Author Archives: coltonlund

Week 3: What Counts as EdTech?

During class this week, Katia proposed what seemed to be, a fairly simple question. What counts as EdTech? Well surely the answer is as simple as technology that helps students learn. But is it that simple? The more I began to contemplate the question the more I wrestled with the idea of what an appropriate definition could be.

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The deeper I thought on the issue, the more complex it became. And to be frank upfront, I’m still not sure I have an answer.

Through class discussions, we spoke about products not typically associated with Educational Technology, and where they fit into this discussion. If a refrigerator is used in a Commercial Cooking class, is it a piece of Educational Technology? Is a table saw in a construction shop a piece of Educational Technology? Is the pencil (which could certainly be argued to be a piece of technology) considered part of the Ed. Tech. world? Does the time period, environment, or culture affect your definition? Different teaching styles, cultures, and philosophies could certainly play a part in what technologies are used in a classroom, so is that also something we should consider when writing our definition? Or on the other hand, should we only consider things that are electronic, and purpose-driven, and designed in an effort to increase student engagement, as these are more common in today’s society when you bring up the term ‘technology?’

Looking online can net you thousands of varying results. One take I found interesting was from Udacity’s YouTube page. Udacity offers a wide breadth of online training, and their take on Educational Technology is in the short video below. I found their description of educational technology relating to any place where technology and education intersect quiet interesting, and some of their examples were pieces I hadn’t previously considered.

As Katia mentioned during class, looking at various historical and philosophical contexts can lend perspectives to this question. We discussed Aristotle’s Intellectual Virtues, as well as completing readings from the likes of Neil Postman and Audrey Watters. One of the simple overarching themes is that discussions on technology are certainly not new, and the answers to our questions seem to evolve as fast as the technology does. Aristotle recognized the use of technology in production (Techne) while the discussions of it’s pros and cons continue through the likes of Postman and Watters. Postman provided 5 ideas around technological change (which are paraphrased below,) many of which unconsciously shape my understanding and use of educational technology.

  1. For every advantage a new technology offers, there is a corresponding disadvantage.
  2. There are always winners and losers in technological change
  3. Embedded in every technology, there is a powerful (possibly hidden) idea
  4. Technological change is note additive; it is ecological
  5. Technologies have the potential to become mythic, which can be dangerous for society.

Knowing about these ideas now, I find them easy to pick out within the classroom. New technologies have the ability to greatly enhance, or greatly bog down a lesson. The Digital Divide is ever present, and has been exasperated by the Covid-19 Pandemic. Textbook (and other media) publishers have concerning amounts of control over what is included, or excluded, in education materials. New technologies can have a great ripple effect (positive or negative,) within your classroom. We can become over-dependent on technology, assuming it will always be there and always should be there. (Regina Public Schools faced this issue head on recently.)

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The deeper we dive, the more I find myself coming back to try and make a concise, yet effective definition. Although the overall term technology is can be applied across generations, I feel a contemporary lens is necessary in order to be as practical as possible in today’s age when we are considering educational technology.

To me, educational technology is any piece of hardware or software that is specifically driven to increase student’s engagement in their learning. Like technology, I’m sure this definition will evolve over time, with new ideas, thoughts, or new technology.

Week 2: Early Memories of Technology

When someone brings up the topic of the best generation, whether that be to live in, grow up in, etc., I find myself having a hard time picking any but my own. A large portion of the reason why is the technological evolution that I’ve witnessed, and will continue to witness, within my lifetime.

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Hello all! My name is Colton Lund, and EC&I 833 is the third ED. Tech. class I’ve taken as part of my Master’s Degree in the Teaching, Learning and Leadership program. I currently teach at the Weyburn Comprehensive School, in Weyburn SK, teaching Social 8, Drafting 10/20/30, and working predominately as a Learning Support teacher!

Being in my late twenties, my earliest tech memories are tied to the first computer and gaming system that my father brought home. Booting up the all-beige, Windows 98 powered machine to scribble in paint, or play pinball and solitaire, was where my interest in technology began to develop.

