Category Archives: ECI830

Assistive Technologies

This week Kalyn, Megan, Leigh, and Jenny presented on assistive technologies. During the presentation, assistive technology was defined by as any device software or equipment that helps people work around their challenges’. This could be anything from pencil grips, voice to text calculators, or communication devices. This made me rethink how many assistive technologies I have used with students over the years.

Assistive Technology and Telehealth

“Assistive technology tools can help students with certain disabilities learn more effectively. Ranging in sophistication from ‘low’ technologies such as a graphic organizer worksheet to ‘high’ technologies including cutting-edge software and smartphone apps, assistive technology is a growing and dynamic field” (teachthought).  Initially, when I thought of assistive technology, my mind immediately went to ‘high’ technologies. The presentation opened my eyes to all the ‘low’ assistive technologies I have used over the years. I have used pencil grips, slant boards, seat cushions, large lined paper, magnifying lenses, among many others.

Low Tech Assistive Technology for reading and writing | Low tech assistive  technology, Reading technology, Kids technology

In the required reading, Assistive technology: Impact on education, employment, and independence of individuals with physical disabilities, the authors discuss that “appropriately selected and utilized assistive technology is imperative for individuals to approach an even par with their non-disabled peers”. I have had a few instances in my career where I have had an assistive technology given to me for a student, but I failed to utilize the technology to its fullest potential because I had no training on the technology. One that comes to mind is Kurzweil.

Kurzweil 3000 in the Classroom | Larissa Amburgey

I was so overwhelmed with this program. Somehow I was supposed to scan all the work the student needed read to them. This was a time before online textbooks and I would battle trying to flatten the text to scan it. If the scan wasn’t perfect-the program couldn’t read it. I did not have an educational assistant to help the student when they required the use of the program. I was expected to teach the class while also helping this student navigate their way through the program. It was a short lived solution. Another program that I had a similar experience with is Dragon Naturally Speaking.

Review: Dragon NaturallySpeaking 13 Premium

I had a student who had a learning disability that affected his writing ability. This program was to help him get his ideas down without having to physically print them himself. It took a long time to get the program to partially understand him as he also has a speech impediment. I’m not sure what the program is like now, but years ago we had to ‘train’ the program to understand his voice for accuracy. It did not work well for this student.

I have had autistic students in my class who use PECS with their educational assistant. This system allows communication by a student who is unable to verbally communicate. It opens up a whole new world for the student.

More recently, I have utilized portions of Google’s read&write. I have used it exclusively for speech to text. Reading through MegansEdStuff blog post, I see many other functions that this extension could be utilized with my students. I can see using this extension for students looking up words in their readings, removing images and ads from web pages so students can focus on what they are supposed to be focused on, and the ‘screen mask’ function. I have students that would benefit from only seeing a few lines of text at a time to help them focus. I have also never used this extension for its reading text aloud ability. I definitely need some PD on this extension to utilize it to its full ability! As Megan says in her blog, “educators need more support than just a device”.

Implementing assistive technology can be a slow learning process. When assistive technology is new to a student in my class (grade 6), I talk to them about the process they will go through learning the new technology. For example, I have a student who has just undergone some ed psych testing and the recommendations were to use a Chromebook for writing tasks. This student and I are working together to use this device effectively so that when she reaches high school (grade 9) using the Chromebook for writing is a comfortable thing to do (and she can do it independently).

The challenges and limitations I experience using assistive technology are:

*unskilled teacher with the technology (when do I have time to learn this stuff??)

*other students don’t understand why some students ‘get’ to use a Chromebook

*not enough technology for those who need it

Assistive technology ‘levels the playing field’ between students. I look forward to looking more into some of the technologies presented this week in class.

Point of the Game: Sports Ethics: Create a Level Playing Field

Summary of Learning

I can’t believe we’ve already reached the end of this semester. It wasn’t so long ago that I was preparing for the first debate against Nancy and Amanda. Reflecting on this semester, there were so many things that I learned over the past 6 weeks. Turns out, there are very few simple answers when addressing the challenging issues and topics that face us as teachers using technology in the classroom. I’ve learned a lot about the value of looking at both sides of a topic or issue, regardless of where you stand on an issue. In addition, I’ve continued to develop my understanding of the positives and negatives that come with using technology in the classroom. In the end, there is no right answer. As technology can provide incredible benefits to teachers, it also creates additional challenges at the same time.

