Category Archives: Open education

Agoraphobia in education.

Addressing Educator “Fear of Open Space” (agoraphobia)

In the creation of a digital community for education, do we resist the idea of allowing our students into open spaces? The subject and grade level will help determine our personal stance on exactly how “open” we allow our student’s discussion and learning to be… but if the educator is at the secondary level, is it acceptable to open things up then? Or do we still fear the internet? Are there more educators suffering from agoraphobia than we think?

OPen Space

“Wanda in open space” from Corner Gas

“How could anyone be afraid of open space?”

A quote from season two, episode four, of the beloved Canadian show, Corner Gas. Yes, I am working Corner Gas into this blog post.

Open online space, to be clear. And let’s face it, there is a seedy side, with a palpable list of awful instances of abuse in the digital realm. But what about the development of a sense of connectedness with strangers. Strangers who can be from anywhere in the world, yet provide us with ideas, opinions, interests, be they novel or similar to our own!

Why exactly do I get so excited about the online community?

Growing up in the infant stages of the internet and social media, I scoured forums for information on video games I played (Super Nintendo, Pokemon, etc). In my searching, it was always exciting to find websites full of individuals who enjoyed what I enjoyed (in similar or different ways). Sharing the same emotions and ideas with individuals you will never really know (by conventional standards), is a mysteriously unifying concept. You just don’t get that in a closed setting. In closed forums in an educational setting, I only ever saw the keeners dominate forums, and much of the time, I resented their contributions because I felt they used higher vocabulary needlessly that either made their points too convoluted, or served to exclude other classmates who wouldn’t be able to comprehend it as well. I hard a hard time thinking it was practice for language development, and normally felt that it was done to elevate or flaunt language prowess at the expense of making others feel inferior.

I say this, yet use words now in my writing that I would’ve probably resented then. Don’t worry, I have yet to feel it in my graduate classes thus far – but I am always so aware of my motives behind sharing or my vocabulary choices, am I doing it for my benefit, or for others?

fry hear themselves

“hear themselves talk” via Memegenerator

In reflecting on my sharing on the group chat in our discussions. In this course (and my previous courses with Alec), specifically in the chat realm, a lot of my contributions have some desperate attempts at humour laced with relevance to the content – and while it keeps me engaged, I’m sure others, at least once, have thought: “oh my goodness, just stop”. And maybe I’m wrong… but have you ever felt like you were in a class where it seems some individuals just like to hear themselves talk?

That is my fear in the closed setting. I’m a claustrophobic educator I guess. My feelings aside, learning can still happen for students when ones who dominate discussion receive feedback to curb contributions or it pushes others to step up. But are the discussion-dominators even displaying understanding or have they simply learned to fake it?


“Learned to fake it”

“Learned to fake it” with it being authenticity. There still is learning occurring when individuals learn to fake it and share what they share in these settings. As such, I would argue that: yes, there is some authenticity, because who it is meaningful to has a wide scope. When we consider the scope and who all the comments reach, we’re bound to find some authentic learning. The modelling of “advanced responses” still benefit others who may get too intimidated to contribute. Therefore, while it may not be authentic for the contributor, whose motives may be less than intrinsic, the responses evoked may be authentic, so where do I (and we) draw the line? And what’s the difference in this between an open or closed setting?

I envision that the more open your discussions are, the more opportunities present themselves for learning to go in more directions as it increases your potential contributors and receivers (positive or negative contributions, mind you).

What age do students begin to have open spaces then?

think of the children.jpg

“Think of the children” via quickmeme

As an individual pushing for openness, I am fortunate to be teaching students mostly sixteen years of age and older. The mentality of allowing students to be exposed or unprotected in the digital realm is not a foreign concept for most of them or us, especially if they have been involved with social media and digital usage throughout their adolescent life.

At the senior science level with open content, the scope isn’t limited to students either. Parents may access the open format if they’re wanting to be involved, yet allow the students to begin to stretch their wings a bit. As long as administration and parents are made aware of the rationale and mentality behind the decision to go public, and concerns are addressed and adapted for as needed, the learning from open commenting and discussion can unfold. If concerns arose like frequent trolling, decisions could be made as a class community (edcuator, students, parents, admin) with how to address them. (All of this is predicated on student buy-in. But… at the senior science level, buy-in is, pretty much, required).

