This short spring class of ECI830 has flown by. Despite the fact that it was so quick, I learned so much. The debate style format of the class was very engaging and helped me to take a critical look at my own opinions on technology and consider various view points. Check out Brooke and my summary of learning to see more about what we took from this course.
During our final Great Tech Debate we dived into the concept of tech as a force for equity in society.
The disagree side pointed out that just providing technology does not create equity and can actually come at a cost. Some companies, such as Facebook are providing technology in the form of devices and internet to those who may not otherwise have access to it. Now at face value this sounds great, however as pointed out by Ellery Biddle of Global Voices, “Facebook is not introducing people to open internet where you can learn, create and build things. It’s building this little web that turns the user into a mostly passive consumer of mostly western corporate content. That’s digital colonialism.” Facebook has a few strings attached and controls what content that is provided with this.
Technology can also be very costly, which means not everyone will have equal access to it and when provided with “free” or “reduced rates” users may only be able to get the basics. Lately, I have noticed that many technology apps that myself and my fellow teachers use have started to charge a cost or up their prices. However, there are some companies that are working to help make technology access more equitable. Flipgrid and Microsoft recently worked together to announce that the app Flipgrid will now be free for all and this includes all of their features.
You must’ve heard by now! @Flipgrid is now FREE for all Ts and Ss! Thank you @MicrosoftEDU Read about it here: https://t.co/4XJxaX0Nvw or here: https://t.co/ayeA7Sn8IR What are you waiting for?! Catch the #FlipgridFever today! #iTeamRISD #cantstoprisd #risdgreatness pic.twitter.com/gNfBRN2FMM
— ★·.· Lydia Croupe ·.·★ (@SAMRiCroupe) June 19, 2018
Some other points that the disagree side shared was some of the sexism, racism, harassment, threats and abuse that occur online. Now I agree that this is horrible, I don’t believe that technology is to blame. These issues have been around long before technology and are more of a reflection of society than of technology.
Overall, I feel am with the agree side that technology can be used to help create equity. The agree side pointed out that technology can remove barriers, especially when used to help students using assistive technology. Benetech shares in that “assistive technology tools, are unlocking the world of content and knowledge for students with learning disabilities“. In my own classroom I have seen the power these tools have for students. It allows them to show what they learn in a variety of ways and provides opportunities for content at their level to help them be successful. When a student who struggles with reading is able to have content read to them or a student who struggles with writing can use a tool that will transcribe, it opens up the world of learning to them.
Technology can also remove the barrier of cost and open education can allow for anyone the opportunity to learn. As the agree side pointed out open access education allows for free and flexible learning. My favourites of these types of education is Khan Academy. Not only does Khan academy provide videos for learning it also allows for some practice work for students to apply what they have learned.
Another way that technology is a tool for equity is that it allows anyone to share their voice. Julia Carrie Wong explains that “Teenagers’ use of Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram is social media at its best – a cudgel against political discourse that desperately needs to change” and “have taken full advantage of the democratic nature of social media to push our democracy forward”. Social media allows for people to stand up for what they believe and start conversations that have the power to make a change.
Even though my group presented on the positive impacts of social media on childhood, I do acknowledge that there are some negatives as well. Some of the negatives include:
-mental health and bullying issues
-online safety concerns when using social media
-children and teens not fully understanding enough to engage responsibly in social media
As we are well aware mental health and bullying issues can arise when using social media. There are many tragic examples of how this can have terrible outcomes, such as Amanda Todd. The problem is not social media, but how people choose to use this tool. Social media can also be used to combat mental health and bullying as Dr. Sameer Hinduja points out in her article “How Social Media Helps Teens Cope With Anxiety, Depression, and Self-Harm“.
YouTube is one social media outlet that teens are using to share their stories, confide in each other and create support networks for mental health issues. In the past mental health was rarely talked about, but because of the power of social media people are starting conversations around it and finding support.
In her article “5 Tech Tools for Kids in Crisis”, Christine Elgersma explains that, “For today’s struggling kids, there’s some hope. Popular apps, sites, and services offer guidance and help when, where, and how kids need it” and shares 5 tools that youth can access.
There have also been instances when youth have found support online when they are in crisis, making them change their mind from making tragic choices. One example occurred on a Minecraft forum on Reddit when an entire online community used voice-conferencing software to talk a teen out of his decision to commit suicide.