To all my wonder classmates of ECI 830, I truly enjoyed learning from all of you. The wide range of perspectives and beliefs made it a very rewarding experience and I took a lot away from many of you. The quality of arguments put up in the debate, whether you agreed with the topic or not, were very thought provoking and enjoyable to watch.

Please take a minute to check out the summary of learning created by Matt and myself. We hope you enjoy the “dirt” we found on Dr. Alec Couros.

Contemporary Issues in Educational Technology: Summary of Learning

It’s hard to believe that another semester has come and gone. This has truly been one of the most challenging, yet inspiring classes I have been a part of. I never expected to grow and learn so much in just a month and a half. Debating contemporary issues in education is something that every educator should take part in because it allows you to see issues from all points of views and widen your perspective. If you would like to go back to the beginning and read my reflection of each debate, you can click the links below:

  1. What’s Your App Count?
  2. The Big Debate: Does Technology Enhance Learning?
  3. The Deeper Meaning Behind the Digital Divide
  4. Not What we Are Learning, But How: A Look Into Inquiry-Based Learning
  5. Is Social Media Ruining Childhood?
  6. Cellphones in the Classroom: The Controversy Continues
  7. Is it Fair to Share?
  8. Nothing Good Comes From Being Neutral

Like I say in my Summary of Learning video, I am so grateful for everything I learned during this semester. I feel impacted by each one of you in my class… whether it was through your stories, your perspectives, your humour, your blog posts, your tweets, or your encouragement. Thank you for being a part of my #edtech journey and for pushing me to be a better educator so that collectively, we can make a difference in the lives of others and in our world.


Nothing Good Comes From Being Neutral

Desmond Tutu once said, “if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” These words couldn’t be more relevant to our world right now. These words challenge me to advocate, speak up, and seek change… because nothing good comes from being neutral. Does taking part in social justice look the same for everyone? No. However, I do know that staying silent is not an option.

These thoughts and ideas, along with many others, were brought up in our final #eci830 debate last week. It was a class that I will never forget. I was moved, impacted, and inspired through the words that were spoken and the stories that were shared. The topic was “educators have a responsibility to use technology and social media to promote social justice.” For the debate, Mike and Jacquie brought forward valuable points that reminded us that “school can and should be bigger than its walls.” They said that promoting social justice through social media allows students to develop skills in problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration, and perseverance. They said that if we want equity, then we can’t stay silent. On the other hand, Brad and Michala talked about how instead of addressing social justice issues online, educators should focus on face-to-face communication because social justice starts with relationship. They also reminded us of the problems that can arise with “slacktivism”, which is “showing support for a cause with the main purpose of boosting egos of participants in the movement.”

As educators, I do believe it is our responsibility to teach social justice, but it doesn’t necessarily mean through social media. Rather, social media gives us the opportunity. However, staying out of these conversations because they are too “political” or too “complicated” is a privileged point of view. Your voice is needed in these important conversations. Your voice is needed in your personal relationships, at your workplace, and around the dinner table. For some of us, our voice needs to be used online, within social media, and in a digital setting.

We are living in a time where social media is used by the masses. It has the ability to reach people in an instant and make a mark. This has especially been made known within the last two weeks. We have seen an outcry of support for #BlackLivesMatter through social media movements like #BlackOutTuesday. We have been able to spread awareness, sign petitions, and stand together online. There is no doubt about it, social media has gained an important place in our society, especially when it comes to social justice. Even though there is incredible value in using our voice online, it’s also important to make sure we are amplifying the voices that are needed right now. This is something that I have come to recognize the incredible importance of.

