Category Archives: Debate

Playing the Digital Footprint Devil’s Advocate

And traversing the online teaching frontier… (Debates 7&8)

What happens when you have to debate as the opposition on a topic you wholeheartedly support? Short answer: It gets very messy inside your mind very quickly! When I volunteered to switch my stance for this debate and play “devil’s advocate,” I was almost exclusively thinking of one of my favourite books, Think Again, by Adam Grant.

In his book, Grant outlines how to develop the habit of thinking again: think like a scientist, define your identity in terms of values not opinions, and (of most importance here) seek out information that goes against your views. Make no mistake, despite how I debated Monday night, I am firmly in support of teachers and schools having a role in the development of children’s digital footprints. Of course, I wanted to see if I could convince myself of the opposite viewpoint…even just a little.

If I can inject one book plug that I feel strongly correlates with this course, it’s definitely Think Again by Adam Grant!

As always, let’s turn to the facts before I jump in with my final reflections (revealed in the video below…)

Strapped for time? Aren’t we all? Jump to the 22:52 minute mark to hear my final takeaways.
To add your own points or reiterate points you believe most essential to this debate, please join the Jamboard here: Digital Footprint Jamboard

Debate 7 Final Reflection and Leftover Questions

In the end, I cannot dispute that teachers and schools play a role in helping students develop their digital footprints (you got me there, Rae and Funmi!). As educators, we act as guides for our students navigating a physical and now digital world. After playing devil’s advocate, the one caveat I can make in this case is that the development of student digital identities does not START with teachers and cannot END with them either. The responsibility is shared. We owe it to our children to hold parents, teachers/schools/divisions, governments, and online platforms accountable for creating safe online spaces for our children to explore their digital identities.

  • As an educator (or similar), do you feel adequately supported by parents, your school/division, and professional resources/development when teaching students about digital citizenship and footprints?
  • If you have received excellent resources and/or PD on this topic (to use with students), please share in the comments, including how it guided your classroom lessons and use of tech.
  • How often do you check the terms of service agreement before signing off on something? Tell me I’m not the only one signing my life away 🙂
You can begin to take action here: Humans Rights Watch: Students Not Products

“I can’t but we can.”

-Anon.
Just as Big Oil and Gas companies made it the responsibility of individuals to clean up pollution in the ’70s/’80s, Big Tech companies seek to make it the individual’s (AKA: teachers) job to clean up “online pollution.”
Like anything worth fighting for/changing/improving, creating a safe online world for our children’s digital identities is going to take a global village. Image credit: @brenna.quinlan art and posted/reshared with permission @chicksforclimatechange

Traversing the online teaching frontier…I think I got lost in Timbuktu – Debate 8

I was still reeling from my own debate (I really dislike pushing a one-sided viewpoint. Objectivity. ALL. THE. WAY!), but the subsequent online learning debate delivered a double-whammy to my solar plexus! I’ve been teaching online for almost 3 years now. To suggest it’s been detrimental to the social and academic development of the children I’ve worked with feels like a personal attack. It’s not, of course. Once more, I turn to the facts before I will jump in with my reflection…littered with 3 years of positive and negative experiences.

Strapped for time? Yup, I hear ya! Head over to the 18:25 minute mark to hear my final reflections.
To add your own points or reiterate points you believe most essential to this debate, please join the Jamboard here: Online Learning Jamboard

Debate 8 Final Reflections and Leftover Questions

After reading all the articles and listening to the debators and my classmates discuss this topic, I keep coming back to my own experiences over the last few years. I have the unique vantage point of having taught in the rushed, uncharted dynamic of the pandemic and then in a more developed, purposeful role as an OLST (online learning support services teacher). Teaching students from every school in every grade in my division is not for nothing. The highs and lows of online learning have changed me as an educator; changed my definitions of schools, classrooms, and teaching. To say that online learning is detrimental to students generalizes the concepts of physical schools and education as one-size-fits-all definitions. That is certainly not the case. When done properly, and by that, I mean MINDFULLY, online education can become a digital anchor for many families needing something different. Physical schools will always be needed, but online education is the perfect alternative.

  • If you’re so inclined, please tell me about your own teaching experiences during the pandemic. Mine was oddly positive, but I know experiences vary greatly!
  • How do you think pandemic teaching and current online teaching differ? Or do you think they do?
  • What would you say to a family considering online? What factors should be taken into consideration?
  • How do you feel about your own online education? Does it seem like a viable option as opposed to being on-campus? What works for you and what doesn’t?

Thank you for joining this learning journey. One master’s class down…many more to go! Best wishes to you all!

And I’m Not Trying to Ruin Your Happiness, But Darling Don’t You Know That Social Media’s Not the Only One?

Debate #5: Social Media is Ruining Childhood(Week #5: Post #1) Feeling those Finish Line Feels Even though this debate seemed to be less heated than last week, I still felt as if people felt a strong intuition pulling or keeping them on one side of the debate or the other.[Read more]

Hello, Is It Me You’re Trying to Ban?

The Trouble with Blanket Statements, Rules and Rose-tinted Glasses…

Post 5: Debates 5&6 – Social Media is ruining childhood / Cell phones should be banned in schools.

