Category Archives: EC&I 830

Schools should not focus on teaching things that can be easily googled

It was interesting to see how both teams AGREED with today’s statement and how the follow up group discussion brought back a number of memories from my previous learning experience. I personally agree with Curtis and Lisa that the 4Cs, such as critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity cannot be learnt through googling.

My past schooling experience in Romania was mostly focusing on memorization and regurgitating the information taught. There is proof that it can happen without having access to google, too. As my classmate, Dean mentioned, the whole idea is behind the approach the teacher is taking. Daina and Jocelyn pointed out that google, by itself is not bad, it can enhance learning. We just have to learn how to make the most out of it by helping our students to learn how to apply-, synthesize-, and be creative with knowledge and remember key parts of what they learn (LoTi framework).

Being an English language learner and an EAL teacher, the article “Why Kids can’t write” made me very curious. The article focuses on the importance of classroom instruction that supports and promotes purposeful learning. As the article points out, asking the students to write about their weekend or what they did can make the writing process dreadful, since some kids don’t have anything exciting happening they could write about. I think any type of prompt: a picture, a story starter, a story itself, a short video, etc. are all great ways that help our students with writing. Or, in this case, what great purpose would a land-based or hands-on pedagogy provide for writing?

When it comes to purposeful learning, it is also important to know our students. As an EAL teacher, the first thing I look at when a new student arrives is their initial assessment report that gives me a clear picture of the language fluency level of the student. This helps me decide what to focus on. As part of my Master’s Certificate in TESOL we had quite a few debates if non native speakers should be taught grammatical forms or not. Me being in the process of acquiring English language for over 30 years, I would say there is no way a non-native speaker can learn proper English without knowing grammatical rules. I might sound harsh, but I think it is crucial to know the mechanics of a language to be able to speak and write correctly. I often experience that my students who have a strong first language, acquire the English language a lot easier and faster. But does this mean that memorizing the grammatical rules will make the learner fluent in a language?

Certain subjects require more memorization than others. I often hear people being against it. I think memorization to a certain level is necessary to be able to take it to the next level. For example, if one does not memorize words, they will never be able to speak a language. The English language is full of expressions, phrasal verbs and idioms, that I could never use if I do not memorize them. You can only become creative and innovative, if you have tools at your finger tips.

I also think that google cannot help a learner truly understand these words and expressions, since they act so differently in context. During my elementary and middle years I was expected to regurgitate English forms and grammar and when a young, vibrant English teacher from the U.S. showed up in our school, I could not form a sentence, let alone have a conversation with her. I could not apply, synthesize, nor be creative and use what we had learnt. This is why I think that schools should not focus on teaching things that can be googled but implement a holistic approach to teaching with a focus on meaningful learning moments.

Thank you for listening to my thoughts! 🙂

To Google or not to Google…that is the focus.

Disclaimer: This post was created in collaboration with Jocelyn to summarize the information we collected to defend our position on the debate statement:

Schools should NOT focus on teaching things that are easily googled.  

Source: Pixabay

We choose to disagree with this statement because we feel that schools SHOULD still teach things even though you can easily Google them.  As teachers, we need to teach students the curriculum concepts that you can Google because we have the ability to teach them these same concepts beyond what Google is able to provide.  Much of what they can find on Google, although quick and easy, is one dimensional.  There is no connection between you and what you search online.  It is a one-way interaction.  Teachers are able to teach the same concepts beyond what Google can because we can elaborate, help students make connections that are relevant to them personally, and can go beyond the basic information that google provides.  We can teach students how to think critically with this information, be the knowledge keeper or expert for those who don’t have access to this information and provide them with the basics that will help build their foundation for future learning. Therefore, Google isn’t the answer!  It is simply a one-dimensional tool that holds a small aspect of value with regards to educating our world.  

CRITICAL THINKING

When students simply look up facts using Google to learn their curriculum, they are lacking the essential skill of critical thinking.  They want a quick answer and move on, which doesn’t expose them to the learning process.  Critical thinking is defined as the “art of filtering through information to reach an unbiased, logical decision that guides better thought and action.” 

