This is it! The end of EC&I 830! I cannot believe how fast this course flew by, and I also cannot believe how much I learned over two short months. It’s amazing the community we developed and how much we were able to challenge each other to grow and learn in such a short time span. It’s been a pleasure to learn with all of you.
I loved the style of this course and how it enabled us to be in charge of our own learning. We brought a lot of debate to the table, and I thank all of you for challenging my thinking and opinions. There is no one right answer to any of the topics we discussed and I think that makes this course so great!
Without further ado, here is my summary of learning video! Thanks again all for a fantastic class and I hope you all enjoy my video (I had a lot of fun making it)!
This week’s debate had me all over the place. Thinking of the phrase: “technology is a force of equity in society” has many sides and angles to consider and there is not one straight answer: yes or no. I found there was a lot of mixed reviews throughout our debate, and many elaborations for our reasons we think it is or isn’t. For example, yes, technology can be a force of equity because it is creating opportunities where they were limited before or no, it is not a force of equity because there is not equal access around the globe. These types of ideas were incredibly important to our debate this week, and I think through a lot of thinking post-debate, I have established that we may not be there yet, but we are working towards solutions for this inequity.
The agree side this week did a fantastic job opening the floor and I found myself agreeing with all the points that Jen, Dawn and Sapna shared. Their major points included the removal of barriers in education and skills, the use of open education resources creating equality through education, and then focused on the idea that the corporate system is the reason that technology is inaccessible for people in a lower socio-economic status and not the tech itself, and not the tech’s fault itself, showing that the tech isn’t creating inequity, but people by making these devices which have now become a necessity, cost too much money to afford.
The disagree side of Amy S, and Rakan countered well including some important ideas I would have never thought about in my internal debate. Their main ideas circled around tech creating bias, gender abuse, and racism online, as well as digital colonialism and economic inequality.
As a said before, I found myself agreeing with all the points the agree team shared. I see technology remove barriers all the time in the classroom. I actually once saw a two men sitting at Tim Horton’s using their cellphones and a translating app to communicate with their voices and have a real conversation. It made me so happy that technology has been able to reach a point where we can communicate with one another and create friendships with people that do not necessarily share a common language.
As for the classroom, I know I would have been in a real bind if I did not have my technological resources for teaching. I have taught A LOT of different subject matter and without open resources and the World Wide Web, my knowledge would have been much more limited as well as the material for my students would have been much simpler as I would be scrambling for activities and ideas on my own. For example, my first year I taught Law 30. Where did I turn but to the internet to find different ideas and resources to help supplement the material. I even found an activity to look at the laws often broken in different fairy tales and create a trial for the characters. Would I have been able to come up with this idea without technology? No way! It helped make my life less stressful and created equity in a situation where I was at a disadvantage.
There are also many assistive technologies out there to help students including Google Write&Read. Many students struggle with getting their ideas on paper and these types of apps help create an equity in the classroom so they too, can reach the outcomes of other students. However, access to these apps can be difficult if you do not have access to the technology which is what the disagree side countered.
Cost is a major downside to education as well as creating equity in the classroom. And like Amy R. said in her blog this week, Technology should be accessible to everyone because it has become essential to live. It has become a basic human right to be able to access this information and these devices yet corporations will not lower the price on devices, making it difficult for people of a lower socio-economic status to get access. People may argue that there is free access in libraries, and schools, but not everyone has direct access to a building like that. Sunny Freeman’s article states that even in Canada, only 62% of low-income quartile has access to the internet and it is difficult to dispute. Have you ever gone camping in a rural/northern part of Saskatchewan? Little to no internet access or even service exists! So like, the agree group said, we can fix this! We just need to lower the costs on devices, and create more opportunities for access in order to lessen the digital divide felt everywhere in the world, not just Canada.
Daniel also made a great point in his blog this week: “Some affluent people thus think by simply dumping the highest tech in the poorest places in society, inequality will be solved.” This will not solve our problem when there is no education to help those educators or students use the technology and unlock its potential for the classroom and for their future. If we are going to increase technology use in the classroom, we need to also increase the professional development and resources for teachers to USE the technology as well.