I agree with the other debate team that there are concerns with safety when youth are using social media. However, I think that it is vital that parents and educators take the time to be informed about what they are allowing children to access online. It would be good if parents knew and had their children follow the recommended age restriction set by online sites, which for many social media sites is age thirteen.
Any tool can be used for good or bad and without understanding how to be responsibly use a tool negative outcomes can occur. As Daniel Dion mentioned in our discussion when working on our debate project, you wouldn’t give a child a steak knife without the proper guidance and teaching. Parents and educators have an important role in helping children understand and learn about what safety on social media looks like and model these behaviors. In the article “Social Media Rules”, Media Smarts explains that, “Having a family agreement or set of ground rules for using social networks is a good idea. It’s a great way for parents and kids to work together on how to be safe, wise and responsible online.”
It is also important to understand, as Dr. Sameer Hinduja explains, “the vast majority of kids are doing the right things when it comes to social media”. Many are not only making good choices online, but are also making a difference. In fact youth are using social media to have a positive impact on the world. For example, through youtube Sarah Chadwick was able to reach over 43,000 people with her message to stop gun violence in the video below.
Social media is a tool, that when used responsibly can have a powerful impact on the lives of children and teens. As social media is here to stay we must help today’s youth learn how to use social media to make their lives and the lives of others better.
This tech debate was all about whether we should be sharing on the internet on behalf of children and students. Before the debate I was on the side for posting, but posting with reflection beforehand.
Both debate sides made some excellent points.
-can create a positive digital footprint for children and students
-promotes connectivity, especially between the classroom, families and communities
-unfair when children and students don’t have a say in what is shared or may they be fine with it now, but embarrassed by it later
-it can be unsafe as anyone who finds what has been shared can further share it or use it for disturbing purposes
For example, in an article from The Telegraph shared by the against side I learned that “a woman in Austria is suing her parents to force them to remove childhood pictures of her from Facebook”. In cases like this sometimes parents share things that a child may later regret. With this in mind it is important that when posting for someone else that we reflect before posting.
Some families may wish to opt-out of allowing their child or children from sharing content online. In this case is blurring or covering this student’s face in a class photo make it acceptable to post? Some may say yes and some may still say no. At a previous school that I worked at a family choose to opt-out of any online sharing for their children. I found it very interesting that at special events even inter-school events these parents would still take pictures of their child with others children in the background. It made me wonder if they ever thought about how the other parents might feel about the picture. If they were not okay with pictures being taken of their child, was it okay for them to take ones with other children in them when they did not know if that child’s family gave permission for their photo.
As this is such a complicated issue I think that it’s important to really reflect on both sides of the argument and see if maybe we can meet in the middle.
Finding some middle ground…
Thoughtful sharing is key. Mike Ribble shares this model: STOP, THINK, EMPATHIZE, and then POST. We must stop and think before we post, empathizing with the person and how this could make them feel and the impact it could have on them. Here are some reflection questions to consider:
“Will this create a positive digital footprint?”
“Would this be something they may be embarrassed by?”
“Are the safety policies in place up to the standards for keeping this post safe and secure?”
If after reflecting you still feel it is okay to post, well then post it.
It’s also important that as adults we are good role models in what we post online. If we are not stopping to reflect before we post about ourselves to make sure that it is a good idea to post, then we can’t expect that children and students will know how to or will actually do so. It is vital to check policies of online sites to keep posts as safe and secure as possible. Keeping in mind good posting practices, I believe that overall sharing done with teacher guidance is worth it. Allowing student the opportunity to start creating a positive digital footprint and creating a connection between the home and school are powerful ways that sharing can impact students.
The Great Tech Debate for this week was about whether we should be focusing on teaching things that can just be googled. This is a very tricky topic as many people had very different ways of looking at what “Googling it” entailed. It ranged from the simple act of typing something into Google to find the answer, to using the many tools Google has to offer, such as Google slides and hangouts.
When I think of “Googling it” I think of typing in a simple question into Google to find an answer. I think of these types of questions as lower level questions that have an easy answer. According to The Curriculum Corner these lower level questions can be thought of as thin questions and higher level questions can be thought of as thick questions. Now although we are using Google and not a book, looking at the chart I think we can say that thin questions are ones that are right there on Google after we type something into a Google search. Although students need to be able to answer lower level/thin questions, it’s important that we spend most of our time guiding students to higher level/thick questions that involve more thinking and applying what they are learning.
