Category Archives: EC&I 830 Blog

Final EC&I 830 Post

Bittersweet. This is my final EC&I 830+ class! Number 9/10 in the bag for my graduate studies run! It has been a rushed and busy semester but the learning I took part in was really exceptional and I am excited to take my new thoughts and notions into my future pedagogy! Great job everyone!


Here is my Summary of Learning. Enjoy!

Until next time,

-Dalton

The Last Great Debates

I feel like this semester has been so rushed and I wish I could have read more of your blogs over the last few weeks. May Long really threw a wrench into the works by taking a day away from our class and the weekend was consumed with life happening around us.

This week, we had two really great debates that I honestly fall right on the fence about.

Debate #7: Educators and schools have a responsibility to help their students develop a digital footprintDebate #8: Online education is detrimental to the social and academic development of children.

I have been making two separate blog posts for each debate, but for the sake of time, while also preparing the summary of learning, I think combining numbers 7&8 together is ideal. So here we go, team.

#7 Do educators and schools have a responsibility to help their students develop a digital footprint?

This was a great conversation. Both sides did a wonderful job of discussing their facts and opinions on the matter. It goes back to my debate a few weeks ago: what is the implication of the word “responsibility”?

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Ironically enough, I actually do side on the agree side for this one. Schools could be responsible for helping students develop their digital footprint if it was properly integrated into the curriculum through better outcomes regarding digital citizenship. The disagree side made a great point about many of our students already have a digital footprint from the time their parents conceive them. As well, the notion that it is the parent’s responsibility is slightly problematic if we look at a global scale. Are all families able to provide this type of education? Arguably teachers have a better (though not perfect) ability to guide these discussions and learning opportunities. Especially when we look at new Canadian families that could be further behind in other aspects of society, if schools had the proper resources (i.e. teacher training or tech personnel) to be able to facilitate these discussions and learning outcomes, then we could being to level some of the playing fields for all students to have a greater understanding of their digital selves.

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That being said, Matt made a great point in that teachers are already asked and expected to do so much, where is the line that we draw in saying some things are simply not our responsibility?? Forcing teachers to be social media influencers is definitely not a responsibility. But is a school’s responsibility to foster positive digital citizens? I don’t think the call is too far out.

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

Both Yay and Nay also did a great job with this debate! Many good points were brought up such as socialization and play, mental health concerns, benefits to children with different abilities, and of course the pandemic ERT.

Here is a link with some pros and cons of online learning. Check it out!

As with most of these debate topics, I feel that moderation is key. Do I think that technology, social media, gaming, and cellphones can be detrimental to students’ success? Of course, if used improperly. But there is also a place for these tools in education as well. Learning how to use them is key. Add in the element of teaching remotely and I think there are definite benefits to having the option to do online learning. I have a student who is unable to come to school due to personal and mental health-related issues, so having the option to go online has been a big help to her learning and family stress. This is something that was starting to pick up before the pandemic and really forced itself into action throughout the pandemic. It showed us the true benefits of this style of learning.

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One idea that was brought up to discredit the use of pandemic remote learning was that teachers were forced into it with no experience and they were trying to supplement and substitute in-person learning but online. If done properly, I have seen teachers do really fantastic work online with their students.

All students learn differently. I can say with great certainty that I would not have done well as a child in online learning. But I also know of many people (young and old) who online learning really worked well for. There are benefits for those students, and if parents understand where some of the gaps can be created from online learning, then there are other areas to fill (such as extracurricular activities and groups outside of school).

Going back to my comment about moderation… Too much of anything is never a good thing. Having the ability to be online has benefits for some, but not for all. Education has never been, and will never be, successful if it is simply streamlined and uniform. We now know that there are greater options out there for students who cannot fit into the typical mould.

So, do we embrace that or shut it down because it is new? Do we evolve education or force ourselves into types of education that continue to marginalize students and not adequately prepare them for the future?

Just a few thoughts. Let me know what you think in the comments!

That’s all for now!

-Dalton

Debate 6 – What is that cellphone doing for you?

"Cell phones should be banned in the classroom"

What a funny debate. As our class voted at first, it was almost 50/50.

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As I have said a million times on this blog, my students have 1:1 devices, thus, our school has adopted a policy limiting cell phones in the classroom. We still allow them to use their phones to document their successful work and post to their digital scrapbooks, take pictures during a science dissection, or record their dance/drama projects to present to the class. There is still a need for cell phones in my tech-based classroom.