This is where teachers fit into the picture.  We can provide students skills to use the basic information they learn from us, or Google, in order to go to the next step.  This includes knowing what to do with that information to make sense of it, make it purposeful, and apply it.  This is all done by using analytical thinking, communication, creativity, open-mindedness, and problem-solving.  Although information can be found on Google, it doesn’t provide you these critical thinking skills.  Therefore, reading information online doesn’t mean that you learn and understand it.  We need to teach kids more than just how to Google something.  

DIGITAL DIVIDE

Every day in our schools we are faced with a digital divide.  Not all families have access to the internet in their communities, the internet they may have might not be able to support a high enough broadband speed to download the content and some families may not be able to afford the price of internet.  This is evident right now in my classroom as parents from an EAL background or those that do not have computers at home are struggling to access Google Classroom or Zoom because they are not familiar with these programs and their children need the help to gain access.  Therefore, we cannot rely on our students to Google their curriculum, we need a teacher to be able to teach so that the subject matter is relevant to the audience in the class.  Everyone learns at a different rate, no matter their age.  Some students come into their first years of education with different technical skills.  Some students can navigate a computer or an iPad while others don’t even know how to hold a book.  Students that have internet access and access to technology have consistent digital access to hardware, software, wifi use, and mobile data and therefore have the foundational requirements for being able to build and maintain digital literacy.  This is why teachers in all schools should teach things even though you can easily Google them.  

BACK TO BASICS

The basics of education are reading, writing, creativity, and nutrition and health.  By making sure our students are provided with these basic skills, we are ensuring they will be successful.  Memorization has an important place because it exercises the brain by training the mind to pay attention and focus intensely.  It also activates a higher level of thinking.  We need to learn information through experience and have opportunities to apply the information in different situations.  We have to learn from our mistakes, we can’t always be right.  There is more to learning than just searching for the right answer online.  We read to gain information and we write to convey it.  Reading all our information online is not suitable for all students.  Some are not able to read at the level at which information is presented.   Also, some learners are auditory learners and they gain more of an understanding through auditory means than through reading means.   Teachers will often personalize explanations of learning content to suit the needs of the students in their classrooms.  Math is a perfect example as there are so many strategies that we are teaching because our brains are not all wired the same.  We still need to teach the basics of math because we need to be able to use these skills to quickly solve larger algorithms.  Spelling practice also allows us to be more efficient when we are writing.   Jacquie made a comment last night about how beginning readers need to memorize sight words to help them with their early stages of reading.  These sight words are words that we cannot use our decoding skills to sound out. As teachers, we need to continue to teach the basic skills even though Google can help us find the answer.  

Learn, School, Nursery School, Kindergarten, Girl
Source: Pixabay

TAKEAWAYS

Although Google is a prominent entity in our society, we can’t pretend that it provides us with all the information and skills needed to educate our youth.  We also can’t ignore that it is a useful tool when used properly, which can provide students with up to date information for which they can formulate opinions based on facts and ideas presented to them.  It is a powerful tool but needs to be used in balance with other holistic and comprehensive approaches that fit the needs of all of our students and their learning needs.  Perhaps the question is not whether schools should or shouldn’t teach things that are easily Googled, but rather schools should NOT rely on traditional forms of teaching and assessment. 

We should re-evaluate our instructional approaches, redefine our assessment techniques, and teach students hard and soft skills in conjunction with each other in order for students to benefit our constantly changing world going forward

Debate #3: Should schools teach students things that can be easily Googled?


This week our debaters were Curtis & Lisa vs. Daina & Jocelyn and they presented their arguments for "Schools should not focus on teaching things that are easily Googled"

The debate took an interesting twist after both of the teams videos were shared, as they ended up arguing the same side! However, each had a unique perspective that I appreciated learning about.

Curtis and Lisa's "Mindful Learning" said that to be successful in learning, students must have:


  • Positivity
  • Bravery
  • Determination
  • Self Belief
  • Creativity
  • Sheer Energy


And that these are not traits that Google will provide. They used the LoTi Framework model, which I was not familiar with.

