Category Archives: Education

The Media Diaries: Five Short Stories of Five Good Friends

No. 1: The Wise Old Mentor

By Dplanet via Flickr

I’m a reader. My parents read to me when I was little, and before I actually could, I would pretend to read stories from the Western Producer on my dad’s knee. I played “music” from the Reader’s Digest Christmas Songbook at my mom’s piano. When letters slowly morphed into words, and words into ideas and stories, my life changed. I would stay up late reading Nancy Drew under my covers, occasionally checking my orange leather wristwatch to see how late it was. I didn’t want to be too tired for school the next day. Yep. That’s me. I think I loved school because I was a good reader and most of what I learned there came from textbooks. Big. Heavy. Books. I survived on painfully slow dial-up, and downloadable version of the Encyclopedia Britannica until I left home for university. Text remained my wise old mentor in this institution as well. Bates argues that text “is an essential medium for academic learning,” and I definitely have found this true in my experiences. It’s kind of difficult for me to imagine that it is unlikely “that books will survive in a printed format, because digital publication allows for many more features to be added, reduces the environmental footprint, and makes text much more portable and transferable.” But I suppose all wise old mentors die eventually, making room for new teachers, though their wisdom lives on.

No. 2: That friend who keeps you company while you run errands and doesn’t stop talking so you kind of stop listening once in a while

pink-jvcMusic and podcasts are comfortable pals of mine. Music has been in my life since my grandpa bought me a bright pink JVC CD player when I was 13, and I was introduced to Podcast last year by a good friend. I have a difficult time relaxing, doing hands-on-work or exercise in silence, so these two keep me company and I enjoy listening to them, even if I drift off on occasion. I don’t find that I learn anything particularly useful or interesting when we hang out. But if Pen or Video join us, then the conversations get juicy. So, I didn’t find it at all surprising when Bates said, “that students will often learn better from preprepared audio recordings combined with accompanying textual material (such as a web site with slides) than they will from a live classroom lecture.”

No. 3: The Diva

Mr. P, my former science teacher, was a huge fan of The Diva. We used to watch The Diva’s presentations on reproduction, chemical reactions, and uranium mines. The Diva thought she was so much better than Mr. Overheadprojector. One day, she was trying to show off with some fancy singing and animation on the topic of Meiosis. And the poor thing flopped. Sighs were heaved. Tears were shed. Minutes of lives were lost. But in history later that year, The Diva shared Schindler’s List. And so, rightfully found a place back at the top as a powerful, evocative celebrity. So, Bates’s thoughts that quality, free and engaging videos may not be easy for teachers to find brought this memory of The Diva’s career “lowlight” to the surface.

No. 4: The Nerd

You know that guy who is so passionate, that he scares people away? The nerd? I recently got set up with him by my EC&I 834 profs, Alec and Katia. Since then, we’ve been on a few dates. He’s pretty deep when you get to know him; he knows so much! And he can really challenge me, which I like. Sometimes he gets a little boring when he’s quizzing me and I really just want to hang out with Music and Podcast, or even The Diva. Still, he has a LONG list of strengths. He’s pretty good looking in most styles, organized, methodical, environmentally friendly, accommodating, and patient. Unfortunately, I think many of those strengths are left unappreciated because the ladies don’t take or have the time to get to know him. And once in a while he shuts you out for no apparent reason. That can definitely be a turn off.

“many teachers and instructors often have no training in or awareness of the strengths and weaknesses of computing as a teaching medium”  – Bates

No. 5: Ms. Social Butterfly

captureMs. Social Butterfly is one of my new teachers. We’ve been collaborating and constructing together for a little while now. Within the last year she encouraged me to blog and join Twitter. To be honest, I got a tad overwhelmed by Ms. Social Butterfly and we didn’t talk for almost six months. We just needed a break. We sat down for a Zoom session just over a month ago, and discussed boundaries. Now, I’m self-directing my learning, just like Bates said was possible. She will be an integral part of my ongoing professional development, and I’m glad that she’s teaching me again.

Challenge

Have you met any of these characters before? Do you have any characters to add to The Media Diaries? Would love to hear what they’ve been up to!


Can an educator become YouTube famous? Creating, comparing and critiquing an educational Vlog.