The reason for the rule that cellphones must stay in students’ backpacks is based on the argument that students have access to every educational app they will need on their laptop, and any of the apps they do not have access to are typically the distracting apps (like games, Snapchat, etc.). I find there are some students that will still push the envelope with their phones, regardless, so often students have their phones out on their desks for educational purposes, or to listen to music on it rather than on their laptops. I think it is just a way to test the rules or test me, and if they are caught abusing the rules or caught on Snapchat or TikTok, then their phone is gone.

One thing I found interesting in the debates this week was that cell phones in the classroom allow students to participate in illegal behaviour. I agree we want to keep that out of the school setting, but those individuals are probably going to participate in the illegal behaviour regardless, so what are some of the tools and knowledge we can attempt to impart to them to help lessen or eliminate the illegal behaviours and their consequences?

One of the arguments for and for not having technology was for contact with parents. At our school, students can use the classroom or office phone to call home if needed. A solid argument is not having their phones out during an emergency keeps lines open/free, and I agree with that, but whether you ban the use of cellphones in your classroom, chances are students still have them in their backpacks. Having them understand that texting out an SOS doesn’t help the situation is great, but probably not going to happen the way we want it to anyway.

Check out this article discussing the reasons why teachers should embrace technology in the classroom or this argument with a list of 11 reasons why technology should be used in schools

We have all heard the argument that little kids can’t handle it, but I think this pandemic has proven that false. Go and take ECI832 and look at the contemporary issues with social media. There are many issues, but there are many really great tools available to us that we are ignoring. I am not saying a kindergarten student should have TikTok, but building social, digital, and technological skills at a young age means that it is simply normal for them to come into adolescence and adulthood. Arguably, this immersion in technology could allow these students to be better equipped with the tools to manage mental health, screen time, etc., more than generations before them.

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To me, it feels like we deal with technology as though we are in puberty. There are a lot of changes happening right now and we don’t really know what is going on, but things keep changing, and we have anger and aggression towards it, yet we accept that it is changing and just have to have a melt-down every once in a while. Just like students’ hormones are changing, so too is technology. Time to buckle up and get innovative. Keeping tech, social media, and devices out of our classroom is not helping our students prepare for an uncertain future.

By the end of the debate, more people agreed that phones should be allowed in school after a great debate. Well done teams!

A few questions to ponder:

  • What is your experience with technology in the classroom?
  • Do you embrace or reject technology/cellphones in your pedagogy?
  • Are there some situations where devices should/should not be used?
  • Any other comments regarding cellphone use at school?

Ladies and Gentlemen, This Is Mambo (Debate) Number 5

“Social Media is ruining childhood”

So many great points came up this week! It was hard to choose a side, but ultimately our class decided (after a lengthy debate) that social media is not ruining childhood.

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There are just so many more pieces in gameplay these days, removing technology really sets us all back. Students learning in an environment without technology, networks, devices, and social media means that we are preparing students for the past, not adequately preparing them for the future. I suggested in our Zoom chat that these students need to learn how to use the current technology well, as they will be the ones really driving the AI, VR, and AR universes.

I have found that we get caught up in the holistic image of technology throughout some of the debates, rather than dealing with the concept at hand: Social media and ruining childhood. Not tech in classrooms, not 1:1 devices, not cell phones, but let’s look at social media specifically.

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Check out Jennifer Casa-Todd‘s post “10 Reasons Why We Should Start Showing Middle Schoolers How To Use Social Media” where she discusses how it essentially takes a village to show students the benefits of social media aside from entertainment. I think we can all agree that social media saved our tail feathers during the harshest parts of the pandemic; we all relied on it to maintain social networks and connect with friends and family. And we have also seen some of the wonderful social activist movements spawn from social media.

Now, I know that is a little ironic because last week I argued that teachers do not have the responsibility to be social activists… but we were arguing semantics on the meaning of responsibility. Given proper pedagogy and proper education surrounding the use of social media in the classroom, and proper use of Ribble’s 9 Elements of Digital Citizenship, I do not understand why these tools could not be transferred to our students’ lives outside of the classroom.