Were I a grade four science teacher, there would be greater restrictions when searching for information and public commenting (as in, it would likely be non-existent as the students would be still, I consider, vulnerable). You would see a closed setting without external influence, but potentially simulated digital citizenship practices in which they’d deal with a pretend troll, or have to select from three information sources to determine which one is most likely false, rather than being thrown to the wolves of the web in my senior science courses. But even then, where is the line where we stop coddling students?

Closing thoughts

While some of my senior students may become “learn to fake it”‘s as I mentioned above, there’s still learning to be had. This learning may be from unknowingly modelling behaviours for themselves, or creating authentic learning for others who may learn from them.

The more open we go, the scope of learning increases. So don’t be afraid of open space.

Open Space Gif.gif

“Corner Gas – Open Space” made via Giphy

Open space…

Open space…


Agree? Disagree? Comment below!

-Logan Petlak

In the Spotlight: Open Education

What happens before you have to stand on stage with a blinding spotlight trained on you, following your every move? A crowded audience lies before you, the heat of their eyes piercing your skin.

Photo by marfis75 via flickr

You practice. A lot.

This is the effect of asking students to do work in open online spaces like forums, blogs, or Twitter. When I am asked to post a blog it means that I spend extra time trying to perfect syntax to convey appropriate tone; I double-check and cite sources; I try to inform or persuade in a somewhat entertaining way. I also want to write things that are enjoyable, unlike in traditional closed classes where I care about enjoyability less because only the teacher reads what I write. Then, I don’t care quite as much. (But really, I am a bit of an over-achiever regardless.) The process is also more fun for me because I love getting comments on my blog and responding.

But does this really make the process of learning more authentic? How much of what is being said is being said just to get a mark and how much is driven by authentic engagement? Would I be writing this blog post right now if I wasn’t taking this class. Honestly. Or as the kids would say, TBH. No. I wouldn’t. However, it is definitely more authentic than writing just for one teacher.

Blogging also makes me more accountable because I want what I post to the whole world to reflect what I really think and who I am. This is not to say that sometimes I exaggerate just how excited I am about a new app or tech tool in the moment I’m writing the post. I might discover a tool, and think it’s pretty cool after trying it out and will probably use it at some point in my classroom. But I’m not going to write exactly that. Instead I might say, “I just found the most AMAZING tool! It’s free, it’s fun, it’s relevant, it’s intuitive. YOU SHOULD USE IT!”

So, when would I ask students to blog? What would be worthwhile for them to discuss in open spaces? I think that in music, I would still advocate for posting videos of progress on blogs or forums and having students comment on each others’ playing. It takes the pressure off of performing live, and kids have fun sharing and  listening to each other. I did this in EC&I 831, and appreciated the encouragement and feedback from my classmates.

Students could practice using music terms and develop literacy because they would have time to provide feedback in a forum. I think that this would be authentic to an extent. Again, as I mentioned last week, some participation would need to be mandatory, but that also protects people who want to share from being labeled overachievers or nerds, stifling key contributors. And we all know that we music types have enough of a stereotype to overcome already. I know what you’re thinking. I’ve never seen this movie, and I still know this…

I think that we could generate a culture where students would be excited to check in on students’ videos of their bands, ensembles, duets and solos. It would be a great way to generate excitement leading up to live performances.

Once again, as I said last week, we would need to practice skills of posting and commenting and set expectations as a class for the types, length and frequency of comments.

With this buy in from students and moderation of appropriateness by a teacher, I don’t think that my grade 9-12 students’ parents would have any concerns about them participating in an open online environment. They already are exposed to or participating more potentially unsafe spaces.


A Reflection on an Old Dog and it’s New Tricks

"Who said you can't teach an old dog new tricks?"

