This week’s first debate asked the question: is technology a force for equity in society? This is a rather tricky question, especially if you consider the bigger question of how accessible technology is in society (and who has access to it). In order for technology to “level the playing field” for students, shouldn’t everyone have access to it…at all times? And what’s all this talk about equity? What exactly is fair?
In a school setting, availability of technology for all students plays out in many different ways. All schools have different needs, and we need to address these needs accordingly. As my classmate Dean mentions in his blog, “fair isn’t always equal”, stating that being “fair” is more so a question of leveling the playing field, rather than giving everyone an allotted and equal amount of tools and resources for each school. Dean makes another great point by saying that you’re not going to give a school of 200, the same amount of computers you would give to a school with 600 students. In this sense, “fair” would mean allowing students between different schools (and to a bigger extent, communities) to have the same quality and access to these tools.
During my brief year of subbing, I definitely noticed big differences between higher income schools and community schools. For one, students from “richer schools” have much easier access to technology inside and outside of school. Not only did I see more school IPads and laptop carts, I also noticed that many students in these schools brought their own laptops or tablets to class as well. I work at a community school now, and B.Y.O.D. definitely looks a lot different. For one, when students bring their devices to school, they aren’t bringing laptops or tablets. Most devices come in the form of a smartphone, and this is only if kids are even bringing anything at all.
Another important thing to consider is that although having access to any device is better than having no access at all, there’s a lot to say about the quality of work you can get done on a laptop rather than a small touch screen phone. Although my students get by with a cell phone if they have to get work done, it’s not ideal and it’s definitely not AS practical as having a laptop or a tablet. This is something I always consider, because I’ve made the mistake in the past of assuming that my students have a computer to work on at home. The truth is, this isn’t always the case. I can’t really expect my students to complete a homework assignment at home if their only way to access the internet is through a slow and flimsy data plan on an outdated phone. I’m sure it can get done, but this is where the whole question of “equality” comes into play. Sure, some kids have access to tech outside of school, but it’s not always “ideal” and it’s definitely not always of the best quality.
On another note, as my classmate Tayler mentions in her blog post in relation to this article: “’students in affluent schools are more likely to use computers for creative and experimental projects; students in low income schools are more likely to use computers for drill-and-kill exercises.’ Wealthier students are using the technology differently and widening this gap. Not only is there a gap, but the gap continues to widen.”
Interesting. Kind of makes you question the whole equality thing doesn’t it? This also reminds me of the old saying “the rich are getting richer”. Some food for thought for ya.
And then comes the question of what the actual schools have to offer. I work at one of the largest elementary schools in Regina, and I must admit, we definitely don’t have enough computers to go around for everyone. We have four computer carts for a school of almost 600 kids. Whenever I need to use computers with my class, I always need to make sure I have booked the laptop carts for my work periods. If I wasn’t on the ball on Monday morning to sign out my computer carts for the week, I basically missed the boat. Although I do have two classroom computers (one of which is almost too old to function at a practical level), we all know this isn’t enough.
Another thing I just started to notice is WHO is using the computers at school. Usually, it’s the older grades that are using the laptops, which is something I’m starting to question more and more. I’ve written about this issue already in my past blog posts (including this one), but I really do believe our kids need to start learning how to use technology at a younger age. How is this possible if they don’t have access to tools such as laptops?
In the case for students with specific learning needs, these students are sometimes provided with a laptop with learning aide software to facilitate with reading, writing, and math (as long as they’ve been assessed of course). I’ve seen the positive effects of providing students with these tools first-hand with some of my own students. My biggest question here though is, why can’t we be providing this to all our students? Wouldn’t everyone benefit from these tools at some point in their learning? I can easily think of at least 15 other students that would greatly benefit from these tools today. Of course, in order for this to happen, we either need more assessments to be made (and as any teacher will tell you, these processes sometimes take years to actually happen), or the schools need to be providing more computers (ideally, one PER CHILD). Realistically speaking, both of these options are most likely out of the question, especially if we’re dealing with budget cuts, and in the case of my school, community school needs for almost 600 students.
I don’t stand alone on this topic either, as I was reading through some of my classmates’ blogs, I ran into Heidi’s response, where she states how:
“Technology should be taught to all students and therefore students are able to decide when technology can/should be used to benefit their own work. In order for students to benefit from technology as lifelong learners, they do need to be able to utilize it freely to support their learning.”
Heidi brings up an important point about how we should be offering all of our students these learning aid tools. Another great argument Heidi made was: “While technology has the ability to be used in the classroom to differentiate and support student learning, I do not think technology is going to create equity in society as a whole. Who is being left out once they leave the walls of our school?”
Good question, WHO is being left out? In some cases, entire schools and communities are being left in the gutters, and this isn’t alright.
In closing, my classmate Taylor made an interesting observation in her latest post:
“Technology is powerful and it can provide a variety of ways to support students in the classroom, as well as people in all kinds of occupations, especially for those who benefit from assistive technology. Although it has the potential to benefit everyone, not everyone has access to it. It’s a great thought of if everyone had a computer, just as I wish every child had access to books and arrived to school ready to learn.”
Technology has the potential to greatly change the way we learn inside and outside of the classroom, but if we don’t have access to these tools, technology isn’t going to be bridging any social gaps anytime soon.
This week in our ECI 830 class, we had a captivating debate that asked the question: Is openness and sharing in schools unfair to our kids? The debate brought up questions about student privacy, responsible online citizenship and the permanence of our digital footprint.
Some questions and ideas came out of this discussion that got me thinking about some of the big issues we’re dealing with today involving online citizenship. For one, our “digital” tattoos, as Juan Enriquez discusses in his TED TALK, are not only permanent, but they are integral to the way others perceive us. Employers for example, can use social media to pick the best candidates for the job based off online profiles or a simple Google search of your name. If you’ve ever posted a racist or insensitive Tweet, or your Facebook profile is revealing a little too much about your party life, it can definitely come back to haunt you. Websites such as the “Wayback Machine”, are quick reminders that our online actions are quite permanent. We really can’t forget that whatever we do online, stays online.
As many problems that arise from online citizenship and sharing, it’s not all bad either. For example, classroom blogs are able to make sharing what’s going on in your classroom easy AND accessible to parents. Parents can keep track of student assignments and keep up with school news. Some of my coworkers who are parents themselves have mentioned how great it is that their kids’ teachers are using social media to stay connected with them. One coworker in particular raves about this, as she’s been able to see her kids receive awards at school on numerous occasions, during times where she simply couldn’t leave work.
