Category Archives: EC&I 832

Final Project and Summary of Learning

That’s a wrap!
EC&I 832 is coming to an end.. and to say I’ve learned a lot wouldn’t quite do it justice. I think any “educational technology” course is so relevant and practical.. I feel like I’ve walked away with an entire toolkit.

My final project had me creating an AI handbook for our school. Being on mat leave this past year, I felt a little bit behind in understanding AI as ChatGPT was already being used by students in the classroom and here I was, so removed from the classroom I felt so far behind. This was a good reminder, for me, how some people feel this sense of anxiety in not knowing where to start in tackling certain technologies when you feel as though other people have already been successful in implementing these technologies in their lives. This AI handbook was a thought prior to me returning back to work after mat leave, but its importance became even more evident upon returning to work. Having kids hand in multiple attempts at essays or papers that are completely AI generated sparked something for me, that many students genuinely do not know how to appropriately manage the powerful tool of AI quite yet. This handbook includes references to our division framework to show parallels between what we strive for in our students (in both digital spaces and non), an introduction to digital citizenship for parents and students, as well as an introduction for AI, tools, limitations, and implementations, and even some division success stories of people using AI. Overall, I feel this is still pretty preliminary in development but do think schools and school divisions could benefit by having an AI handbook ready to use by parents and students. Below are a few sample pages from the handbook:

This handbook was only made possible by the content of this course enlightening me on AI, as I genuinely had little to no understanding of it!

However, my learning of AI is just the tip of the iceberg of content I picked up from this course. For a more extensive look at all I’ve learned this semester, please check out my summary of learning video!

Major Project Update

The date is September 5th, 2023. A naive, ambitious Kendyll messages her EC&I 832 prof describing her excitement for her final project, asking if she could explore not only ONE of the recommended topics for the final project, but to fuse TWO of the options together. Both are so intriguing to her and she couldn’t simply pick just one. She asks for permission to create an “AI handbook” for her school, either for educators or for parents/students on the navigation of AI/digital literacy in the classroom.

“Any thoughts on this? Thanks!” she says, hoping her prof says yes. He agrees to it ecstatically. Everything is great in Kendyll’s world.

The date is November 13th, 2023. A tired Kendyll sits at her computer, absolutely overwhelmed with the surplus of information from her EC&I 832 course, now knowing full well that she simply would never be able to cover ALL the information she has learned in a simple handbook, let alone for one single demographic.

This course has been extremely informative, and the amount of resources and tools suggested have been overwhelming (yet certainly much appreciated). I’ve now come to learn I wouldn’t be able to keep my final project as broad as I had hoped. Instead, I am now focusing on creating an AI Handbook for students (only). Although I would have loved to made a handbook for digital literacy and AI for multiple parties, I simply don’t think it would be feasible. After returning to work after a mat leave (and missing a large amount of the initial impacts of AI in the classroom), I have learned there is a large gap in the educational piece for students to learn how to effectively use AI in school. So although I am still in some of the primary stages of actually developing the handbook, being able to comb through the vast amount of resources has been the task at hand as of late! Stay tuned for future progress reports. I can’t wait to see where “future Kendyll” is at!

Literacy, literally.

When I think of literacy I have, what appears to be a “flowchart” of thoughts run through my mind as I process the word. My mind instantly takes me to reading; literacy of comprehension and understanding written text. Soon after my mind seems to recognize other aspects of literacy, and usually goes straight to a book I read by Eric Gutstein called Reading and Writing the World with Mathematics Toward a Pedagogy of Social Justice.

This book was the first time that I understood math was not just an isolated subject; one of just computing for computing’s sake. I learned that there was more than just solving equations to appease a teacher, there was solving equations to help the world, a far more profound meaning given to solving for “x”. It was around this time that being “literate” in the world meant more than just being able to read. It meant being fluent and being able to navigate in a way that promotes change.

This brings me to the final stop of my flow chart; understanding how to navigate multiple areas and subjects, including digital literacy. Once we become fluid readers, we don’t second guess most words, the formation of sentences, phonetical awareness seems to come naturally, etc. This is because we are experts. We are fluent readers, we are experts. We know how to navigate words, and we read to get to an end goal, to gain a clear understanding. This would be the same parallel as being literate in other subject areas. With digital literacy, once we become literate, we know how to navigate in digital spaces. We don’t question the building blocks and foundations of media, we navigate them for understanding and for change. A classmate of mine, Jennifer Owens so clearly describes this in a YouTube video of hers, how we can use media literacy as an agent for change; in this case for social justice, not unlike Eric Gutstein has in the area of mathematics.

Navigate, read, write and change. These are models of exploration through digital spaces for media literacy.

Does a 2023 Identity Require Multiple Vessels?