Courtesy of Google Images

This semester has come to an end and I have definitely surprised myself with how much I have actually learned and been able to do using the power of the internet.  Prior to this class, I was definitely a skeptic when it came to social media.  I mean, I definitely used social media and means of open education, but I do not think I was using it in a critical or creative way.  Now that my professors Alec Couros and Katia Hildebrandt have helped this old dog to the computer, I can truly say I now have the skills to use means of open education & social media to better the lives of my students and myself.

Check out my Summary of Learning to take a look at some of the tools we used within class.  You can make your own white board video using an online tool called VideoScribe.

Our class was given the means to choose one’s own direction of learning.  Thus, I choose to get in touch with my inner Baba and carry on the traditions of my Eastern European Grandmothers.

I have compiled a short list of a few things I have learned through open education & social media.

  1. I built and learned to use a blog called #BabaRevolution (  If I needed help with my blog along the way I used Google or Twitter to connect with technology addicts to help me through the process.
  2. Began to learn the native language my maternal grandmother spoke.  Now, ich spreche ein bisschen deutsch (I can speak a little German).  I used free tools like, Duolingo, Mango, MindSnacks, and HelloTalk to help me with mein Deutsch (my german).  Check out my counting video that I posted to
  3.  Babas like to save money, time, and save the earth too!  In turn, I learned to give hair cuts to my male family and friends.  This saves us about $300 dollars a year in our house hold.  Check out the finished learning process and finished product here.
  4. Babas love to feed their family so I used open education to practice cooking techniques, learn new recipes, and document the process with time lapse videos.  The Greek Baba Bowl and Cranberry Pesto Chicken Sandwiches were my most liked recipes on Instagram.
  5. Finding a balance, spending time outside, and being a self sustaining human is important to Babas.  In this case, I entered myself in a fishing derby and connected with Pro fisher people like Jason and Jeff Matity and Roger and Sue Geres on line to learn more about the art of the fishing derby.  Check out my McBride Lake fishing learning and adventure here.
  6. Babas do love to share and collaborate because sharing knowledge is true happiness.  So, I worked together with my friend to up-cycle old clothing to make it new again.  We even made a fashion reel that will probably be shown on the next cycle of America’s Next Top Model.  Find our in fashion knee cut jeans here.
  7. I developed a Queen B Creative tab to help with learn to make chalk boards and eventually helped to start my own little chalk board art business.
  8. The number one lesson or development that has been internalized throughout this semester is that social media and open education creates the means to be connect and stay connected!
    Jeff and Jason Matity

    Jeff and Jason Matity (who can solve my fishing problems at anytime).  

    Mr. Matity

    Mr. Matity


I think I have come a long way since the days of my first blog post!  Thanks to my classmates and teachers for this beautiful experience.  #IthinkIamgettingthehangofthis

Learning piano: Patience, hard work and connections that transcend time.

General thoughts and reflections

In recent weeks, I have focused on playing piano using my full hand range (by practicicing the opening baseline of Castle of Glass by Linkin Park), maintaining proper posture and playing with my left hand in addition to my right simultaneously… but this is taking a long time to progress. The most important thing I’ve had to remind myself is patience. Not surprisingly, there are no short-cuts to success with physically playing the piano. Your body has to be taught the movements in order to experience success. In understanding terminology, tricks for learning can occur much like it would learning from a textbook in the classroom, but you still need to understand and apply aside from memorize (Bloom’s taxonomy). What are some things that have stood out for me?


Key points that I’ve noticed in my development and tips you can use.

  • I still need to keep learning different chords and songs I enjoy. And play them to completion, not just the parts I like. But some parts of songs may teach certain things (chords or hand range).
  • A song I enjoy is so much easier to play (practice).
  • I’ve only scratched the surface of learning piano. Be patient.
  • I need to maintain and honour a regular schedule to keep playing regularly, it’s easy to get caught up in life and skip a day or two sometimes.
  • Some songs I am simply not ready to learn/play yet.
  • It isn’t easy to play piano while singing… but can be very rewarding when achieved, even if you can just hum it to start.
  • Playing with two hands can be done, but learn one hand at a time and then combine them together.
  • There is no limit to resources out there, but some may be different, find what’s accurate and works best for you.
  • Maintain good posture and consider getting an instructor to critique you for even a brief amount of time. I was fortunate to work with a music teacher in person, but many virtual piano courses are available.
  • It is so amazing to be listening to the radio, hear a song, and think: I bet I could play that.