Images borrowed from:–749004981748347520/

Towards the end of my elementary I learned (from another classmate no doubt,) that these machines could be used to gain access to some ‘less than ethical’ music. This was something that my father knew nothing about and it pushed me to investigate on my own. This led to learning more about the internet in general, just as the several ‘internet safety speakers,’ began to make their way through schools. I remember being initially overly cautious, thinking that every file had the potential to be a Trojan Horse, or every email could contain the Happy99 or ILOVEYOU viruses.

Although the above was true, as I reached middle school, I (as many middle schoolers do,) became hugely overconfident. I felt that as a 13 year old, I already knew so much about computers. Clearly I had already learned enough that it would be impossible that I could be tricked into downloading a file that could wreck my computer or steal my information. Clearly the rapid slow down of our shiny, new, (and still beige) Windows Me machine had nothing to do with the flashing rainbow cursors, games I’d found on sketchy websites, or other files that were likely littered with malware. Clearly.

It was at this time that I started branching out into other avenues of technology. I remember thinking how insanely detailed the graphics were in Mario Kart 64, how advanced my dad’s PalmPilot was, and how blown away I was to see full keyboards on the new Blackberry Smart Phones.

Within the school, I remember how exciting it was to have our once weekly “Computer Class,” where we would learn typing, create PowerPoints with animations on literally every piece of text, and of course, play SimCity.

By high school, we were treated to more than one computer lab, as well as computers in the library. New curriculums were being developed, and I was thrilled to be able to take classes such as Information Processing, Accounting, CMPT (precursor to Communications Media,) and Computer Science, all of which were designed to use a computer as the main tool.

Currently, I’m lucky to teach Drafting and Computer Aided Design 10, 20, and 30 at our school. It was a course that was new to me, but is something I’ve fallen in love with. With the blessing of my school, I’ve been able to build the program by incorporating additional technologies such as 3D-Printers and CNC Routers; technology that I also get to learn about as they were not present during my high school career.

Modified CR10 that our school bought from Wave of the Future 3D in Saskatoon, SK.
LongmillMK1 CNC Router, that our school bought. They are manufactured in Toronto, ON.

Outside of Drafting, I love to encourage the use of educational technology tools within my Social Studies classroom and Learning Support work. Below are some of the tools that I’ve come to love, and employ each year. All of the tools below offer free accounts or I have free access to through a school division license.


Formative Assessment:

Daily Use:

Leave a comment or reach out to me (@Mr.LundED) if you have any questions about any of the above. I won’t promise to be an expert, but I can certainly share what I know!

EC&I 830: Summary of Learning

It’s hard to believe both my school year and my student’s school year is coming to an end! It’s been a highly enjoyable semester, and I’d like to thank everyone who was a part of it. Below is a link to my summary of learning for this semester. This is my first time using an unlisted YouTube Video, so please let me know if something doesn’t work properly!

Good luck to everyone continuing with their programs, and congratulations to those who are finishing up. Have a great summer!

Debate #8: Is Online Education Detrimental to the Social and Academic Development of Children?

Debate #8: Is Online Education Detrimental to the Social and Academic Development of Children?

The last class debate, and certainly one that I was looking forward to. The Covid-19 Pandemic thrust the education world into an unplanned version of emergency online learning. While this unprecedented time was certainly a change for everyone, the high majority of our population now has some experience with online learning. Although emergency pandemic learning and properly planed online learning should certainly not be compared as equals, the growth in the student number and discussion on the benefits of online learning have grown exponentially. Therefore, educators, policy makers and the public are starting to ask, Is Online education detrimental to the social and academic development of children?

Kayla, Britney, and I certainly enjoyed debating with Kat, Chris and Arkin. I appreciated several of their insightful points, and in particular starting their opening statement a land acknowledgment. Within the last few years, I have become quite interested in Treaty and Indigenous Education, and I appreciated the respect and time given to read the land acknowledgment before their side of the debate.