Monique Melton, an anti-racism educator and author, posted two pictures on Instagram recently that struck me to the core. The first post says “Your Silence is Violence.” She goes on to say that “when I think of all the ways in which white supremacy is so violent, one that comes to mind is white silence….So what are you going to do? How will you disrupt this legacy of white silence? It’s not about being an expert or having all the words to say…it’s not about this at all. There’s a way to use your voice without speaking over us or for us—we have a voice and you need to be amplifying it. But instead you’re silent. And that’s violent.”

In another post titled “White Fatigue is Violent”, she says “the white fatigue keeps you silent, apathetic, inactive & violent…Instead of focusing on how this work makes u feel, focus on why this work must be done, daily. This work must be done to end the racialized violence against BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour), repair the centuries of harm done & redistribute power & resources equitably so we can all live fully in our humanity. Do the work, daily.”

It’s crucial to recognize that before we can be effective in using our voice online, we need to look within ourselves and like Monique says, “do the work daily”. We all need to address and evaluate our own biases and privilege in our own lives before we take it to the world. Jacquie brought up an important point in the debate by saying “the deep work is personal.” When we talk about anti-racism work, it’s more than posting, donating, or signing petitions. It’s a conscious effort to not only recognize the privilege in your own life, but to actively stand up to the white supremacy that is embedded into North America. It’s about speaking up for the marginalized and oppressed in every platform or circle we are a part of. We need to collectively come together and dig up the roots of racism and injustice in our society. What it comes down to is that we all have a responsibility to promote social justice, but we also have deeper work to do, which cannot be done on social media.

If you need somewhere to start, here are some resources that have helped me in this social justice journey. But remember, this is just a starting point. The work needs to be done daily… in our everyday thoughts, actions, and words.

As Jacquie said in our debate last week, “maybe we don’t need to go for the home run of fixing the world through one tweet, perhaps it’s those little things and those little moments of leaning into what breaks your heart and creating ways and places that we can act in service, and kindness, and in compassion.” Social media can be the platform of change, but we all need to carry empathy and compassion on this road of anti-oppression and social justice if we want to make a difference in our world. We will pursue the deeper work within ourselves, so that we can continue to fight for change in our work places, families, churches, classrooms, and communities.


Not the Ending of a Journey…but the Beginning…

This course has flown by at record speed…even with everything going on. This is the first course I have taken out of the Educational Leadership stream and it was a refreshing change! I have learned so many things that will help enhance my classroom teaching and professional life. I’ve made great connections with classmates and appreciate each and every one of you as you have played a part in my EC&I 830 journey. Huge thanks also to Dr. Alec Courus for engaging materials and assignments.

My summary of learning:

Let’s Conclude – My Summary of Learning

I can’t believe seven weeks has come and gone already. I have learned so much and I can’t thank everyone enough for pushing my conscience to think and reflect on all the wonderful topics related to the contemporary issues related to educational technology. I have grown as a teacher and as a person all thanks to every one of you. I hope out paths cross again at one moment or another. You all have potential to do amazing things in our education system. Keep pushing your limits and keep smiling. Enjoy your well-deserved summer vacation!

Here is the video I created to explain all the great things I learned in this class. For a first timer, I think I did a decent job, haha! Learning to use Screencast-O-Matic wasn’t an easy task. I wish I had more time to tweak and polish the sound and effects, but this will have to do for the time being.


Lyrics – ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel Air

Now, this is a story all about how
My life got flipped-turned upside down
And I’d like to take a minute
Just sit right there I’ll tell you what I learned in EC&I 830 this year

On the first day of class, excited and stressed
I zoomed in on the meeting and was tensed to the max What will we learn? And what will we do?
Were questions that popped up in my head, what about you?
When Dr Alec showed up, he was up to no good Started making trouble in our virtual classroom Someone asked a question, we all got scared when He said ‘You better pick a topic for the Great EdTech debate’

I begged and pleaded with him day after day But I had no other choice, Twitter was the way I created a profile, followed my classmates and I put my big girl pants on, said, ‘I better just tweet this’

First debate, yo this is great
Why not enhance learning with technology?
Students speaking up? Digital literacy?
Now, don’t become a cyberbully! But wait I hear you talking about equity! Affordable, accessible, vulnerable, that’s right That’s the digital divide! Ok, now let’s focus on Google
You know, it can’t teach, but used well it can help 