A simplistic consideration of identity; who we are, our understanding of self.
A revamped consideration of identity; who we are and present ourselves to “through the prism of culture”. (Boellstorff, 2008)

The idea that identity is shape from and through cultural components is not brand new. Our Saskatchewan curriculum has been addressing the relationship between identity and culture for years.

“The ability to act autonomously in an interdependent world requires an awareness of he natural environment, of social and cultural expectations, and of the possibilities for individual and group accomplishments. It assumes the possession of a positive self-concept and the ability to live in harmony with others and with the natural and constructed world. Achieving this competency requires understanding, valuing, and caring for oneself; understanding, valuing, and respecting human diversity and human rights and responsibilities; and understanding and valuing social and environmental interdependence and sustainability.”

Saskatchewan Grade 7 ELA Curriculum, 2008

“Works of art that express ideas about identity and how it is influenced (e.g., factors such as pop culture, cultural heritage, peer groups, personal and family interests, gender).
-If we were to represent our school or community identity, what would it look
and sound like?”

Saskatchewan Grade 6 Arts Education Curriculum, 2009

What is new, is the expectation that we consider our virtual identities as not only a facet of our authentic identities, but as the main construct. And I suppose this does make sense. If I were to identify myself, I would say I am a mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, teacher, coach, athlete, I am funny, caring, considerate, a people-person, etc. Nowhere in that description would I consider adding “a digital presence”. This is simply because my digital existence is just another space for my already existing identity. My identity is present in both mediums. I found Angela Gui’s work in Extended Personal Identity in the 21st Century (2015) really clarified this for me.

“..our biological bodies might just be serving as containers for our identities and intentions, in which case it makes sense for the self to now be upgrading to a more sophisticated container, using a machine as an upgraded, alternate tool to the physical body. This is already happening to some extent and is likely to continue in the same direction.”

Gui, 2015, pp.10-11

It’s interesting to think that our identities may not exclusively belong to our bodies. That our physical selves no longer serve as the vessel for our identities, and that machines now share this responsibility as well.

Most can see the representation of my identity through a machine medium via social media; a pretty positive lens of things in my life that mean the most to me. I do wonder, however, how my kid’s identity will be represented in digital spaces. I think, due to the overwhelming social platforms now available (and often geared towards younger and younger audiences, ie. TikTok) it will be important to teach my kids how to best represent their identity in digital spaces. I am instantly reminded of the young mom who posted a TikTok of her doing a trending dance in the hospital room while her baby lays in a bassinet fighting RSV. Remembering Gui’s work, we know that this IS her identity, however through this medium, can be misinterpreted. Her identity was displayed as insensitive and unconcerned rather than optimistic (she had explained this was just her way of staying optimistic and positive during these tough days in the hospital). I wouldn’t attribute the medium as being the reason her identity was misrepresented, we all know we have said or done things in our lives that maybe have been differently displayed than intended. However, the medium does allow for an increase in exposure for when these misrepresentations are made.

The takeaway this week is that we are who we are in ALL spaces; digital or not. Our identity is closely connected to culture and our culture at this moment in time is heavily inclusive with digital spaces. We represent ourselves in both face to face situations, and behind screens and therefore must be cognizant of the vastness of our footprint online as our identity is no longer restricted to bodily conduct.

A Teacher & Parent Perspective of the 9 Elements of Digital Citizenship

Mike Ribble of Digital Citizenship Handbook for School Leaders: Fostering Positive Interactions Online highlights the main ideas for digital citizenship, categorized in three groups; Respect for Self and Others, Educating Self and Others and Protecting Self and Others. As a teacher I can readily relate to the importance of these three categories and their sub-categoric fields. However, as my kids are growing up I am curious how my teacher lens may compare to my view on digital citizenship as a parent.

Respect for Self and Others, Law

As as master’s student I am well aware of (hopefully all?) considerations when it comes to citing professional and intellectual property online. I find I am still learning bits and pieces as I go. As a middle years teacher this is often a learning curve for students who are starting to formulate their own ideas and put them in form of an essay or report. In grade 6/7 we usually look at citing reputable website and learning how to create reference pages. As technology becomes more prevalent in our lives it seems to become more accessible younger and younger age groups. I am curious; how can we begin teaching primary students and our young children about appropriate digital citizenship in the eyes of the law?

Respect for Self and Others, Access

I think access to technology is probably one of the most profound barriers we are going to see in the coming years, especially in the world of education. It’s funny as I’ve been going through and doing a “fall purge” of our house, getting rid of old clothes and toys, I’ve been explaining to my kids that we are going to donate toys that they no longer play with so that some other kids will get to play with them. As we shop around for tablets for them for Christmas, I now see that one day we will likely be donating different technological devices we no longer use to other kids as well. I used to view technology as a very elitist entity, but now as a teacher and as a parent it’s far more required for growth in today’s society and NEEDS to be accessible.