 Throughout the debate, my conclusion was drawn from a mixture of one of our points, and one of Chris’. To me, online education can be a good alternative to a brick-and-mortar classroom for a small percentage of the overall population orused as a supplement to traditional education courses. The main points that led to this are outlined in paragraphs below.

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Online education benefits affluent, mature, self-motivated students, who are capable of learning and working with little to no direct supervision. Unfortunately, this means that online education remains nearly impossible for those of a lower socioeconomic status, young students (particularly those in early primary years,) and those who run into internet speed/access issues based on their location. Through one of the articles our group shared, a study was done in 2013 (important to note as it’s prior to the pandemic,) in which the research team investigated the lack of access for Indigenous Australian students. They found that “online learning will in fact be hugely detrimental to this section of Australian society and will see the potential for a widening of the gap in education.” It is important to notice the parallels between this study and the lack of quality internet access found on some reserves and rural land here in Canada.

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Throughout Britney’s portion of the debate, she touched on the differences in mental health supports and concerns in an online teaching environment. The online environment, with a possible lack of webcams, makes it easier for students to ‘disappear,’ while also make it difficult for teachers to pick up on the behavioral cues of their students. The lack of recognition of what could be considered obvious cues within the traditional classroom, can result in less teacher directed support for mental health issues. Additionally, counselling or learning support looks very different in the online world. It is much easier for students to avoid/hide from tough conversations, which can make it difficult for all supports to be confident in knowing how a student is truly feeling.

For students with disabilities, technology and online education can have a large variety of affects. For students who are able to engage with computers and technology with a high degree of independence, online education can be extremely beneficial. Apps, software and assistive technology, can be extremely helpful with communication skills, diagnoses such as dyslexia and dysgraphia, while being in a separate environment may also help those with high amounts of anxiety. Furthermore, as written on learning online allows the “ability to work at their own pace, reviewing materials and video lectures as needed. For students with certain types of disabilities, like dyslexia and visual processing disorder, the ability to manipulate digital texts — by, say, changing the font style or size — can help them process and retain written information more effectively than they would viewing PowerPoint presentations in class or reading through traditional textbooks.” However, students with disabilities that affect their life to a higher degree physically or cognitively, can find great difficulty engaging in an online environment, particularly without the numerous direct or one-to-one supports that are common in a traditional school setting. This can also be tough for parents, as many are not prepared or able to fully support their student during typical school hours.

Throughout my section, I explained that while some classes can be taught to a high quality online, many classes that contain a major practical component, such as practical and applied arts, physical education or science classes, cannot be matched to the same degree online. While it is possible to teach a large portion of the theory online, practical, or hand-on projects that require specialized equipment are nearly impossible to replicate in every home. This fact alone can greatly affect the academic development of students, as it has the potential to affect their decisions for postsecondary schooling, along with potential career choices. Good points about hybrid learning were brought up in the debate, and while I recognize that this cannot be beneficial for every student, the possibility of seeing hybrid models increase in the future certainly interests me.

I also touched on extra-curricular involvement, and the differences in the online world. As many extra-curricular programs are athletic or performance based, it is quite difficult to replicate this in an online setting. Athletics and the arts alike vary greatly when you try and replicate them virtually. Additionally, many students learn and develop social, group and life skills while participating in extracurricular activities. Not offering these same opportunities to online students can certainly affect their social development.

To wrap this up, I’ve come to believe that online education, or a hybrid of such, can be beneficial to a small percentage of students, but also has the potential to be detrimental to many. Students that are mature, affluent, self-motivated, and self-disciplined may be able to succeed online, while granting themselves the flexibility that comes with online learning. However, students that benefit from the traditional supports within brick and mortar schools, struggle with motivation, lack access, or are simply are younger in age/grade, will benefit from the utilizing the traditional school system in comparison.

I’d like to thank Dr. Katia Hildebrandt and all the members of EC&I 830. This class was extremely enjoyable to be a part of, and I’m happy to have shifted some of my own teaching philosophies as a direct result from the meaningful discussions this term. Good luck to everyone going forward in their programs, and congratulations to those who are finishing their degrees! Have a great summer all!