Here is a video I found that explains this Level of Technology Integration framework:




I really liked the point they made that "we need to teach students to know how to filter between good knowledge and bad knowledge". Their video focused on a wholistic, environment and non-conventional approach to multi-scensory experiences intended to engage students in learning. They concluded stating that they want students to use their own understanding to create meaningful learning moments. They stated that teachers can express things in a way that Google can't.

I don't agree with that point. Google isn't simply supplying facts to the person who is searching for the information as they implied. Google is a like a library that contains more knowledge and information than all of the world's libraries put together. The possibilities are almost endless of what people can find, source and discover on Google - from an article, to a video, photo or more.

Daina and Jocelyn's argument for the debate that "the reliance on Google is diminishing our critical thinking skills, widening the digital divide". When students use Google, they aren't applying the time to fully understand the process or theory being explained in their search. They explained that students are simply regurgitating the simple answer they find.

They suggested that we get back to the basics in our education - we need to learn information through experience and apply our knowledge in different situations. I appreciated the argument they made about the digital divide and access to technology as well as different learning styles. Another point that resonated for me was we need to be mindful on our reliance on Google or other technology to ensure it is a tool for our learning, not the teacher.

For our classtime, we discussed whether or not we felt our systems/classrooms support a shift in our learning. Do some teachers focus too much on teaching facts? Are we too focused on content, and can we change? How much do we need to know vs. how much can we search other resources? What are things you MUST know? Handwriting, multiplication tables? What are the basics that we need to teach and for our students to know?

It struck me that our curriculum may be outdated with our access to technology and availabilities of supplemental content to support inquiry based learning. How will we evolve?

I was reminded of a quote that I like:

"I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship" by Louise May Alcott

When will we evolve how we teach our kids?












Great Ed Tech Debate: Technology is a force for equity in schools

This week’s topic was very close to my heart since I work in a community school and with the pandemic, sadly I had to experience that technology is not a force for equity but it makes the ‘opportunity gap’ even bigger. Having said that, I do agree with my peers, Kalyn and Nataly regarding the many benefits of technology.

Technology, especially Open Educational Resources (OERs) provide greater access to information with no cost to people who have access to devices, broadband as well as the ability to make the most of what technology has to offer. There is no doubt that technology can help when it comes to reaching all students with different abilities through personalized learning plans. Assistive technology tools, such as Google Read and Write, Microsoft’s Immersive Reader, as well as the wide variety of levelled readers (Newsela, Scholantis, etc.), help not only English language learners, but our students with both learning-, and physical disabilities. As my professor Dr. Alec Couros pointed out though, educators do have to be careful how to implement the assistive technology tools, since it “can create equity and also inequity”. My classmate, Curtis shared a wonderful way to avoid students feeling singled out by teaching how to use these tools to the whole class, since they can be beneficial for all students.

Another idea I agree with presented by Kalyn and Nataly is that technology can help with individualized content, instruction and assessment. Having said that, I would have to agree with Victoria and Jasmin who do not see technology as a force for digital equity due to the digital divide.

Limited access to technology can be a major set back. I have experienced teachers learning great ways to implement technology, such as having blended- or flipped lessons, or giving students projects to work on at home, but they end in failure due to lack of devices or broadband. Lack of technical skills or knowledge of Mike Ribble‘s nine elements of the digital citizenship can become obstacles as well. Not being aware of how to read laterally, the abundance of information can cause high level of anxiety and stress.

The more I think about technology being a force for equity in schools, the stronger I feel that unless we address the issues of affordability, accessibility and varying ability, our students will be limited in their mobility when it comes to navigating technology. Societal inequalities need to be addressed in order to close the ‘opportunity gap’ our most vulnerable people are experiencing.

Debate #2: Is Technology a Force for Equity in Society?

I really valued the discussion in the Debate #2 topic "Is Technology a Force for Equity in Society?", because it is something I had not put a great deal of thought to prior to this class.

Our debaters were Nataly and Kalyn for the agree side and Victoria and Jasmine on the disagree side.  I was so impressed with both sides, not just for the excellent work, preparation and presentation, but also because they managed to stay calm despite mother nature causing power outages, dropped internet and inability to connect to the Zoom class for some.