Well, social media’s here, it isn’t going, no! Be careful on there, mental health, connection, safety and oh yeah FOMO! Lets just focus on positivity
Spread kindness
What about cellphones, banning them can be fruitless. I whistled for attention and when all eyes were on me
I explained to the students how to use them properly
If anything let’s think about our digital footprint But I thought ‘Nah, forget it – lets celebrate achievements’ Might have screwed up, but I did say sorry
And I yelled to myself ‘Will I make a difference?’ I looked at my project
It is finally time To use all my tools as a tech advocate

That’s All Folks – An ECI 830 Summary of Learning

The Videos

Here are the videos I have created for my summary of learning, what I learned from the debates and more …

Summary of Learning the Extended Edition
Dean’s Debates
ECI 830 Speakers’ Perspectives
A 3 Minute Recap of the ECI 830 Experience

The Resources

One thing these classes never fail to produce are amazing collection of resources. Classmates do amazing research that always provide important data, opinions, and resources. People were sharing these freely on the google doc, Twitter, and Slack. Here are two Wakelets – one with research for the debates and the other Tweets shared using the #ECI 830 hashtag.


One thing this class has reinforced for me is the importance of the great professional learning network. The the first debate I reached out to current ECI 830 Nancy Smith and former classmate and former ECI 830 student Daniel Dion. Both are amazing people with a great understanding of social media (check out Nancy’s Book Here). They both provided us with a little clip backing our side of the debate. Also also reached out to Jennifer Casa-Todd author of Social Leadia and got some great advice and a link to a great article that backed up our argument.

For the next debate, I was able to secure a ringer for our team in the form of Dr. Verena Roberts. She gave us an amazing interview (which we used as part of our research and a clip for our intro) and she also gracious ‘Zoom’ bombed our class to help us out with our closing statement. I also learn so much from her.

I love Twitter and enjoyed connecting with my classmates on the #eci830 hashtag. I also used my PLN (tagging Alec and his extensive PLN is one way to get your message some traction – thanks) to do some Twitter Polls to see what the vibe was ‘out there’ for each debate topic and pick up some great comments along the way. So many insights and some very valuable data.

Openness and Sharing
What Debate Topic Interests You
Social Media Ruining Childhood

I also had the good fortune recently to be contacted by Arjita Sethi, founder of the DaVinci Club (check out her Ted Talk here – so many thing she said spoke to many of the topics we have covered in class). She noticed my Twitter feed and the work I’ve done with Minecraft Edu. She then followed my social media feed with a visit to my eportfolio. She was impressed with my work and offered me a job as a Minecraft Virtual Camp Councillor. Such a great opportunity and a great example of the power of a strong PLN. I was able to interview her about the DaVinci Club and more – worth the watch – check it out here.

The ECI w/ Alec experience has been an amazing one for me. I have teamed up with a couple of great people from these classes, Curtis and Matteo, and together we have created a podcast called 832 Sips (based on our after class discussions we had in our ECI 832 class). We have had some solid guest (including Nancy and Daniel) and our latest (coming soon) one is with Ben Kelly (a fellow Minecraft Global Mentor, social media contact, and friend) who is a STEM genius and a Prime Minister Teaching Award of Excellence in STEM Teacher. Check out our podcasts here.

The Debates

Technology in the classroom enhances learning.

Agree – For sure … when used with a well thought out purpose it increases connections, accessibility, and transformational opportunities … it’s a no brainer

Technology is a force for equity in society.

Agree – there is an increased access throughout the world allowing for connections, accessibility, and increased learning for all … it’s leveling the playing field

Schools should not focus on teaching things that can be easily googled.

Agree – we should be better …. You can’t just google an answer an move on … doesn’t change much from having kids remembering a few facts for a test then forgetting them the next day … we need to focus on deeper learning not just what did google say (which is in it for the money which is another can of worms)

Social media is ruining childhood.

Agree – Have you seen how social media is destroying the lives of our children.  Cyberbullying, FOMO, screen time, an unrealistic look at the perfect life … darn tootin it is ruining their lives

Cellphones should be banned in the classroom.