Debate #7: Do Educators Have a Responsibility to Help Students Develop a Digital Footprint?

Our last week. This is the first time I’ve taken a spring class, and although I knew the pacing would feel quite different than my previous fall and winter classes, I’m still surprised we’re here already. Within this debate, I once again got hung up on the word responsibility. Developing a Digital Footprint can certainly be beneficial, but is it the teacher’s responsibility to ensure that this happens and that it happens efficiently?

As Rae and Funmi explained, your Digital Footprint is the virtual trail left by your interactions in the online world. As the debaters mentioned, it is important to realize that your digital footprint includes both purposeful and passive data- in other words, data you mean to post online, and data that may be collected about you based on your behaviour, interactions, etc. I appreciated our discussion around the importance of teaching students how this information may stay present online forever, and therefore educators should do their best to help students learn about how to act appropriately online. Dan Spada explains the basics wonderfully in the first few minutes from his video titled Teaching Students About Digital Footprints and Digital Citizenship.

Those interested in his video should definitely go through and watch the entirety. He has links to a Teachers Pay Teachers lesson that allows you to go through numerous digital citizenship related skills that are important to teach to students, as well as numerous videos on related topics.

However, getting back to the debate, as mentioned, I continue to get hung up on the term responsibility. Gertrude and Kim indicated during their portion that topics such as a digital footprint is encompassing all areas of a student’s life, and therefore requires a ‘global village’ to assist. Government and family involvement are important in doing their part to allow students to find success in developing their digital footprint. These sectors are extremely important, particularly when we consider data and privacy. As screen time increases in our society, the potential for data to be farmed from our interactions does not slow down when a child is behind the screen.

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The Sydney Morning Herald published an opinion piece about TikTok and the need to protect children’s privacy, in which they quoted an expert that estimates

“by a child’s 13th birthday, advertisers will have gathered on average more than 72 million data points about them.”

With the mind-blowingly large amount of data being collected from our children and students, should we put the responsibility of increasing a child’s online presence onto teachers and teachers alone? To me, it wouldn’t make sense to. The online world is a topic that far exceeds the hours in the day that educators have control over. Participation from the government and family sectors are pivotal to support children throughout the entirety of their childhood.

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On a slight tangent, educators, administrators, and school division personnel should be wary of the collection and storage of student data, both within their own systems, and on the systems of the applications that they roll out within their schools. While it is known that there are several school divisions within the province that are wary of or will refuse to allow teachers to use software that lacks data storage transparency, school division use and distribution of student information or photos can also be debated. Colin Anson-Smith wrote a thought-provoking article, that includes discussion on the common ‘all or nothing’ photo/media release consent forms that are common on the first few days of school/at registration. He writes:

“If schools are collecting parent consent using a bundled ‘all-or-nothing’ approach, they are unknowingly breaking the law. Privacy regulators and industry experts generally advise against bundled consent because it will rarely ever meet the test of proper consent; that is, consent that is voluntary, informed, current, and specific.”

Through the debate and preparing for this blog post, it’s become more apparent to me where I stand on this issue. Rather than curating an online profile, platform or digital footprint, educators and policy makers should focus on facilitating quality digital citizenship education, particularly in elementary aged students. Creating good habits early, through the teaching of appropriate digital skills, will allow students to learn how they can stay safe online, while also allowing them the opportunity to decide if they’d like to expand their digital footprint as they age.

Debate #6: Cellphones- Do they have a place in our classrooms?

Cellphones. Likely the world’s most used tool, but it’s place in our classrooms is a continual debate. I’ve used just about every cellphone rule I’ve heard of over my 6 years of teaching, with yet to find one that I have 100% confidence in.

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I’ve taught grade 8 for a number of years now, and cellphones have been more common each and every year. I’ve had all out bans, had many surrendered to my desk drawer, taken several to the office, had phone baskets, and wall ‘hotels.’  I eventually evolved and in the last few years have attempted to teach responsible use, taking a much more relaxed stance on them. I’ve had varying success with all, yet haven’t found one set of rules that I am happy and confident with.