Part 1: Trying to Create a Vlog

petlak-tube-logo

YouTube Logo via Wikimedia Commons

Vlogging

I think I would be an engaging vlogger. I mean… I’m an engaging teacher (I think), so it should be an easy transition, right? I watch YouTube vlogs frequently, I bet I can create something similar. Maybe I can take advantage of the billion monthly users of YouTube for networking? But what avenue do I select to produce and createPinnacle studio is amazing and is what I used growing up, but a new version would cost money… so let’s try something free, while becoming comfortable with the medium in which I would be delivering the content anyway. Therefore, the means (for me) to create a vlog of sorts is through creating a video using YouTube and YouTube Editor! Clearly I will need to use a program like movie maker prior to upload and editing, but what can I do with YouTube Editor? What are the strengths and limitations of it? Let’s try it out and keep it short (under one minute is my goal).

 

Video: (To come later)

Here are some highlights had I finished my video!

Strengths

  1. Includes links to resources and content.
  2. Personalizes information consumption (it’s like you’re talking with someone).
  3. Condenses into a short chunk.

Weaknesses

  1. Reading is important! And it doesn’t (really) occur in this medium!
  2. Does obligation to create lead to staleness of content-delivery; bound to a particular character and the inevitable monotony? What if people don’t like me? What if I don’t like me?
  3. Expensive/time-consuming at start-up to establish professional content.

Potential for Teachers as a Content Tool

All I needed to create this is basically a script and a means to record video/audio (the latter of which may be mildly expensive/time-consuming, I just used my piano). Then I can add YouTube essentials to the video, like an ending part of my video with links to other videos? Ultimately, the YouTube Editor basically better utilizes the YouTube method of content delivery.

Part 2 – Comparing my Vlog to others

Rather than my video, let’s look/compare it to an example of a professional video, from one of my favourites, the vlogbrothers. Watch the video below!

Vlog Brothers: Understanding Trump’s Executive Order on Immigration
https://www.youtube.com/shared?ci=qBvSSsi2vwg
An educator replicating Crash Course w/ Petlak

Can I replicate this? What does one need? And, as Kyle and Natalie pointed out to me, do I even need to recreate it? We (educators) can throw in content and media (all created by others) organically throughout instruction.

Let’s say, hypothetically, I do decide to create my own. Creating a resource for other teachers in SK for health and environmental science could be very valuable and not only save them time, but also allow me to teach concepts if I’m missing due to extracurricular involvement. If I have created enough resources and taught the content several times prior to creation of the module as well, it should be easy to pick up and go (I’ve been writing the script every time I teach it), assuming I’ve accumulated the above and established comfort with the module medium.

But what about the impact on student learning?

In theory, it should be very positive.

Once the nuances of the format are grasped and the user establishes comfort, not only should the format add value to facilitating the content, but may even allow for greater engagement in the content, finding a balance with the right media.

Professional Quality

“Once the nuances of the format are grasped”, I say above, like that’s supposed to be easy! If professional quality is to be established, for starters, professional devices are required. Next, if you look at any of the Crash Courses, you’ll see no shortage of additional people involved in the production of the video; script-writers, fact-checkers, camera-person, producer, animators and someone to compose or create original music. As a vlogger on a budget, I have to do all of these. Unless I talk to Andres and he can take care of animation while I take care of sound.

BUT WHAT ABOUT EVERYTHING ELSE?!

It’s not like educators ever wear multiple hats, right? (Wrong.)

Devil’s advocate: as educators, we are morally obligated to continue learning, so dive in.

Conclusion

The start-up may be difficult, much like Justine addresses in her post! I’ve been making movies for fun since I was young so my experience with the medium is likely greater than most educators, so some of you may find the learning curve is steep and this is very time-consuming (even I found my limits, and it can be frustrating when it’s just not as good as professional vloggers). So, find your boundaries, and push your technological literacy limits (within reason).

Could you see yourself as a vlogger? Is it hard to establish confidence in the creation of this media? Do we even need to learn it?
Questions, comments, feedback – let me know!

– Logan Petlak

 

 


Throw away that curriculum…web 3.0 is coming!

If only the web and education were as easy as 1, 2, 3. I have read through a lot of blogs and articles this week trying to fully understand where we are headed with education and web 3.0. I’m glad that some of my classmates are still struggling to fully comprehend web 3.0 because I feel the same way. I don’t think you can blame us though, it seems that there really is no clear understanding of it and even Wikipedia struggles to understand it (thanks to Andrew for pointing this out). But we do know some things. Here’s what I know based on my readings, discussions and reflections from this past week.