Understanding lower level basic content provides a foundation to better understand higher level content. So although I don’t feel we should focus on things that can just be “Googled”, we do need to provide students with a foundation of knowledge to build on. For example, if students don’t understand what a habitat is, how can we expect them to decide if it’s important to protect animal habitats and make the choice to take action to protect them.
Students also need to understand that our Google search history can have an impact on what Google will provide us during a Google search. In the article “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”, Nicholas Carr points out that “[Google] uses the results to refine the algorithms that increasingly control how people find information and extract meaning from it”. In our night class, Alec pointed out that Google can even provide content that is leaning more towards one political side based on our search histories. Students need to be aware of this and not take a Google search at face value, but instead dig deeper into what they find.
Both the disagree and agree teams found some common ground and both pointed out the importance of critical thinking skills. These skills can be practiced with and without the use of Google. However, using Google as a tool allows students access to more resources to explore and use on their critical thinking journey. Being able to use these skills online is vital these days with the issues of fake news and very biased articles/posts. Using Google as a search tool is the first step to finding items online to view through a critical lens.
Image from GIPHY
From my last class with Alec, I learned about teaching students to think critically. One resource shared during the course was “The Five C’s of Critical Consuming” by John Spencer. In this video John shares five ways that students can view content and decide if it is trustworthy, reliable and useful. The Five C’s he suggests are:
Context – When and where is it written? Have events changed or new info available?
Credibility – Is the site credible? Are the sources cited credible? Is it satirical? Is it an advertisement?
Construction – What’s the bias, facts, opinions, propaganda?
Corroboration – Do other sources claim this too?
Compare – Find other credible sources to compare it to get a larger more rounded picture of the information.
After the debate I still feel that some time should be spend on content that can be Googled, but that more time should be spent on helping students gain critical thinking skills and practice applying them to a digital world. We can use the foundation of the content students need to understand from the curriculum and have them apply the skills needed to understand this information in a deeper more meaningful way.
So the first great tech debate was about whether tech enhances learning or not. Before the debate I was definitely on the tech enhances learning side. After our initial vote, most of our class was also on the pro tech side of the debate.
After listening to the debate, both sides made some excellent points. These are the points that stood out to me from both sides:
Both sides made the excellent point that the teacher is the key. If tech is used correctly by the teacher it can enhance learning, but when tech is not used with pedagogy at the center tech can also take away from the learning.
Let’s start with some of the against side’s points and acknowledge that they had a rather difficult stance to take as this is a class all about tech, so one can assume that in general the class is pro tech use in the classroom.
TECH IS PRICEY
As pointed out by the against tech team in their debate and also in their shared article “Negative Effects of Using Technology in Today’s Classroom” tech is pricey. As a connected educator with RCSD, my school division has provided my classroom with a 1:1 cart of laptops. The other connected educators and I have been told each laptop cart is worth about…
So I can see that tech is not cheap. It all depends on if the school or school division has the money for tech and how willing they are to choose to spend their budget on tech. I luckily work in a school division that understands that tech can, key word CAN, be used to enhance learning and has devoted a large about of money to technology. My school division also makes sure that teachers are ready and willing to use tech in ways that enhance learning before providing them with tech specifically for their classroom. This is not necessarily feasible for all schools or divisions.
MORE TIME SPENT ON PRESENTATION WHEN USING TECH
Now I have seen this in my classroom, however I have also known students to take a long time to create a non-tech product like a poster or diorama. I think it’s all about making sure tools, tech or not, are used to demonstrate learning, but that the main focus and majority of time is spent on the learning process.
STUDENTS DISTRACTED WITH TECH
As the against team pointed out and as seen in the article “6 Pros and Cons of Technology in the Classroom in 2018” shared by the pro team, tech can be a distraction for students. I have seen students in my class get distracted by tech, such as sneaking onto a game, video or other program when they should be working on another task on their laptop. Part of the solution is making sure to teach and model for students how and when to use technology to reduce and eliminate this issue. Students need to understand that technology at school should be used as a tool NOT a toy. Being good digital citizens when using technology is a topic visited throughout the year. Though this point is valid it made me think of all the other distractions students found before tech…
ISSUES WITH MULTITASKING
Now we may not be concentrating completely on a task when we multitask, but being able to navigate between tasks is a skill students will need to be able to do as adults. In my job as a teacher I am constantly multitasking and I would imagine that many if not most jobs require some level of multitasking. Students will need to be able to do this at some level. Also some students find it less distracting listening to music as they can zone out what else is going on in the classroom and are able to get more work done as the music takes away the other distractions and allows them to zone in to their learning.