In the fall, I took #ECI832 and we looked at social media in the classroom. I was very reluctant (especially because of the group I have this year…) but I dove in and implemented social media into my classroom. Check above for the blog that will walk you through a journey. Rather than “old school” means of assessment, we took a walk through social media together. There were digital citizenship lessons prior to, but I was surprised at how well my students did with using Insta, Twitter, and the Tok. Was it a risk? Yes. Was it worth it? Also yes. Rather than telling my students they could not, we decided to say you can. What a difference.

As I have said a million times on this blog, my students have 1:1 devices, thus, our school has adopted a policy limiting cell phones in the classroom. We still allow them to use their phones to document their successful work and post to their digital scrapbooks, take pictures during a science dissection, or record their dance/drama projects to present to the class. There is room for technology, social media, etc. in the classroom.

Photo by Julia M Cameron on Pexels.com

I think that better parenting and understanding of social media (as well as all of the other technology-based concepts that we discuss) will better equip our students with the tools they need to be responsible young people. Digital citizenship was brought up throughout the debate and looking at Ribble’s 9 Elements, many of our students are wildly inept when it comes to an understanding of what is expected of them. Kelly mentioned creating a Responsible (not acceptable) Use Agreement (which we heard a fair bit about from Alec in past classes), which helps students understand their responsibilities online. In a perfect world, this collaborative agreement sets students up for success but also leaves more room for failure…

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Just a reminder. Mistakes, failure, challenges, and feeling uncomfortable is when we LEARN!

I heard from a prof during my undergrad that we will be teaching students skills for jobs that do not even exist yet. At the time I thought “okay yeah sure…” and now I am thinking “Woah, they need skills we don’t even know about yet.” Jumping off of last week’s debate regarding teaching cursive, math skills, and other basics; I think we do need to teach those areas, but also highlight new areas of growth and learning as well. Like I said before, balance is key. Silly to not use these tools, but also silly to simply rely on them as well.

Amanda Brace said it best in her blog post: “When we promote positive digital identities with kids by allowing them to engage in the authentic use of social media, we can see that rather than social media ruining childhood, it has the potential to change it for the better.”

Some questions to consider:

What are your thoughts on kids using social media?
Are there better ages to be using certain types of social media platforms?
Is it ruining our children’s lives or are we behind in helping it enhance their learning opportunities?

Share your thoughts and any constructive criticisms, please!

-Dalton

Round #4. Wowzers.

“Educators have a responsibility to use technology and social media to promote social justice.”

K team.

This was a hard one for me.

First off, it was great working with Brooke on this project! And the debate with Kari, Jenny, and Jessica was both challenging but well done on both sides! It is hard to be a little ruthless with colleagues in a debate in a graduate studies class. Usually, everyone is politically correct and open to having conversations to move through scenarios, but choosing a hard stance on ONE side of a very complicated debate is challenging!

I truly believe that the vote swayed as much as it did simply based on the word “Responsibility.” The reason this debate was challenging for me is because I believe in activism, choice, and the freedom to say or do what we wish in our personal lives without unnecessary repercussions from our employers. After all, we are teachers, but our profession holds us to a higher standard than many others.

But is it our duty or responsibility to be social media activists?

Kelly and Kat made great points during the debate. There are some teachers who are unable to be public social activists on their social media platforms. There are also many teachers who can be active online.

Photo by Tracy Le Blanc on Pexels.com

In the fall, I had an ECI class with Alec that looked at the use of social media in the classroom. Being in this class made me step out of my comfort zone and I did an ELA unit where students use their own social media, or created social media accounts, to complete the assignment. It was a really fun unit and we were able to have great conversations about what social media activism looks like, how we can use it (without simply being performative) and key uses of social media as it pertains to digital citizenship. After working through this unit with my students, I definitely have a different perspective on the use and practicality of using social media in the classroom; thus, this topic was difficult for me to argue as activism online can be incredibly effective if done properly! However, I still stand by many of our classmates when I say that it is not a mandatory responsibility of all teachers (i.e. a teacher may not have social media, or maybe in a place where posting publicly could be an issue).


Overall, the class did a great job in dealing with the difficult subject matter and ultimately I enjoyed the debate experience, however, did not enjoy the inability to agree with the counterarguments as many of them truthfully were valid and meaningful!

Please let me know:

1. Your experience with social activism (with or without students).

2. What do you think of the debate process thus far.

3. How willing/unwilling are you to be a social media social activist.

4. Any other feedback is greatly appreciated!

Debate Topic #3

Topic #3: Schools should no longer teach skills that can be easily carried out by technology (e.g., cursive writing, multiplication tables, spelling)?