It is so amazing to be listening to the radio, hear a song, and think: I bet I could play that.


Recommendations on resources to learners.

I really enjoyed using Synthesia. If you can drop thirty dollars (USD) to purchase it, I found it very useful used in combination with Free Midi. Searching on Google or on YouTube is an easy way to find tutorials on songs, terminology, or instructors/courses available on-line. Some of which are free for the frugal!

What’s next?

Did I achieve all of my goals? No. But learning is never complete and my journey with the piano is no exception to this idea. In addition to the goal of learning the four chord song one day, as I’ve made countless references to… this classic below by Johann Sebastian Bach looks like another goal to learn in the future. The video below is slowed down enough for me to follow along while I play (if I can’t find a midi). I considered learning classical at the start of the term, but just hadn’t got around to it yet. After reading about Bach, I was reminded about the universal language that is music. That a song that someone composed close to three hundred years ago can make my spine shiver and emotions echo that of an individual who lived in a world not as connected like mine. But this connection through music transcends time, worldview and language. This serves as a reminder of why patience and hard work is important in learning music… and while I believe that success will look different for all students, he did (apparently) provide this quote to close on:


Johann Sebastian Bach via Wikipedia

“I worked hard. Anyone who works as hard as I did can achieve the same results.”
Johann Sebastian Bach from BrainyQuotes



Have you been learning an instrument? Would you emphasize patience as well? Let me know below!

Logan Petlak

ED Goals: Continue to connect, learn, question and improve.

Term in review

Over the course of this semester in ECI 831 we’ve progressed from educational technologies, like utilizing social media such as blogging and tweeting –> open education resources and ideologies –> to the perils and realities of the internet world through law and harassment –> and closed with the power and need for on-line activism. As this was my first class in my graduate studies, I found it very relevant as a student again and still as a young teacher. I felt that many of the discussions directly translated to learning in my classroom.
How have I been applying my new knowledge and thoughts thus far in my teaching practice?

In environmental science we have utilized social media to do research on ways to reduce waste and become enviornmental stewards and activists. In health science, I registered and directed students toward an open education resource through Coursera to learn more about our current topic (vital signs). This was accompanied by showing the students that you may purchase certifications in recognition of these courses should you need some paperwork associated with it ($65). This, in turn, lead into a class discussion on university tuitions that unfortunately seem to serve as a price tag for paper recognition of knowledge garnered. Around the school? I’ve used Facebook group chats to communicate with students about our One Act performance for the year, and have continued to use Remind to communicate with my track and field team as well as help coordinate our school gay-straight alliance (GSA). After spending more time with Snapchat, I had utilized its popularity with students to help promote our school in Moose Jaw as well as provide an area for potential students to ask questions about the school.

As I took into consideration MOOCs and open education, I considered how to work this into my classroom, but rather than simply throwing in some individual research in assignments and reminding them about critiquing sources, I decided to formally merge my teaching style with what I’ve learned about digital citizenship. The Digital Citizenship Presentation covers this and “learning in a Mr. Petlak classroom”. I intend to use at the start of my semesters in the future.


Beyond my classroom and practice, what else has this course helped with?

Over the course of this class, I digitally connected with others in the private purchase of a house, I digitally connected with other educators on-line to enhance my PLN, and expanded my ability to organize knowledge gathered outside of the school back into improving learning of myself and others. I felt it helped me reflect on the social dynamics inherent in social media that was just becoming relevant when I was in high school, and it allowed me to better connect with this generation of learners. It also renewed my desire to be an activist and not be afraid to speak out, which I fear as educators we may fear doing so in order to remain neutral… and at times, silent. But the push to learn piano also helped me found my voice and way to “create” music and sounds that I have enjoyed for a long time… and will continue to keep learning about.



