Category Archives: EC&I 830

Teaching Students to Be Kind Online

By the time my kids are old enough to use social media, I am hoping that it somehow becomes uncool or just goes away it. I realize that this hope is…highly unlikely; however, my maternal instinct is to protect my daughters from anything that might be harmful to their self-confidence, knowing all too well that some kids (or adults) base their self-worth on the number of likes they receive on a post. When my oldest daughter asks me when she is allowed to have a phone, I tell her she can get one when she is 20, which sounds similar to what my dad used to tell me about when I was allowed to have a boyfriend. When I was 13, I thought his dating rules were “totally unfair” but now as a parent, I completely understand where he was coming from. He wanted to keep me safe from anyone who might hurt me, in the same way I want to protect my girls and keep them safe. But thinking about this topic from the perspective of a parent just solidifies how important it is for students to learn the skills to be responsible digital citizens (even though sometimes I wish I could raise my daughters in a time before social media existed). Here are two ways I have approached the topic of digital citizenship in my classroom. Last year, our school was asked to create a submission for SaskTel’s “Be Kind Online” campaign which “aims to end bullying and cyberbullying in our communities” and “help empower those committed to changing online behavior for the better.” The requirements for the project included making a video to post to our school’s Instagram and TikTok accounts showing how our students spread kindness in our school, both online and in person. My colleagues and I were excited about the opportunity to take part in the campaign knowing that it would be a great way to approach the topic of digital citizenship in our classroom. In the process of creating this video, students had the opportunity to collaborate, laugh and have fun with their peers while also reflecting on what it means to be a kind and respectful digital citizen. The project was an engaging way for us to discuss the important topic of digital citizenship with our students as it opened up conversations about the importance of treating others with respect regardless of whether you are behind a screen or face-to-face.   Earlier that same school year, another colleague of mine stumbled upon an Instagram account created by students from our program, about our program. Once she found the account, she obviously had no choice but to check it out. Most of the posts were completely harmless — funny memes, cute pictures, inspirational quotes — but, after scrolling a little further, she came across an anonymous post criticizing me and my colleagues. I won’t go into detail, but let’s just say the post was not an example of students “being kind online” and we as teachers were all hurt by what our students had posted about us; however, because we are also mature adults, we knew we had a responsibility to help our students learn something from the situation. Even though it was uncomfortable, we recognized that addressing “the post” was a teachable moment related to appropriate and respectful online behaviour. We wanted our students to know that even though it was likely more difficult to talk to us in person about their concerns, that it would be more appropriate and less hurtful than posting something critical about us online. We also discussed how it can be easier to say something hurtful online (not just about a teacher, but about anyone) when you aren’t saying it to that person’s face. Although the conversation was tough, I am glad we were able to guide our students and give them some tools to navigate similar situations in the future.  I am looking forward to finding new ways to teach about digital citizenship in my classroom more consistently. I am teaching a Wellness 10 class this semester, and supporting students in the development of their digital identities would be a perfect connection to the curriculum. As I think ahead to planning this content, I would love to know what other teachers are doing to support student learning in this area. What are some ways you approach digital citizenship in your classroom? What resources have you used? What strategies have worked well for you? And finally, what resources should I be using at home with my own kids? 

Who is Responsible for Our Student’s Digital Citizenship?

This week I decided to draw a bit of attention to each of the prompts we were given. To begin, I wanted to fully understand and define ‘digital citizenship’. MediaSmarts define it as the,

ability to navigate our digital environments in a way that’s safe and responsible and to actively and respectfully engage in these spaces.

I feel that since children nowadays are exposed to technology at such a young age and don’t really know a world without it, they aren’t fully aware of all the negative aspects and danger that can come with it. Technology has provided us with incredible opportunities and advanced ways of interaction and learning, but it comes with a lot of responsibility. Responsibility that has to be learned at a young age in order for students to not take advantage of it or use it in a negative way. 

In Kristen Mattson’s book, Digital Citizenship in Action, she does an excellent job of bringing awareness to how students can learn how to positively and appropriately interact in online communities. Her book guides educators through the process of supporting students to creating a safe space, acknowledging their online voices, becoming aware of their roles in these online communities, participate in a responsible and respectful manner, how to make connections and engagement, along with using the internet in a meaningful way. Helping our students to better understand their role within a digital community holds great value, especially for educators who are new to implementing this into their classroom.

Although I think this book has great resources and there are many things I will put into my own teaching practice. I do think digital citizenship should be having a stronger influence from the parenting side of things, rather than the classroom setting. Reminders of how to interact online and what is acceptable and appropriate should come from the parents. In a way, it is like reminding your child to be respectful and kind citizens in the real world. Of course it is good to be discussed and addressed in the classroom, especially when technology is being used as a tool in our education. However, I personally believe the way your child behaves on the internet is a direct reflection on what the parent has educated them on, including their own approach of how they interact on these online communities. All of us adults are influencing our younger generations, so let’s all make sure we are being the best examples for them & their learning!

Grade 10_11 BC Curriculum

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AI Technology: Cheating tool or my new personal assistant?