Coincidentally, eighth grade was the same time I got my first cell phone. I bring this up, because I remember the excitement, and comfort that middle school students feel, knowing they are connected to their friends and family. This isn’t even mentioning the ability of having a device that allows you to tap into the bulk of recorded information in human history. This being said, I certainly recognize many of the points Echo, Lovepreet, Amanpreet mentioned during their portion of the debate. It’s true, cell phones do distract a high majority of my students. I’ve dealt with numerous cases of cyberbullying, nearly all of which surrounded cell phone use. Screen time is a constant worry with our youth, and cellphones exasperate that greatly. They are extremely expensive, and the amount of broken or stolen phones that we deal with every year is far too high.

However, even with all of this being said, (I feel like a broken record at this point,) I feel that teaching personal responsibility and strong Digital Literacy Skills will allow students to engage in the many benefits that comes with having access to a device, while hopefully mitigating the negatives that I mentioned above.

As Bret, Reid, and Leona mentioned, our world has changed; technology is here for good and separating our student’s lives into a ‘connected’ world at home and a ‘disconnected’ world at school seems to go directly against 21st century teaching practices.

Technology is an integral part of life, and allowing them access to their devices (when it is appropriate to do so,) will mimic their lives after school. There are very few careers that have employees that are not available via phone, the internet, or social media, so why should our students be?

I could continue to push for why I believe that cellphones do have a place in the classroom, but I was quite impressed by one of the suggested viewings for this week, in which Sam Kerry discusses his feelings on utilizing cellphones in classrooms. Sam and I share thoughts on many points, including the increase in accessibility, the potential for interactive lessons, and creative uses that will explode in the future, such as augmented and virtual reality.

In my personal experience, not only does incorporating cell phones in the classroom give more (and sometimes more efficient) access to technology, it also has the potential to increase engagement with unique lesson design. Bring your own device programs are extremely beneficial in allowing schools and students to bridge that funding and access to technology gap. Teaching responsible use also instills trust in your students, most of which greatly appreciate that trust, and tend to abide by the expectations in most situations.

When positive digital citizenship skills are modelled and taught consistently to our students, I find the benefits of cell phone use in the classroom can greatly outweigh the negatives. (All of this being said, it would certainly be interesting if all school divisions could be funded in a way that would allow for one-to-one devices, possibly eliminating the need for this debate. But that is a discussion for another day!)

Debate #5: Is Social Media Ruining Childhood?

Another week, and another great round of debates. We began with a topic that is easily debatable, even outside of our ‘EdTech circle.’

“Is social media ruining our childhood?”

Fasiha, Gunpreesh, and Dami discussed several key pieces of information when outlining the potential dangers that come along with social media. The potential of exposing children and students to cyber bullying, repeated marketing, increase in screen time, and potential online predators is something every parent and teacher is wary of. One of the other large pieces that we touched on briefly during the debate, is the instant validation that social media ‘likes,’ can provide, and how this can evolve into addictive traits for some individuals.

However, my personal beliefs have me more firmly on one side of this debate than I have been in any of the prior. I find social media to be simply another tool that we must educate our youth on, including how to use it responsibly. With effective digital citizenship skills, students can learn appropriate use, when to take breaks, and how to get the most out of this tool, while also being as safe as possible from many of the potential dangers.

These were not new thoughts for me, as similar ideals have been discussed in this and other EDTech class that I’ve taken. However, my thoughts were confirmed when Jennifer, Shivali, and Mike, explained the concept of each generation of people looking back on their own childhood with ‘rose colored glasses,’ and tending to be quite put off by the most recent generation. This seems to be the centrepoint to many arguments against the inclusion of social-media or other new technologies. This type of thinking is certainly shown by Matt Walsh, in his YouTube video explaining his feelings around the harm of Social Media (particularly starting at 1:44,) which was one of our suggested viewings for the debate.

