Category Archives: EC&I 832

Educators have a responsibility to use tech and social media to promote social justice.

I believe schools play a significant part in shaping our students’ lives. That is, schools should prepare our students to be digital citizens who will live and work in the 21st century. This involves preparing students with:

a) work skills such as those identified by the WEF, such as problem-solving, innovation, creative thinking, entrepreneurship, and collaboration skills, which I have blogged about before.

2) the nine elements of being a good digital citizen, among which are law and rights and responsibilities, which are directly related to today’s topic. 

The Wikipedia definition of a digital citizen involves using technology to engage in “society, politics, and government.” One can see this realized on the Internet and social media as very widely used platforms for people to communicate and share ideas, including ideas of freedom, democracy, social justice, global warming. Social media make these issues universal, and our students are subject to discuss them be affected by them at any moment. Social media allow individuals with no political power to share their ideas, which allowed novel models of activism to stay here. Our students will be living in this world. 

This affects us as educators. We should consider global issues in our curriculum. I believe our schools should teach our students the fundamental problems of society, politics, and government.” I am afraid if we don’t, we are not serving our students the best. For example, In 2014, A Pew Research survey indicated that Americans rank inequality, “religious and ethnic hatred,” nuclear weapons, and environmental degradation as the “greatest dangers in the world.”  

Education is a critical enabler for a solution to these global and local issues. Education ensures future generations are equipped with the abilities to have an opinion about, and ultimately help solve these issues. For example, in one of the reading entitled, “Education and the Democratic Person: Towards a Political Conception of Democratic Education,” the author, through a discussion of prominent philosophers such as Immanuel Kant, and John Dewey, supports a concept “democratic education,” that providing opportunities to participate in democratic life helps to prepare our students to be democratic citizens.

Teachers are critical in this vision as they create Innovative learning environments that lead to lifelong learning skills, knowledge and disposition. In the assigned reading entitled “Teaching as Political Work: Learning from Courageous and Caring Teachers” the author, Sonia Nieto, provides a list of qualities of teachers who positively affect the lives of their students that includes: “a sense of mission; solidarity with, and empathy for their students; courage to challenge mainstream knowledge; improvisation; and a passion for social justice.” It was summed it up beautifully that the responsibility of “a teacher really lies with fostering discussions, promoting good social media practice, and teaching strong media literacy skills. There’s no better way to create active digital citizens than providing others with the ability to think and speak for themselves.

However, I also really believe that teachers have to be very careful, neutral and fair when discussing “touchy subjects.” I experienced this first-hand last year. The teacher of my daughter discussed a difficult and touchy subject, and she was not neutral. She took her time to explain her own side and point of view to the class. Some parents were not happy because the teacher’s point of view contradicted their own opinions. I think an excellent thing to remember here is “De-value the answer & Re-value the learning,” as mentioned in this blog entry. The idea is that the teacher’s role is to teach the students and create a learning environment. Such environment involves helping the students arriving at an answer themselves and not imposing a view on the students. This can be done best by asking the right questions, pointing students to educational resources to collect data, help the student analyze collected data and leaving it to them to think and reflect and make their own conclusions.

Is openness and sharing in schools unfair to our kids?

I am one of those who changed their opinion on this issue.

In the beginning, I voted to agree considering the major privacy issue of sharing school pictures or student information online. Many more people have concerns about privacy and data breaches at various companies and governmental agencies. As adults, let alone kids/ students, we give up our data without even noticing. How many of us read terms of use of the software/ apps we use on a daily basis? The type and amount of information shared by students in their daily educational activities include the following ( according to Posting About Your Kids Online Could Damage Their Futures; as shared by the agree side of the debate)

  • “personally identifiable information (PII);
  • biometric data;
  • academic progress;
  • behavioral, disciplinary, and medical information;
  • Web browsing history;
  • students’ geolocation;
  • IP addresses used by students; and
  • classroom activities.”

Towards the end of the debate, I switched my mind. I agree very much with the ideas of OER and open education and their benefits to our students. They are of the most foundational solution to bring equity in education. I am a huge believer in the importance of open education to our students. Once again, the two groups seemed to find some common ground when it came to the importance of digital citizenship, education and thinking before you post. 

I have blogged before on digital citizenship and the Quebec Government digital competence framework, including critical thinking, which is very important for this case as students need to be taught how to think critically about what they do and what they share online. They have to be aware of the consequences of their actions and of what goes into their digital footprint. I blogged the following photo before as an indication of the seriousness of the problem.

“Digital Identity Mapping” flickr photo by fredcavazza shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license

The US instituted the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) federal law to define family rights and privacy. This is 7a correct step to handle this problem. In that law, students and their parents are inspecting, reviewing, and correcting students’ educational records, and schools can not share such records without the parents’/students’ written approval. Such norms and laws limit the sharing of content while allowing students to build their OER. 