One day last month my husband was playing around with ChatGPT and he asked me to enter a prompt. I didn’t know a whole lot about this technology, other than what he had explained to me at that moment, and I wasn’t sure what to ask it to do; however, knowing I would be taking EC&I 830 in a few weeks, I asked it to write a 1000 word essay on the contemporary issues in Educational Technology. In literal seconds, ChatGPT produced a five-paragraph essay with compelling information about the topic. Strangely enough, the essay didn’t make any mention of the impact AI would have on the future of education. For as good as ChatGPT was at creating a well-written essay, it may have missed a fairly key point related to current issues in this field. I was honestly blown away by the AI tools Alec shared with us last week. My initial reaction to this technology was pure and utter amazement. Again, I knew very little about ChatGPT and AI technologies before starting this course but after seeing them in action, I was intrigued to learn more. After realizing the possibilities, I immediately signed up for a few accounts and started trying them out.  The first AI technology I attempted to use was Tome. I prompted it to create a slideshow to promote the Balfour Arts Collective to incoming students. This task was on my to-do list for an upcoming Information Night we are hosting in February, so I thought Tome could save me a few hours of work. For whatever naive reason, I didn’t think this tool would know anything about the topic I selected, but in a matter of seconds it produced a totally usable slideshow with a pretty convincing sales pitch. I mean, after reading it, even I was convinced I would be a great fit for the program. Of course, the product needed a few edits, but overall Tome completed this task in record time. Check out the rough version of the slideshow here. Not too shabby for 20 seconds of work. The next thing I played around with was ChatGPT. I am a dance educator and I wondered how this tool might be used by my students (or myself) to create dance choreography. Knowing that ChatGPT wouldn’t be able to create a visual representation of movement, I wondered if it could provide a description of a dance, similar to how I write out my choreography when I want to remember it (i.e. step touch R/L x2, pose for 4 counts arms in a v, walk forward for 4 counts R/L/R/L, walk back for 4 counts R/L/R/L). Here is my initial prompt and the response I got: Not exactly what I was hoping for. So after talking to my colleagues and trying their suggestions, I tried again prompting ChatGPT to use a form of dance notation called Labanotation. This yielded an interesting response. Check it out: So, although this AI-generated “choreography” is not super innovative (maybe even a bit cheesy), ChatGPT did a fairly decent job of describing a dance phrase that could be followed and performed by someone with a basic understanding of dance. Pretty cool if you ask me. But more importantly, this got me thinking…a dance choreography AI tool could be my claim to fame and my next million-dollar idea. Now I just need to find someone with the tech skills to make that happen.  After testing out a variety of prompts in ChatGPT, I have to admit I LOVE IT. Initially, I viewed AI tools as something students would use to cheat on essays (this article provides an interesting overview of these challenges), but I never thought of them as tools I could use to make my job as an educator easier. Over the past few years, I have struggled to find a work-life balance; new tasks are often added to teachers’ plates with no additional time to complete them. But the idea that these AI tools could save me time with prep and marking is pretty amazing. Of course, as teachers, we will need to learn to navigate this technology and understand the impact it will have on the subject areas we teach. We will also have a responsibility to teach our students how to use these tools in appropriate ways. But for right now, I’m just going to enjoy having a few more minutes of free time thanks to this amazing new technology. 

Artificial Intelligence, Actually Indisposed

Listing to Dr. Couros talk and walk us through a variety of online Artificial Intelligence tools was a trip. I felt like a bobble head, just nodding my head from side to side in a range of emotions – wonder, awe, disbelief, amazement, even a little bit of fear. When exploring ChatGPT, I was amazed

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You Mean We’re in The Future?

To put it simply, I was absolutely speechless & mind blown. I honestly hadn’t heard about ChatGPT or AI before last class and it definitely came as a shock. After I was finally able to process what I was being told, I was quite intrigued. I wanted to know more! I definitely enjoyed the class and all that Alec shared with us, it was more than I had imagined. 

That was my initial reaction, but now I’m trying to sort through my reaction and decide how I feel about it. I’m happy to come to the conclusion that I wasn’t completely terrified for our future. Technology seems to have that impact on me, especially when it is something new & exciting and I can’t keep up with learning all the ins and outs. I was still intimidated by it and a little scared of the negative impact it could potentially leave on our society and all our future learners. 

On that note, I was relieved to feel something more than just fear. A side of excitement, wonder, and curiosity. A side I rarely experience when it comes to technology. I was intrigued by everything being shared with us and the way this could also have positive impacts on our classroom and our student’s learning. I honestly believe it can help to push us to new levels of learning and understanding. I think this can help our students to learn and explore on their own and has potential to be helpful in areas of inquiry based learning as well . 

This excitement is not something I thought I would feel this quickly in the course. I imagined it being a struggle of pushing away my fears and doubts. Yet here I am, being told there is this new, fancy aspect of technology that can create anything you could possibly think of (and more) and here I am excited for its potential. I hope I’m not jumping the gun and it ends up back firing. I hope this excitement sticks around and I’m able to properly and professionally implement this into the classroom; and as quoted from Star Wars, “You can’t stop change any more than you can stop the suns from setting”, isn’t that the truth!