I sincerely thank Alec Couros and Katia Hildebrandt for an awesome semester of learning, as well as all of my classmates. I was very unsure what to expect in a graduate class but this did not overwhelm or disappoint. I feel like a better teacher and person after this course and I feel that is my ultimate goal of education: to continue to connect, learn, question and improve.

To finish how I started, below is a picture of the difference in hashtags from the start of the semester to the end of the semester. Despite the length of each list, the time to complete was actually very similar… and almost just as importantly… I think my hair looks better too!


First Day – ECI 831


Last Day – ECI 831














Summary of Learning Video

Without further delay, below is my summary of learning video. “Google Yourself” a parody (remix) of Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself”.

Keep on learning,
Logan Petlak


It all began with a selfiechallenge,
and then I started google plussing my name!
Flipgridding teachers, oh, wow this is great!
No more learning on my own: networking

Learning project maybe write a song,
‘Cause I love music maybe piano player. Can’t yet,
But I still play piano lots
And, holy, I be learnin’ lots
Watching youtube, TedTalks connections is where it is at,
Took weeks just to see that

Katia don’t like trolls but she likes trollin’ ’em
And if you don’t like slacktivism I think you’re wrong.
And I’ve spent hours on my blog
Even tweeted @courosa
I’m networked son,
domain at

So I like PLNs – knowledge-able n’ such
Baby, I support open education
And I think I’ve got a good online identity
It’s clear that I google myself

And when Dave told me bout rhizomatic learning
The only problem I had was info curation
Experience is the best teacher of knowledge
Pipe’s more important than content in the pipe.

And I gotta chirp about some laws
Lessig saves us with creative commons, just go Cite it,
Or we will get locked up
People puttin’ wifi prices on (everything)
And net neutrality is where we wanna fight back,
Took months just to see that

Katia don’t like trolls but she likes trollin’ ’em
And if you don’t like activism I think you’re wrong.
And I’ve spent hours on my blog
Even tweeted @courosa
I’m networked son,

So if you like PLNs – knowledge-able n’ such
Well then just support open education
And if you think you don’t connect with students
Then just edtech Snapchat yourself

And on the chance you have a classroom blog
teach #digcit – Translates to learnin’ for all
And yet the wealth gap leaves students vulnerable
Digital divide can we just break down it’s walls?

Corm-i-er told us, bout’ MOOCs and such
Oh, baby, you could go learn by “yourself”
Orient, declare goals, network, cluster, focus
And go complex question yourself

Now I have, a PLN – am knowledge-able n’ such
And I support open education
And if you think you don’t manage your reputation
You should go google yourself

Summary of Learning…Channel 831 News!

Upon entering this course, I knew I would learn about Social Media and Open Education, as that was the name of the course. Through our modules, we  learned about how Web 2.0 tools and free & open source software have changed the way we teach and learn, the changing views of knowledge, emerging literacies, and the development of personal learning networks.

BUT, we didn’t stop there!

We didn’t just look at how social media and open education can enhance and transform education, we also explored much deeper societal, ethical, political, cultural and administrative issues that are associated with technology and media in education and society. Take a look at the EC&I 831 News (co-created with Genna Rodriguez) to see a summary of what we learned this term!

Baba’s Summary of Learning for #eci831

Well it has been a jam packed, content filled semester and I feel like my eyes are going to fall out of my head from learning everything from the internet.  Although, I have to admit because our class was encouraged to guide our own learning, use open education, and make connections I feel like I have learned more in this class then any other.

I even surprised myself with by creating my own whiteboard animation video, you can make own to through the powers of the internet (they have templates and a 7 day free trial, just click here).

So, here she is folks my summary of learning:

Questions, comments, and concerns are welcomed.

Thank you to Alec & Katia for putting up with my technology illiterate mind.  Also, good luck to my classmates, go enjoy your summer!