Therefore, educating ourselves and our kids about digital identity and the value it brings to us helps mitigate these concerns. Although it seems the only viable option, having control over our digital identity isn’t always an easy process. Below are some of the recommendations I found online from this resource on how to protect our digital identity

  • Limit sharing your Social Security number—whether in a doctor’s office, at school, or online
  • Use strong and unique passwords on each of your online accounts
  • Make sure you’re on a secure network or using a VPN, a virtual private network, when banking, shopping or making other online transactions
  • Don’t share your login credentials with others
  • Shred documents containing personal information before discarding
  • Secure your home Wi-Fi network with a strong password

While many teachers share the content generated by their students online, the problem is that, according to website, only 10% of teachers use social media professionally and 81% of teachers are concerned about what the incidents they hear in the news that are caused by mistakes of using social media for professional work. 

Summary of learning.

What a tremendous class. I loved the idea of the debates and the conversations that it started. I feel lucky to have worked with the people in this class… all my classes for that matter. I have often said that I don’t pride myself on knowing a lot of information… but I have a lot of friends. You have all joined the ranks of my Personal Learning Community.

Links to the debate blogs.

Please watch my video!

Educators have a responsibility to use tech and social media to promote social justice.

What a time to be talking about social justice in the classroom. Many people in the world saw things through a different lens these past few weeks.

redfish a Twitter: ""All mothers were summoned when George Floyd ...

Of course teachers should be teaching about social justice issues and it shouldn’t just be in the wake of such heartbreaking news either. In the article Alec shared there was a quote that will get us talking about this.


Talking about, advocating for and being outspoken about social justice issues is undoubtedly going to help marginalized people. These types of conversations should be happening in classrooms all over the world, these conversations are shaping our future.

Should we be using Social Media to promote Social Justice?

Well.. I think social media is a terrific place to find current events. Using social media to stay informed could be a powerful tool. Promoting students to engage in online debate or activism is something that I would tread extremely lightly with. I fear that you may be setting young people up for failure as far as being trolled.. or worse turning into trolls.

Encouraging students to be vocal about their beliefs modelling responsible behavior and treating the inevitable internet troll as a teachable moment is certainly an arguable point… but… jeeeeeeze I think this is opening yourself up to a lot of potential kickback. Which is also arguably the correct response when dealing with social justice issues. SOOOOOO…… here I sit….. at a loss.

Slacktivism is a real thing in our society so, would using social media at this young age be better or worse for future slacktivists. There are so many teachable moments within all of this, and I suppose my reluctance to join the ranks of social media activism probably says something about my own journey to understanding privilege… I just think there are many things to consider with regards to students engaging in social media activism.

The video embedded above talks about some interesting connections to online social media activists and the real world… worth listening to.

To further my role as devils advocate… Tuesdays debate brought up the ideas of teachers shaping a students digital footprint.. So…. that should be considered as well… they road you lead them down better be righteous because the footprint could be there forever.

To sum up… I hope the video is well received as Michella and I are both advocates of social justice education but wanted to argue these points with a bit of humour.

Is Sharing Caring?

I really enjoyed this debate as there were some great points brought up by both sides. The point brought up by Altan and Melinda about EAL families signing release forms they may not fully understand is a good one.  Sheri and Dean argued that we need to teach positive online behavior and embrace it the new tech. world that we live in.

Altan and Melinda shared some articles about a recent studies show that a large percentage of toddlers already have a digital footprint which may or may not be a bad thing. One one hand who cares… everyone has funny baby pictures sitting in a dusty album the only difference being accessibility, which you could argue putting these pictures online will be wonderful for future generations of family. The cons being just because we can share everything… should we share everything?

I am on the fence because I personally wouldn’t care if my baby pictures were available online. However, I am pretty thankful my teenage years and all the silly things I did are not readily available. Kids do weird things… they will continue to do weird things.. but now with the digital age, they may not be able to escape it.

How much do we really know about digital media?

Is my toddlers digital footprint going to have adverse effects on him down the road? Lets ask this doctor,

When Cigarette Companies Used Doctors to Push Smoking - HISTORY
7 of the Most Outrageous Medical Treatments in History - HISTORY

The point is…. Opinions change as we gather more information. This doesn’t mean that I am going to start fear mongering. Alec brought up a good point that although this data isn’t false there is a very small chance that in reality a child’s photos or data would be stolen especially anything school related.

I don’t know where exactly I fall on this spectrum… but I do give credit to both sides as there is validity in all of it.

Should cell phones be banned in the Classroom?

This is a controversial topic with many teachers; as we saw with the results of the vote it is an even split with teachers that want them VS. teachers that want them gone. There were great arguments made by both sides.