Jackie Gerstein provides a thorough explanation of web 1.0 through 3.0 and also discusses the transformation of education from education 1.o – 3.0. Jackie summarizes each of these ideas with explanations and also considers the learning theories that are involved. I have summarized what I took away from her article in the table below.

Screenshot of a table I created in MS Word

Screenshot of a table I created in MS Word

Photo Credit: bethannigrams Flickr via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: bethannigrams Flickr via Compfight cc

Many of my classmates were able to summarize and explain the differences between web 1.0, web 2.0 and web 3.0. Erin did a great job summarizing the key points and discussing what a “good student” looks like for each of these. I feel as though we are all familiar with a web 1.0 student at this point in time. A web 1.0 student can “look up” anything and find information online in order to memorize or write down information. It is a one way learning situation. The student is a passive learning going with the flow of what they come across on the internet. I feel as though a lot of teachers use this method of teaching when they use the internet. Sadly, I feel as though many teachers don’t move beyond web 1.0 when using the web.

The web 2.0 student is just as easy to spot although there aren’t as many of these students as there are web 1.0 students. The web 2.0 students are able to collaborate, connect and create by using online spaces to their advantage. They have an online presence and personal learning networks established through blogs or social media. Students are no longer passive learners who simply receive information. They produce, discover and generate ideas by working with others to develop and learn. They work with others to build on information and construct understanding of the material.

Photo Credit: marktmcn Flickr via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: marktmcn Flickr via Compfight cc

Web 3.0 is a little harder to define as we haven’t really jumped into that part of the pool yet. We are just dipping our toes in at this point. Web 3.0 is going to take us away from traditional learning styles and more importantly teaching styles. When I think about web 3.0 I think of learning that has no boundaries, is extremely flexible and is completely personalized. As teachers, we would move away from actually teaching material to becoming facilitators who help our students along the way. We would work as collaborators and help students locate information they are seeking. Curriculums will no longer be necessary as each student is learning what they want and each student will be learning something entirely different from the student sitting next to them. Outcomes will be done away with and student success will be determined by themselves. Student success may end up being based on whether they have learned what they need to learn in order to land them a position in the career field they are interested in. Some students will find success earlier than others while others will struggle to be self-determined learners. It is the teachers role to encourage students to become self-determined and motivate them to discover what interests them. This is my somewhat EXTREME version of what web 3.0 will look like…am I too far off??

Regardless of where we are at, we must continue to move forward. We may feel as though web 3.0 is a long ways away but technology is changing at an incredible rate so we must start preparing now. As I mentioned earlier, many of us as well as our students are still stuck in web 1.0 when we have been living in a world of web 2.0 for a number of years now. It’s time for us to move forward from education 1.0 to education 3.0. As teachers we need to be advocates for our students and part of this is ensuring we are moving forward ourselves.

What do you see as your biggest barrier in moving away from web 1.0 teaching methods? Would you consider yourself a web 2.0 teacher or do you find yourself being caught in the web 1.0 trap? I’d also love to hear your comments on my web 3.0 thoughts in terms of how I think it could change education.

 

 


The digital life of a teacher-entertainer.

In this ever-evolving  understanding of teaching and learning, educators are constantly on the run from “traditional schooling”, constantly bombarded with news mean to fight the factory education model they are still enclosed within. Teachers, forever exposed to new means of instruction, the new rights, the new wrongs, the new device, and in the case of Sesame Street: the new songs.

Sesame Street Songs (Then and now)

Songs?

In a classroom?

Not allowed.

Unless your students are part of a generation with higher cases of ADD needing various forms of engagement to aid in learning (In this writer’s opinion, higher cases of ADD are strictly due to larger and more accurate amounts of testing).

Oh!

Wait!