I think it is super important that if we are going to increase technology and use programs like One Laptop Per Child, they need to be used appropriately in order to avoid digital colonialism which is what Amy and Rakan hinted at in their opening video. It’s a very thin line between introducing and advancing a third world country and pushing Western beliefs on an already established society. For example, in this article, Facebook is offering free internet to places with low economic status but with a catch.
“Free Basics is a Facebook-developed mobile app that gives users access to a small selection of data-light websites and services. The websites are stripped of photos and videos and can be browsed without paying for mobile data.
Facebook sees this as an “on-ramp” to using the open internet: by introducing people to a taster of the internet, they will see the value in paying for data, which in turn brings more people online and can help improve their lives.”
The catch is that they cannot access all the internet, only a few select sites and they need to pay more for more access. This in my opinion does not create equity, but increases the divide showing “you can afford this” or “you can’t afford this.” This idea is also restricting language, with the majority options being only in English, and if that’s not a Westernized view/Digital Colonialism, then I don’t know what is!
Another solution to the idea of making education more accessible is Open Education Resources (OERs), Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), and Virtual Classrooms. Having these types of resources online have created a lot of opportunity for remote classrooms and cities. They may not have the resources physically, but they can access the information online ending the digital divide.
The article, Analysis: How OER Is Boosting School Performance and Equity From the Suburbs to the Arctic shows how students and classrooms in Kotzebue, Alaska are able to still access high-quality materials within budget cuts and limited resources. Layla Bonnot says, “With OER, districts can adapt content to meet their local needs, maximize education budgets, and ensure access to resources and educational rigor. By being able to serve all students — whatever their race, gender, ethnicity, language, disability, family background, or family income — OER supports the goal of educational equity.”
Of course, there are still other down-sides that are creating unequitable circumstances like the ideas of gender and racial bias online, and that AI could possibly be racist and learning its racist behaviours from humans, but I hope that we are moving in a positive direction away from these ideas. Lizzie O’Shea stated in her article that technology’s biases are not bad necessarily, as long as we recognize them as such and move towards making these racial and gender roles more neutral.
O’Shea said, “To make the most of this moment, we need to imagine a future without the oppressions of the past. We need to allow women to reach their potential in workplaces where they feel safe and respected. But we also need to look into the black mirror of technology and find the cracks of light shining through.”
And after listening to both sides of the debate, I couldn’t agree more. We are imperfect, so our tech is imperfect too. As long as we recognize our faults, and are trying to work towards solutions, then I think we are accomplishing something. Is technology creating equity in society? In some cases yes, and in some cases no. Technology is not going anywhere, and it is becoming a more crucial part of life and should be demanded by all of society. It has huge potential to create equity in all walks of life, but it is how we go about making sure it is accessible, fair, and neutral to everyone that is the most important part.
When I began this week, I stood firmly on the agree side when the question was asked, “Is social media ruining childhood?” Of course, social media is ruining childhood! How couldn’t it be? Why do I not see children gathering outside? Playing hopscotch? Skipping? Shooting hoops? Riding bikes with their friends? Using their imagination to build forts? Because, social media controls their lives.
They no longer need to go find their friends, play these games, or use their imagination the way I did growing up, because they have a device that connects them to their friends, their device has the games, and their device allows them to be creative in other ways. Is this entirely a bad thing? No, I don’t think it is.
After the debate this week, I had many thoughts on the topic. I thought both sides of the debate did a fantastic job: Melinda, Allysa and Lori has some excellent points that made me nod my head and solidified my idea that social media is ruining childhood. They discussed the rise in anxiety, and cyber-bullying online, as well as the pressure kids feel to fit in, and how many of these problems are because children ignore the age restrictions, and parents are left in the dark – oblivious, or conscious of these decisions.
The disagree side is what started to sway me: Erin, Brooke and Daniel made some strong arguments towards the positives of social media, including the idea that it strengthens children’s relationships, creates a community, and they become more aware than children of past generations.