Skyler and Alyssa argued that cell phones were a positive addition to the classroom while Jill and Tarina took that the stance that cell phones should be banned in school. I feel like I have a fairly unique perspective on this. I have spent half my career in high school and half in elementary. I have taught in what would be considered Moose Jaw’s most affluent Elementary School and currently work at a Community School. With this experience brings a lot of perspective. My answer to the entire thing… at the risk of repeating myself, balance.

No.. not yoga balance. Balance between analog and digital. I have been beating this drum in Alec’s ECI classes for two years. I believe the key to technology in Education is balance. We live in an increasing digital world however, this should put even more importance on some analog skills. Like Art, Music, linguistics, Practical and Applied Arts and many others. I believe that an increasingly digital world means we need to balance that with skills and hobbies that use different preceptor parts of our brain. Its good for the soul to work with your hands…. not just to type on a keyboard.

So… In a world that everyone has a cell phone in their pocket… It would be silly to think they shouldn’t begin to learn basic cell phone etiquette from their teachers. Perhaps the reason we see so many adults with poor etiquette is that they got these phones when they were young adults and nobody ever talked to them about proper use and social expectations. If we want to break this cycle it needs to start young. We have driver training class and a supervised plan of action when it comes to operating a car, I am not making direct comparisons but surely you can see how this could be similar.

I am not saying that we should give kids cell phones in grade school, I am not saying the responsibility lies solely on teachers… but I am saying that banning their use teaches them nothing. It is a short term solution that doesn’t line up with future expectations.

Is social media ruining childhoods?

I have a few conflicting ideas about this. If you haven’t guessed I am a bit of a hopeless romantic when it comes to the past. So I am sure you can guess that side of me doesn’t care much for social media. I would love to see young people develop a sense of analog-self before taking on the pressure of navigating two worlds. Kids have enough going on in their lives before you throw in the added stress of maintaining an online persona.

Now before you start arguing with me… let me argue with myself. My Great Aunt Thelma is a published historian, author, poet and is generally pretty philosophical. She has always been a great influence on how I think about things, especially those associated with history. I remember we were having a conversation about something that related to “way things used to be” and her response has stuck with me through the years. She said “Brad, I have interviewed 5 generations of cowboys and ranchers and every single one of them think of themselves as the last of their kind”.

This statement can be used to describe social media as well. We are very romantic when thinking of the past and children outside playing and living carefree lives… But people have been saying that for 50 years… you know… since the children of the 60’s did something different than their parents.

Kids these days..

So are kids navigating a different landscape than we did growing up? certainly…does that make it worse? I don’t know… It certainly makes it different. Now, will today’s children ever grow up in our version of childhood? Unlikely.

So, should we be preparing children for a future that no longer exists? Or should we be working to try to create balance in their lives between digital and analog. We should be trying to understand the complexities of this new modern and ever-changing thing we call life.

Should we stop teaching things that are Google-able ?

If star trek/ star wars has taught us anything, its that they still need pilots in space. This tells us that there will always be a need for the human factor and computers can’t do everything for us.

If you are asking the question “should we stop teaching google-able things in school I would counter with what do we teach that that isn’t google-able? Not very much… So I think you’d be trying to argue the wrong point. Should we stop ASSESSING things that are easily google-able? In my mind that is a better argument. In the end both of these arguments come down to outcome based assessment and putting much more importance on the journey than the destination.

The real world connection.

Before my career as an educator I was a mechanic. I still tinker and do a lot of mechanic work on the side. I have forgotten a lot of little details and am constantly searching little details like torque or voltage specs. Googling the answer to these things doesn’t mean that I have lost the greater understanding of the big picture. I can still rebuild that engine, or troubleshoot your electrical system… Let me give you a quick example. I replaced the fuel tank in my 1968 C-10 this weekend. However I didn’t want the original tank that is behind the seat so… I used the internet to search tank dimensions and found that a 1968 mustang fuel tank will fit in the rear sub-frame of my truck. Long story short I have a ford duel tank in my Chevy truck. BUT… there is always a but with these darned out hot rods. The gas gauge for Ford and Chev trucks are different. In fact they are opposite, the Chev tank is 0-90 Ohms while a Ford is 87-8 Ohms. Follow me? (the gauge would be backwards, would read full when empty). However my understanding of electricity goes further than memorizing Ohms Law or total Ohms for each fuel sending unit (I did not know that the gauge would read backwards… I had to google it).

If we based understanding on memorizing facts then I would have failed. However, understanding that I can’t simply switch the wires and make the gauge work backward because that would be bad… (then I would have sent an electric current into my fuel tank… how do you think that story ends??) Instead I need to reverse the resistance of the sending unit in the tank.. Boom. done. (that’s a boom pun… cause there wasn’t a boom… get it?).