Our students are a part of this generation. They need interesting and engaging delivery of content to enhance learning. Not to say it hasn’t been present before, I just think the world is far more engaging than it ever was. Which is why we, as educa-entertain-tors have to compete with the shows we were raised on and then some. New types of entertainment change comes with our handheld devices and while individual perception of change varies, some welcome it, some resist it, the fact is media, television, and devices are always changing. Therefore, to stay competitive, we have to stay on top of our game. Sift through the resistance to BYOD, get your hands on some additional devices for those who don’t have them, and get on the same level as every other source of entertainment your student is exposed to. I don’t mean to discount evidence that indicates BYOD can be bad for learning , but much like shows of the past, learning can still be had from devices and programming, because we watched these shows.

pinky__the_brain_wallpaper

A personal favourite of mine from youth. “Pinky and the Brain” via Looney Tunes Wikia

Even if standard achievement scores went down, there is learning that occurs beyond the ways we measure it. Natalie’s take  on the work of Neil Postman reminded us that: “He indicates that Sesame Street is a series of short commercials meant to entertain that uses puppets, celebrities and catchy tunes.  This is true.”

But why isn’t entertainment considered learning?

Kids don’t always learn the way we want them to, but there still are provided with ways to learn through the apps, social media, and games they play. Apps allow our students to connect with each other, face to face. Apps are reinventing the depth of relationships we may have had before with increased exposure to socialization and different experiences and cultures. Many games are problem-based, objective-completing activities that provide descriptors and feedback on their work. Consistent with that of the classroom but not with the content we would prefer. But can it go wrong? We can observe the history of the learning channel and see the defamation of the “educational program” over the years, and Krista Gates mentions that the shows are not as educational as they once were. But they are just as entertaining, and when I enjoyed the learning that I was exposed to on television, I enjoyed learning.

Sounds like a connection.

 

Television, apps, and devices are fun.

Television, apps, and devices are entertaining.

Television, apps, and devices are engaging.

Engagement leads to learning.

Learning should be engaging.

Learning should be entertaining.

Learning is fun.

 

Thoughts? Disagree? Am I simply brainwashed by the collection of television I’ve been exposed to over the years? Is my naive optimism the product of every show I’ve ever seen where a cartoon character made a joke or managed to smile in a bad situation? I’d like to this so.

Logan Petlak


Entertaining Education

I’ve spent a lot of time this past week reflecting on Postman’s quote regarding Sesame Street and education. Like Andrew it was a little hard for me to think of because I didn’t have a whole lot of experience with educational tv growing up (at least not that I can remember). This is something that made me think more about my own children and their exposure to educational television. I decided to look into Neil Postman’s quote and found that he provides several reasons why parents embraced Sesame Street. He begins with a very important point and it’s something that I can relate to as a parent.

“Sesame Street” appeared to justify allowing a four- or five-year-old to sit transfixed in front of a television screen for unnatural periods of time. 

After reading Naomi’s post and some of the comments that follow, it is easy to see that I’m not the only parent who may be able to relate to this. I too have allowed my children to watch Baby Einstein and it started at a very young age. I remember putting my son into his exersaucer and turning on Baby Einstein so that I could blow-dry my hair, or change a load of laundry. It’s difficult when you are the only parent home and trying to run a household with a little one who doesn’t nap when you need them to. I’m sure we’ve all been there. I don’t think that it’s a terrible thing if we let our kids watch tv, or shall I say use the tv as babysitter as long as we aren’t going overboard.

How do we know how much is overboard though? I was surprised when I read some of the stats on how long children watch tv in a week as provided in the first chapter of “Children’s Learning From Educational Television: Sesame Street and Beyond.” It was interesting to read about some of the negatives such as behaviour issues that may arise due to increased tv time. In response to some of the negatives that may arise due to increased tv time, the American Academy of Paediatrics suggested that total tv time should be limited to 1-2 hours per day and eliminated completely for children under the age of 2. I sure hope no one from the American Academy of Paediatrics comes over to my house while I’m trying to get supper ready, or finish my work, or do anything that needs to be done while the kids are awake. That being said, is that ALL my kids do? Of course not! My kids are great at make believe play and entertaining themselves, but I do allow them to watch tv daily with limits.

A big hit in our house is the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on Disney Jr. When I first saw the show I was quite impressed with the educational value of it. Commonsense Media gave one episode that we have on DVD a 3/5 stars for educational value. I was a little surprised to see it didn’t rate higher. One thing I really like about each episode is the use of “Toodles” and the “Mousketools”. The mousketools are a set of tools that will be used to solve a problem throughout the show. The kids are asked to problem solve and think critically about the tool that will need to be used to solve the problem. Check out the clip below to see how Toodle works. In addition to Toodle it does teach counting, colours, shapes and social skills.