After both of these arguments, my original ideas were up in the air. I think the biggest difficulty for me was that I was stuck on the nostalgic idea of what my own childhood was like and that kids today were missing out! There was so much good before technology took over and I remember creating my own fun in the backyard, riding my bike all over town to meet up with friends, the new addition of MSN to my teenage years, and no social media. I grew up in the nineties and I am in awe at how fast things changed. I think I was stuck in the idea that I had the best childhood, so of course social media is ruining now-a-days children’s childhood because they are having such different experiences than I did 20 years ago.
Once I got past the idea that children today aren’t missing out; their childhood is just different with different opportunities and different challenges. I think yes, there are a lot of potential risks of over-using social media, and the risk of addiction for teens is very real. I had a couple of grade nines almost cry when I took their phones away for one day for a health experiment. Cyber-bullying is also a very real concern, and it is something I deal with daily in a high school setting. Unfortunately, cyber-bullying is worse than just bullying because it can follow a child home, and follows them every time they log online. This infograph does an excellent job of explaining just how prominent cyber-bullying is, and the different ways it is visible to teens.
However, as the disagree team pointed out, the online world can also be a great place for community development and support. When I am teaching about mental health, I always suggest using online resources to find supports if students are struggling but after Monday, it clicked. Students develop their own communities and support groups online for isolation, bullying, gender inequality, racism, etc. and this is awesome!! Another point the disagree team made was that students are able to explore their interests and ideas online, making connections to other students all over the world who are like-minded individuals and all of a sudden, they aren’t alone anymore and I think that is fantastic. Of course, there are risks associated with this idea, like pedophiles profiling and “cat-fishing” young children into meeting up or earning trust to have children partake in risky behavior, however, this is where education is key. Parents also need to be aware of the behavior of their children and not let them loose online. Teach them and discuss social media etiquette.
Advise parents to talk to their children and adolescents about their online use and the specific issues that today’s online kids face.
Advise parents to work on their own participation gap in their homes by becoming better educated about the many technologies their youngsters are using.
Discuss with families the need for a family online-use plan that involves regular family meetings to discuss online topics and checks of privacy settings and online profiles for inappropriate posts. The emphasis should be on citizenship and healthy behavior and not punitive action, unless truly warranted.
Discuss with parents the importance of supervising online activities via active participation and communication, as opposed to remote monitoring with a “net-nanny” program (software used to monitor the Internet in the absence of parents)
The real goal is to help students develop a positive online identity and understand the consequences of posting risky photos or videos online. Just because you do something when you are young, means it will follow you online for the rest of your lives. They need to understand that the things they say and do on social media is permanent and can harm their futures. I think this is also why, as teachers, we need to teach healthy digital citizenship to children from a young age, so that when they reach adolescence, they are better equipped to navigate this online world.
On top of this, students are more aware of their country, and the world they live in. Having instant connection to social media and news, things spread fast and they are on top of it. Often students are advocating for causes, researching bias of opinion and using social networking sites to trend important issues like #blacklivesmatter, #metoo, #prayfordouglas, or even something like #humboldtstrong. These kids have power at their finger tips, and once they realize it, things could start happening for our future, and our planet. The Learning Network says, “We’ve become the most tolerant and conscious generation to date, with 76 percent of Gen Zers concerned about humanity’s influence on the Earth and 60 percent hoping the job they choose impacts the world.” I think a large part of this is due to social media, in creating an open dialogue for a lot of these issues, like climate change, racism, gender equality, political campaigns, mental health awareness, and so many more. People are able to connect with others online, and start discussions that matter, whereas in the past, we have been limited to the beliefs of the people around us physically.
I think Melinda had a great point, when she said in her blog, “There needs to be a balance, kids need to be kids and play outside, rough house, interact, etc. They don’t need to have 24/7 screen time, they need to be active and imaginative.” And to sum up, I think social media can be a great outlet for children, but it is not the only outlet. Like Melinda said, kids still need to be kids, explore, and develop in the real world, be active and engaged, but I think there are a lot of great things we can expect from this generation as they become more tolerant, and engaged in the issues occurring in our world.