Respect for Self and Others, Digital Etiquette

Be kind online!
Wearing both the teacher and parent hat I know how much I emphasize positive online interactions in school, but I do feel that I will be far more meticulous in assisting my own children navigate digital spaces. I think this comes from the fact that we rarely associate social media with school. As teachers, if we heard about a fight that happened on the weekend we are often cognizant of the dynamic shifts that occur from that and how socially school may be different on Monday for the students involved, etc. However, we seem to always have to teeter the line between being able to intervene with “outside of school” situations. I feel as though social media is toeing that line as well. We often teach about proper digital etiquette at school, however the conversations students are having on Snap Chat COULD occur at home or at school, and therefore I think appropriate digital etiquette must be enforced at school AND at home.

Educating Self and Others; Digital Literacy

Reading, writing and learning the world of digital spaces. I think this is something I will focus on teaching my own kids at home. As a parent I am aware of the technologies they have access to, and I think that makes it a bit easier (as a parent/child dynamic than teacher/student dynamic) to help with specific digital literacy practices.

Educating Self and Others; Communication

Understanding the mediums of technology is an important skill both at home and at school. In the classroom we often discuss formal and informal language use and when both are appropriate. I do believe it will be important to help my own children at home decipher which mediums of technology are appropriate for different situations. I remember always getting my parents to double check my resume before sending it off, and I can imagine I’ll be working alongside my daughters to ensure they don’t have a puppy-filter Snap Chat picture as their headshot on their resume!

Educating Self and Others; Commerce

This topic is quite evident in our household, and less so in the classroom. I can honestly say that I’ve discussed with my young children which apps cost money to download and which ones do not, but I have had little conversations with my students about this scenario. It’s interesting, because primarily students are using school provided devices (although they could still certainly purchase something from there), however this is likely something I should likely include in my teaching as well!

Protecting Self and Others; Security

Protecting and maintaining safety is of upmost importance in digital education; both in the classroom and at home. Although our students and children are both growing up in technologically advanced times, they still need guidance on appropriate methods of guarding their privacy online, especially as we notice our passwords and security systems are seemingly becoming less and less impenetrable with hackers.

Protecting Self and Others; Rights and Responsibilities

We often see the discussion of rights and responsibilities in our Saskatchewan curriculum, but it’s likely a discussion I, as a parent, should be having at home. I think that the earlier we have conversations about responsibilities and rights in non-digital spaces, the easier the connection and crossover can be made to digital spaces as well.

Protecting Self and Others; Health and Wellness

This category hits pretty close to home as I am becoming more and more conscious of how my children see me frequenting my phone. My students naturally see me access technology in positive lights, utilizing the SmartBoard, Kahoots, Google Forms, etc. However my kids don’t always see me using my technology in a way that necessarily benefits them, usually in a way that hinders them (the absence of attention). I do think that we naturally model healthy relationships with technology in the classroom, but less so in our own homes.

Boomers & Millennials, Offline & Online; not a Dichotomy

The generational discussion from last class paired with the readings for this week have certainly inspired a metacognitive reflection for this relatively typical millennial. A 90’s born child I grew up with a pretty typical upbringing, entirely loved by my hard-working boomer parents, encouraged to “do and try everything to the best of my ability”. My first interaction with digital spaces came in grade 4 when, in school, we set up our first email accounts. Peers swiftly chose usernames that best reflected their interests or likes, or whatever appealed to some pretty eager 9 year olds. So as the slush_puppy123 and spice_girls_44 type usernames began to role in, I created my first email username; miss_canadian_17. My debutante ball to digital spaces. So again, at the young age of 9 years old, educators barely familiar with the oncoming technological tsunami, encouraged us to boldly navigate the internet while expecting us to gracefully navigate adolescent development, puberty, interpersonal skills, and a few other “minor” factors.

The expectation of millennials to navigate life with the same degree of poise as our predecessors during arguably the world’s fastest and most condensed development of implemented technology, is hard to understand. As per our discussion in class, previous generations are often the most critical of newer generations, a generalization that I’m sure deserves some merit. A difficult concept to understand is why millennials are often scrutinized for their shortcomings during a time extremely difficult to navigate; still expected to “do and try everything to the best of our abilities” while also being not only pro-efficient but exceptional leaders in media literacy. It seems a bit contradictory for previous generations to have flawless expectations of millennials but then to follow up with questions on how to convert a PDF back to a Word doc. 🙂

I think there are profound parallels between the generational generalizations and the dualistic perspective of media relations. Eloquently described in “The IRL Fetish” by Nathan Jurgenson, media users often conceptualize “being offline” as the absence of “being online”. Hoewever, it is not the absence of one that allows the existence of the other, rather, the two realities occur at the same time. Existing online occurs within the offline realm, or as Jurgenson mentions “It is wrong to say ‘IRL’ to mean offline: Facebook is real life”.