So as I show my kids these things I am not focused on the easily google-able fact of what is the Ohms range on the ford/chev fuel sending unit… I am going to make sure they understand the difference between volts and ohms and the significance of how this circuit works.

Is technology a force of equity in the society


We had a great debate experience this week. Kalyn and I were debating Victoria and Jasmine on whether technology is a force of equity in society. It is one of the toughest topics that most of us feel on edge when trying to take a side.

Educational technology offers a way for the marginalized to gain knowledge and power as it provides greater access to information, and levels the playing field for different students because it creates personalized learning. It also enables people with disabilities to connect and communicate. That is how technology is a force for equity in society.

Technology not only increases the efficiency of the existing educational approaches but facilitates experimentation with pedagogical methodologies. For example, technology is a prerequisite and enabler for the flipped classroom approach, inverting a traditional notion of classwork and homework.

Victoria and Jasmine argued that technology can cause discrimination and techno-colonialism.  But, acts of discrimination, harassment, and colonialism have been around a long time in different areas of the world before technology. Technology allows individuals with no political power to share their ideas and this allows novel models of activism. Recent online movements such as #NeverAgain, #Arabspring and #MeToo have sparked waves of social activism and demonstrates the positive power of technology when it comes to combating societal inequities and injustices of our time.

Assistive technology allows students with learning disabilities to work with their strengths while working around their disabilities. Tools build students’ self-confidence and increase their sense of independence. Judy Heumann said it best when she said “For most of us, technology makes things easier. For a person with a disability, it makes things possible.”

We believe Education is the equalizer.  It prepares people with 21st-century skills. Hence, Education is one of the most prominent factors in reducing the equity gap. However,  It is key to recognize that all students are different and come to their education with different needs. We advance equity when we do our best to meet their needs.  Technology has the ability to create opportunities for people including learning, reaching out and giving them a voice.

Annotated readings:

How Access to Technology Can Create Equity in Schools: This article discusses the ways that technology can increase equity in schools.  Equity is increased by removing barriers to learning materials, which allows students to access materials outside of the classroom. Tools can be used to personalize learning experiences, so students can work at their own pace and in a way that works with their strengths, not weaknesses. Educators can also use technology to not only grade students, but to gather useful insights about absenteeism and homework completion that guides them to make informed decisions. While technology can help, it doesn’t get “rid of systemic disparities caused by issues like income inequality, geographic isolation, or discrimination.” To ensure equity there also has to be a focus on making sure students have access to the internet outside of the school. You also need to invest in professional development so that teachers can properly use the tools needed to personalize learning experiences. 


The State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) serves every U.S. state and territorial education agency.  Their website has an excellent list of priorities, amongst which Digital Equity is listed as the first priority. All priorities and their description is worth a good read, IMO. The report entitled: “Navigating the Digital Shift 2019: Equitable Opportunities for All Learners” highlights policies and guidance for providing equal opportunities for all learners, with a focus on personalized learning for students as well as professional development for teachers.  It discusses how educational programs should prepare students for the future of jobs and the expected automated workplaces of the 21st century.  The report highlights that students should be the point of central focus. The report focuses on knowledge and information sharing and the role technology plays in building such learning communities. The report provides an overview of the policies and practices of educational resources and instructional materials. 


Equity and Technology

This was another great debate and some true colors came shining through as people had to overcome some technical difficulties. I admit I never really considered the equity of people with disabilities and how tech could help close that gap before this debate. Of course I have seen this in real life as talk-to-text brings students words to life but to be honest… physical disabilities aren’t what come to mind when I think of equity in technology. My mind jumped right to socio-economic status and affordability. I was happy to have those viewpoints challenged a little bit within this debate. Jacquie Murray made some good points drawing on previous Indigenous studies classes and how our privilege shape how we see things. Being self-aware is certainly the first step in being more open minded and aware of the needs within your school/classroom.

Nataly and Kalyn did a great job talking about accessibility and adaptability and how we need to do better.

I love a good argument and Victoria and Jasmine  did not let me down. I doubt I was the only one that hadn’t heard the term techno-colonialism . I liked this term and knew immediately that the idea would encompass several concepts covered in ECI832. Who’s flag will fly over this virtual world? How will big companies ensure that they continue to control the digital enterprise? Are open source ideas be nothing more than a Utopian dream? As big corporations fight for control of the internet how will that effect the technical divide?

I think there were some great points brought up by both sides and I still don’t know where my vote falls. I am hopelessly optimistic about the potential of technology to create equity in learning and expression… However, I do not believe we have seen the end of the struggle for control and money that will inevitably keep many marginalized people away from technology.