Posted in EDTC 400

My Mentoring Experience

This semester was a whirlwind of activities and mentoring three EDTC 300 students was a big part of that! First things first, let me introduce my mentees!

My Mentees!

Miss Jana Schlosser: Jana is a fourth-year elementary education student who is now finished her degree! You can check out her wonderful blog here and her Twitter as well! As her blog states at the top, she is super organized and really creative! She decided to teach herself calligraphy/lettering for her learning project, and WOW. Her progress throughout the semester is quite astounding and she created some awesome work! As well, she came up with super creative song titles for all of her Learning project posts, How Cute! Check out Jana’s summary of her learning in EDTC 300!

Miss Brooklyn Selinger: Brooklyn is a fourth-year middle years education student at the University of Regina! You can check out her blog here and her Twitter here as well! For her learning project, Brooklyn tried her hand at cooking! She tried so many diverse recipes of all types of food! From snacks to meats, to sweets, she tried it all! Brooklyn incorporated some more well-known recipes and brand new, never before seen ones in her journey and the results were amazing! Check out Brooklyn’s summary of her learning in EDTC 300!

Miss Mackenzie Stamm: Mackenzie is a fourth-year elementary education student from the University of Regina! You can check out her blog here and her Twitter here! For her learning project, Mackenzie learned a bunch of different styles of dance! Her project was so exciting and I found myself waiting for the next video of her progress to come out. I would highly recommend going back to watch some of her videos, they are hilarious and really well made! Also, make sure to check out her summary of learning!

My Experience

My experience in being a mentor this semester was quite stressful! I will admit, it was really easy for me to slip behind in commenting on their awesome blogs or interacting on Twitter. That being said, when I was able to interact with them and be a part of their learning journey it was so fulfilling! At times, it did feel strange to be playing the mentor role, which is commonly thought of as being played by someone who is older, but I guess it makes sense in that I have a little more EDTC experience!

This process really showed me how difficult it would be to teach an online class too! I felt that I would have been able to have much deeper conversations with my mentees had we had face-to-face meetings to talk about the things we talked about online. As well, attending and studying for five class, while working two jobs, made it slightly more difficult than I had imagined. Finding times to talk to my mentees that weren’t between 11 pm and 5 am was more difficult than it should have been! I also found that because it was online I was able to shut it out more easily. Most people talk about being attached to their phones, of which I usually am, but I found that because I was so busy, my attachment to my phone and social media all together was the first thing to go. This brought me back to the very beginning of the class when we discussed digital dualism and the IRL fetish.

In general, this experience has taught me that teaching is more than just standing in front of a class and delivering information, it is about more than learning experiences too! Teaching requires a great deal of relationship building and open communication between the teacher(s) and students! It is an extremely hands-on profession and we must be prepared for this! We will be exhausted coming into the class some days but it should always be our priority to check in with our students and continue to assess/observe their learning as we go!

If you would like to see some of my interactions with my Mentees check out my log!

Posted in EDTC 400

EDTC 400 Summary of Learning

It is sad to think that this is the last EDTC class I will ever be able to take! EDTC 300 was a blast and after taking it I immediately wanted to take EDTC 400! This has truly been one of the most fun and creative classes I have ever taken and I learned so much! Sydney McGrath, Lauren Sauser and I all teamed up to build a website that chronicles our learning journey.

For our project, we focused on four main areas of learning in this semester. These topics include various tech news and topics, classroom resources that our fellow EDTC 400 classmates introduced us too, our debate topics, and finally, developing and expanding our PLN’s. Check out our video as we go through our website and talk about some of our major takeaways from this course!

Finally, I would like to extend a huge thanks to Katia for another great semester in EDTC and to my classmates for making the content even more interesting with your diverse perspectives!

 

 

Posted in EDTC 400

Do We have a Responsibility to use Technology to Promote Social Justice?

This week for our last instalment of The Great EdTech Debate our class had the opportunity to debate a really heavy topic! Should teachers use social media and technology to promote social justice and fight oppression? Our class was able to have some really good discussion around the topic and Jesse and Daniel started it off wonderfully!