For the initial poll, I selected that I was in agreement with the notion that technology is a force for equity in society.  

Kalyn and Nataly prepared a strong argument: 


To summarize, they stated that technology allows students to get individualized learning and access to information.  It can help raise awareness of social justice issues as well as assist students who require it.

Victoria and Jasmine shared some interesting statistics about internet and digital usage that reinforced their argument that technology is not a force for equity in society.


I thought their arguments raised some interesting aspects - including fake news and misinformation which we studied alot about last semester.  I was intrigued with the term and concept of "techno colonialism" which I had not heard of before.  

If you are interested in learning more about what it is, I found this video that explains it:


I will definitely be exploring this subject in more detail.

At the end of the debate, my vote was swayed over to the disagree side more than I expected it would.  Although I believe it the great potential of technology, without equal access throughout society it is not truly equal to all.

The debate left me thinking about some bigger issues:

- What issues are there globally for developing countries for access to technology? And who is working to resolve this?  I have seen some work by Google, but I am curious on how prevalent this issue is.

- As technology evolves quickly, how do we ensure our students have access to the latest versions to keep up?  This could be very costly, and could further widen the digital divide between lower income households and wealthier ones.

There are many factors to consider when exploring this topic.  Thank you to both teams for raising the awareness of this issue for me.

Debate #2: Technology a Force for Equity

Yesterday’s topic on the Great EdTech Debate was Technology is a force for equity in society. Nataly and Kalyn on the agree side, and Victoria and Jasmine on the disagree side.  Coming into the debate I voted in favour of the topic, however, I was unsure how I would feel by the end of this debate.  I was truly on the fence on this one.

Nataly and Kalyn highlighted three main reasons why technology is a force for equity in society.

  1. Greater access to information
  2. Personalized learning
  3. Helps people with disabilities

Victoria and Jasmine took on the opposing side, also made many excellent points on the other side. Their main arguments focus on

  1. The Digital Divide
  2. Techno-Colonialism
  3. The Non-Neutrality of Technology
The Main Take-Aways:

Being on the fence before the debate, after watching the debate left me even more stuck in the middle.  Both duos provided excellent points that highlighted the pros and cons of the topic.

Open Educational Resources (OERs)

Kalyn and Nataly discussed OERs.  OERs are a way to provide high-quality educational resources will no cost.  This would be invaluable to students and educators.  According to RMIT University, OERs provide opportunities for self-learning, and also include literacy skills such as searching, reusing, dissemination, branding, and networking.  All important skills we would want society to have.

Furthermore, in our group discussion we brought up the website Coursera, Coursera is a platform that offers many different university courses for free.  This on the surface appears to be a great equitable idea and service.  However, our discussion pointed out that it was often the most privileged in society that would use these courses.  My thought is that many of the courses still use academic language, and require skills that many people have not had the opportunities to acquire.

Assistive Technology

Kalyn and Nataly also brought up the excellent point of assistive technology.   Assistive Technology provides many for our students to learn.  Tools such as Google Read and Write, and Microsoft’s Immersive Reader provide opportunities to try to “Level the playing field” for students.

In the discussion, we discussed the importance of Universal Design for Learning.  I believe for technology to be truly equitable within Assistive Technology we need to approach if from a UDL perspective.  This means teaching the whole class how to use a program such as Microsoft’s Immersive Reader.  This is because many students would benefit from the tool regardless of ability.  This also allows students to not feel singled out.  Students pieces that they need to be successful.

The Digital Divide

We need to acknowledge the digital divide.

Affordability, the fact is that many cannot afford the technology needed to be successful. However, I do believe that this is becoming more and more realistic in the future as technology costs continue to be driven down.

Accessibility, as Victoria and Jasmine note, many rural areas do not have access to technology.  In our discussion in class we discussed that although we classify high-speed internet at 5mbps, the reality is that we often need a lot more than 5mbps for us to be effective online.  The reality is that often those with the least amount of accessibility are the people who are considered the most vulnerable. This includes northern Saskatchewan and many reserves.