Agree – hang on I gotta check this … as I was saying these devices do not belong in the classroom, too much of a distraction and the kids can’t control themselves … wait I gotta check this

Openness and sharing in schools is unfair to our kids.

Agree – we can’t just go out there and openly share student pics and information there are many trolls out there and even worse, there is still the digital divide some kids don’t get opportunities, plus can you really trust something was just freely share … let’s not go there

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

Agree – teaching is not neutral as some may make out, we have a responsibility to help students understand their world and make it better … isn’t that what education is all about … why would we not use these powerful tools and medium to research, understand, and jump into action and make a positive difference in society

Disagree – No way Jose … becomes a crutch and students rely on tech to do the learning for them … some just use it as a $1000 pencil which is a waste of time and money … don’t need it

Disagree – what … have you looked at costs, the vulnerable … how about the inconsistencies in training and delivery … that doesn’t add up to being equal does it

Disagree – we need to make sure kids know how to use this tool, it’s become a staple in our society and to not have students google things does help them, also being able to google answers saves us time to cover our curriculum … google away

Disagree – Oh boy, another medium in the long line of mediums ruining children’s lives, has one even looked to see the access to experts, finding your people when you feel alone, making connections, and promoting social justice issues … it’s giving kids a platform to do and be better

Disagree – ok boomer this devices are everywhere and not going away, let’s build some trust with our kids,  they are part of society why would we not use this tool for research, communication, and creation … wait there’s a voice in my head – Don’t Ban Make A Plan

Disagree – the most important life lessons I learned were in Kindergarten including being open and sharing, students need to create and share their digital portfolios for now and their futures, this gives access to more resources and learning opportunities to those who would just not get them, and this allows for some next level and deeper learning which will move society forward …let’s go there

Disagree – umm I actually like my job and don’t want to rock the boat, I’ve seen too many people get in trouble for taking a stand, I’m not these kids parent and I shouldn’t be interfering with how somebody choses to parent their kids, plus they might think I’m Trump like and know nothing about what I’m talking about … too risky for me

The Final Thoughts

This class was fast and furious. I like to thank Amy and Sherrie for being great partners (I learned and enjoyed working with both these fine people). I like to thank the ECI 830 crew. Everybody is very inspiring and passionate and it makes for a great experience (I’m sad I only have one class left in the fall – maybe I’ll have to ask to sit in down the road or something just to listen to the great conversations in the Zoom and continue to check out the hashtags online). With all that’s happening in our world right now, this class became more timely and important than I’m sure that anyone wanted. It was a comfort and blessing to be able to connect with the ECI 830 crew a couple times a week. It was like a support group that we all needed. The debate format was a lot of fun and so many great points were made by everybody. I know I come to the table with a heavy tech use bias and so many of the points made were extremely good for me to hear and understand different points of view. Thanks Alec for another great experience, it’s no wonder this classes are ‘sold out’ right away. A very respectful and welcoming environment is always created. Led by a knowledgeable and caring ‘moderator’, the class takes on a learning journey in which everyone contributes and grows.

Are Teachers Supposed to be Social Activists?

Our last debate topic clearly is a tough and thorough subject to elaborate on. Mike and Jacquie and Michala and Brad had their work cut out for them with this one. I lift my hat up to them because they did a great job defending their point of view.

Mike and Jacquie started of the debate by explaining why teachers should promote social justice in their classroom. First, they explained what social justice is. They then went on by stating that students have a voice and they should use it to defend present social justice issues within their communities. They also defended Sonia Neto’s four components of social justice in education found in her paper titled, Teaching as Political Work: Learning from Courageous and Caring Teachers. Mike and Jacquie finished their opening statement by explaining that “using technology and social media to promote social justice allows students to foster problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration and perseverance”. They foster that a teacher’s job is to help student learn or unlearn information to help make our society a better place to live.  