I’ve given this topic a lot of thought and one of the biggest questions that keeps coming up is “what is the student’s role in online sharing and digital citizenship inside and outside of the classroom?” The only time I really think it’s unfair to post things online on behalf of a student is when the child is unaware that it’s happening. Just like us, kids deserve to know and choose the things that are being posted about them.
As I was reading through some of my classmates’ blogs this week, one post really jumped at me. My colleague Justine mentioned how she set up individual blogs for all the students in her grade 2 classroom. I think this is a very modern approach to teaching; it’s great to see someone take such inspiring initiative to teach digital citizenship to such a young group of students. Here’s one of my favorite exerts from her entry this week:
“When the family talked to their child he was nervous about videos and audio being posted on the blog, but was excited about writing posts and having pictures posted. I would never want a child to do something that he or she is uncomfortable with. I was very proud of him! His parents did sign off that part of the parent permission form in case he changed his mind and they knew that I would respect their son’s wishes.”
Starting at a younger age means kids are learning to make choices and participate in the construction of their own online identities. But what happens from the time they are born, to when they are finally able to make their own online choices?
Although being able to share pictures of our newborns with friends and family is one of the perks of being on social media, the question of whether or not parents are over-sharing does come up. At what point should parents stop sharing, and at what point do kids start calling the shots? Even more importantly, WHAT should parents be sharing and WHO should they be sharing with? Articles such as this one point out some of the bad habits that come out of oversharing online and how it can affect parenting.
At this day and age, it’s incredibly important for parents and teachers to take students’ digital footprints into full consideration. Our new generations are being born straight into the online world; their entire lives are being documented on social media from the moment they are born. Kids should have the choice as to what they do online and what gets shared about them. As Justine mentioned in her experiences blogging with her students, all the parents and children had to sign a permission slip before participating in the classroom blogs. I think it’s important to remember that regardless of how old kids are, parents (and teachers) need to model responsible online citizenship and be aware of what sort of digital footprint they are creating for their children.
This week, I asked all my students (ranging from grade 4 to 8) about their online habits. This included whether or not they use social media and what sort of measures they take to stay safe online. I noticed that the majority of my students who are on social media are mostly in grade 5 to 8. When asked about online safety and privacy, all of my students claim to keep their online profiles locked and set on private. Most of them are quite aware of the dangers that exist online and seem to have quite a good understanding of what should and shouldn’t be shared online, and what to do to keep their profiles set on private at all times. Although I didn’t conduct a formal survey, I did get a good idea of what they know. The funny thing is, my grade 7/8’s seemed rather annoyed at a lot of my “tips”, telling me that they’ve known these things for years. This to me might be the most valuable observation I made. Perhaps we need to stop assuming our kids know nothing about online safety, and start giving them a little more credit. If anything, I think teachers and parents (and any older generations really) are the ones that need to be educated the most.
A quick Google search can bring up a plethora of online tips for parents and teachers to become better acquainted with their digital footprints. Websites such as this one can give us a quick rundown of some of the important things we should always keep in mind online.
Before I wrap things up this week, I’d like to end with a few questions. What ages do you guys think students should be learning to be online citizens? What sort of information can we be giving parents about their children’s digital footprints? Should we be teaching them anything at all? What sort of rights should kids have as far as what sort of information is shared about them?
Thanks for reading everyone, and I hope you all have a great weekend!
We’re living in the future people. I mean, we don’t have the flying cars the Jetsons predicted, nor do we have that crazy machine from Total Recall where Arnold takes a virtual trip to planet Mars (and saves the day of course). And how can we forget… we definitely don’t have the hover board from Back to the Future 2, which is kind of a major bummer.
But all tomfoolery aside, let’s be frank here, did we really think we would actually end up having some of the cool gadgets we all fantasized about? I mean, we can talk to anyone around the world… at any second of the day… from a hand-held device that fits in our pockets… all shot in crisp, High Definition video. That’s crazy! I mean, really, really impressive stuff! The crazier thing is, this isn’t even a new thing, it’s been around for years!
Technology has advanced so quickly in the past few decades that new kinds of challenges have started to emerge in our society. Whether it’s affecting our physical or mental wellbeing, creating new types of distractions in the classroom, or causing people to become addicted to social media; technology has had both negative and positive effects on society. Today, I will be focusing my attention on how education is being affected by modern-day resources and tools such as Google.
This past Tuesday we had a debate in our EC&I 830 class which asked the question: Schools should not be teaching anything that can be googled. I found the question to be quite interesting because I see the impact Google has had on my own classroom, especially when it comes to using online resources. If any of you have ever printed off a worksheet off the net for one of your classes, you may have ran into the ol’ “student-Googles-the-title-of-the-handout-and-finds-the-answer-key-on-the-exact-same-website-you-got-it-from” situation. I’ll admit, I was having a rough day, and I needed to buy some time to get my lesson ready, so I resorted to the 15-minute bell work assignment I found online. Now, whenever I’ve resorted to taking this route, it never really ends well. There’s a reason why I don’t do it, and there’s a reason why I have COMPLETELY changed the way I test my students’ knowledge. As for the worksheet incident, the kid found the document online, got all the answers, and shared it with the rest of the class. I mean, who’s to blame here? This is my fault. I really should have been prepared. Lesson learned.
Living in the future and all, does have its perks. Take this for example: Let’s say Dylan and Celeste are hanging out, talking about music and enjoying each other’s’ company. Celeste starts talking about this very awesome, obscure, female-fronted Brazilian punk band she saw when she was visiting Sao Paolo a couple of years ago. She hasn’t updated her IPhone in months, and unfortunately doesn’t have their demo tape on her ITunes playlist. She can’t remember the band name, and it’s just GRINDING HER GEARS!
Well… good thing we have Google. In the time Dylan was about to change the topic, Celeste had already Googled everything on her phone and had found the answer. “Anarchicks”. The band name is “Anarchicks”. Once again, Google saved the day… and the conversation!