PARENT ACCESS TO STUDENTS AND STAFF BECAUSE OF TECH
Sometimes this can be a good thing, but I do see that it can lead to problems when it can become too much and even a distraction itself. However, I agree with my classmates who said that this is more of a side topic than evidence that tech doesn’t enhance learning.
Let’s check out why tech can enhance learning.
IMPROVES ACCESS TO INFO AND RESOURCES/ACCESS ANYTIME & ANYWHERE
Access to information and resources is huge. The article “6 Pros and Cons of Technology in the Classroom in 2018” shared by the pro team points out how tech can help with this. In my school we have enough textbooks of some types, like science, to share 1 textbook among three students, which doesn’t take into account that these textbooks are also shared between classes. In contrast, all of my students can access this same textbook online and as I am 1:1 all of my students can have their own copy of the textbook. Also with the online textbook version students can make notes, highlights and images can be enlarged and sometimes videos are linked. With textbooks going missing and schools having to take the hit to replace them, going to virtual textbooks provides more access and can save money. I also like to use a lot of other resources as mentor texts, such as picture/nonfiction books. Using free websites like GetEpic allows students access to a ton of resources (books and videos) about the topic, which are also at a variety of reading levels and many come in audio books versions. Students also have access to many online research options, so information is readily available at their finger tips.
DIFFERENTIATED POSSIBILITIES/STUDENT CENTERED
This is one of my favourite points that the for tech team presented. I feel that tech can make a huge difference in students learning by allowing for more differentiation and allowing for a more student centered approach. Like I mentioned in the previous point, sites like GetEpic provide tons of resources for students to choose from at a variety of levels and resources in ebook, audio, or video form. Even just using OneNote, which is basically a online notebook, the learning tools options allows for students to have the content read to them and they can dictate and the program will type for them. This is great for students who struggle with reading and writing.
By using programs like Seesaw students can have choice in how they share their learning, which is empowering for students. Some students may not feel comfortable writing or typing their answer, but feel confident talking about or drawing their answer so they could choose to create a video or share a drawing and add an audio explanation.
Technology also allows students more flexibility in their learning. Students can work ahead or get extra review. They can watch a video explaining the next topic or rewatch a video or a different video to get extra help, such as for math like Khan Academy of Math Antics. Students can use programs like IXL to work on concepts at lower or higher levels or start the next topic if they are ready to move on.
CONNECTING/COLLABORATING WITH OTHERS
Technology allows students to connect with people outside the classroom. Classrooms can skype with authors or experts in a variety of fields to learn from. Students can connect with students outside the classroom to learn from, with and share their learning with. One of my favourites is the opportunity to connect and collaborate with other classrooms through the Global Read Aloud, which connects classroom all across the world about a novel that everyone is reading. Classrooms can also connect with families to share their learning such as through using Seesaw.
WHAT I BELIEVE NOW…
Although the against tech side made some excellent points I still believe that tech can enhance learning and the post debate vote showed that most of my classmates agreed with that side as well.
What do you think? What points hit home the most for you?
I have truly enjoyed learning about, using, and rating Seesaw, Flipgrid, Biblionasium, and Formative.
To check out my whole project adventure check the links below:
My initial plans for my major project – https://wileywonders.wordpress.com/2018/01/23/major-project-plans/
My journey progress with the apps at the start of my journey – https://wileywonders.wordpress.com/2018/02/12/my-journey-so-far/
Becoming a Seesaw Ambassador – https://wileywonders.wordpress.com/2018/02/28/erin-wiley-who/
Look into the Terms of Service and Privace of the apps – https://wileywonders.wordpress.com/2018/04/16/terms-of-what/
Ways that I love the apps I have tried and ideas to try out – https://wileywonders.wordpress.com/2018/04/17/how-do-i-love-thee-these-apps/
Rating the Apps – https://wileywonders.wordpress.com/2018/04/17/and-the-rating-is/
Updated look Ribble’s 9 Elements of Digital Citizenship in relation to my project – https://wileywonders.wordpress.com/2018/04/17/updated-look-my-projects-digital-citizenship-elements/