Pre-Debate Class Poll

Prior to the debate, our class was quite divided on the topic. To begin with, I was very surprised by this result and expected the class to lean much more to the agree side. Seeing as how education has a large focus on promoting social justice and preparing teachers to fight oppression, I assumed that we would all agree with this statement. That being said, not quite the result!

Post-Debate Class Poll

After the debate, the gap between those who agreed and disagreed started to close! I think a large part of this change had to do with the great discussion we had after the opening points!

Agree – Jesse’s Debate Points

  1. Staying Neutral is Problematic – Attempting to “stay neutral” on topics surrounding social justice and oppression is an effective way to ignore your student’s fears, interests, and concerns. Education is political and in trying to ignore this, we are only hurting our students and hindering their moral development. How will our students know how to engage with controversial topics if there is no one to teach it to them? Moreover, when you are “staying neutral” the only thing you are doing effectively is maintaining the status quo, of which, many of your students may find oppression in. Think of the 2016 American Presidential Election, I am sure many teachers decided not to take a public stance in their classrooms, however, doing so would have been an instance in which students could learn and could feel safe and loved by the teachers that showed them they weren’t going to be complicit in the oppression of others.
  2. Modelling Digital Citizenship – Staying silent online also ensures that you are missing out on a great teaching opportunity for your students! Seeing how digital identity and citizenship work, through modelling, is a great way to get even young elementary students learning about how to safely, responsibly, and effectively online.  A large part of being positive digital citizenship is know how to filter out misinformation you encounter online. If students are not taught this skill at school, they will likely not learn it anywhere else! As well, if you stay silent online, you are ignoring a very real part of all our lives and essentially you are saying that you agree the status quo is fine or needs enforcing when you remain silent.

Disagree – Daniel’s Debate Points

  1. Teachers are Under Constant Scrutiny from the Public – Teachers are already heavily monitored and criticised by the public, including parents. Teachers are viewed as not having a higher level of learning than the public and parents are generally not completely knowledgable about the inner workings of the classroom. These ideas and others lead to the poor view of teachers in the media, among other professions, and especially parents.
  2. Education is political – Education is an inherently political and this can turn those with apolitical or anti-political stances off. As well, Daniel points out that religion can become a great part of some schools or school boards and this can have an influence on the education of the students. Daniel provided the example of working in the Catholic School division. If you do something that goes against the core values of the Church in your support or denouncement of political issues, you could potentially be ruining your job prospects. Furthermore, the political views of particular teachers can also be taken into the classroom in negative ways.
  3. Students are Easily Influenced – In a commonsense understanding of schools, teachers undoubtedly have the majority of the power in a classroom setting. This means that students will often regard their teacher as having a great wealth of knowledge and, especially in younger years, trust that their teachers are telling them what is right. Daniel explained that early elementary students do not have fully developed brains and this may lead to them being mislead. He points out an article on a protest planned by a third-grade teacher. Do you think this was right? Personally, I never think it is too young to teach students about climate change and the impact of industries, such as oil and gas, on the environment.

My Final Thoughts

My stance on this topic is that teachers should absolutely use technology and social media to fight oppression and promote social justice. The whole reason that I wanted to become an educator was so that I could enact change and this is the perfect way to do it, that not only benefits the students but can be used as a learning opportunity.

Something that became apparent to me during this debate was that we need to think about the difference between opinions and facts! Many people like to conflate the two when in fact, you cannot have an opinion on certain issues. It is a fact that colonialism, racism, sexism, ableism, heterosexism, etc. exist in our society and influence the ways in which we all live our lives. It is a fact that White Privilege exists and that the intersection identities of our students will lead them to either be empowered or oppressed. You cannot have opinions on these facts. As Katia pointed out in this debate, the further we educate others on this idea and truly define for everyone what is a fact and what can be an opinion, this will become easier. Sadly, we are not at this place yet.

By the end of the debate, it seemed that most of the class agreed that students showed show students the facts of an issue and impart on them the influences of others on the particular issue. Then, it can become the student’s goal to understand their perspective. Personally, I feel this is a little too lax. You cannot tell others what to think, but you can show them what is just.

Posted in EDTC 400

Are we Too Dependant on Technology?