Varying ability,  many people do not have the technical skills required to be efficient users of technology.  This could be due to previous issues with affordability, or accessibility of technology, or could be due to not having the skills taught. Jennifer Casa-Todd explains that there is an intergenerational divide, parents are not fully understanding the tools that their kids are using.

Last semester I also look into the digital divide, another form of inequity is the idea of empowerment divide.  According to the Nielsen Norman Group, when people participate online 90% of people do not contribute, 9% contribute sporadically, and 1% of users contribute often.

In Conclusion,

Overall, I swayed a bit to the disagree side.  I think that often that I become blinded by the fact that I am privileged enough to not recognize the impacts of the digital divide because I have never had to worry about not having access to technology.  I believe for us to truly become equitable these issues need to be addressed.  In the Hechinger Report Should Schools Teach Anyone Who Can Get Online of No One At All that Jasmine and Victoria highlight, “We should be thinking about internet connectivity as a utility right now,” he said. “We  would be horrified if 30 percent of our families didn’t have electricity or water in their homes.”  We need to ensure that our students have internet access outside of school.  Kalyn and Nataly shared an article called How Access to Technology Can Create Equity in Schools, it compares having access to physical technology and having no internet to having a car with no road.  The car is still useful, but it is a lot easier if a road is built.  In the end, I believe that technology can provide equity in many situations, but as a society, we are not there yet.

May the Force Be With You…When You Have Access and the Skills to Use Technology

Tonight’s debate, was once again, was very informative and brought forth some valid points on both sides. However, I must say that I sided more with the disagree side for a couple of different reasons:

  1. As stated in the article posted by Jasmine and Victoria, other equity issues still remain such as “special education services, food and nutrition, English learner services, and child care.” This doesn’t take into account aspects at home such as water or electricity that also factor into the gaps in our socio-economic or even urban/rural environments. Therefore, just because someone may have access to technology, doesn’t mean equity has been achieved.
  2. Victoria mentioned how the digital divide doesn’t just include access to technology anymore, it includes the skills necessary to use it and use it effectively and with purpose. You can’t expect to give someone a car who doesn’t know how to drive and expect them to succeed because they can now get from point A to point B. The education of these tools is important but costly and continuous as the vehicles continue to change and/or need maintenance.
  3. As Matt mentioned, we need to take into consideration the access some students have to these same technology tools outside of the class because a lot of them don’t have access, as this pandemic has brought to light. Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t use technology in school, but we need to use them in balance with other forms of learning. Going forward, how do you think we are going to address this discrepancy of having access at school but no access at home? Does this create more inequities?
  4. More on inequities with technology opportunities, Alec brought up a good point that sometimes providing students with individual (assistive) technology will ostracize students even more and marginalize them within their own class. To address this, UDL (Universal Design for Learning), is something to consider when planning. In addition, Matt brought up SIOP (Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol). I’ll share more on what I learned about these models later.
  5. Lastly, I never thought about the point that Victoria brought up regarding usage of technology between different socio-economic groups. A study done in Western Australia looked at home children between 6 and 17 used technology. Participants from higher socio-economic status neighbourhoods were more exposed to school computers, reading, playing musical instruments, and vigorous physical activity. Participants from lower socio-economic status neighbourhoods were more exposed to TV, electronic games, mobile phones, and non-academic computer activities at home. They concluded that “in a sample with near universal access to IT, issues of a digital divide can still be evident. NSES (Neighbourhood Socio-Economic Status) clearly associated with the nature of young people’s current IT use and this may impact their future economic, academic, and health outcomes. This correlates with the previous point about having the necessary skills needed to use technology with a specific purpose, and these purposes may differ between socio-economic groups.

I do believe that Kalyn and Nataly brought up some good points to defend the intentions to provide those without technology access and skills. However, this, unfortunately, doesn’t mean equity. There are so many other factors that weigh into the concept of equity. The initiatives taken place are a starting point but there is a long way to go before technology will bring us closer to equity in the world.

Back to the two other new learnings that I further explored, UDL and SIOP.