The groups did a great job of this debate! I can see both sides of the debate, but am still on the side of needing to learn the fundamentals and basics before taking on the harder tasks. You have to walk before you run, you have to get your feet wet before you swim. If we don’t need to teach printing or cursive, then does that mean we should skip typing lessons too??

I asked both groups a question about self-driving vehicles which sparked a great conversation and a few direct messages saying “Good one!” … Does a driver need to be able to have the basic skills of operating a motorized vehicle before being able to operate a self-driving one? My car has lane assist, pre-collision stuff, and radar cruise control, but if I am not paying attention to what is happening, there are many complications that can arise that could be very dangerous and/or life-threatening.

I think the key to this debate is there are good ages for both “old school” and technology integration in the classroom. As I just mentioned on Kat’s blog, the use of cursive and keyboards do not need to exist in vacuums excluded from each other. I feel that education allows people to be good and bad at both concepts. What is wrong with giving a Mad Minute and then having students jump on Mathletics, KnowledgeHook, or IXL for more supplemental learning?

I think about my students that THRIVE in Arts Ed, and the others that thrive in other areas like PE or Science. We teach it all. Students can grab on to what they really enjoy and appreciate.

Photo by Ivan Samkov on Pexels.com

When giving students the option of doing an assignment with pen and paper or typing it up on our devices, I would say that 90% submit work done in MS Word, but that 10% just love writing and expressing on paper. Why not allow both?? Go back to the self-driving car for a second. While the self-driving car concept is awesome, there are still instances where you will NEED to know how to drive when technology doesn’t quite work the way we need (take, for instance, Saskatchewan’s crazy winter driving needs!)

Photo by Harsch Shivam on Pexels.com

Today, I was doing a very high-level, difficult, and procedure-based Arts Ed. assignment and I was amazed at some of the lack of fine motor skills my grade 7&8s had when cutting, gluing, measuring, and colouring. It was a great assignment and they ultimately did really well… but some of my elite students that submit crazy good work using a laptop really flopped on this assignment (which is both a positive and negative).

How do you balance the use of tech and traditional means of education in your classroom? I am nowhere near perfect, but work through these trials and tribulations everyday. Leave a thought!

-Dalton

Has tech made the world more equitable?

Round two of our ECI 830 class debates was about technology making society more equitable. The groups did a really great job of presenting their cases and having quality discussions about technology’s societal impact.

The groups discussed that educational technology may in fact lead to a digital divide in society but also that technology may be the solution to the achievement gap between rich and poor students.

Here is a great video that was presented by the agree side for this debate:

Truthfully, I believe technology has the ability to bridge the gap, but I do not think it has, yet. I love these ECI83_ classes because there is an emphasis on quality information that is not necessarily scholarly. Open access to educational resources means that education is not solely held in the hands of the rich anymore. It creates a vacuum for misinformation, but critical thought and educating students on investigating their information goes a long way.

We saw during the pandemic that access to wifi and devices caused a large gap in under-privileged students’ learning. Simply offering students a device did not mean they would have access if wifi or data was not available to them. In a perfect world, if we could solve those connectivity issues, I think technology could create a more equitable society.

If we look at this topic from a global perspective, technology is not equal in all parts of the world. What we consider to be technology at home could be completely different than what other youths around the world consider technology advancements. If we gave every student in the world a tablet, it does not mean that they would be able to use it properly, have access to the internet, or enhance their education. This is a global question that is very difficult to answer, globally (if that makes sense).

This is a very complex discuss and I think the debate groups did a great job of breaking down and reconstructing their arguments in a way that was thought-provoking and authentic. Well done!

Let me know if you have any thoughts or criticisms! There is no one right answer, so I would love to hear your thoughts!

-Dalton

Round One… Ding-Ding!

Spring EC&I 830’s first debate topic was “Technology in the classroom enhances learning.”

I agree with what Kat said in her blog post, this debate is not black and white but full of grey areas. I, for one, am a huge advocate for technology in the classroom. I think it builds 21st-century learning skills and competencies that students will greatly benefit from discovering at a young age. However, that being said, the ‘disagree’ side of the debate made really good points about screen time, mental health, distractions, and the pressures that it puts on teachers to add “one more thing” to our workload.