Creating a Teacher Work-Life Balance

Fellow teachers, I am having a small discussion with an undergraduate class (along with some colleagues) about teacher work-life balance.  Here is a quick and painless list I have compiled:

Quick Ways to Create a Teacher’s Work-Life Balance:

  • Make Your Life Your Life: Don’t make your work your life. Yes, it can be a passion, but remember your full life comes first.  Your passion or job is one part of you.  You are made of many parts that make you one, whole, awesome human being.  You can’t be an awesome educator unless you are happy and provide balance within your own life.
  • Support Circle: Whether it is a spouse, best friend, or mother. You need great outside support.  Remember balance because you can’t be the best for your spouse or loved ones unless you are at your best.
  • Exercise & Healthy Eating: Healthy teachers are happy teachers. Grab a teacher and start a workout club or bootcamp.  Your students are learning (from you) as to how to be a healthy human being.  Make sure you are fueling your temple.  You are a role model.
  • Request a Mentorship From Your School Division: We provide our learners with smooth transitions and you deserve one too.
  • Prioritize: Download the Balanced App on I-tunes. It is free!
  • Savour the Hidden Curriculum Learning: I feel as though my favorite and most effective lessons are the ones where the students are learning life lessons. Savour these and remember them on bad days.
  • Socialize: We all need to have a blast once a week (that is why the weekends were invited).
  • Continue Learning for Yourself: Make time to develop your own brain. Smart teachers develop smart students.
  • Internalize the Serenity Prayer: Regardless of your beliefs, internalize these words. God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.  The courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.  Tackle the issues you can take on for your situation at the time.
Courtesy of Google Images

Courtesy of Google Images

Is there anything I am forgetting?  What would you add?

Learnin’ piano on the go, bro!

So, I’ve found that I’ve struggled to manage my time well and may not get as much piano practice in as I’d like… as a result, in addition to stepping my game up, I also considered that this poses a great opportunity, how can I learn piano while I’m always running around? Let’s learn piano chords on the go! Using my Samsung Galaxy S5, I downloaded some apps through the Google Play Store. And have been trying to use them to get a better idea of the chords… some I found are in the video below that I recorded using

Video details
In this video I explore a couple of apps for Android that I got for free from the Google Play Store.Specifically I look at learning some of the chords to play the 4 Chord Song.

Piano Scales & Chords Free
Review: Can play all notes simulatenously to get the proper sound of the chord. Thought it looked professional and user friendly enough and had games to help me learn, however the game is quite difficult to master. Has the names of all keys on the piano screen!

Learn Piano Chords
Review: Simple view with large text. Cannot play all notes simultaneously on my phone. Has the names of all keys on the piano screen! Incomplete, only has beginner chords (okay for me in the short term).

Piano Companion
They also have a twitter to connect to!
Review: Most professional looking and has a large database. Cannot play all notes simultaneously on my phone. Has the names of all keys on the piano screen!

Screenshot taken with Samsung Galaxy S5 via Piano Scales & Chords Free.
For all of the apps, they don’t teach the posture or finger dexterity required to play piano, but they do give me the visual of learning which keys to play for a particular chord. Most importantly, they are all free and extend my opportunities to play piano. And for you iPhone users out there. Piano Scales & Chords and Piano Companion are both available from the App Store… in addition to many other apps! I will continue to practice and keep you posted, but thus far, learning chords even just four of them has been a slow process!

Comments or suggestion of other apps? Let me know! Thanks!
– Logan Petlak

Net neutrality, safety in ambiguity, equity, and a digital(ly) divide(y).

Net neutrality
Net neutrality
 embraces many of the principles of open education, involving equitable opportunities for all regardless of monetary input. An idealist sees information consumption and distribution as a necessity to the betterment of all individuals, but for others this presents itself to be a business opportunity for personal gain. Some people may be dependent on this for their source of income, so the line between making a living and excess is grey, but it’s important we look at the effects of putting a price tag on the internet and on information in general. It is inherent to our capitalist way of life, so how can we escape the system wrought with greed? Is there a balance between money and open information and access? What are the impacts of the desire for monetary gain? The less than noble players seem to use a particular formula to keep their pockets full and the overarching themes of this apparent greed perpetuate the digital divide utilizing safety in ambiguity.

