Do Educators Have a Responsibility to Promote Social Justice?

The final debate of the semester! And this time, it’s the one that I am participating in! I sport the agree side, whereas Daniel is on the opposite, disagreeing side. The debate topic this time was as follows:

Agree or Disagree: Educators have a responsibility to use technology and social media to promote social justice and fight oppression.

Kind of a doozy of a question, as expected of the final debate of the year! So to start things off, we had our pre-vote.

I had the lead going into the debate, which, secretly, I was grateful for – it did calm my nerves a bit to know that I had people backing me up! And thankfully, I was able to keep those people backing me up throughout the debate, plus add some more into the mix, as the post-vote shows.

So, what did we discuss in the debate? Let’s go into it!

Educators Have a Responsibility: Arguments

My side of the debate was fairly straight forward. In modern society, being as politically driven as it is, it is almost impossible to be politically neutral in the classroom. In the article, ‘Political Neutrality Not An Effective Teaching Tactic, Research Suggests’, they mention how by staying neutral in the classroom, teachers are instead choosing to maintain the status quo and further marginalize certain groups. This is the exact opposite type of thing that educators want to endorse in the classroom, so the logical action is to speak up on these actions. The article also mentions that a majority of teachers are scared of the backlash of speaking up on political issues. The article states:

‘…teachers who feel that politics and elections are happening “outside of school” are in the wrong because their thinking “undermines the fact that the classroom is part of the real world”‘

By ignoring politics in schools, you’re ignoring what drives modern society. Education itself is inherently political, so discussing political issues in classrooms is a natural progression of what goes on in the educational world.

Educators Do Not Have A Responsibility: Arguments

Daniel’s side of the argument, while the opposition to myself, raises some good points. He discusses how being political in the classroom can lead to parental scrutiny, as talked about in the article, ‘Why Parents Don’t Respect Teachers’. Many parents nowadays believe that they know exactly what a teachers job entails – go to work for six hours, go home, get summers off. This plays a huge role in why parents are apt to attack teachers for the things they do in class that they perceive as “wrong” or “different”.  This especially includes political discussion. If a parent, of different political belief, were to hear about the opposing views that were being discussed in the classroom, these types of parents would not take to that well, even more so than normal, considering how large of an impact politics has on our everyday lives.

Daniel also discussed how discussing politics in school may not be a good idea, as students are easily influenced. Instead of letting them decide for themselves, by discussing politics in schools, we are influencing them to believe in our own political beliefs instead of forming their own opinions. This can be especially problematic if a teacher is influencing students who may not yet be informed enough to create their own opinions, and may just go along with whatever the teacher says because the teacher is ‘always right’, as (likely) was the case when a 3rd Grade classroom in Ontario organized a protest against the Enbridge pipeline.

Conclusion

While Daniel does bring up a lot of valid points that I think are great to keep into consideration when discussing politics in school, I still think that educators do have a responsibility to promote social justice and fight oppression. Some of the things that Daniel mentioned as negatives I think could be spun into positives. In the case of students being easily influenced, that would make students more likely to become passionate in issues that we can discuss in class. Whether or not they follow the teachers bias can be up to them, based on their own research on the topic that is based in fact. The hope is, however, discussing these issues will let more students get involved in creating a better future where young people are actively participating in politics for a better future for themselves, and the next generations.

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Is Technology a Force for Equity?

Another week, another debate topic. In this debate, we discussed whether or not technology is a force for equity. This topic is interesting  to me because, personally, I’ve seen countless videos or articles that are claiming that such is true (like the CNA Speaking Exchange video, for example), but very little (or none) for the opposite side. Obviously there are some – otherwise this debate would not exist – but it just goes to show how hard technology is being pushed in our society, for better or for worse.

My experience seems to perhaps not speak for everyone, however, as proven by the pre-vote for the debate.

The slight majority believed that technology is NOT a force for equity. I do have to say, I was surprised by this outcome. Coming into the debate with what knowledge I had, I had figured that agree would have been the vast majority. Perhaps my classmates know things that I do not? Either way, after the debate, there was quite a bit of change.

The majority did, however, stay the majority.  Before the debate started, this had surprised me, but did the post-vote surprise me? Well, let’s look over the debate and figure that out.

Technology is a Force for Equity: Arguments

Ryan’s side of the argument was coming in with the majority of us disagreeing with him, so he had to fight hard to convince us of his side. One of the articles Ryan gave us to read is, ‘Technology can empower children in developing countries – if it’s done right’. This article discusses how many companies, including Dell, have launched global initiatives to increase technology access in youth around the globe, through computers, or more increasingly, mobile technology such as phones or tablets. The article also does touch on the other side of the argument, saying

“Technology has the potential to be a huge force for good but it is not a silver bullet, a fix-all solution to how to to fix the education and employment problems for young people in developing countries.”

While technology can be a force to bring equity across the world, you cannot just throw technology at the problem and call it a day. It requires planning and proper implementation for it to be a proper force for equity.