This week’s debate really made me think. I started somewhere in the middle; on one side, sharing is a fantastic opportunity for our students to learn important practices, share their accomplishments, and interact with other like-minded people around the globe. On the other hand, sharing can create a lot of issues with privacy, as well as cyber-bullying and consent to use specific photos posted online. This dynamic created a lot of debate in our class this week, and honestly a lot of debate in my own head.
Whenever the ideas of privacy laws and practices come up, it can be a very controversial and scary idea. What if what we post is wrong? What if we get in trouble? Can I lose my job for this? There are no shortage of horror stories out there to scare teachers into never posting a single thing on the internet again; class or non-class related. I too, often think and rethink what I share online about my students, which to be honest is very limited. Beyond team, athletic, and grad photos, I hardly post about my students online. Everything remains nameless and it is almost always acelebration of accomplishments.
I think the biggest struggle I had with this week’s debate was a lot of the focus was on the elementary stand-point and teaching young students how to be responsible online. What should you post? What shouldn’t you post? A lot of conversations circled around the idea of parents being super involved with their child’s tech use and also the teacher overseeing the practices. Seesaw, I’ve learned, is a great tool to engage parents and create important conversations with kids at home. This technology is awesome because it can often bridge the gap between school and home life. However, there is the down side of over-involvement of parents and the idea of “helicoptering.” In fact, Robyn Treyvaud states in her article, Dangers of Posting Pictures Online, that “more than 1 in 4 children admit to feeling worried, embarrassed, or anxious when their parents post photos of them on social media,” which goes beyond the idea of hovering or helicoptering. I know many of my friends are having children right now and seriously, the amount of “baby spam” I see in a day is ridiculous and the consequences can be even more serious! It’s something I don’t think my generation really understands, making it even more important for the next generation to comprehend! What parents post, even at a very young age, can affect a child’s mental health later on in life? It begs the questions, do you want the whole world to see a baby photo of you?
I think both sides of the debate did a fantastic job of making their case! When it comes to my world in a high school, photos, technology and phones are everywhere. We even have a school Snapchat and Instagram account run by the Spirit Committee, run by a couple of awesome teachers! My students are on their phones constantly; I use Remind 101 to contact students and my athletes for various things like deadlines, practice changes, or just general reminders for the next day. It allows my students to connect me as well without directly having my phone number. I also use Google Classroom for all the students’ homework, assignments, deadlines, and I also used it for Track and Field this year – creating an online platform for athletes to access permission forms, schedules, dates, and results. It worked fantastically and never thought twice about using these online platforms with my students. However, everything I use and do online is “private.” I’m not sharing student photos to the internet, not posting on Twitter about our interactive activities, and although I feel my students are safe because of this, maybe I’m not properly preparing them for the online world?
Randi Zuckerberg stated in his article that, “technology and the world around us is evolving so quickly that even children a few years apart may experience two very different forms of childhood.” And I think this couldn’t be more true. I know my childhood was vastly different than kids today and even looking at my current students. I graduated high school nine years ago, and THINGS HAVE CHANGED. EVERYTHING HAS CHANGED! I think it’s important that we don’t shut down these differences and instead we embrace them, because if we don’t, they we run the risk of not helping our students be successful in the outside world. Their world is online, and it will continue to be for the rest of their lives. They need to learn how to adapt and post appropriately online and protect themselves. It lends itself to the idea that we cannot protect our students by banning the internet or posting pictures online because what is that teaching them? They will rebel, and in turn post inappropriately online because they were never taught, nor was it modeled for them.
I think digital literacy and creating a positive digital footprint is incredibly important for students. What is the first thing their employer will do? Google them. What is the first thing someone just getting to know them will do? Google them. They need to understand that their online identity will exist online whether they want it to or not. If they do not create it for themselves, and twist it into the story they want to tell, someone else will tell the story for them. I think once students understand this concept, the rest becomes more simple than we think.