While I understand the concerns parents may have, it’s my opinion that my future child will not need to have the same childhood I did. To me, it seems like a basic parenting philosophy to want my children to have a better childhood then I had. While it will certainly be different than mine (regardless how many variables I try and control,) it will be my job as a parent to teach my child how best to navigate the challenges that arise in his or her life, and this includes using technology, and social media, responsibly.

While I understand the concerns parents may have, it’s my opinion that my future child will not need to have the same childhood I did. To me, it seems like a basic parenting philosophy to want my children to have a better childhood then I had. While it will certainly be different than mine (regardless how many variables I try and control,) it will be my job as a parent to teach my child how best to navigate the challenges that arise in his or her life, and this includes using technology, and social media, responsibly.

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Regarding my status as an educator, I strive to be able to teach my students how to become progressive, and effective digital citizens. I can certainly understand how this journey may be daunting to some, but as Cynthia Miller (2018,) writes,

“educators should be instrumental in demonstrating how the Internet and social media can be used to improve the lives, wellbeing, and circumstances of others in their courses. This in turn, can shift FCS students from simply being good digital citizens into becoming positive digital leaders.”

Miller, C. L. (2018). Digital Leadership: Using the Internet and Social Media To Improve the Lives, Well-Being and Circumstances of Others. Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences, 110(1), 45-48.

Teachers that can facilitate the growth of positive digital leaders is important now, but this importance will only grow exponentially as technology continues to grow within our lives and within our society.

Debate #4: Educators, Responsibility, and Social Justice

Debate #4 was possibly the most personally interesting debate yet. While much of the discussion on the surrounding factors was intriguing, I found the wording of the prompt to be extremely important. For those of you who were not present in class, the prompt read:

“Educators have a responsibility to use technology and social media to promote social justice. Agree or Disagree?”

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Our class overwhelmingly accepted that teachers and those in positions of power or influence should be strong supporters of social justice. As Kari, Jennifer, and Jessica, discussed, encouraging teachers to remain neutral on devise issues is simply not good enough in today’s society.

All images via Plexels.

 As Angela Watson writes on her Truth for Teachers Blog, “So for us to say our role is to be neutral is to operate from a place of privilege. Not privilege as in wealth — that’s just one of many types of privilege, and one that most educators don’t have. Our place of privilege is choosing not to pay attention to these stories or take a position on them because we are not personally impacted.”

If we do not stand up to inequalities and injustices, we are allowing them to continue to remain commonplace (both in our physical and online worlds.) This is behaviour that we cannot afford to model for our students if we want them to grow up in a more accepting world than we did.

However, Dalton and Brooke also explained numerous reasons why teachers may not want to pursue divisive topics online. Many teachers, particularly those new to the profession may be fearful of tarnishing relationships with parents, administration or colleagues, as well as worry about how their online presence may affect future career prospects. Teachers may also fear repercussions or lack of support from professional boards if they do speak out online.

Personally (as Kelly pointed out during our live discussion,) I find the term responsibility is extremely important when discussing this debate. In the context of this debate topic, the term responsibility could be easily construed as a synonym for requirement. Debates about the constant increase in teacher ‘responsibilities’ (that are more often than not actually requirements,) seems to have increased each year during my career.

This got me thinking- If we were to reword our prompt to include numerical values, I believe the prompt could remain quite similar in nature, but be viewed quite differently. If a school division or administration was to come out and proclaim something such as “Educators are required to use technology and social media to promote social justice by publishing 10 Tweets per week” we would likely see many different, (and possibility still a variety) of responses.

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Additional issues arise when you consider some educators that may not be as well-versed in technology, social media, or digital citizenship as their colleagues. How would we address this?

Additionally, would this requirement ‘water down,’ strong conversations on social justice with posts from teachers that may not feel (or write) strongly about the topics? Or even if the posts and tweets are not all of high quality, would this further conversations in a positive manner anyway?

Personally, I find it may come down to becoming more specific. Do I believe that teachers have a moral responsibility to be staunch supporters of social justice online and in person? I absolutely do.