This week the topic of our Great EdTEch Debate was taken on by our classmates Jayden and Kiera! The topic that we covered was: We have become too dependent on technology and we’d be better off returning to the “good old days” before the Internet and smartphones took over. Do you agree or disagree? I, unfortunately, wasn’t in class when this debate was happening and couldn’t participate in the great discussions happening 😦 That being said, let’s look at the polls!

Pre-Debate Class Poll

This week was very interesting in that a majority of the class did not agree with the statement in the pre-debate class poll! This made for a very interesting discussion down the road and left it up to Jayden to try and convince us otherwise.

Post-Debate Class Vote

As you can see, Jayden was able to swing a couple more people over to her side after the debate! She brought some really great point to the discussion so I am not too surprised! Let’s get into the debate!

Agree – Jayden’s Debate Points

 

  1. The Internet and Smartphones are Affecting our Mental and Physical Health – Not only do the mental health effects of technology use, especially social media use, have a detrimental effect on our lives, there are also physical health effects. Jayden points out in her debate that over 1500 people have been physically injured because of texting! This number is unnecessarily high and is very much a product of technology addiction. More now than ever people are living in isolation and not going outside as much causing differences in social development and psychological health.
  2. Society is Losing Skills we Once Valued – Our society is changing and what we once valued or saw as necessary is simply not anymore. In the article “29 Once-Common Survival Skills We’ve Lost to Technology” by Tammy Robinson, she points out many commonly valuable skills from the past. Among this list are skills such as how to read a paper map or compass, use handwriting, and memorize highway names or numbers.
  3. Technology may Not Actually be Beneficial to Students – NOt only are there students that do not have access to technology at home, therefore enforcing the digital divide, but the time students also spend looking at screens is startling. Stephanie Petit speculates that students are relying too heavily on technology in the classroom and that it is negatively affecting their learning.
  4. We are Missing Important Moments in Life – When the addiction to our devices becomes too much, we may be resigned to living life as a “digital zombie”. Some people are so caught up in their devices that they don’t focus enough on their children and pay attention to them growing. Not only does this represent a new-age form of negligence, but it can also negatively affect the social and motor development of our children.

Disagree – Kiera’s Debate Points

  1. Connection – Using technology and other forms of social media has been a great tool to unite the world and create global collaboration across borders and even continents. You can instantaneously interact with others, gain knowledge about global news, raise awareness for global issues, and even participate in online activism almost anywhere in the world!
  2. Power and Opportunity – Use of technology can give people the power to reach advice, assistance, or any kind of help at almost any time. Furthermore, using technology can give power to those that do not have it. Technological advancements have also provided many jobs to our whole world. From building and maintaining to innovating and creating, technology has opened opportunities that many never would have dreamed of.
  3. Efficiency – Technology can be a huge time saver! As Kiera points out in her video, using technology can save us time and money. Even more, small devices, like our smartphones, have allowed us to drop so much baggage! We no longer have to carry around books and cameras and stereos and money, it can all simply be in our phones. As well, we can save so much time and energy with the effortless touch of a button.

My Final Thoughts

It was ironic that we were in an Educational Technologies class and were using zoom to connect with our peers online while doing this debate! It really offered us a chance to look at two completely different perspectives and was really thought-provoking! That being said, I found myself leaning towards disagreeing with the statement. The world is constantly changing and we cannot be obsessed with idealizing and hoping for the past to come back. Instead, I believe it would be much more beneficial if we were to look at where we are now with technology and figure out how to make sure everyone benefits from it!

Posted in EDTC 400

Are Corporations too Interested in Pubic Education?

This week Liz and Shaleen kicked off our seventh Great EdTech Debate of the semester with a very interesting and loaded topic! “Public Education has Sold its Soul to Corporate Interests” would you agree with this statement? Why, or why not? Let’s check the class polls!

Pre-Debate Class Poll

Very Close to 50/50! This was clearly going to be a very interesting debate topic and one both of the debaters would have to work hard to win some of us over! I wonder if people’s personal experiences at their own school were major swaying factors for their votes? I know that at my school we had very little brand representation and it wasn’t obvious that corporations or businesses had any dealing in what went on in the classroom. That being said, I still voted “Agree”.