“It is wrong to say ‘IRL’ to mean offline: Facebook is real life”.

Nathan Jurgenson (2012)

It’s this Matrix-inspired inception that reflects generational expectations. It’s so easy to assume a generation thrives or fails in isolation of other generations. Millennial’s shortcomings should not be seen as the absence of other generation’s strengths. Both can occur at the same time. Simon Sinek referenced in his discussion “Millennials in the Workplace” that their narcissistic tendencies derive from failed parenting, for a lack of a better term. If this is true, then much like the theory that “offline and online” are concurrent, I believe the shortcomings from millennials and the shortcomings from previous generations are also concurrent. Both have failed expectations of one another (boomers expecting millennials to be hard-working and proficient in their current surroundings as they once had to be, and millennials expecting boomers to be in awe and appreciate the pioneer-type perspective to navigating rapid technological growth), and of those failed expectations can occur at the same time, in respect to one another. And so like “offline” and “online” exist within the same realm despite their dichotomic nature, as do our generational expectations.

This parallel has the potential to indicate how we treat future generations and their exploration of adolescent development at the same time as technological advances. I know that, because I know how hard it can be, I will have a lot of empathy for future slush_puppies123 and miss_canadian_17s.

The Balance I Cannot Yet Grasp

Throughout this week’s articles and posts I have found myself in even more confusion about appropriate balance of technology in education. The saying “the more I see the less I know” comes to mind when thinking about what media literacy looks like in the education world. The more I understand the capabilities of AI and media, the more I find it a challenge to understand where a balance comes in.
I identified a lot with what Sherry Turkle had to say in her TED Talk “Connected, but Alone?“. Albeit over a decade since it’s creation, a lot of what Turkle referenced still stands true; groups of people in attendance together, physically, while being connected with others, digitally. I’m guilty of this myself, often finding my husband and I at the end of the day sitting on the same couch sending TikToks and memes to one another on Instagram. Meanwhile, I am constantly assessing how much my three small children see me, neck cranked down, looking at my phone instead of engaging in interaction with them. Turkle’s references to Goldilocks in regards to finding personal balance in physical engagement rings true to me. I want to be present in the “communities” I want to be, whenever I want to be. I want to be able to disengage as desired, and engage whenever I want as well. It’s my own personal balance that I enjoy; but I am not sure if MY balance necessarily coincides with everyone else’s balance, specifically my kid’s and my student’s. Just because my selectivity of engagement appeases me and my own growth, I find it very unlikely that it supports the growth of those who need physical attention from me the most.

In addition to this Turkle’s TED Talk, while browsing Open AI’s “Teaching with AI” and UNESCO’s “AI and Education, Guidance for Policy Makers“, I was again faced with an overwhelming feeling of imbalance. The recommendations of themes such as tutoring with AI, writing and assessment, and language development sound like wonderful challenge-decreasing opportunities for educational growth. I get that. I am still struggling with the “balance”. To shed some light on this, for a young 33 year old, I suppose I’ve always dug my heels in to new and innovative ideas. Sometimes I probably sound a little silly thinking that I appreciate the “good old days” and the “good old ways” when most of my generation have embraced technological advancement with open arms. I am improving with this, for sure. However, I still have a long way to go. I struggle with AI being the way of the future (if it isn’t already considered “the way” now). My hope is that throughout this course, I am sold on AI. Not “sold” meaning it’s AI or nothing. I mean that I can see where AI fits in our world, specifically in the world of education. Even as I read these articles I thought “I still want my students to use their brains!”. It later dawned on me, that as mentioned in these resources students are still using their brains, just a little more critically as they navigate the generation of products through AI. It was a realization that led me in the right direction and has set a positive intention for me and my understanding of AI’s place in our digital, and non-digital world.

As I write this blog, I continue to think of my own personal application of AI and where it fits into my role as a teacher and a parent. I first learned about Chat GPT in early spring of this year and was told “not to tell too many people about it because it’s the best hack”.. in hindsight this is laughable. Being on mat leave, I messaged my administrator and some colleagues about it and they had all already heard about it. I messaged my family about it and even my mom said she just had a conference about Chat GPT at work last week. Here I am thinking it’s a secret, but half the world already knew about it which really shows how quickly advancing public use to AI had progressed. Again, this is where my excitement for this class comes in as it helps me set my intention with AI’s integration into my teaching. I feel uncomfortable not being an expert in technological areas (which is almost a juxtaposition with quickly advancing technology is) and I do help this course helps me relieve a bit of the gap created by my mat leave in terms of enrolment of AI in my teaching practice.