Do I believe that all teachers should be required to discuss social justice online and in person? That, I’m not convinced of yet.

Debate #3: Should Schools Teach What Technology Can Do?

Last week, our ECI 830 class had the privilege of debating 2 more topics within the field of EdTech. This week’s first debate is one that is constantly discussed within my middle-school sphere: Should schools no longer teach skills that can be easily carried out by technology?

I was quite impressed with the debaters on both sides, as I found myself understanding and agreeing with points that each group presented. As we’ve discussed a multitude of times throughout this class and EC&I 831, technology can be of great benefit both in our personal lives, and inside the classroom. While I’ve wrote previously about my appreciation for technology, I’ve found that using technology in the classroom comes down to two keywords: engagement and efficiency. If I can use technology or tech tools in a way that increases my student’s engagement with the material, or in a way that allows us to accomplish our goals with equal quality in a faster manner, it’s use seems like a ‘no-brainer’ to me.

However, where I become more reserved in accepting a ‘full technology’ approach to these traditional skills, revolves around the quality of results. One of the large points discussed during Alyssa, Kelly, and Durston’s portion of the debate was surround the teaching of spelling, and this is a perfect example of mixed quality results. I’ve found that even though students have full access to spell-check, online dictionaries, thesauruses, and numerous other spelling and grammar resources, does not mean they have the knowledge or ability to use these tools appropriately. The amount of assignments that I’ve had turned in online, that have numerous red squiggly lines present, is much higher than I’d be comfortable admitting.

During our debate, the debate group along with members of the class, debated the importance of spelling in the working world. As Steven C. Pan (2021,) found, “in the 21st century, spelling does still matter. In fact, in many respects—from the employment sector to perceptions of writers and their writing, and even in online settings— spelling matters at least as much as it has in prior centuries. Second, there is substantial evidence favoring the explicit teaching of spelling” (p. 1543.)

In fact, in many respects—from the employment sector to perceptions of writers and their writing, and even in online settings— spelling matters at least as much as it has in prior centuries.

Similar ideals can be found through our and others’ discussion on basic multiplication facts and the use of calculators for what would traditionally be considered ‘mental math.’ My parent’s argument that ‘you won’t always have a calculator in your pocket,’ is no longer valid- but does that mean we shouldn’t teach mental math? As ‘mental math’ fades and students become more dependent on calculators, this debate gathers more steam.  Paul Bennet discussed this and how it relates to PISA scores on the EduChatter blog. He explains that “Calculator dependence is now widespread in New Brunswick schools and its most telling impact is in the lagging Mathematics achievement of students.  The use of calculators in North American math classrooms has been common since the 1980s, but top performing nations, such as Singapore, China and Korea, put far more emphasis on integrating mental computation with conceptual understanding before progressing to higher-level math and problem solving. That approach is also reflected in the most successful after-school math tutoring programs such as Kumon Math and the Toronto-based alternative, the Spirit of Math, widely used in Ontario independent schools.”

As I mentioned before, when I consider efficiency, I can see both sides of the argument. While I would argue that calculator use is required to remain efficient in higher level math classes, I would push to continue the teaching of core concepts such as multiplication tables. I’m of the opinion that these core skills are important in developing a deeper understanding of higher level math, but also that they can allow you to be more efficient when using basic skills. Knowing how to compute basic operations mentally will nearly always be quicker for me then grabbing my phone, opening the calculator app, and calculating the answer.

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Our final core concept we debated, was the explicit teaching of handwriting. This is where I start to bend more towards Leah and Sushmeet‘s ‘agree side’ of the debate.

Growing up, I was taught cursive in elementary school, and used it regularly until 7th or 8th grade. Personally, I found my cursive writing to only be slightly quicker than my printing, while being significantly less neat. Arguments can definitely be made about the small amount of time spent practicing, yet I’ve found that outside of signing my name, handwriting is a skill I’ve rarely considered necessary. This feeling continued into university, where I was wildly faster at typing notes on the computer then I ever was writing them by hand. Additionally, I personally find a low difference in my understanding or recall when typing my notes versus taking them by hand.