We no longer live in a time of wonder. If we don’t have an answer to a question relating to obscure punk bands or particle physics, we can just type them up on our phones, and voila, the answer! Not only are we getting the answers, we’re getting answers to questions we haven’t even asked; we’re getting pictures, videos, interviews, articles, theories, critiques, how-to’s and how-don’ts. The amount of information that is available at our fingertips is mind-blowing. It’s almost as if we have a guidebook, or a “How-To” manual on life in our pockets. Tools such as Google can be blamed for a bunch of stuff, but we can’t really talk smack on them either. Let’s be real here, having access to almost any answer to almost any question you could ever imagine, in your pocket, IS PRETTY AMAZING.
Although this sounds incredible (and it really is), many people are beginning to question what this is going to start doing to us, as society becomes more and more dependent on technology. How is this changing our learning? Is this affecting our abilities to think critically? Are we only learning at a superficial level? Is memorizing information even THAT bad? Well, that’s what my classmates set out to find out in their debate.
Schools should not be teaching anything that can be googled?
On the agreeing side of the debate was Luke, Ashley and Andrew, Vs. the disagreeing side consisting of Amy and Heidi.
Here’s a list of resources (with annotation notes) from each team’s debate.
1.How Google Impacts The Way Students Think
This brief article discusses three ways that using Google impacts the way students think. It looks at how our thinking and learning is impacted when we see information as always accessible and knowledge as searchable.
2.How the Internet is Changing Your Brain
A short yet informative video discussing how our use of the internet is actually changing the way our brain works. What happens to our brain when we are constantly sorting and skimming through the abundance of information we find on the web? You can watch the video, or read the transcript that is provided.
3.What Critical Thinking Means to Me: Teachers’ Own Formulations
In a world in which information flows at an ever increasing rate, it is important to engage students in the examination of how we think. The ways in which we interpret, synthesize and make meaning of ideas are crucial in the quest for deeper learning. This reading explores the ideas that teachers’ themselves have about critical thinking and it’s role in education. To move students beyond surface level knowledge is critical if we are seeking to prepare them to be engaged and capable members of our society.
4. Three Rules to Spark Learning
When needing open heart surgery, Ramsey Musallam felt at ease due to the confidence his surgeon possessed. When asked where this confidence came from, the surgeon professed three simple rules which Ramsey Musallam has taken forth into his classroom to spark learning. The central tenet is that curiosity comes first and drives learning. Ramsey claims that teachers need to be ‘cultivators of curiosity’ and to embrace the mess that comes with this type of learning.
1. When Rote Learning Makes Sense
This article discusses the benefits of memorizing information, as well as how to make memorizing fun and enjoyable for students. It outlines strategies that teachers use to help students remember. It suggests that once students know how to memorize and learn they can learn anything. The article also makes reference to Bloom’s Taxonomy.
2.Memorization is Not a Dirty Word
This article suggests that many students do not know how to properly memorize facts. It outlines how memorizing information benefits the learner in multiple ways. Samuel Arbesman, The Half-Life of Facts theory is also challenged with some valuable points.
3. Why teach facts to the level of automaticity?
This video argues that we should teach math facts to automaticity as it improves students ability to learn new material. When math facts are learned students are able solve more complex problems that require a higher level of thinking. This video also describes the difference between accuracy, fluency, and automaticity as it relates to learning math facts.
The different angles that come out of this debate are rather interesting. For example, some argue that when kids have access to all of this information, the need for memorizing facts is becoming less and less necessary. That’s great and all, but on the flip side, having such easy access to all of this information is making us sort of… for lack of a better word… lazy? We’re seeing that kids are searching for the things that they think they need, but they aren’t always checking for the validity or quality of their sources. One quick search on Google may yield some great results, but sometimes we need to dig a little deeper. When we don’t pay attention to these small details, we have no idea what kind of information we’re going to be finding. Think about all the Facebook click-bait “articles” that constantly get re-shared and passed off as genuine information… I mean, that can’t be good. Have you read some of those articles? The writing alone should scare you! It almost feels like a game of “telephone” gone wrong. It’s like passing around rumors: it never ends well, and the truth always gets distorted.
Google has become the “quick fix” to our problems. There’s a reason why people say “just Google it”. In the same way I made the mistake of printing off worksheets to keep my class busy; kids are using Google simply to finish the assignment, to move onto the next project they need to finish. But what are they really learning? What are they accomplishing? WHAT AM I EVEN ACCOMPLISHING by doing things like that in my classroom!? We’re both misusing the real potential of having access to so much information at our fingertips.
Perhaps, it’s the way we are using this information that needs to change now. Now that information is readily available, maybe we need to put more value in how our students apply this knowledge. Let’s rewind back to 1997. I must have been in grade 5. Back then, I couldn’t just Google information for my projects. I distinctly remember having to get a ride to the library, actually find the books I needed, take notes, and sometimes, just SOMETIMES, I got to photocopy some of the pages I would need. I would have to write down my citation notes for my bibliography, and I would have to make sure I got everything I needed before going back home. I remember spending hours with my mom or dad looking for all the things I needed. What was the end result? Well, for one, being a French Immersion student meant that French resources were scarce, so finding information meant finding it in English first. So this meant that I would first have to read all my resources and attempt to translate it as best as I could. Computers were obviously not as common back then, but even if that was the case, our teacher actually MADE us write everything by hand. So there was no typing and no printing off information. We would do several rough drafts before moving onto our final, GOOD COPY. Doing things by hand meant I was re-writing, re-processing my information SEVERAL times. Out of all the projects I did between 1997 and 2000, I remember them ALL quite well. I think the answer is obvious as to why this is the case. I mean, I spent a significant amount of time re-processing my findings. I wasn’t just “finding” something online, reading it (or skimming it) ONCE, and bookmarking or printing it off for later. My “Google” back then (and same can be said about people my age and older), was the library. Having to physically get somewhere to find your information puts a whole different spin on getting your work done. I recall doing a project about the North West Territories in grade 6. I still remember how stressed I was because I couldn’t find ANYTHING for my project. My mom and I had to actually call the North West Territories Tourism board about having them MAIL me information about the territory. It took two weeks to get the information package. TWO weeks. But hey… you know what? I STILL know a lot about the North West Territories. I even STILL have the project.
I think both sides of the argument have extremely valid points. For one, being able to search anything, eliminates the need to actually learn facts. Although this is quite convenient, is this a good thing? Acquiring knowledge so quickly may come useful in the heat of the moment, but are we really learning anything by looking things up? To me, this almost seems like the whole “cramming-the-night-before-the-final-exam” thing. Yeah, if we cram enough, we can retain the information long enough to regurgitate it for the exam; but how much of that information is really going to stick with you? Some people will fare better than others, but overall, this isn’t an effective technique to encourage any form of critical thinking or deeper learning.