UDL is an approach to planning and teaching to help give all students equal opportunities to succeed. It’s flexible because students have different ways to access material, engage in their work, and demonstrate their understanding of concepts in ways that work for them. It is especially helpful for kids that learn and think outside of the box.

Here are some great tips from this website to help introduce a UDL model in your classroom:

  1. Know your students’ strengths and weaknesses
  2. Use digital materials when possible
  3. Share content in a variety of ways
  4. Offer choices for how students demonstrate their knowledge
  5. Take advantage of software supports
  6. Low and No Tech options do exist
  7. Learn from others

This video describes how this school district has found success implementing the UDL model using Google Read/Write, which is an Chrome extension that many students I work with use. Coincidentally enough, myself and a colleague of mine gave a quick tutorial to some of our primary teachers today to show them the benefits of Google Read/Write and identified how it can be used with all students, not just your struggling ones. I guess I am already on the right path with using a UDL model.

SIOP is a research based instructional model that addresses the need our EAL learners, but I argue that it addresses the needs of all students, much like UDL works.

This website has some great tools and strategies for using this comprehensive approach.

This video demonstrates how a teachers uses this model in her third grade classroom. They are always referring back to the objective of the lesson/activity, much like the I Can… statements that my division has. I see a lot of these strategies used by some of the teachers I work with. So again, there are elements of good teaching practices that fit under these two types of models.

Both of these models help address equity in teaching and working with our learners as the diversity continues to grow. Do you know of any other methods or models that works to give tools and opportunities to all learners? I’d love to learn more!

The Great Debate – A Summary of How I Prepared for this Assignment

I can't remember when the last time I debated for a class assignment was, I think it was when I was in Grade 10.  Suffice to say, that was a LONG time ago.

I was intrigued with this assignment, it seemed like a good way to have our class collaborate, dissect a topic and creatively present our findings related to technology and education.  Leave it to our professor Dr. Couros to challenge us in such an insightful and engaging way.

I was relieved when Amanda  reached out to me on Twitter and asked if I had a partner for this assignment.  I knew Amanda from our course together last semester, and I follow her on Instagram, so I know a little about her from before.  Without hesitation, I agreed and we moved forward with our plans for the assignment.

When we signed up for our debate topic, "Does Technology in the Classroom Enhance Learning" and realized we would be debating Matt and Trevor, we knew we would have a great competition ahead of us since the two already have the advantage of knowing one another and working together outside of our class.  I have always been impressed with their contributions to our course work - smart, funny and clearly passionate for their work.

So, immediately I tweeted this:




Here is our video:

Amanda and I are both very pro-technology and believe with no doubt that technology enhances learning in the classroom, so we wanted to challenge ourselves with this assignment in our delivery.  We decided to use a video from a Mike Wesch as the formula for how we would approach our video creation



As a marketer, I know that people remember stories, and that sharing our personal examples helps create an emotional connection with our audience.  At our first collaboration meeting, Amanda and I realized we were already on the same page!  She had been documenting her recovery journey since her unfortunate accident in March and sharing how technology was essential for her both personally and professionally.

We wanted to go beyond what we perceived the standard argument would be for the "agree" side and decided our focus would be on CONNECTION.

We used the hero's journey that was outlined in the Mike Wesch video to help us illustrate our main point:


    • At first I was ...
    • I kept thinking I could never ...
    • But then I  ...
    • And I grew ...
    • And I learned ...
    • And I survived ...

We met using Google Meet several times, divided the work and conquered. Amanda deserves the credit for the video - she used her creativity and WeVideo to edit our project. I helped with researching, writing and narrating our script.





I am so proud of the video we created and the story we told ... in less than 5 minutes!

The debate was a little nerve-wrecking, but was equally exciting. Our debate competition Matt and Trevor did an excellent job of sharing the opposite view points, in a fun and engaging way.

They focused on the risks and the issues of technology use in the classroom and questioned who was leading the drive for technology in classrooms? Educators or corporations?
There presentation posed good questions to consider when you are deciding to include technology or not.