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One thing that we didn’t discuss in as much detail as we could have during the live debate, is the simple time constraints within a school year. With the wide breadth of topics and information that is available to share with our students, can we afford to teach skills that are easily carried out by technology, and may not be utilized at all when a student leaves the school system? Are skills such as cursive writing and multiplication tables worth spending time on over subjects like coding or robotics, or other topics that have exploded in the workforce within recent years? As Leah and Sushmeet stated, we need to prep our students for tomorrow, not for yesterday.

As is often the case, this debate will come down to personal preference, and the ideals one considers important. Personally, I find a middle ground to be the sweet spot in each of the major topics we discussed. Mental math is important to the understanding of higher-level math, and for that reason, I believe memorizing multiplication tables will only help students as they age. Basic grammar and spelling rules are important to learn, but almost equally as important is learning how to use the tools available to you. Finally, while some time may be dedicated to cursive writing, outside of signing your name, it is not necessary within the bulk of today’s society.

Technology isn’t going anywhere. It will continue to be one of (if not the) most constant factors in the lives of our students. It is our responsibility as educators to ensure they are supported in learning how to use it appropriately, particularly when it is more efficient and engaging then going without.

Debate #2: Has Technology Led to a More Equitable Society?

Our second debate, very similar to the first, was extremely well done. Props go out to the group members on both sides. It was extremely interesting to see our pre-and post-vote results and how they shifted. One of the keys to this debate is the understanding of equity. Many have likely seen the famous image of the students behind the fence, displaying difference between equality and equity. I like to take this one step further using this image explaining Justice Oriented Citizens.

Technology Increases Equity: To a Certain Degree

Technology has the ability to increase equity in multiple aspects. Access to information has become one of the main proponents of this equity. Students and teachers all over the world have the ability to tap into the collective information from nearly all of recorded history. Being able to access this information allows for globalization, and truer discourse.

Additionally, technology has broken many barriers, particularly to individuals with disabilities. As one of our suggested viewings for this week, Tracy, Nicole and Stephen shared the following video. Kymberly DeLoatche shares touching stories about technology and the effect it can have on individuals, families and companies. If you haven’t watched it, I highly encourage it. It is one thing for me to tell you how important technology has been to to those with disabilities, but I would argue that it’s more impactful to hear it directly from someone affected.

One of the other large arguments for technology allowing education to become more equitable revolves around access becoming worldwide. Within one of the suggested readings the group shared with us, Matt Jenner from Education Technology writes:

“If you look at the growing access to education across the past few decades the numbers speak for themselves. In 2007, 57 countries were providing over 10 years of formal education to people; by 2017, it grew to 173 countries. The same goes for those who provide under five years of formal education, which, in 2017, 47 countries were unable to deliver. However, by 2017, this number shrank to just 32 countries”


The Usual Problem: Funding

Although I mentioned that technology has the ability to increase equity, the problem lies in the affordability of technology. While technology has the potential to connect people all over the world, allowing them to gain information that may not be local to their location, it only does so for those that can afford it. When there are individuals that cannot afford, or do not have the privilege to accessing technology, society runs a risk of creating a deeper ‘digital divide’, as Christina, Amaya, and Matt discussed during their debate session. This divide truly was exasperated during the pandemic, and affected both students in school and adults that were forced to work online from home or risk losing their job. The divide becomes more severe in chronically underserved areas of our country. Many Indigenous communities and rural areas have greatly reduced access to high speed internet connections. This has dire effects on their job markets, and economies, while also affecting their social-wellbeing as they compete and compare themselves with individuals in more connected areas of the country.

To summarize, technology has the potential to increase equity across society, but we must ensure financial constraints do not become a barrier to building this equity. Never in any pervious point of our history has the world’s population had access to this much information, and tools that can truly make lives better. It is up to all of us to (as the first image states,) fix the system to offer equal access to tools and opportunities.