Then comes the bigger question: shouldn’t we be able to apply our knowledge and learnings once we’ve acquired them, in useful and dynamic ways? Isn’t THAT a true sign of deeper learning? Unless we teach our students how to use information retrieved off the internet, we’re going to get exactly what you think you we’re going to get. I’ve had to spend weeks teaching my students how to actually make sense of the information they research for assignments. Students are often convinced that simply finding the information online, copying and pasting it onto a Google Doc, and printing it off, is how we complete our assignments. Grade 5 me would have no idea what to even say to kids these days. Since I have a grade 5/6 classroom of my own, I find that it’s absolutely necessary to scaffold every step of the assignments that you do with them, including how to use information once we’ve found it. If I hand them a computer and expect them to paraphrase, reword, and process the information that they researched into some sort of critique, I’d be kidding myself. These are giant processes that need to be demonstrated step-by-step. Again, we need to adjust to these changes.
A lot of the arguments in these articles say that that’s the problem with information banks such as Google. Although we’re finding the “answers”, we’re not taking the time to process, analyze or actually understand the information.
Being that we live in a world where Google is simply a thing we all use, we can’t just ignore it. This is why I have changed my approaches in my classroom ever since I ran into the “students-googling-the-answers” incident. If I’m going to test my students, I need to get them thinking somehow. I think we can all agree that we’re all quite capable of Googling information if we need to find out about something. What I think we need to start doing now is acknowledging that kids will be doing this, and preparing projects that require students to have some sort of personal, critical and analytical input. This sounds so obvious, and many of you are probably looking at me wondering: Dude, that’s exactly what you’re supposed to be doing. Yes, you’re right, this IS our job, but once again, this phenomena is a lot newer than we give it credit, this is still something we’re adjusting to. I want my students to start making sense of the information that they are finding. The second we begin to engage our students in critical thinking, whatever information their looking up, becomes increasingly more meaningful.
I’ve left loose ends here, but I don’t think the answer to this debate has a clear direction. If we’re looking at in in black and white, yeah, maybe we SHOULDN’t be teaching material we can Google, but we all know that that’s not how we’re supposed to be using these tools anyway. I seem to be coming to the same conclusions with all these debates, but I truly think we are running behind on the times.
Before I leave you, please let me know what you think about this issue. What sort of changes should we be making in order to make the best of these new technologies we have? Thanks for reading everyone, have a great week!
We had a really interesting debate in our EC&I 830 class Tuesday night revolving around the question of whether or not technology is unhealthy for kids. Coincidentally, my team, which consisted of Heather, Roxanne and myself, had the pleasure of defending the “disagreeing” side of the argument.
The opposing team (made up of fellow classmates Aubree, Jaymee and Jennifer) brought up some really strong arguments that definitely made for a fun debate. The team posted a Prezi presentation that broke down all of their arguments in detail, using solid evidence that demonstrated how technology has been affecting humans physically, emotionally, mentally and socially.
Here’s a quick list of some of the big points that really stood out to me:
– Physically, technology has been affecting us in more ways than just spikes in obesity and inactivity. For one, device use, such as laptops, gaming and cellphones are causing a lot of unnecessary pressure on the back and neck. Bacteria buildup on cell phones for example, are linked to skin conditions; Wi-Fi signals have been linked to lowering sperm count; and prolonged screen time can cause vision problems and headaches.
– People are so glued to their devices that they are forgetting to be active and getting out of the house, which can have great effects on our social and mental well-being.
– Videogames are making our kids more aggressive in nature, desensitizing them to extremely violent and explicit content. Furthermore, online gambling sites are contributing to gambling addictions and other unhealthy habits.
– Kids are spending on average, 7 hours a day with technology. Due to sedentary screen-time and social media, we’re seeing a rise in mental health issues, including depression, anxiety and even suicidal thoughts. Technology is affecting our moods and even disrupting peoples’ sleeping patterns. We’re seeing spikes in hyperactivity in young children and more and more examples of kids becoming completely addicted to technology.
– Socially, kids are engaging far less in face-to-face conversations. Most contact between friends and family is online, and even family time is being greatly affected.
The video in their opening statement did a great job of tying everything together. I definitely got a kick out of it.
If you are interested in doing some further reading, here are the links to the articles and videos Aubree, Jennifer and Jaymee used for their debate:
Our opponents used some great arguments, backed up by data and examples that we’ve all undoubtedly witnessed ourselves. One of their strongest statements that resonated with me the most was when they said “it’s not that technology CAN be unhealthy, technology IS unhealthy”. It’s pretty hard to deny the fact that internet and device addiction IS a real thing. I mean, who am I kidding? I use my phone all day, every day. Whether it’s me peeking at my notifications during a break in the work day, or I’m blasting some sick tunes at the gym, my IPhone is going ALL DAY. Even when they were talking about the physical effects technology has on people, I was able to relate. I know a thing or two about back pain, and whenever I’m working on a long paper, I’m noticing more and more how bad sitting for 8+ hours can be on the body. I’ve even noticed that my vision has been getting more blurry in recent years too. This isn’t some placebo effect, these things are really happening!
This is where we geared-up and put together some rebuttal arguments to set the record straight. Although technology has its negative aspects, our defense revolved around the idea that we need to start adjusting ourselves to these great changes that have quickly taken over every aspect of our society. Technology isn’t all bad, whether you’re using it to benefit your health, like keeping track of your vitals or your dietary habits; or using social media to stand up against bullying, technology can definitely be applied in ways where we can help improve our social, mental, physical and intellectual health.
In the article I used: “Researchers: Forget Internet Abstinence; Teens Need Some Online Risk”, author Dian Schaffhauser addresses the fact that teenagers should be learning from their experiences from online risks, rather than abstaining or withdrawing from online activities. She states the importance of building a trusting relationship with our youth by staying up-to-date with the latest online trends. By staying in touch with what our kids are doing online, we can provide them with valuable strategies and solutions for realistic scenarios that they will more than likely run into.