Meme created by author using https://imgflip.com/memegenerator

At the mere mention of cell phones, I knew I couldn’t bypass a little Adele/Lionel Ritchie meme action. Lionel represents the nostalgia I feel for my pre-WIFI/social media youth; Adele symbolizes a more modern perspective on cell phone inclusive classrooms. Dare I digress into the obvious dad joke? Who knew it could all meme so much? Groooooooan!

Two things set this post apart from previous reflections. First, these debate topics seem so interrelated I felt I could finally make a single Monday-night blog entry! Second, (are you ready for it?) I’m completing all of this on my iPhone, from the meme to the Spotify podcast. If we suggest that students can and should use their cell phones for educational purposes, I want to test the practice for myself. As a fairly tech-savvy geriatric millennial, how hard can it be?

20 years later….okay, actually 5 hours, I can tell you….time-consuming but a uniquely fun experience (for me). If you only have time to skip around on my podcast or no time at all (June is something!) scroll down to my questions. I would love to hear your opinions and experiences!

Guess what? If you use Spotify on your phone, you can listen to me on high speed (chipmunk style) so I don’t ramble on and on and on! Join me for my first Podcast (brought to you by the Anchor Phone App). Debate 5: Social media is ruining childhood.

Kipp’s Debate 5 Questions:

  • Do you think you view your childhood/generation with rose-tinted glasses? Do you think everything was as golden as we claim it was, or were there many issues that were swept under the rug, now brought to light by social media?
  • What are you seeing in your classrooms? Are your students only using social media in a negative way? Or, if taught proper use, are they using it effectively to promote social change and amplify their voices?
Second podcast, brought to you by the Anchor App and Spotify. Debate 6: Cellphones should be banned in schools.

Kipp’s Debate 6 Questions:

  • LOTS OF QUESTIONS!
  • Do you think there’s a difference in cell phone use being effective in elementary/middle schools versus high schools?
  • Have you enforced a no-cell phone ban in your classroom/school/home?
  • If the ban is school-wide, are different teachers opposed to it?
  • Or, are you allowing cell phones in your classroom? How are you using it as a tool and “enforcing” mindful use in/out of the classroom?

Teaching Inside the Social Media Fishbowl

Debate 4: Post 4Educators have a responsibility to use technology and social media to promote social justice

Where my opinion on this debate started and where it ends (though I use that word loosely), has shifted throughout this week. I wanted my post to demonstrate my voice, as well as other voices, and so I tried something different (for me) using Canva. In the future maybe we can debate the likelihood of me throwing my computer out the window but in the meantime…

If you are time-strapped (and really, aren’t we all?), the first half of my video reviews the YAY and NAY key points and shared articles/videos. The second half of the video (11-minute mark) covers solicited opinions from peers/colleagues I respect, and my final reflections (attempts were made to NOT go off on rambling tangents, but….).

*Please note, I strive for inclusivity, but the closed captioning gods were not working with me today. Thank you for your understanding.

In the end, I firmly believe in positive intent and continual learning and unlearning of social justice issues. Everyone is at their own point in this journey; if you are comfortable and have capacity, I would be honoured if you shared your current position on this issue…

Instagram repost shared with permission: My current process/cycle as so eloquently summarized by Dr. Solomon

Mindful Tech, the Only Way Forward

Part 1: Debate 1

DING DING DING! It’s Monday night and the first round of our debates is in full swing. In the PRO corner stands an impressively well-versed Megan and Brittney; in the CON corner, the intimidatingly well-researched Nicole and Daryl. The match in question? Technology in the classroom enhances learning. All my money is betting on the PRO side.

Okay, okay, I’m no Michael Buffer (wait, did I just drastically age myself?). I’ll cut to the point: Before this debate, I was solely on the PRO side. As an online teacher for almost 3 years, how could I place my bets any other way? The vast majority of our class pre-voted PRO. In a world where education had to flip on a dime to embrace technology, there should be a clear winner…..or, maybe not?

3D boxer arena. Isolated empty boxing ring with light. 3D rendering. Boxing ring with illuminated spotlights
Photo Credit: Adobe StockPack

PRO Points to Ponder

Megan and Brittney did an amazing job neatly outlining key advantages of technology in the classroom:

Access to information and resources: A plethora of our textbooks are ridiculously priced while comically outdated. And with time, our colonizer roots show brightly against the backdrop of historical inaccuracies. Online updated information has a clear advantage in staying current when it’s well-sourced. Arguably, both the outdated textbooks and the (sometimes questionably sourced) online resources provide teachable moments in classrooms. Teachers, however, have to be trained and ready for those moments when they come….and they always do!

Increases engagement and skills for success: Hands-on, interactive content is available for the next generation of learners via 1:1 laptops, Smart and Promethean boards, VR, 3D printers, gamifying, coding, robotics, the list is ever-growing.  Of course, that’s IF your school has the funding for such things (a point I’ll get to….eventually in Part 2).

