phone in Class

The debaters include facts from a great video which explained the best results for students learning and success came from having students physically separated from their phones. Students interviewed in the Too Many Texts video also recognized and admitted that using their cell phones in class hindered their ability to get work done and created more homework for themselves. Finally, it was discussed that teachers are spending too much of their time asking students to put their phones away or “catching” them on social media, playing games, changing music, etc. instead of completing the work they have been assigned. These (no doubt) realities are swaying government officials across Canada to consider or already implement cell phone bans in schools.

Against Side
I know in the debate that I made some points that sat more with the pro-banning side, but I truly was and still am on this side of the debate. I just like bringing all sides to the table, what can I say?! However, despite not having to convince me, these debaters still did a fantastic job and had many fact-driven arguments. I want to comment on just a couple of ideas brought up. Should teachers be allowed cell phones, safety at school, and the potential benefits we would be taking away with a cell phone ban. The first point is one I did not even consider before hearing the debate. In a cell phone ban, teachers would need to model that as well, meaning their devices should also be banned. I use my phone daily in the classroom to communicate with staff, admin, or use a quick timer or sound effect as a management tool. This side provided an article that explains how teacher responsibility of using their device is a huge deal and I agree with it. But, if I am modelling how to be responsible with my device at school, shouldn’t my students get a chance to do that as well?

A dusty old computer sits on a table in the corner of the room. In an abandoned house.

 The next discussion was around student safety and while I think this point can be a bit of a “catch-22”, I do believe that students even having their device near them in emergent situations would bring more reassurance and comfort. To conclude, there was an argument made that cell phones can be used as a tool in the classroom. Currently, I have 15 Chromebooks for 31 students. Without cell phones, I might as well leave the laptops in the corner because there just isn’t enough to go around. I have students who will use their devices to communicate with me on Edsby both in and out of school. They also feel it is faster and easier to access our Google Classroom or complete research on their own devices as well.

After all of this, where do I stand?

Ultimately, cell phones are something I do not think should be banned in the classroom. The only murky part of this debate today was when the group discussed the definition of banning. Because some places, like Ontario, are implementing “a ban” but it is not complete removal of devices across the board. I think there is a HUGE difference between complete removal and moderate usage depending on the age/grade.
The separation issues my student would have if they could not at least see their phone would be more than I would want to deal with day-to-day. I also like giving my students the opportunity to use it when they are done their work as there are just not enough school computers. I’d like to think that most of my students learn just a bit of a life lesson when their phones are taken away, sent down to the office, or reminders are given. Some situations may prove more difficult than others, however, I am still just fine with “sniffing” them out verses taking them away all together. Until the next one y’all!

 

cat, nose, detail
Photo by miezekieze on Pixabay

I’m in WA(AI)Y over my head on this one!

Leaving My Comfort Zone Name Tag Sticker Brave CourageToday’s debate was on whether or not AI will revolutionize education for the better. I was excited to jump into the resources our debaters shared on this one because I am quite far out of my comfort zone when it comes to this topic. I learned a lot today, here is my summary of takeaways.

For those like me who are just opening the door to AI, the UNESCO report provided by our debaters defines the important term as “Generative AI (GenAI) is an artificial intelligence (AI) technology that automatically generates content in response to prompts written in natural-language conversational interfaces.” (p. 8). This report is a great comprehensive look at Generative AI with both the positives and negatives mentioned. As for the two opposing sides the debate began with the pro side who presented well researched data.

Pro SidePortrait of a man mind-blown by AI
One of the big selling points from this group was that AI is revolutionary as it creates individualized learning experiences for students. AI Uncovered makes great points as to how AI is made to fit your style, your pace, and your interests (0:52-2:12). It also discusses how AI changes as you change and gets to know how you learn best in order to cater to your style.

Another key point that was discussed was that AI can be used to enhance human-led pedagogy. It was the confirmation I needed to contest the idea that AI will take jobs away from educators. Instead, the human-led aspect, if used appropriately, could allow teachers more time to work directly with students and help teachers professionally develop and even guide students in the use of AI in the classroom. Finally, Sarah Levy mentions that AI is the future of our schools and instead of looking back at how school used to be done 200 years ago, we should be looking ahead to how AI can change student’s futures 200 years from now. I have to give credit where credit is due, the against side of this debate put up a great fight presenting their debate as well.

Against Side
This side of the debate started with the argument that AI creates a dehumanized learning experience. The article mentions that AI can be biased andmay create less inclusive and diverse environments for learning. The biggest discussion we had on this side was that AI can perpetuate biases based on where it is pulling its information from. This point was brought up in Impact of Infrastructure article when it was stated “The data that issued for AI training is often obtained through convenience and, combined with the demographic makeup of the programmers that design these systems (white and male), the outputs of AI tend to encode this bias (Broussard 2019, 2023).” (p. 5).

cyber security, the digital crime concept, and data protection from hackersFinally, a position of safety and security was mentioned, and I am very glad it was as for some odd reason, it is not something I immediately jumped to when thinking about this topic! AI software is only as good as the data on which it is trained. In order for AI to be successful in keeping students and families on track, it would require serious amounts of personal information to be shared and tracked. This is a little concerning to think about because then I will start deep-diving into just how much of my personal information my technology already has! I took from our debate discussion that AI is going nowhere (similar trend to a lot of our debate conversations) so we need to start working on security regulations and, as teachers, develop strategies to use it positively and constructively in the classroom.