“As technology continues to accelerate, society has become more reliant upon it. It has developed to be an indispensable part of Adult’s daily lives. Therefore it is no surprise to observe that today’s children are subject to it as well. This article examines the effects of technology on children by focusing on both the Pros and Cons of technology. Hatch suggests that in order to discover and understand the effects of technology on children, both sides of the argument need to be carefully analyzed.”
Heather took a different approach and included a link to an article with some excellent resources that could be used in the classroom and at schools. Her article “Turning bystanders into upstanders against bullying”, as she describes in her annotation notes:
“includes a list of videos, which also serve as resources or examples teachers can include in lessons with students at various grade levels, to show examples of young people using technology in positive/healthy ways to prevent bullying, better known as upstanders.”
Heather also made our introductory video, which summarized all of our main arguments. I highly recommend you check it out, it’s pretty awesome.
Now, after taking a bit of a breather and a few steps back, it really helps to look back at all the evidence from both sides. On one end, we really can’t deny the fact that technology has contributed to some pretty nasty stuff. Children ARE much more inactive than they ever have been. There’s no point even denying that… I mean, how many hours a day do I spend online? As a society, We ARE IN FACT, quite addicted to our devices and social media. Not only that, but all the online risks our kids (and us) are facing these days is without a doubt overwhelming and quite frightening. Cyberbullying and online harassment are not only emotionally damaging, but are causing giant spikes in mental health issues.
Technology, like most things, can definitely be bad. And really, if it’s causing all these problems (which it is), we can’t just sweep the technological advancements that we have nowadays, under the rug. If anything, we’re nearing a point where we’re going to begin making even bigger strides in technological advancements, what are we going to do then?
What I believe, is that we’ve advanced so quickly, that we’re not keeping up. I’m thankful to be working at a school with middle years kids. These kids are totally in-tune with what’s happening right now. They are 100% immersed in what society has and will become. I’m keeping up, because of THEM!
Unlike me, they were born right into a world with internet, social media and hyper-realistic videogames. I’m noticing that as the years go by, younger and younger kids know how to do much more complicated tasks than kids their same age did even a few years ago. Not only do kids know how to use these tools, they are learning to use them even earlier and earlier in their lives. This isn’t a formal fact, but it’s an observation I’ve made throughout the years. The same goes with cellphones. Even five years ago, the kids that had phones at my elementary school, were mostly the grade 7 and 8 students (and not many of them did). Now, just about every kid (in every grade), has a device or phone. What happened? But seriously… what actually happened?!
What I’m trying to say is that, regardless of the negative effects technology has on our health, technology is here to stay, so we need to start taking more realistic approaches to address it. I really liked the article I used for my debate because it brought up this exact question. As much as we don’t want it to happen, the reality is, kids are prone to running into sexual predators and bullies online. Social media can lead to security breaches, and personal information can be misused against you in many ways. There are tons of dangers and things we don’t want our kids knowing or learning about (or being exposed to), but everything is literally just sitting there, and unless you don’t address it or actually do anything about it, they’re going to find it!
Since kids are learning how to use devices the second they come into this world, why aren’t we just teaching them HOW to use all of these things? Why aren’t we teaching them WHAT to do when someone asks you to send them a nude photo of yourself? Why aren’t we telling them what kind of information we should be sharing on our Facebook accounts? Or how about, what kind of people we follow or become friends with on Instagram or SnapChat? Oh right, I forgot, a lot of us don’t actually know these things. You see, tech has advanced so quickly, that keeping up isn’t so easy anymore.
You can’t expect the same things to be popular a year from now either. When you’ve finally re-bought your entire VHS collection in DVD’s, only to realize that in that time, we’ve moved on from Blue-Ray disks, to 4K digital streams that don’t require any physical material! For baby boomers and even generation X, these changes are probably really hard to keep up with. Nowadays, ten years in the tech world might as well be 100 years. I mean, the advancements we make in 6 months is mind-blowing, keeping up isn’t just something we should strive for, I think it’s something we HAVE to do.
I know I’m striving away from the debate topic, but I think this is part of the big answer. Although we need to teach kids how to use technology in moderation, we really can’t expect them not to use it. I think the responsible thing in this day and age is to teach online citizenship and knowing when and where to use tech. At the same time, we (the parents, the teachers, the baby boomers, the generations X’s and Y’s) NEED to keep up. We need to be jumping into the deep end, because the more people that start using and embracing these technologies, the more people we’ll have, that can start adapting and making changes to the way we USE tech in our lives. Also, the more we keep up, the more approachable WE become when kids need help. If we don’t know anything about their world, WHY ON EARTH would they seek help from US!? EXACTLY! They WON’T!
Even things like videogames are evolving at a great scale. You aren’t just sitting and holding a controller anymore. A decade ago we were introduced to the Nintendo Wii, which involved arm movements to control your actions in games. Then we had the XBOX Kinect which introduced movement tracking technology, allowing players to use their entire bodies as controllers. Then we started seeing “exergaming”, which allowed players to get a full workout in, WHILE gaming. And now. Ah, now we have virtual reality that’s actually IMMERSING US PHYSICALLY in these worlds in full 5-D (What the hell is that?!?!): YOU HAVE TO CHECK THIS OUT IF YOU HAVEN’T YET because it’s MINDBLOWING!
Yeah, this isn’t something that everyone will have in their living rooms, but its change. The same goes with technological tools that are motivating us to get fit, keep track of our progress, our vitals and our fitness goals. None of these things are perfect yet, and yes, we can tear all these things apart, but there’s no questioning it, technology is being integrated in our lives in new and helpful ways. Furthermore, studies have shown that kids who online game, develop many skills such as being able to divide up leadership roles and recognizing one another’s strengths and weaknesses in order to complete tasks as a team. Kids learn to work cooperatively and learn to strategize under pressure. I mean, it’s not the strongest argument, but it’s definitely a different way of looking at how kids can benefit from games such as Call of Duty.
Before I end my blog post, I’d like to share these two videos. Please be advised that the videos do contain strong language, but they are definitely worth a watch.
The first video shows teens reacting to 90’s internet (14 to 19 year olds). The video is quite entertaining and we get a lot of insight as to what kids are like these days. This might be a small sample of teenagers, but I’d say they are a good representation of how kids and teens view the world nowadays.
The second video is of elders reacting to world-famous YouTuber and vlogger PewDiePie. To me, this is the pinnacle of a generation gap. These are two worlds colliding, and although it’s pretty comedic to watch, it’s eye-opening to see some of the commentary that comes out of this.