Safety in ambiguity
Elections are incoming for the province of Saskatchewan as well as in our neighbour-nation to the south… and I think politics is a venue where we can observe safety in ambiguity first-hand through empty promises. “We are committed to developing a plan…”, “we intend to create…”, “we hope to achieve…” the inherent doubt within all these statements is what allows a group, be it political or commercial, to state wondrous intentions but have the safety net of “it was only a hope” or “well, we did do this <minor thing>”. People are frustrated with these statements on every level and may be why Trump has as much support as he does at this point. His plans sound definite with no grey areas, which is a nuance in modern politics and negotiation. Note: this may be the only time you hear a mildly positive comment about said individual. He makes a measurable commitment, which an inquiring mind can at least take some comfort in knowing. And that appears to garner support. My theory would be that we are all aware of the deliberate vagueness of these “business statements”, but simply become frustrated and do nothing to change it. Being committed or open to something is immeasurable. Which is what some in power need to operate freely, so the ambiguous nature of the statement is their defence and their safety. How do we have students sift through this? How do we teach a desire to create change rather than passivity? As educators, “I don’t know” is not an applicable answer. Despite that, when stated correctly, “I don’t know” strategtically protects people in power.

open info or money
“Money or open info + access?” taken with my Samsung Galaxy S5

The digital divide
In human history, we have seen a separation between classes. But is it better or worse today than it was in the past? Students of various economic backgrounds may have access to the same technology at the school, but when they are outside of school what opportunities are they presented that allows them to further excel or fall further behind? When there is the wealth gap, how do you combat this? Do we accept that it is how our society is, and the web is simply the new venue of continuing the wealth distribution gap? John Batelle addressed this notion in the quote: “The web as we know it is rather like our polar ice caps: under severe, long-term attack by forces of our own creation.”  And these creations may take the form of noble tasks but still have inherent problems, like when Facebook created, but this simply gave a taste of the internet and fuelled the desire for more (which would cost money). Consider in a school rather than your personal service provider… is your data/Wi-FI service is far better? As a low-income student, does a tech-based class give you a taste of internet access, which leads to the desire to spend money to get it, even for those who may not be able to afford it? Or is this there only opportunity to try and keep up? Wi-Fi access may be a human right, but owning certain technology which speeds the accumulation of information isn’t… and what amount of Wi-Fi speed is a basic human right? School may help educate it, but does the divide remain beyond education’s power? More money at home –> better tech at home –> more tech-saavy child at home –> better performance at school –> more money-earned. Is school the medium to combat this? How do we bridge that gap in an effort to establish equitable learning? Jessy Irwin reminds us that “a faster web for some, isn’t an equal web for all”.

Video: What is the digital divide?

Equity in society and education
I’m not saying capitalism’s good and I’m not saying it’s bad as it is a fundamental part of our society but, in a broad sense, the monetary amounts we make and spend and the associated discrepancies of salaries between careers may ultimately say, “If I make more than you, I deserve more than you, therefore I am more important to society”. While this comment fails to acknowledge the risk affiliated with careers, including ones that involve multi-million dollar risks that create jobs that may even help fund education or the careers that eventually try to gain monopolies and control the information (what ads we see) and information content and sharing. Where is the line between what we need and what we want, and what is fair with others in mind? Is it entrepreneurial or inhumane to covet and alter internet speeds to the highest bidder? They say entrepreneurs/CEOs have high divorce rates, is this because their priorities are for the accumulation of wealth? And is the desire to let an idea grow into what you dreamed it could be such a bad thing? As parents and educators, how do we want information to be available to our youth? Do we want our hard work rewarded to give our children the opportunities they deserve by buying them the best equipment, or keep things equitable for all students? These are questions we need to consider when considering the kind of world we actually practice, and not the open internet we publicly want. Mathew Ingram would ask what kind of internet do we want? But perhaps the better questions is what kind of internet do they (students) want? The innocence of a child may state it best – they would want an open internet and would be frustrated if it were slow because we didn’t pay for what was better, it isn’t a question of whether they care, they already care, but what is the means we will take to make their cares come true?

Comments and thoughts? Let me know!

Logan Petlak