I was not swayed on this debate this time. I voted in favour of AI revolutionizing education for the better even though I am still just dipping my toes into the world of AI. I am confident I will learn a lot from my peers’ posts after this debate as so many of them were knowledgeable and familiar with AI in their classrooms or professional development already! If you are one of those people and comment on my post, please paste the link of your blog in my comment so I can direct people to your page in the future! Until tomorrow y’all, where we tackle our last two debates of this course!

Where should I start?

Are we ruining childhood with social media?

Before I start with my view on social media ruining childhood, I want to first define what I think social media is. Social media is the technology that allows you to text, share ideas, post information, etc. through virtual communities or networks. Examples that I see most often in my grade 6/7 classroom are Snapchat, Messenger Kids, and TikTok. Some may not consider messaging apps as social media, but as you read going forward, I wanted to ensure you knew what I defined social media as.

Studies not Supported
The association between social media and well-being in many studies is commonly unfounded in research. In the Open to Debate I listened to, it was pointed out that there are simply just too many null findings in the connection between children’s mental health and social media. It is also discussed that we are perceiving all the negativity of social media based on, ironically, the social media negativity surrounding it and there is a fantastic analogy given (20:45-21:53) in the Open to Debate if you want to take a listen!

Social media can be Supportive
Creating the narrative that social media is ruining childhood takes away from the stories of support systems, positive engagement, and a sense of belonging kids can feel with the use of social media.

hand holding stone

Unfortunately, all we see online is the overwhelmingly negative stories that want to see the overall banning of the applications, but this is just not logical or fair. This CNN read is fantastic for those that have the time as it discuss how the important role social media can play and how taking it away would not be beneficial. Instead, they see regulations and safety standards as the more appropriate approach. As a teacher, I definitely do worry about what my students can access through social media, but I do need to remember that removing it completely from their lives would be like trying to get water from a stone.

Social media will NOT go!
I think it is important to realize that social media is going absolutely nowhere! We, as a society, are going to have to start learning how to move forward together instead of discussing how bad it is for our children. There are many important people who will have crucial roles in this movement, parents/guardians, teachers, coaches, pediatricians, counsellors, etc. In a clinical report provided by our debaters, it states that having face-to-face conversations about privacy and security, adults educating themselves on the media kids are using, and supervising or taking an active role in children’s use of social media are positive and effective ways to support children’s use of social media (p. 804).

Social media concept.

Finally, despite my reflection, I want to make it clear that I am not a huge fan of social media. But I do not think that social media itself should not be the sole cause for ruining childhood. There are ways in which adults can take on important roles in guiding children with using social media as it can be supportive and create a sense of belonging for our younger generation. Just like last week, I am taking the “against” side of the debate wondering how many of my peers will agree or respectfully disagree too, either way I am excited! Catch y’all for the next one on Monday next week!

 

 

Of course, technology ENHANCES learning…. or DOES it?

Well, I know most people reading this will have been listening to or a part of the debates, but those who were not… you missed out. I want to preface my reflection by stating that I started class today feeling the opposite of what you are about to read. I needed more to be informed and that is just what we got in the debate! I can say with confidence that I was swayed in the debate, here is where I sit with the question does technology enhance learning?

Multi-tasking
As we were presented with research today during the debate I was forced to think of the many times I have struggled with keeping students on task when they have technology because it is simply just too easy to switch back and forth from applications. Even as I sat down to write this reflection, I had to put my phone behind me, shut the soccer game off on the TV, and attempt to ignore the 15+ tabs I have open to focus on this task. The No A 4 U article also explains that engaging in multiple media tasks at once limits one’s ability to achieve deeper learning or cognitively process the information in front of them (p. 7). For technology to enhance learning in the classroom it would need to be task-oriented, and this is no easy feat in today’s learning environments. I have had students watching YouTube series while working, listening to music, or messaging their friends back and forth while in the same room instead of being focused on the task at hand.

Instant feedback and the lost art of spoken word
There was great discussion in the debate today on the fact that student performance data/feedback does not have to come from a screen. Yes, it is easier to have students complete a task online and use that data to assess and provide feedback for both teachers and students. But do we think a one-on-one conversation to gain that feedback could be done? Would it be beneficial to hear directly from the student and be able to engage with them off a screen? I think so. In fact, what was brought up today was that spoken word is lost in students today when utilizing technology. Saskatchewan English Language Arts curriculum even asks teachers to assess students based on their ability to speak formally and informally in front of and with their peers and just how does this happen if we rely on the ease of technology to provide us digital interactions and assessment?

Shortcuts
Ironically, as I sit here writing a reflection online, I feel it is important to discuss the need for students to learn to write on paper. There is so much out there in regard to tagging, @’ing (is that a real term?), chat slang, and shortcuts that bleed into student writing online. Another resource shared in today’s debate argues that digital technology does have beneficial impacts, however, there are doubts that those positive impacts outweigh student writing that is becoming more inconsistent and unclear (p. 1). I think of this shortcut scenario in my grade 6/7 classroom as I will have so many typed out essays sent to me that make almost no sense and what it ultimately boils down to is my students are using the Google Docs autocorrect/suggestions to “help” them finish their essay. They are not understanding the edits the application is suggesting or proofreading afterwards because they trust those edits need to be made. Instead, if we read the essay together edits can be worked out on paper or suggestions can be made based on what I or my students hear when they read their work out loud, avoiding the confusion. I know there are probably suggestions or ways to work around this that my peers on the other side of the debate could maybe comment on?!

To wrap this first debate reflection up, I will say that I am interested in reading about what my peers think of my reflection and am lucky to be getting to read theirs to see what side they are on after such a great start to our summer of debates! Once again, catch y’all on the next one where I cannot wait to tell you how social media is ruining childhood…or is it?
To Be Continued written on yellow paper note