I Believe Kids Oughta Stay Kids, As Long As They Can, Turn Off the Screen, Go Climb a Tree, And Take a Break From Online Learnin’…

Debate #8: Online Education is Detrimental to the Social and Academic Development of Children (Week #6: Post #2) This, or That? I’m Still Not Sure… Okay, team, I know that this probably isn’t what you want to hear about our last debate topic, but this was one that I really[Read more]

I Can Almost See It, That Dream I’m Dreaming, But, There’s a Voice Inside My Head Saying, It’s Not Your Responsibility…

Debate #7: Educators and Schools Have a Responsibility to Help Their Students Develop a Digital Footprint (Week #6: Post #1) Feeling the Calm-er Vibes To be quite honest, I quite enjoyed this debate topic. Even though people seemed to really be on one side or the other, it wasn’t heated[Read more]

Developing a Digital Footprint

Debate #7

Becca Lee Jaro

Do educators and schools have a responsibility to help their students develop a digital footprint?

I had to go back and reread the description of this topic after the debates since many of the conversations were regarding digital citizenship vs. digital footprint. These are two separate topics but they work together. Technology runs society and students need to understand the impacts it has on them in the past, present and future.

These images from Sylvia Duckworth show how the two concepts work together. Digital citizenship is the responsible use of technology by anyone who uses computers, the Internet, and digital devices to engage with society. Digital footprint is the information that exists on the internet about a person as a result of their online activity. If I am teaching my students about digital citizenship then should I also teach them about their digital footprints? I think I should!

Photo by Ryan Miguel Capili on Pexels.com

In the debate both sides did an excellent job of their arguments. The agree side, Rae and Funmilola gave points that I think we all need to follow. As educators we are in the best position to teach kids the skills that are required in the 21st century. We all live through the use of technology devices. I do not think anyone could say that they are not in a digital world. If you say you do not then you may live in a forest as Mike Walsh (in the last blog post) states. Students need to realize that online space are real spaces and they need to approach it in a safe and controlled environment. Parents are not teaching their children and may not understand themselves. As our students grow, learn and pass through our classrooms I think they should be aware of the impression their digital footprints is leaving on others. I did not have to worry when I finished my education degree and applied for teaching jobs of what my future employer may find. I did not grow up in the digital age. In todays world the digital age is a reality because what is found on the Internet in regards to pictures, post ad comments can come back and haunt them. They may think their presences is unknown or hidden, but it is stuck in the digital world. As Dawn McGuckin states, “Our students live in an online world. They’re emotionally and physically attached to their devices and many of their relationships exist within technology.” I think we need to ensure they know not only how to be good digital citizens but also create a positive digital footprint. Your footprint in terms of what you say and do online stays in a world that no longer forgets.

It is basically impossible to erase all ‘negatives’ from a digital footprint: the Internet has the memory of an elephant

Katia Hildebrandt

In the field of education we use many different platforms such as Seesaw or Edsby to share our students learning and work. For some children this is their first digital footprint. Dependent on the students age the topic of consent played a role in discussion through the debate rebuttals. Yes, the age of a child should be considered, but if you are sharing their learning with their parents then what happens to those images is on the parents. Right? I am not sure of the actual answer to this because I think if I am a parent and then sharing my child’s learning and images online then that is on me and not the education system. Do parents then need responsibility? Yes I think they do. Do teachers need to post photos of their students? Yes and no. I like to share thing my students are doing on Twitter or through Edsby because of my knowledge of privacy I do not show their faces. Not all teachers do this.. How do we get a whole education system to follow the same protocol of digital citizenship, digital footprints, and privacy policies?

The disagree group consisting of Gertrude and Kim spoke a lot about policy. Although I loved their Unsolved Mystery theme and think it fit well with this topic. Who is responsible? Who can solve this mystery? There is a document called Digital Citizenship Education
in Saskatchewan Schools
which was written by Dr. Alec Couros and Katia Hildebrandt. This document highlights how educators need to support students to develop responsible and appropriate online behaviour. Teachers are not taught on how to teach to their students in a digital realm, but I feel this should be a mandatory course in the Faculty of Education. Teacher training needs to happen so that all educators know where to go to help navigate and find relevant resources to use such as Common Sense Media.

We can pick apart the idea of who’s responsibility it is to teach children but I am firm on my belief that teachers should be teaching not only digital citizenship but also about students digital footprints. We can not manage what happens outside of school but giving the information students need can help them make better decisions of their online activity.

Do educators have a responsibility for developing students’ digital footprints?

I believe that educators have a responsibility to teach digital citizenship in schools. However, how students present their digital footprints online is out of teachers’ control for the most part. Can we influence what they might post in the future? Hopefully. But, most of our students already have a digital footprint. By digital footprint, I am referring to what information can be collected on any student by researching them in online databases. Students who enter kindergarten might even already have a digital footprint because their parents have been posting about them on social media for the first five years of their lives. By the time students reach middle school they have usually created at least one type of account whether it be on social media, video games, and most commonly, school email addresses.

Parents have a very large role in teaching their children about their digital footprint. Most commonly, they will be teaching this by example. Most children are growing up with parents who also have their own personal digital footprint and they are going to look to their parents as role models for what that might look like. Education for parents around digital footprints and our digital identities is crucial for our students understanding of it.