Post-Debate Class Vote

It seems as though Liz has taken a lot of people over to the “Agree” side! I was quite impressed with the results of this poll and was surprised at the number of people that decided they would vote for the opposite side! I wonder if any went from “Agree” to “Disagree”?

Agree – Liz’s Debate Points

  1. Common Core Standards – The common core standards was a nationwide curriculum that was implemented in America so that all students received the same education. They tried to take away inequality, however, as the project moved really quickly, and there was no pilot before implementation it didn’t work out as expected. Furthermore, in today’s educational system, each region will focus on place specific content that may not be able to be used in other places.
  2. Standardized Testing – Pearson makes standardized tests in the States and sells textbooks to most North American schools. Of course, they make money every time someone wants to write a test or retake a test. Further, their tests because they are the ones designing the tests, they can put textbook specific information on them, requiring schools to purchase the “full package”, tests and textbooks, in order for their students to succeed. This represents a huge conflict of interest, however, Pearson can get away with it because of their ties to politicians and people in power.
  3. Corporate Sponsorships and their Health Effects – as we have talked about in the debate, corporations have a large influence on curriculum and schooling. In the United States, 80% of public school have contracts with Coke or Pepsi! This is obviously problematic in that it can endorse poor eating habits and negatively affect students physical health and mental health, through the influence of marketing at such a young age.
  4. Universities Have Turned into Corporations – Many of us are aware of the soaring tuition and living expenses associated with pursuing post-secondary education. Notably in the United States, the privatisation of Universities has cause costs to go so high that students are leaving school with as much as hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt! Even more, it has become almost necessary to obtain at least a bachelors degree to pursue many career options and those that would have required bachelors in the past may now require masters or even doctorate degrees.

Disagree – Shaleen’s Debate Points

  1. Technology in the Classroom – On the other hand, Shaleen argues that there is too much reliance on tech in schools and that the expenses are impossible to cover on school board funding. This is where corporations can come in. Instead of denying students access to technology and furthering the digital divide, corporations can help schools out by covering the cost of technological implementation.
  2. Determining Platforms – Implementing technology in schools is a big process and the cost and benefits are measured critically. School boards ask questions like “How will the students use this tech?”, “How will it benefit their education?” and “How easy will it be to implement it?” in order to gain a sense of how their schools will adapt to the new devices.
  3. Schools are Moving Away from bad Business – As the education profession evolves, schools, teachers, and administrators are constantly continuing to move away from bad businesses like Pearson and to further abandon problematic areas of schooling such as standardized testing.
  4. Ethical Consumption – We have to think about how we are framing this topic! If we are criticising schools for “selling their souls” then we have to turn around and say the same things to every other sector and ourselves. Education is run in our society by people, and if people are making these decisions, have they sold their souls too? Furthermore, almost everything else that we do in our lives is tied to some kind of corporation so why should it be different in schools? Not to say that corporate influences can’t be negative, but it seems as though we are harping on education more than we are on anything else.

My Final Thoughts

Going through this debate forced me to think about the documentary on I watched on the effects of advertising on young people, Consuming Kids. This documentary talked broadly about how advertisers have learned to target young children and shows a more specific side of how corporate influences in education further this advertisement scheme. As well, underfunding the education sector seems to be a great way for the government to put their money elsewhere. They know that schools are going to bend under the pressure of poor funding and turn to corporations to fill that gap so they take advantage of it!

Posted in EDTC 400

Is Social Media Ruining Childhood?

In this weeks instalment of the Great EdTech Debate, Lauren and Kylie went head to head to talk to us about whether or not social media is ruining childhood. This was a very interesting debate to be talked about in an EdTech class, seeing as how to engage with technology (including social media) is a big part of what we are learning to do! Let’s check out the debate polls to see what our classmates thought of this topic!

Pre-Debate Class Poll

Prior to the debate, our class was nearly half and half on agreeing and disagreeing with this statement. This topic was especially interesting because I can assume we were all going into it with our own weighted opinions. Despite the fact we were in an EdTech class, many of us still have deep-seated beliefs about the use of technology, and especially social media, in our future students lives!