Brad and Michala took on a more relaxed and comic approach to present their arguments on why teachers should not promote social justice in their classrooms. They explained that teachers need to be impartial. It is not politically correct for them to use students to “push their personal agenda and social values”. Rather, they need to present both sides of an issue and guide students to find information that will help them make their own decisions on the matter at hand. Teachers need to promote face-to-face interactions to foster connections and collaboration between everyone in their classrooms. It is important to NOT take privilege for granted and to use social media wisely.

While strolling Twitter the other day, I came upon this tweet from Mind Shift. They shared this image explaining how teachers can become more responsive to culture in their classrooms. “EL” Stands for “English Learners” but I believe it can also relate to all learners.

Source :

With this said, for teachers to become efficient activists in the classroom, they need to be open to learning. Torrey Trust, assistant professor of learning technology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, explains that “highly effective teachers know that they do know everything they need to help their students, so they are constantly learning”. I also feel that it is important to add that everyone makes mistakes. When you can acknowledge that you’ve screwed up, that’s when you learn the most. Student’s will appreciate you saying your sorry for making a mistake and they will also take away from this lesson. Usually, people can be forgiving.

Being active on social media is great for teachers because it always gives them access to knowledge at low costs. Furthermore, teachers shouldn’t be neutral because they need to create equal opportunity for every child that enters their classroom. Alyssa Dunn, assistant professor of teacher education at Michigan State University explains that “the idea of neutrality, […] doesn’t always work in schools, because “education is inherently political””. How can teachers become involved in social justice activities that surround them? This is another question we discussed during class. Some teachers fear what others (parents, coworkers, superiors) will think of them. They don’t want to attract negative backlash and create problems for their families, their students or their school community. This is where we need to surround ourselves with peers that will have our backs. I believe there will always be backlash but if someone that is struggling is impacted positively by our activism, then we have done a small part in helping change the world for the better. Kelisa Wing, in her article titled Teachers Must Hold Themselves Accountable for Dismantling Racial Opression, mentions that “we must commit to teaching in a way that totally disrupts and dismantles the system of oppression”. She adds that we will be able to achieve this by “holding ourselves individually and mutually accountable”, by “ensuring representation is at the forefront”, and by “caring about more than ourselves”. Even though it is hard work, we need to set the tone for our students. Using social media to speak out and engage in activism is a starting point to become models of change for our students. If we do not show them how to do this responsibly and in respectful yet tenacious manner, who will and how will they learn?

What are your thoughts? Should teachers use social media to be active in the chase for social justice?

Approaching the Finish Line

We have one class remaining for this course and with it comes our summary of learning assignment.  I decided to choose a format that really speaks the the current time that I’ve been going through with remote teaching.  At the end of April I started seeing these Bitmoji virtual classrooms popping up all over the primary teacher groups and people that I follow.  I watched a couple of YouTube videos and I learned how to make my own.  I’ve been using it with my class periodically for the last few weeks.  So, when it came time to begin working on summarizing my learning for EC&I 830, I thought why not show my learning as a representation through a virtual classroom.  It will slightly differ from the WeVideo presentations that many of my classmates are doing, but like I said this is an artefact that will not only summarize my learning, but will also encapsulate a trend of remote teaching during the covid-19 pandemic.

I thought this course would teach me different tech ideas to use in my classroom, however it opened my eyes to the plethora of issues that come along with tech in schools.  I now think about things relating to tech that I hadn’t even considered before.  As stated in my summary of learning, I feel more tech-informed.  I feel equipped to empower students through using tech and I am more comfortable having conversations around tech with colleagues and parents.  With living in the digital age, this is absolutely vital.

Please enjoy my summary of learning here

man running on black asphalt road
Photo by RUN 4 FFWPU on



My Summary of Learning

Through this class I have gained a better understanding of the role technology plays in both our classrooms and everyday lives. It has helped to broaden my perspectives and has led me to reflect on many of my current teaching practices. In addition, I have gained new ideas in how to implement technology into the classroom in engaging and educational ways.

Thank you Dr. Alec Couros and fellow EC&I 830 classmates for helping me to continue to grow as an educator; for challenging me to think critically about many of the issues surrounding technology and its use, for sharing your personal stories and for all the new ideas and perspectives you shared that I know I will find useful well into the future.