Postman also suggested that parents felt Sesame Street took care of the education side of things in the household. This is something that I can see in tv shows as well as apps and computer games. Although educational tv does teach some skills, it cannot be the only way that our children are learning at a young age. We need to work with our children to develop reading, writing, critical thinking and math skills.

“Sesame Street” relieved them of the responsibility of teaching their per-school children how to read.

We cannot expect our children to learn everything they need to learn from an app or tv show. We need to read to our children, talk to them about money, count things, look for patterns, discuss rules of the road…I could go on and on about the little things that we can do that will make a big difference in our children’s educational lives.

Postman finishes by stating that

We now know that “Sesame Street” encourages children to love school only if school is like “Sesame Street”. Which is to say…[it] undermines what the traditional idea of schooling represents.

I can agree with this point to a certain extent. I believe that educational tv, apps and games contribute to the lack of attention that some children seem to have. From a very young age our children are stimulated by these tv shows and games. They find them fun, entertaining and enjoyable. I do think it may develop expectations in these young children about what learning looks like. As Benita mentions, it’s hard to compete with stimulating games and tv shows when students come into our classroom and it’s exhausting to think about Teaching Like a Pirate. I think we all struggle with making ALL learning fun and to be honest I don’t know if that is realistic. However, realistic or not I think it is something that we need to strive for. Do we need to tell jokes, dance, juggle and put on a show? Of course not! But we do need to engage our students and be excited about what we are teaching. If we are excited about what we are teaching, our students will be excited to learn the material.

Am I being too harsh? Is it realistic to think that everything we teach (or learn) can be fun? What happens as we move through our schooling into post-secondary education or onto meetings in our careers? Is there a point that is reached in which learning is no longer fun?


Dialled in, plugged in, and loving life.

Look up“.

Great advice for some, but not all. I think in some cases, we need try to reflect on the value of looking down… and what looking down allows us to do – connect, answer, and learn. Yes, we can go to a concert and hear musicians tell us to unplug and live in the moment, and we need to, but what about getting a video of Chris Martin singing “Fix You” for your friend who couldn’t be there because they were sick?

Some moments don’t need a camera and there is value in appreciating things without a digital record… but, like every other debate we’ve had, we need balance, moderation, and an open mind. Is taking a video of a child’s first steps also not living in the moment? Or is it an opportunity to reflect and relive the moment years later? Humanity is evolving, constantly rewiring the hardware of our brains, and with this includes modern connectedness and socialization which occurs by looking down and utilizing our technology and devices. We are comfortable with looking down when it helps us learn with PLNs or to help facilitate learning and friendships, but are quick to antagonize it when people don’t appreciate moments the way we might want them to. There is a challenge to begin to recognize that who we are today involves a link between offline to online life. This is echoed by the concept of augmented reality, and as we learn about what our digital footprints are, and adjust our digital identity to improve this, we improve our IRL identity as a result… we project a better us to live up to. (But this can create pressure to please, so we need to continue to reflect and be fair to ourselves).
Optimism versus the facts against being plugged in.

“Plugging in” has been called a way to avoid dealing with loneliness,

Loneliness_(4101974109)

Loneliness via Wikimedia Commons

but perhaps it is rather an opportunity for less boredom, two states of mind that are, at times, difficult to differentiate from one another. I would seek to argue that perhaps we are more engaged and stimulated than ever before, but is there a backlash to this? We are all capable of multi-tasking and some evidence points to the idea that I am, in fact, wrong. Having too much going on at once is imposed by tech and causes higher levels of stress… including how connected we are and the inherent expectations for shorter response times. I would argue that I feel efficient when I get a lot done in a day, and am capable of getting a lot of things done thanks to technology, and have a lot of positive means of coping with the potential stress that occurs as a result. I want to be involved and I feel fulfilled when I am… or am I just afraid of missing out?

Fear of missing out is a reality for some, and some may tell you that technology is making this worse, but there is also learning to be had when struggling with this this fear. Speaking from personal experience through toddler to teenager, I have been completely wrapped up in what others are doing, and over time learned to accept the things I may be missing out on for what is more important, isn’t that what growing up is and has been for some time? Some argue that technology can be an addiction, observing others make trips home to retrieve devices that, without, individuals would feel naked. I have a hard time agreeing that technology is an addiction, we have it to connect and it is something that we feel improves or is needed in our lives. How is this different than applying the argument to being addicted to our cars or other modes of transportation? It is a part of our lives that improves our lives, and the fact that I feel that I “need” it to get to work wouldn’t be considered addiction or “bordering on obsession”, so many things would therefore border on obsession. My love of hockey, teaching, cats, and my family, borders on obsession. However, the points listed above make my life better, no question about it. Does being plugged in actually make my life better?