I will add, however, that the agree side did a great job of combating the disagree’s side. We can teach Ribble’s 9 Elements of digital citizenship, and help students understand the proper use of technology in the classroom in preparation for the potential of having a 1:1 device in a career and having to focus on the task at hand, rather than the constant distractions. These distractions are not going away, but learning proper study and work habits with them around should help students in the future.

I think the end results spoke for themselves. Still, a majority of students in ECI830 agreed that technology enhances education, but the disagree percentage increased as we saw the quality and valid information presented. What this class debate showed us is that there are a number of very important criteria that we must be cognizant of in our pedagogical approaches. We must be mindful of screen time, mental health and wellness, digital citizenship, and ensuring we are not simply substituting a laptop for pen and paper.

As Kelly so eloquently put it in class, using technology with bad pedagogy does not mean that the technology is enhancing student learning. A good tool to use, as I mentioned in my first blog post, is the SAMR model or the ISTE standards. See here for an article that discusses the importance of Ed Tech from the agree side, and this article looking at the negative effects of tech in the classroom.

By following these pedagogical guides, we can ensure that the technology integration into our classrooms are actually benefiting students’ education rather than creating a larger problem. My personal and professional beliefs are that tech integration is the way of the future and the quality points of risk that the disagreement side of the debate presented do not outweigh the positives that technology can bring to education.

Great job to the debaters this week! Well done!

Dalton

Technology, Say What?

A few thoughts as we ramp up another semester: what is my relationship with technology?

I am a fairly social person and like using Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook (sometimes) to communicate with friends, family, and acquaintances. Technology drives my life, I rely on it in my vehicle, home, school, Master’s program, part-time job, and even in the grocery store.

Most importantly, in terms of school, Graduate Studies and teaching, it is important that technology helps improve the quality and performance of our daily lives. I think that is the key to Ed Tech; it needs to improve and enhance the learning experience, not impede or simply replace pen and paper with MS Word. I relate to Neil Postman’s red dye in water analogy in his fourth idea: when dropping red dye into a glass of water, the water’s colour changes. He is speaking of ecological change with technology integration and how society as a whole cannot remain the same when a new invention or technology emerges, and so too is my classroom with technology.

I needed my device(s) to make a smooth transaction in my first home buying experience last year, something that is very different from the experiences my parents had while purchasing their first home – I had access to information almost immediately as it happened. In a world where everyone needs immediate gratification, immediate responses, and immediate information, I think it is crucial that students learn to cope with, and thrive in, the societal tech norms. It is my personal belief that students need access to technology in the classroom in order to learn these skills. I have heard stories from teachers who are not a part of the Connected Educator program in Regina Catholic Schools, and I am often reminded of how often I take for granted my 1:1 student devices/access.  I really like an image that Lovepreet tweeted,

This really applies to how I see education going in the future! Teaching is flexible and adaptable… teaching without technology is becoming such a dated concept, while the integration and “Refefinition” of education is essential to remain relevant.

My first day of school before becoming a Connected Educator was very different than the last five years. One of the first tasks completed on the first day is setting up our laptops, testing out OneNote, and making sure we are connected to a printer. I often joke with colleagues that I would have a rude awakening if I suddenly had to teach without student devices. Over the past five years as a Connected Ed., I have received a number of compliments about the programming that myself and my colleague (both of us teach grade 7/8) produce with our students. I go to the SAMR model (being Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition) to locate where my day-to-day tasks and assignments fall.

It is nearly impossible to stay in one section of the model all the time, it was best described to me that Connected Educators should be swimming laps in the SAMR pool; though, it is my goal to achieve redefinition as often as possible. For instance, integrating Minecraft into Language Arts as a viewing/listening and representing mark – a long way from the Bristol board posters I was used to as a student.

I feel that an appropriate definition for Ed Tech may be “authentically integrating 21st-century technology into learning environments that help students build skills for future opportunities”. One of the key components of being an “Analyst” on the ISTE Standards model is to “reflect on learning using technology” – metacognition at its finest, but being strengthened with Ed Tech to allow greater access and hopefully greater understanding of a student’s learning.

We are inherently affected by the history of education and technology, and it is within that history that allows us to constantly strive to achieve higher levels of excellence, and embracing the changing needs of the classroom, and find ways to use technology to breathe life into the curriculum is not only exciting but fulfilling early on in my career.

Until next week,

Dalton