Post-Debate Class Poll

After the debate, quite a few more of our peers swung into the disagree section of the poll! Kylie had some really great points throughout the debate that really helped her argument along. As well, this debate ended up focusing a lot more on emotion and experience rather than cold hard facts, which made it interesting to think about it from two different perspectives!

Agree – Lauren’s Debate Points

  1. Damaging to Children’s Mental Health – People are engaging with social media at a much younger age and lots of children who fall under the age limit, still get around the protective measures on social media to get accounts. This increasing activity under the age limit can be extremely damaging to children’s mental health with research showing links to depression, anxiety, lower self-esteem, and hyperactivity. Children are so connected to their devices that they don’t get enough deep sleep and things like Facebook depression are becoming even more common at younger ages.
  2. Social Media is Addictive and is Making Children Less Social – Becuase of children’s connectedness to their devices and social media, they are more likely to fall prey to social media’s addictive properties, therefore keeping children away from the things we remember doing as children. Children are less social and more of their communication with others happens through messages and comments rather than face-to-face. This means that children are not developing the necessary social skills they need, like learning how to adapt to their environments among others, causing their offline relationships to suffer.
  3. Digital Footprint and Privacy Concerns – Children these days are born with iPads in front of their faces but are still not taught how to use them properly. Children are therefore less aware of how to responsibly and safely use technology and social media and may end up posting inappropriate content or connecting with dangerous strangers online. Among this lack of knowledge, children also may not understand that whatever they post online will remain there forever, and ever.
  4. Cyberbullying – Social media undoubtedly creates a platform for instant gratification, leading to further health issues, including mental health problems and even suicide. There is absolute validity in having age restrictions on social media as younger people may not have the maturity to refrain from using social media to harm others.

Disagree – Kylie’s Debate Points

  1. Opens Doors – Having access to social media allows children and young people to learn how to do almost absolutely anything! YouTube tutorials, online How-To’s, and informative blog posts and websites all have the information needed to teach almost anyone almost any skill. Children can find their passions and could even be introduced to a field they want to pursue a career in.
  2. Taking a Stand – Having access to social media makes it easier for children to make their voices heard and gives them the important opportunity to be leaders for what they believe in. Young people are often not given the chance to make changes and take on leadership roles in the offline world. Online, they can make a name for themselves and continually learn and develop their own change-making strengths.
  3. Promotes Mental Health Initiatives –  Bell Let’s Talk day, the Kids Help Phone, and Pink T-Shirt day are all anti-bullying and mental health initiatives that children can engage with on social media. Having access to such resources, and further being able to connect with people from around the world, lets young people know that they are not alone in their struggles.
  4. Unavoidable – Technology, and more specifically, social media, are not going to go away any time soon. Instead of wishing for it to go away, we should be taking this opportunity to teach our students how to use it responsibly, safely, and effectively! We cannot think of kids as not being able to navigate social media respectfully and responsibly because they do have the capability to learn it just the same as anything else. As Kylie ended her opening points with, we teach our children how to be safe when they play outside, why shouldn’t we be teaching them how to be safe online?

My Final Thoughts

As we debated this topic and each side brought up more points to support their arguments, I found that I was able to connect with the idea on a much deeper level! Although at the beginning of the debate I was leaning more towards the “Agree” side, towards the end, I was really leaning towards the “Disagree” side! Hearing Lauren’s arguments really made me think of the idea of instant gratification and cyberbullying! The internet has literally everything in/on it and it can be really easy to find it. This could be making people more expectant to find quick answers to their problems (think of Google debate) and this could bleed over into the offline world. As well, on the topic of cyberbullying, I was reminded of a documentary I watched (UnSlut) that detailed the sexual bullying of young women and girls. A lot of the bullying that did happen to these women and girls happened online through social media platforms! This is something important to think about when discussing the diversity of ways in which students can experience cyberbullying. Check out the film trailer below!

However, when I began to listen to Kylie’s side of the debate, I found myself connecting with the idea of finding people like yourself to connect with online. After being diagnosed with Alopecia, I turned to social media to try to find others like me and remained unsuccessful in finding anyone until about two years ago. Had there been better access to social media platforms for people my age at the time, it may have made my journey a little easier!

Posted in EDTC 400

Is Technology a Force for Equity in Society?