A teenage boy programs a copter drone on a scratch. STEM education. Modern technology and gadgets.
Photo credit: Adobe StockPack

Promotes collaboration and communication: Watching students enthusiastically collaborate while coding instructions for their battle-bots remains a career highlight for me. Without clear collaboration and communication, their bots lose…repeatedly. It’s a resilient mindset of lose, learn, lose, learn, win (maybe)!

Restructures teacher time: In the article Teaching in a Digital Age: How Educators Use Technology to Improve Student Learning, Journal of Research on Technology in Education, the researchers note: “When students ask questions, rather than providing answers, [teachers] now guide them to find and identify relevant information, and to evaluate the quality and validity of that information. For students, the shift was toward active, deeper learning, which aligned well with skills students need to be successful in college and the workplace.” Honestly, who can say it better than that?

Adaptations/accommodations: Who knows more about adaptations than students and educators these past few years? How would we have navigated learning in a pandemic without technology? Paper packages sent home (printed on photocopiers….cough, cough, technology!) and occasional teacher-student phone calls (old tech, but still tech). Not to mention, assistive technologies provide a host of accommodations for diverse learning styles and abilities, as well as visual and hearing impairments…..I could go on…

little boy during the hearing exam, showing thumbs up at the audiologist's office. audiogram, children ear exam
Photo credit: Adobe StockPack

CON Points to Ponder

Again, you’ll think I bet all my money on PRO, but Daryl and Nicole brought up many clear issues I have battled over the course of my (almost) 3-year online career:

Connections are artificial: Personally, I would argue that the relationships I have built with my online students, and students with each other, are anything but artificial.  As I sit in my lonely corner office and my isolated students in their homes, our relationships seem like lifelines to a greater world. It is worth noting, however, that these online relationships are mindfully and meaningfully tended. As mentioned by Nicole and Daryl, student presence on social media accounts can often be interpreted as surface-level and disingenuous.

Portrait of a sad girl with a smartphone in one hand and a smiling mask in the other hand.
Photo credit: Adobe StockPack

Erodes social skills and relationships: First off, there’s a lot of experience in the “Zoom-room” during these debates. Despite logistical and career differences amongst our class, there seemed a general consensus that student social skills, particularly face-to-face interactions, are increasingly….aaaawkward! From behind our masks and screens, have we forgotten how to interact? After some deep-diving (using tech, of course), there’s a surprising lack of longitudinal data to back up the idea that screen-time equals social incompetencies. I shouldn’t say, however, that initial studies have been favourable. Calgary psychologist Sheri Madigan, PhD, tested over 24000 mothers/infants and “found that more time per week spent on screens at ages 24 months and 36 months was linked with poorer performance on screening tests for behavioral, cognitive and social development at 36 months” (JAMA Pediatrics, Vol. 173, No. 3, 2019). Speaking of which…

5G Technology for Families concept.Everyone sitting in sofa and using digital devices in living room.Big family grandmother grandfather and kids spending time together at home.
Photo credit: Adobe StockPack

Pulls students away from the outside world: My comments here are purely anecdotal, but I cannot abide by family meal times centering on……screens! Mom texting, dad on an “important” call, and the kidlets, tweens, and teens distracted by their tablets and apps. If that’s the focus at home, what takes precedence at school? Unless educational technology is used mindfully in the classroom, and just as mindfully stored away, will the habitual hit of dop(amine) screen time always beckon our students to their digital world? And what is the “real world” anymore, anyway? These are the questions that keep me up at night (and your insights are most welcome)!

Tech is connected to a plethora of other health, mental and emotional issues: Obesity, sleep issues, anxiety/depression, socioeconomic disparities, limited attention spans….each one of these concerns is worthy of its own post (and does, in fact, take centre-stage in millions of research papers, books, podcasts…you get the idea). All signs point me to one main takeaway from this debate…

In the world of edtech, there are no clear winners; only shades of grey

Yes, I voted in favour of educational technology in the pre-vote, and yes, I’m part of that EC&I fraction who changed my opinion in the post-vote. GASP! I was shocked too! That’s not to say I think there were any clear winners, or the necessity for “winners”, in this debate. Like so many other things, the use of technology in the classroom requires objective consideration, and objectivity largely falls into life’s grey matter. On one hand, technological advancements will continue to take precedence in our classrooms and open up new worlds of engaged learning. On the other hand, technology poses an increasing threat to social, emotional and physical threats when used improperly. Two sides of the same coin. We cannot include technology in our classrooms for its own sake. Instead it must be used mindfully as a tool (amongst many), with clear purpose and training. Only through mindful use of technology will we be able to move forward with our students.

“[I]t’s … the instructional methods that cause learning. When instructional methods
remain essentially the same, so does the learning, no matter which medium is used to deliver
instruction.” (p.14)

Clark, R. C., & Mayer, R. E. (2011). E-learning and the science of instruction: Proven guidelines for consumers and designers of multimedia learning (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.

There was so much food for thought in these debates, please let me know your main takeaways. Were you PRO, CON, or happily sitting on the fence (munching popcorn) like me?

Stay tuned for Part 2/Debate 2:

Keeping up with the Edtech Joneses…