If anything, I’m posting this so that we see exactly how “disconnected” we are from our pasts, and even our futures. Older generations have no clue exactly what kids these days are into. Kids these days have no clue what it was like not to have internet. What are the differences? Well, they’re both pretty clueless of each other, but once you guys check these videos out, please let me know what YOU THINK of this cross-generational gap. I for one think we need to start bridging it a bit, there’s a lot that can be learned on BOTH sides!
TEENS REACT TO 90s INTERNET
ELDERS REACT TO PEWDIEPIE
In closing, I don’t think there’s an easy answer to whether or not technology is healthy or unhealthy for our kids. Obviously there is evidence showing us the negatives, but we also have some strong opposing ideas that prove that technology can help us even become healthier in many ways. What I think we need to take away from this is that we need to accept these challenges and adapt to them so that we maximize technology’s potentials, rather than it’s ugly, addicting and damaging side.
You booked the computer cart for your class, you’ve got this killer new lesson plan that you’ve been grinding on all week, and best of all, you had enough time to get a Starbucks before work. Grande Vanilla Latte with Skim. The day’s off to a good start (for a Monday).
The bell rings, your class comes in, and for some reason, everyone is doing exactly what they’re supposed to be doing. Everyone’s sitting at their desk, Johnny seems to be extra chill today, and what a coincidence, your entire class is actually here today! All 28 of them! Not bad. It’s like the stars have aligned or something.
Everything’s set up. The projector’s ready to go, and you switch that computer on. You tested everything out at 8:30 am, so everything’s LITERALLY good to go.
You start your lesson. You’re on fire. The kids are raising their hands, the discussions are smooth and engaging; you really couldn’t ask for more. You start a narrative, you’re setting everything up for the grand finale! You found this incredible Youtube video that’s going to wrap everything up perfectly and absolutely blow everyone’s mind. This is what teaching’s all about. That is, until you go to your laptop and hit play.
Well… by this point, Johnny got up and threw away Anastasia’s lunch in the garbage, and Killian all of a sudden NEEDS to go to the bathroom. The paper planes are flying across the room and you’ve officially lost all the great momentum you had. Just like that.
What do you do? Well, you scrap the video (but it was perfect!), and you try to salvage whatever you had going before this little “hiccup”. Better take an extra sip of that coffee, you’re gonna need it now.
If this doesn’t sound familiar to you, then you’ve obviously never used technology in the classroom. Although this scenario has quick, easy fixes, sometimes we WANT to show that video. Sometimes our entire lesson depends on that one component that’s going to take everything to the next level. Why should my lesson be compromised because of a lousy internet connection?
The problems don’t stop there though. Even if things do run smooth, there’s always another problem waiting around the corner. Teaching grade 4 students how to log onto their profiles may sound easy enough on paper, but try helping 25 students all at once… not so easy anymore. But when these components work, man oh man can you see the difference.
Although tech doesn’t always need to be present, it can make learning experiences incredibly engaging and absolutely captivating. Visual learners can greatly benefit from something as simple as a PowerPoint presentation or a YouTube video. And let’s be honest, many of our students nowadays simply respond better when tech is involved. Research projects are much easier these days because of the Internet. Not to mention, if you use Google Docs (or any online word processor), students cannot use the “my dog ate my homework” excuse anymore.
There’s no question of a doubt that tech in the classroom can enhance learning. I’m actually all for it. But we cannot forget the small (or large) dilemmas that come up when we least expect them. A flimsy Wi-Fi connection can be the bane of your existence, and in a matter of seconds, your class can go from “scary” quiet, to decibel levels exceeding a SLAYER concert. Go figure.
Then we have even bigger issues that simply can’t go ignored. Cyber-bullying is more common than ever, and to be perfectly honest, it’s going nowhere anytime soon. Technology is also quite distracting, and without clear instructions or expectations, a lesson can plummet straight to the ground if these issues aren’t addressed by the teacher immediately.
This Tuesday marked the first online class I have ever taken. Not only does this class rely on the internet, but the main topic of discussion is Technology in the classroom. As far as me sitting in front of a computer goes, our first class blew my mind! Not only does the class take advantage of the Zoom video conferencing app, it feels exactly like being in a real classroom, providing us with several ways of communicating with each other and participating in class discussions in real-time (via instant messaging and live video and audio feeds). Almost fifty students, coming from all parts of Regina and even other territories, all learning and engaging together in this virtual world. Now THAT’s cool!
This is a perfect example of how tech can be used in a classroom setting, enhancing and diversifying the learning experience. Tech is a classroom tool. Use it wisely, and you’ll be surprised by the amazing things you’ll be able to do with your students.
Our first class focused on this exact topic. Two teams went head-to-head, in a fast-paced debate about whether or not technology enhances learning. After reading both team’s articles and witnessing the debate first hand, here’s my take on the question.
Technology in the classroom can either go really well, making a big difference in student learning; OR it can go completely awry and transform your classroom into a snapchatting, instagramming, youtubing disaster!
I’ve had some hit or miss situations myself, but with some experience under my belt, I’ve learned when and how to use technology in my classroom. Last year, at the beginning of the school year, I allowed my students to bring in their devices to class. We went through all the ground rules, including when and how to use their devices in the classroom. I was pretty lenient with devices and tech back then. As long as students were “working” and not “distracting” anyone, I was fine with them using their Ipods and their phones. I quickly learned that this wasn’t going to work. Sure, listening to music can help some students stay focused, but I soon started seeing students sitting next to each other, sharing their ear buds and having arguments over what song they were going to listen to next. Alright… lesson learned.
As a legitimate learning tool, I saw that the B.Y.O.D. approach yielded some positive results. Oh, you don’t know a word in French and you don’t have a dictionary? Well, good thing you have this device that has ALL of those things, plus way, WAY more. Sure enough, for the first little while, students used their devices for exactly this purpose (I was even quite impressed at how well it all worked out). Students were asking me permission before pulling their devices out of their backpacks, and would quickly put them away when they were done. But as the year went on, and my guard got lower and lower, Word Reference soon got replaced by the mindless Agario and Youtube. GREAT.
It was just a matter of time that social media started to infiltrate and pollute my classroom. “Mr. A, Jenny just posted a picture of me on Instagram without my permission”. “Mr. Araneda, Howard blocked me off Facebook”, or worse “Mr. A., Johnny keeps calling me a &$%# on SnapChat”. Alright, so no more devices!