Many families don’t understand documents such as media release forms and digital contracts that are often used in schools. Parents must give permission to schools to post pictures and school work of their child on school platforms and public platforms. There is often a lack of understanding of what those documents actually mean. People can feel that their information is going to be given out or that their privacy isn’t going to be protected. They often feel forced to have a digital identity at school and in the workplace.

Growing up I was always made aware that what you post online will stay out there forever. Even if you think that you can delete it, that is not always the case. I believe that I learned that from both my parents and my teachers and I didn’t have formal digital citizenship education like students do now. I remember being in high school and always thinking to myself that my parents would kill me if I ever posted pictures or posts involving illegal activities, bullying or just inappropriate content for a teenager. But, I was probably one of the few kids who actually had my parents on Facebook. Maybe that was the way that my mom kept tabs on me haha. Then, in university, I was constantly being told by professors and instructors to keep my social media clean and private, because it could be used against me in a job interview in the future.

Teachers have very limited resources currently and it often feels like we are experiencing an uphill battle when it comes to teaching digital citizenship alongside parents. Through digital citizenship education, we can teach students to be more aware of their digital footprint and the impact that it can have on them. We can’t however be expected to develop, mould or shape their digital footprint for them.

The Advantages & Disadvantages of Online Learning

Now, I may be a tad biased because my group was arguing that “Online learning is not detrimental to the social and academic development of children.” For this blog post, I will be able to share a bit from both sides.

Online learning provides unique opportunities for those with any type of disability both visible and invisible. Accessibility is often one of the most challenging barriers for students to be able to attend school in person, and this is heightened even more with a disability. It helps accommodate those that require physical adaptations, flexible schedules, assistive technology, and one-one support. Students that may be struggling with their mental health can take advantage of online learning to best support their differing needs during different chapters of their lives. Students who have difficulty attending school in person on a regular basis can experience much greater success and build a sense of community in an online space. The freedom to participate in online school just about anywhere around the world with an internet connection is bringing education to places we never dreamed possible.

Disabilities

Students who have physical, chronic, or mobility issues benefit from the convenience of taking courses online due to accessibility issues in many facilities such as physical space, access to support, or equipment that is compatible. Those with visual impairments may find it easier to log on to a computer to report to class than to make the trip to school. People with hearing impairments often use a number of technological accommodations, many of which fit nicely with the online learning platform. In addition, one of the primary benefits of online education for students with learning disabilities is the ability to work at their own pace and review 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 changing the font style or size can help them process and retain written information.

Mental Health

Online learning also benefits students tremendously for those struggling with their mental health. Students, particularly those with severe anxiety, depression, or mood disorders may feel more comfortable working in the comfort of their own homes rather than in a large classroom setting. Online learning can ease the pressures of bullying and harassment and can help support students during challenging periods of their adolescents. Others can appreciate the freedom to tend to school work whenever they feel up to it and around therapy or other appointments.

Travelling

As well, many families experience transient lifestyles depending on employment, family dynamics, participation in sports or the arts, and travel preferences. Some students miss a lot of school if they are consistently travelling or moving from place to place frequently. Students in these situations can take advantage of online learning and have a consistent school experience and sense of community where ever they are. Parents that travel frequently for work can spend more time with their children. Student-athletes and performers benefit from the flexibility of online learning to fit their training schedules. Separated families that have parents living far away from each other can spend longer periods of time visiting.

Customized

Online learning also allows for a customizable experience that is flexible and promotes the development of online tech skills. Both my students and I as a teacher improved tremendously over the past two years regarding online skills for the classroom and assessment. I am much more comfortable navigating online classroom spaces both from my experience teaching and being a student in my master’s courses. I wouldn’t even be completing my master’s right now if it weren’t for an online option since I live out of town from Regina. I also save so much money by not having to travel to the University of Regina, pay for parking and most likely spending money on food and snacks as well because I wouldn’t be able to go home for supper in between.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZsvsZ0Au4A

Some do not benefit from online learning and that is okay. They do not feel like they are taking advantage of the full learning experience without being in a traditional classroom setting. Some don’t have reliable internet access. Some just prefer to be in-person versus meeting through Zoom. As Chris mentioned in our presentation, learning options should be treated like a buffet, the more choices the better. Online learning is not replacing in-person learning, but it certainly is a great alternative for some.

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.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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.

Photo by Anastasiya Gepp on Pexels.com

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.

If I Made You Feel Second Best, Cellphone I’m Sorry I Was Blind, You Were Always on My Mind

Debate #6: Cellphones Should Be Banned in the Classroom(Week #5: Post #2) Looking Forward to Hearing from YOU! This is an especially interesting topic to me, and I think that most people fall on one side or the other, and only a few fall right down the middle. I am[Read more]

And I’m Not Trying to Ruin Your Happiness, But Darling Don’t You Know That Social Media’s Not the Only One?

Debate #5: Social Media is Ruining Childhood(Week #5: Post #1) Feeling those Finish Line Feels Even though this debate seemed to be less heated than last week, I still felt as if people felt a strong intuition pulling or keeping them on one side of the debate or the other.[Read more]