They focused on:


  1. Technology is a distraction - they did not limit this to the temptation to be distracted, but included the commercialization of the internet with advertisement and how algorithms are used to attract your attention
  2. Pedagogy - I thought their argument that technology at best only amplifies the pedagogical methods of teachers "it makes good teachers better, and bad ones worse" was very true.
  3. Screentime - kids are spending too much time outside of school on devices, they don't need more time on tech when they are at school.
They raised solid points, but my favourite part was the fun tactics they did to distract the audience including wearing suits, using a debate stage background on Zoom and creating "fake tweets" that looked pretty realistic. (Trust me, they were not ...)




Overall, it was a very positive experience and a great way to dive into a topic a little deeper than a typical assignment.  Kudos to my partner and our antagonists - Matt and Trevor for such a great experience.




Great EdTech Debate: Technology in the classroom enhances learning

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First of all I would like to say THANK YOU to my peers for the great debate. Amanda, Nancy, Trevor and Matt certainly set the bar extremely high which makes me feel very nervous.

The more I think about technology in the classroom, the more I become uncertain about how positive the use of technology is in our classrooms. I grew up with absolutely zero technology and life seemed to be a lot safer. I feel that technology brought so much with itself, both good and bad.

I do see that the life of an educator who is not familiar with using technology became a lot more stressful. Even if teachers are tech savvy, incorporating technology in an effective way takes a lot of time and effort. I absolutely agree with Trevor and Matt that technology will not make a teacher into a good educator. As Lisa mentioned, we engage our students through building relationships and knowing our students. I certainly see all the negatives the existence of technology brings into our classrooms: such as feeling frustrated when struggling with technology, and I am thinking of our newcomer families, and refugee families who do not have experience using devices. Technology often causes distraction as well as adds to the already fairly high daily screen time. And we haven’t even touched on the negative effects technology can cause as a result of being used by our ‘digital natives’ who are lacking the knowledge of how to be responsible digital citizens. I do not believe that phones and technology in all should be banned from our schools, but we need to take the time and teach our students how to use them safely and appropriately.

I would say, in general, I am pro technology, that is why I applied for the Master’s Certificate Program in Educational Technology. Whenever I had to sit down in front of a laptop, I felt overwhelmed and stressed out. I had no idea how to do anything on a laptop beside searching on Google or Youtube. I certainly would not want my students to feel the same way. It is a horrible feeling. I feel it is my job to help my students become familiar with using technology. I also think technology can make learning fun and engaging. As Dean pointed out during the class discussion, Kahoot and Mentimeter are great tools for engaging the students who never put up their hands. Most of the EAL students are shy and they have fear of being judged. By the time they form their answers, the class has moved on to a different topic. Kahoot and Mentimeter are fun ways to practice all the tricky grammatical forms of the English language that take years to sink in. They also give an immediate picture of student understanding of certain concepts that the teacher can address right away.

Our current move to supplemental online learning is another proof that technology does help us reach our students. Especially during these hard times, technology serves as a great vehicle for learning. Although I would be a lot happier to have the opportunity to listen to my students read out loud in person, Seesaw made it possible the other day and it literally brought tears to my eyes. I have to say that I am loving Seesaw more and more every day. I can actually see this as a great tool to reach my students while travelling back to their home countries for very long periods of time, providing an opportunity to communicate, that Amanda and Nancy referred to as the 5th C. The record feature is a wonderful tool where students can practice reading aloud and hearing their own pronunciation with endless retakes if necessary. I feel excited, even though I am just at the beginning of becoming familiar with great tools and ways to use technology in a purposeful way.

My take away from the debate is to focus on a balanced approach when it comes to technology use and always have a purpose behind it. As George Couros says ” If I get into a plane and all it does is drive me from point A to point B, not only is this not a transformational use, we know there are better tools for doing that specific job. Only when we choose to fly in the plane does that technology become transformational.  It is on people to use technology to it’s fullest potential.”

Thanks for stopping by,

Melinda 🙂

Debate #1: Does Technology Enhance Classroom Learning?