Does being plugged in legitimately make your life better?

Does being plugged in make your students’ lives better?

If you think it doesn’t, then stay unplugged.

For me?

I am dialled in.

I am plugged in.

I am educate-in.

And I am loving life.

 

EC&I 830, have a great summer.

Logan Petlak

 

 


In the blink of an eye

This semester seemed to go by in the blink of an eye! I forgot about just how quickly spring classes fly by. For my summary of learning I decided to try something different and make a movie using iMovie. I haven’t used iMovie since I was an undergrad 10 years ago and I am definitely rusty. My editing skills peaked at the 10 second mark and went downhill from there (ha ha) but I did my best to make it work.

With this being my third class with Alec & Katia you would think that doing the summary of learning would get easier but IT DOESN’T! At least not for me. I find that each semester everyone sets the bar higher and higher which is fantastic for my viewing and learning pleasure, but not so fantastic for me when it comes to creating my own summary. From what I have seen so far everyone has done an AMAZING job of not only summarizing your learning, but doing it in a creative way! You’ll see from my video that my artistic abilities are nothing to write home about especially after seeing what Dre can do (talk about talented)! I always find it so difficult to sum up my learning into a short video and to match the video/pictures up with my voiceover. I tried to focus on the points that stood out to me in the class rather than trying to talk about EVERYTHING (because that seems impossible). I do find the whole thing challenging in so many ways, but I am happy with my final product.

Thanks to everyone for sharing your knowledge throughout the semester and presenting such awesome arguments during the debate. Personally I thought the debates were a great way to encourage us to view an issue from both sides and to critically discuss both sides of the issue. I like that it forced everyone to get involved and allowed us to have some pretty powerful discussions. I’m looking forward to the fall semester and hope to see some of you in the Zoom room again! Have a  great summer everyone!

 


Should you sell your educating soul for the right reason (students)?

I have such a hard time trusting corporations or people in power.

Maybe it’s from watching V for Vendetta, Fight Club, or Mr. Robot too many times, but my default assumption on individuals who are extremely wealthy or powerful is mistrust and doubt.

What did you do to get there?

Why are you so wealthy?

Do you believe you need that much more money than others?

What motivates your decision making?

preview2

Big Business via socawlege

And sorry to those of you who are well-off (which is a loaded comment in and of itself) that this may offend…

But can you blame me?

We obviously can’t paint every company with the same brush but when it comes down to students and learning, but what resources and deals that we as teachers, administrators school boards and divisions make are actually valuable to students and what is simply fuelled by greed or is filling the pockets of those that we are obligated to appease?

Soft drink and food companies push to get their brands into the school with some “noble” marketing. Textbook companies even cash in on the curriculum and testing system in some states south of our borders. While there are examples of positive and noble gestures by certain groups, there is a large monopoly on learning and its associated resources. When I consider the impact these corporations have on the learning I attempt to facilitate in my classroom I’m not sure I know where to begin. Textbooks, laptops, projectors and SMARTboards are the obvious ones, but can we not extend this to the desks, air conditioning (if so fortunate), the phones they use and the gymnasiums and facilities the student train and compete in? The line is pretty ambiguous. Is it okay to use desks but not textbooks?

This presents the idea of the Faustian bargain in education. Do we allow for companies to exhibit some forms of dominance and investment in the learning process for the sake of better resources? Does saying yes mean you’ve sold your soul? You can see in comics and media examples of “selling your soul” for the right reasons, and I would argue this applies here, much like Dean Shareski argued in our debate, highlighting that we kind of have to and it happens whether we like it or not. Our goal is student learning and as long as we do not become obligated or bound to do something unethical in the process of receiving what these companies provide to our students, we should be able to accept a pizza hut lunch day at school. Or free Google Chromebooks to all students. It is “free marketing” for those companies, but they are still providing a service to students with the potential to enhance learning and we need to utilize it that way. As Audrey Watters reminded us, this isn’t a new problem, capitalizing on education has been happening for over a hundred years but our ideologies on education have changed. Regardless, this has been happening for a long time. It doesn’t mean we completely trust these corporations, but we can at least see the value in what private companies can provide. We can’t be afraid to use the resources if it is for our students to learn (it is important to note I don’t mean “do anything for the sake of learning”).