Hmm… is that the solution though?
I started this September a little differently this year. Students were allowed to bring devices, but my rules were much more firm and way more limiting. My guard stayed up the whole time and I even collected devices at the beginning of the day, locking them up until we were actually using them in class. This worked, but it put a lot of liability on my shoulders. If someone were to steal these devices, who’s responsible now? Me. Which is ridiculous, and quite honestly, not something I want to even attempt to deal with.
Our school eventually went into a school-wide ban on devices. At this point, I was in full support of this rule. Although I had taught my students how to use their devices (and my students this year did much, much better than last year’s group), many of the issues I experienced the year before, still managed to surface. The only difference was that the students are learning to become a lot more sneaky with their devices.
When we make mistakes like I did, it’s easy to resort to dismissing the value of tech in our classrooms. Abolishing technology in the classroom is a rookie mistake. Yes, there are a million ways students are going to misuse technology, but the answer is definitely NOT to get rid of it. The real answer is using it in moderation, and finding true opportunities where it will fully enhance the learning experience of our students. Truthfully speaking, the weakest link here was ME. You can’t go into your classroom with the assumption that your students are going to use their devices appropriately. Perhaps it’s time that I start looking at technology in a new light.
Think of it this way. If you’re playing an electric guitar without plugging it in, yeah, we’ll get the idea of what you’re trying to play, but it’s just not going to sound that great. Plug that sucker into an amp, and now you can be as loud as you want. In a matter of fact, you can be so loud, that people in a one mile radius are going to hear you. Walls are going to shake and ears might even bleed.
Although I don’t want my students’ ears to bleed per se (well… most times at least), I definitely want them to hear me. I also want to be able to hear THEM! And to an even further extent (the whole point of the tech we have nowadays), why not have OTHERS hear what we’re doing in our class? We have tools that allow us to AMPLIFY and share everything we’re doing in the classroom with people all around the globe. I’m sure once we have people living on Mars, we’ll be able to tweet with them too. How on earth can we discredit THAT? The point of the matter is, tech is definitely a learning enhancer, and in the following section, we’re going to run through some of the great arguments my classmates used in order to defend and dismantle the old debate of whether or not technology enhances learning.
First off, let’s start with the agreeing side of the debate. In their opening video, they state how technology is a tool that levels the playing field for students with disabilities. Technology can help students with learning difficulties/disabilities to decode and comprehend grade level content through various forms of online teaching tools and software. This point is reinforced through Adebisi, Liman and Longpoe’s article , which discusses the benefits of tech tools for all types of students (both with, or without learning disabilities). By teaching students how to use certain learning tools, not only are we allowing them to reach grade-specific learning goals, but we’re also making school and learning a much more enjoyable experience.
As many of us can attest, students who experience difficulties learning and completing assignments, often suffer in school. Not being able to read at grade level, not being able to write quick enough, or experiencing great difficulty comprehending a text, can leave students discouraged and at risk of either “failing” or worse, eventually withdrawing from school altogether. Discouraged students need their tires pumped, because you know what? They CAN do it, we just need to give them the tools, support and assistance to get there. Working with students with learning disabilities in my own classrooms, I’ve seen the benefits reading, writing and comprehension apps have had on students. Sometimes using a laptop simply to type out notes or completing classwork assignments makes a world of a difference. Taking that away would not only be illogical (considering the positive effects they can bring), but unfair and quite backwards. We have these tools that can make a world of a difference to some students, why not just use them?
Another interesting point made in the opening video is how technology has helped close the educational distance gap between learners who live in remote locations. Using apps such as Zoom and Skype can allow people from all corners of the world to participate in discussions and even attend classes in different countries. Not only that, but online tools such as Google Docs or classroom blogs such as Edublogs and Word Press , can allow students who are often pulled out of class (due to advanced sports or arts programs), to stay connected and continue being part of the class. Blogging tools can also serve as a very useful organizational and collaborative tool not only for students, but also for parents who would like to know what their kids are doing in class. Again, the dog eating your homework excuse is almost useless nowadays. Maybe updating the excuse bank to 2016’s standards is something kids need to work on now? (just kidding)
There are many other ways edtech is very useful, including Sheringer’s take on how open-source technology can personalize learning and improve overall comprehension, collaboration and assessment in the classroom.
Greg Toppo’s TED Talk is definitely worth a watch as he discusses how technology not only has constantly evolved throughout human history, but has also always caused some sort of controversy in the field of education. The point of his argument is that technology in the classroom has always been questioned, contested and heavily opposed. Whether we’re talking about paper, chalk, or the latest Iphone, scholars have and always will find an argument against the use of tech.
This side of the argument is interesting because most of us have experienced a lot of the downfalls and difficulties technology has in a classroom setting. For one, many of the articles and arguments brought up the fact that devices are a huge distraction to learning. Cell phones are filled with distractions such as games, social media, music and videos. In the Maclean’s article, we learn that technology surveillance is not as easy as it sounds. Keeping track of what our students are doing on laptops (or even worse, their phones), when you’ve got 20+ students is simply impossible. Although we live in an age where technology is only going to continue developing, these are issues that are becoming more and more common as more and more students acquire these tools. Even looking back five years ago, most elementary school students did not have cell phones at all. Fast forward to today, and most grade 2 students have an Iphone. This is a reality that we need to address, and although the article does mention the benefits technology can have in the classroom, we cannot move forward until we start teaching our students when and how to use it.
Studies have shown, including this one , that computer use doesn’t actually improve student test scores. In a matter of fact, countries where students spent less time behind a screen were actually performing much better than students who used computers on a daily basis. As most schools are increasingly spending more and more funds on technology, we need to make sure that this money is getting used correctly. As most teachers will tell you, technology is useless unless you take the time to learn how to use it (take this article for example). This isn’t just you knowing how to set up a projector, a blog, or how to run a program. It’s actually knowing when to use the tech, how to integrate it into a lesson creatively, teaching our students how to use it and showing them ways to maximize the possibilities of this technology. Technology shouldn’t be a crutch, it should be a pair of wings (okay, that was sort of lame, but you get the point).