On Tuesday we started the great Edtech debate. Nancy and Amanda arguing that Technology in the classroom enhances learning, whereas Trevor and Matt arguing against the same claim.  Both of the videos were creative and engaging.  Kudos to both duos for setting the bar so high.

Prior to the debate, I would side very much so on the pro-technology side of the argument.  I believe that there needs to be a balance of technology in the classroom.  Technology needs to have a purpose, it cannot be the goal.  Technology is the vehicle for learning.   Being such a pro-technology person and teacher I was excited to hear the opposing argument.

Nancy and Amanda brought up some great points in the video.  Some of the main points that resonated with me include.  The aspect of connecting when a physical connection is taken away.  Currently, we are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.  This has changed our daily lives.  I am curious if this happened forty or fifty years ago, would the lack of technology, resulting in a lack of connection, lead to further mental health problems? The ability to connect is the 5th C that technology allows us to have communication with others that would otherwise be unsafe, or impossible in the past. Nancy and Amanda highlighted that the best part of online learning is that it can happen anywhere and at any time.  We have the ability to collaborate with one another, and we don’t even need to be in the same place.  With technology, schools can go beyond the traditional walls and reach a larger audience, which provides more engagement for our students.

Nancy and Amanda shared an inspiration video that shows the importance of connection.  This video highlights how technology can bring people together.  It also further promotes the ability for us to reach a larger audience.  Imagine the connections that we can have in the classroom if we connect with other classrooms globally.  We have so much that we can learn from each other.

Matt and Trevor did bring up many good counterpoints. Many classroom teachers use unnecessary technology in education.  In this claim often I see teachers using technology for the purpose of using technology.  Your finished your assignment, here is an iPad to consume the rest of the class.  Furthermore, Trevor and Matt explain this technology does not have any pedagogical value if used without purpose.  In addition, Trevor and Matt include that screentime and technology addition are downfalls of technology that can harm student’s wellbeing.

In the article, The Digital Gap Between the Rich and Poor Is Not What We Expected, it is highlighted an interesting perspective of the need to go back to screen-free lifestyles.  The article brings up the new digital divide, stating that more affluent families with children will experience less screen time than those of poorer and middle-class families.  The argument states that there is a concern that children will not know how to interact with other people, and the need to revert to play-based learning.

Within the class discussion, I found some key points that were being shared.  We discussed that often with technology, schools and school divisions do not have the infrastructure, time, or money to provide meaningful training for the apps and programs that they use.  Alec brought up an excellent point suggesting that 50% split between hardware and training.  I shared in the class that I find that technology can provide a voice for those who are more unwilling to share in the classroom setting.  Jill countered my claim stating that she is finding the opposite.  She found in online classroom students are more likely to sit and be passive learners not willing to share as often as in the classroom. Melinda brought up an excellent point, often these tools can reduce some of the anxieties that students have.  A tool like Flipgrid could allow students multiple chances to redo their response until it was something that they were comfortable with sharing.

Another post that Nancy and Amanda directed us to is George Couros‘s Myths of Technology Series specifically the myth That Technology Equals Engagement.  I found this interesting as it gives validity to both sides of the debate.  Often we hear that students are so engaged when they are using technology.  As educators, we need to recognize the difference between “engagement” and “novelty”.  As educators, we need to view this from a different lens. We need to move from engaging students to empowering them.  George highlights the difference between compliance, engagement, and empowerment.

  • Compliance – Do this because I told you.
  • Engagement – Do this because you are excited.
  • Empowerment – Do this because you have the power to do something meaningful for yourself.

In conclusion, technology needs to be used as a tool FOR learning, and must have a purpose. The debate was able to highlight both sides of the argument.  Being so pro-technology in the classroom I believe it is important educators try to understand why some teachers are reluctant to use the technology in the classroom.  Trevor and Matt did a great job of highlighting these pieces.

My mind has slightly changed, I will always promote the use of technology in responsible ways in the classroom, but will be more mindful when I do.

I leave you with this quote from George’s series of myths.

If we can develop meaningful learning opportunities that empower our students to make a difference, our impact will go beyond their time they spent in our classrooms.  Technology alone will never provide this.

– George Couros