//gifs.com/embed/ghost-rider-you-can-t-live-in-fear-gJEgOr

Once again in ECI 830 we ask, where is the line? What is the balance? Education needs funding… and in times of lower provincial revenue, what do our leaders turn to? Maybe we do need outside funding, as Andres reminds us, but I would posit the idea that we aren’t selling our souls to do so when it is done for a morally just reason.

Connecting to my opinion statement referencing movies and comics as well as my post from last week on doing what is morally right, I will close on a Ghost Rider reference when discussing selling our souls for education. In this comic, the antihero sells his soul to the devil to save his father… who ends up dying anyway.

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Ghost Rider by Clayton Crain via Tumblr

We want to avoid dying (getting manipulated by businesses) at all costs, and by being aware of these potential effects on our children, we can. But as educators, we, like Ghost Rider, can take comfort knowing that embracing the positives can lead to achieving what is right and just for ourselves, and more importantly for others (our students).

Thoughts, comments? Share below.

Logan Petlak

 


Good intentions and what is morally just make EdTech equitable.

Equity versus equality.

Equity involves an attempt to level the playing field for all as exemplified in the picture below.

equality doesnt mean equity

Health Equity via CommunityView.ca

The importance of this concept was made more apparent in the presence of “straight pride week” posters and social media posts appearing recently in light of pride week… and people sometimes fail to make the connection that equality is not equality without equity. And despite the use of social media to spread this hate and discrimination, technology still can be used as a force for equity.

straight pride

Straight Pride Posters Removed via Worldnow

 

 

Equity, education, technology and well-intentioned actions.

Technology can be a force for equity in society. It can provide health and learning alternatives for those at risk or at a disadvantage and seek to level the playing field for individuals. These actions are practised with good intentions for helping others. Some emphasize that using these technologies widens the achievement gap between rich and poor students and that may be the case in some instances, exacerbating socio-economic divides. Well-intentioned actions (more on this next week) can lead to further issues and may place importance on skills related to certain forms of technology that may make individuals more equipped for life in another culture rather than helping them to develop their own. As it applies to education, every effort needs to be made to educate our youth to put them in the best position to be successful learners and citizens, and while there are potential repercussions, decisions made in good conscience/faith need to be encouraged while productive feedback is provided. Well-intentioned actions may be flawed, but with the students in mind and the potential for enhancement of their learning, the process of integrating these technologies is worth practising. Technology, apps, robots and devices are developed with the intention to serve a need in society and many of these needs today are to bridge gaps, regardless of the paycheck associated with it (there is a host of issues with that as well, however). Just as there are needs in society, there are needs in the classroom. Literary needs, language needs, even motor skill needs. 

Socio-economic divides, do these technologies actually help?

Technology in the classroom may not actually improve performance in classrooms. And the introduction of these new technologies when made available to all will likely only be used by those with the resources to acquire it. This doesn’t mean it isn’t worth creating or practising. By that logic, a new, expensive, potentially life-saving practice for heart disease shouldn’t be allowed or encouraged as it will further push the divide as rich people with heart disease will be able to live longer while those who cannot afford it may not be able to. Morally, all should have access to it, but is our reality consistent with this? No. And there is the potential that this technology can someday be made more accessible for all. But for now, one student, even if there are rich that has a learning disability and there is an app that helps them learn, it’s worth it. I understand the associated issues with what the creation and subsequent use of technologies provide, but what is the potential solution then? Equal/equitable access for all so that these technologies may not be privatised? Complete societal upheaval and restructuring? It’s not feasible. I don’t intend to be pessimistic, mind you, quite the contrary. The creation and use of these technologies for health and learning present an opportunity for learning and well-being… and when these occur, equity can follow and I am optimistic despite potential short-term gap widening, the benefits and morality of equitable tech casts a shadow over it.

 

The moral question I ask is: Is an act done with good intentions and is morally just, but has potential consequences, wrong?

A loaded question. And while bad decisions have been made in the past with good intentions, with the right research and preparation, the moral good that technology can provide in the learning and health for some outweighs the potential gap-widening problems.

Debatable, no doubt. Thoughts?

Logan Petlak