Again, the funds our school boards are spending on new equipment is useless if we’re not spending equally as much on Professional Development and training. I’ve seen a million cool ways that we can use a SmartBoard (Incredible historical games, mind-blowing math lessons and interactive lesson plans just to name a few), but I have NO CLUE how I can do those things on my own. This P.D. thing isn’t just something I’m pulling out of nowhere, we really do have to train teachers to use this technology (I know this because I’m one of those teachers!)
CONCLUSION: TECHNOLOGY, THE DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD
Although I’ve experienced my fair share of difficulties integrating technology in the classroom, I will never deny the benefits it has on teaching and learning. The times technology has worked in my favor have been incredible pedagogical experiences where my students and I have both flourished to new heights.
I’m slowly learning from my mistakes, and as time goes on, I know that I will learn new ways to integrate technology in my classroom effectively, creatively, and hopefully in the coolest ways possible.
Here’s a list of some of the points and personal reflections, realizations and conclusions that have resonated the most with me after reading and hearing this awesome debate:
– First of all, technology and students need to be monitored. Letting our students run amok on their computers isn’t going to do any of us any favors. Set some serious ground rules when working with tech and show your students how YOU want them to use the technology. Handing them a laptop with zero guidelines will almost always result in some sort of horseplay. Allowing students to bring their cellphones can be a great way of integrating their own tech as a personal learning tool, but when these tools also have the latest Beyonce album, Instagram, and wacky Donald Trump videos, you can’t expect those kids to stay on task.
– Second, using tech has its place in the classroom, but you need to know when to apply it. Moderation is key, and anytime you’re going to use it, it should have a specific purpose. There’s a time and place for everything, including the tools that we use. Which leads me to the next point…
– Learn HOW to use the technology that we have at our fingertips. Sure, I can have the latest Virtual Reality equipment, but if I don’t even know how to turn it on, what’s the point? It doesn’t stop there though! You might know how to actually use the technology, but be open to new ideas on how to apply it and how to integrate it into the classroom (this is where collaboration can do some serious wonders). If you’re only going to be using your SmartBoard to show Bill Nye the Science Guy videos off of YouTube, you’re not really doing the SmartBoard any justice.
– Identify the needs of your students. We have so many types of learners in our classrooms. Some experience difficulties with comprehension, whereas some need assistance with typing or reading. Some students are visual learners, and some respond better to the idea of technology. We have these tools that actually help students with learning difficulties. Use this to your advantage. As much of a distraction some tech can be, it does in fact have its practical uses. We need to arm students with the tools to succeed. Sometimes these tools are more than what we perceive them to be.
I can go on forever, but at the end of the day, I see the value of technology in the classroom as an asset and a step forward towards the future. Whereas I saw the birth of the internet and social media, the new generations are being born right into this golden age of technology. There is no “hey remember when we used to have to call each other on land phones to hang out?”, so why force our kids to think that way? This is the future, so as educators, we need to just get with it already!
MY final words.
Technology absolutely enhances learning, but be sure to know that it also brings some of the biggest distractions we’ve ever had to deal with in the classroom in the entire history of learning. As long as you keep these things in mind, technology can help your classroom grow in all sorts of directions you never thought possible.
Hey everyone, thanks for stopping by! I guess I should start this off by introducing myself to all you fine folk. My name is Andres Araneda, but most people call me “Dre”. I am currently a grade 5/6 French Immersion teacher at Elsie Mironuck Community School. I love the kids I work with, and if I’m going to be honest here, sometimes I think I goof off more than they do. Go figure.
I am a first-generation Canadian, coming from a Chilean refugee family. My family arrived to Canada in the late 70’s due to political reasons involving the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship. Growing up, I had an interesting upbringing, speaking Spanish and learning about politics and social issues at a very young age.
This is my seventh year on the job, and I’d be lying if I told you it’s been a monotonous journey. Since 2009, I’ve taught everything from Phys. Ed., Arts ed., grade 2 and even high school. Although my career path has been somewhat unpredictable and a tad on the turbulent side, I’ve enjoyed growing and gaining as much experience as I can get.
I started my master’s degree this past September in hopes to “spice up” my career and explore my options. Not only has this kept me busy, it has also challenged me to new heights that I never thought possible. My new experiences have taught me many new knowledges that I’ve been able to implement in my own classroom. My teaching style has changed and evolved, which I am very confident will continue with all the cool new things I’ll be learning in this class.
When I am not teaching, I am writing music, cooking or creating some sort of artwork. Ever since I was introduced to spray painting and graffiti by my sister six years ago, I have been involved in dozens of projects throughout the city. I was heavily involved with a couple city projects and ended up making a handful of murals for the North Central Community Center program to revitalize North Central. I’ve painted murals all over Saskatchewan and have been involved with many other community organizations. I also make custom shoe designs on VANS skate shoes. Check out one of my videos below for a time lapse video:
Cooking is one of my other favorite outlets, probably because this too, requires a lot of creativity. I grew up cooking with my family and I always loved how it brought everyone together. My dad always taught me to never follow recipes and to cook with the heart. These things may all sound cliché, but they’ve had a huge impact on me. I’ve applied this attitude towards life, and it’s made me push myself in some weird, but very fun directions.
I’ve been playing music in bands for the past decade, and am currently in two hardcore punk bands. Ever since my first experience at a live show, I’ve been captivated by the raw energy and positive aggression found in this type of music. I’ve been heavily involved in the local music scene and I’ve always enjoyed the positivity music can bring to people.
I’ve used my experiences and my personal background to shape my professional identity. I’ve always believed in breaking the mold and challenging the way we view society. Throughout my career, I’ve brought in a lot of my personality and interests to the classroom, in hopes to encourage my students to view life and the world through different lenses and perspectives. Whether I’m talking about immigration and racism, the history of rock’n’roll music, or the origins of fermenting foods, I always manage to bring in some of my experiences to the table.
This is the first time I take an Ed Tech class, but I am quite positive that I will be taking a lot out of it. Technology can definitely be a tricky thing to integrate in the classroom, especially when your students are either Youtubing Illuminati videos or Snap Chatting their lives every time I turn my back. Over the past year, I’ve definitely made some progress as to how and when to use technology with my classes, but I’d like to push this further. I know how much our new generation of kids use and rely on technology, so why not use it to its full potential?
I am really excited to see how the next few weeks unfold, and quite honestly, I’m pretty stoked to see how this Zoom app works with a full-on debate going down. Good luck to you all and I hope you all had a great weekend!