Technology is a force for equity in society. What do you think? Does it have more to do with our society that it does with equity? Does it make our society equal or equitable? Does it have to do more with implementation and access? These are all very important questions to think about when discussing a topic like this and this is exactly what we did in EDTC 400 for this Great EdTech Debate! Ryan and Kaytlyn were tasked with providing two different views on this issue and it was a very full conversation! Let’s check out what the class thought!

Pre-Debate Class Poll

To begin with, I was already surprised by the results. When I first heard the debate topic I thought to myself, yeah, of course, technology can be used to create equity. But that’s just it, can”. Sadly, this topic focused on if technology currently provided equity, not if it could. This is the mindset that I went into the rest of the debate with and I really analysed what points the two debaters were bringing to the table!

Post-Debate Class Poll

After the pre-debate poll, I was almost expecting this, however, I did not expect so many of our classmates to disagree with the topic statement! The discussion that led to this result was very intriguing, so let’s get into the points!

Agree – Ryan’s Points

  1. More Accessible Constantly Evolving – Technology has come along way and now, in the 21st century, it has the ability to assist people with various disabilities with devices and tools that are more affordable and accessible than ever before. As such, they have higher chances of becoming employed, giving them better economic success and a potentially better quality of life. A famous example of the power of assistive technology is that of Stephen Hawking who used a Speech Generating device that let him communicate/talk through the use of his eyes.
  2. Quality of Education in Refugee Camps and Worldwide– 50% of those in refugee camps currently are under the age of under twenty. As well, camps are often severely closed off to the outside world and limited schooling experiences are able to come into the camps. Technology can be used to open up limitations by connecting camps to power, internet access, tablets with educational apps, and laptops for teachers with resources to better educate.
  3. Give Youth a Voice – Social media gives us a platform to share thoughts and opinions, Learn about issues important to themselves and stay up to date on news and events around the world making them more educated and give them access to making a change in society

Disagree – Kaytlyn’s Debate Points

Digital Divide, Acces, Digital Equity, Inclusion

Those with access to computers and the internet have an advantage over those that do not. This gives them different experiences with digital literacy and creating their digital footprint, therefore, creating something called the “digital divide“. Of course, for students without access to devices and other technology at home, resources like the public library to allow students to work on school work outside of the classroom. This inability to engage with learning experiences outside of school has contributed to what is called the “homework gap”. A phenomenon that explains how certain students are disadvantaged by the implementation of tech-based learning tools. However, as educators, we should not be making our student’s workloads unreasonably hard. In cases like this, the students learning is effectively stopped once they leave the doors of the school. If there is not as much pressure for students to engage with tech-based resources outside of the classroom, this would make it easier for students to engage in learning beyond the walls of the school.

Some schools give their students ways to bring technology-based resources home, however, this is often very expensive and thus gives schools and school divisions with more funding as having an advantage over schools and school divisions that do not. You also run the risk of students coming back to the school with damaged equipment. Furthermore, there is no saying that the tech that goes home with students would even be used to engage with learning experiences.

A possible solution to this problem is maker spaces that allow students to learn what would traditionally be learned through tech with low-tech materials. This includes teaching students how to code, an activity that is proven to be effective in teaching students problem-solving skills among many others, by using low- or non-tech materials and tools. maker spaces also allow students to use hands-on materials to engage in the learning which may also allow for teachers to effectively accommodate students who learn in different ways.

My Final Thoughts

An important thing to remember when discussing or debating this topic is the difference between equity and equality and the difference between what something does do and what something could do.

Implementing tech-based resources in schools can allow for some equality to be achieved among classmates but true equity across all boards is hard to achieve when we consider phenomenons like the digital divide and homework gap. That being said, I do not think it is responsible to say we should get rid of all tech-based learning tools and assistive technologies. Instead, we should look at how tech is currently implemented and think of a transformational solution that allows us to consciously analyse how we can make our classrooms more equitable. As Kendall pointed out in our class discussion, we have to change all of society, not just the classroom. The classroom is not the only space responsible for and affected by the problems of inequality and inequitable distribution of tools and resources. These are problems that are seen across the globe and we need to make it our goal to change it for everyone!