Technology is NOT a Force for Equity: Arguments

The opposite side of the argument – led by Kaytlyn – talked about how there is much more to equity than simply giving access. In the article,Continuing Advocacy Programs and Forging New Partnerships Are Keys to Creating Digital Equity’,one of the things they discuss is how not every student has access to all of the technologies that teachers are asking students to use. Sure, they may have access at school itself, but what happens if something needs to be taken home for homework, but a student does not have internet access to do research, or even a computer to do the work on? The article mentions that many school districts in the United States are working toward having access to students through public hotspots, or public free wi-fi zones, but that is not always a solution for every student. It only solves the problem if the student does not have internet, AND if they are able to gain access to these public zones. If they don’t have the technology needed to access these public hotspots in the first place, they do not exactly help. Don’t get me wrong, I think these are a great step in the right direction, they are just one part of a solution to a big problem.

Conclusion

So at the end of the day, what do I think after the debate? I will say, that the debate did sway me. While at the start, I thought that technology is a force for equity, I lean more on the side that it is not a force for equity. While I do think it can be a great thing for equity and is a great stepping stone, there has to be more done than just throwing technology at the problem. There is more to it than that, and until those avenues are explored, I cannot say that technology is a force for equity.

 

Reflection of the Semester

To avoid repeating myself from my summary of learning post, I’ll keep this somewhat brief – we’re at the end of another semester, and what a semester it has been.

At the start of the term, we each were assigned a few students from EDTC300 that we were to ‘mentor’ over the course of the semester. Mentoring included reading their weekly blog posts, making comments on their posts, and suggestions for how to build their PLN. Early in the semester, I started a Slack message group with my 3 mentee’s that was meant to be a space where we could talk and ask questions or bounce ideas off of each other.

These ended up being the only messages in the channel, unfortunately.

I am rather unfortunate to say that I did not get to do as much mentoring this semester as I would have really liked. With the increased workload of many of my classes, plus non-school related business, I never really found the time to do the mentoring each week. The only real excuse is my bad habit to procrastinate and then forget to ever do the things that I’ve procrastinated. During the brief moments where I tried to read my mentee’s blogs to make comments, I have noticed noticeable growth from all three of my mentee’s. While there was some uncertainty at first, they have all grown as technological users and their PLN’s have grown considerably. They have all made a considerable image of themselves not only on their blogs, but on their Twitter pages aswell.

Even though I neglected to do the mentoring that I should have been doing over the semester, seeing my classmates experiences with it shows how fulfilling and useful it can be. Having someone to go toward if you ever need help, and being able to see the growth of someone who is in the shoes who you were once in is an incredibly fulfilling act.

For the future, something I really want to/need to work on is taking my online profile much more seriously. Especially for school work, but even in as a professional – building my PLN more often, engaging on sites like Twitter or in Twitter EdChats, or even just in the chat rooms like Slack. All of these are important for building not only a good social media presence, but for building my digital resume, which is becoming increasingly more important in modern society. Hopefully the future can bring more development and nourishment to my PLN as I go through my remaining years of school.

With that, I want to wish all of my classmates to have a great summer, as well as Katia. And a final apology to my mentees, for not always being the mentee I should have been throughout the whole semester.

Summary of Learning

Well, here we are again. The end of another semester.

The last few months have absolutely flown by – it feels like we’ve barely gotten started, and yet it is the end. The ending of a semester, however, means another summary of learning for our EDTC class. This year, I decided to do mine in a more traditional format, with a slightly unorthodox twist – instead of ME standing in front of a camera, I had the VIRTUAL me stand in front of a camera!

That’s right, my entire summary of learning was created in virtual reality through an app called VRChat. It’s main purpose is the be a social app – exploring worlds or just spending time with friends from the comfort of your own homes. I, however, used it just as a means to present the information in a slightly different way.

Without further ado, my summary of learning. I hope you enjoy!

Are Cellphones A Detriment to the Classroom?

Another week, another debate! This weeks debate, however, was special from the rest – There were three sides to this debate rather than the usual two. The debate was over the topic of cellphones in the classroom. Specifically, Should cellphones be banned in the classroom? On top of the  ‘always banned’/’never banned’ sides, the aforementioned third side of the debate was ‘Allowed only in high school’. So this side agrees that cellphones should be banned in elementary and middle school, but once a student is in high school, they should be considered ‘mature enough’ to have a cellphone on hand if they so choose. Based on my previous knowledge and experience on the subject, I imagined the new third side of ‘Allowed only in middle school’ would win both the pre and the post votes (counting my chickens before they hatch is a terrible habit of mine!). As we can see…

The pre-vote for the debate.

My notion was correct! The pre-vote went pretty much exactly according to how I thought it would – the most votes for ‘Allowed in high school’, and the least votes for ‘always banned’, and ‘never banned’ somewhere in the middle. Once again, the person backing the ‘underdog’, Kendall, had her work cut out for her! For the last three debates, the ‘underdog’ in the pre-vote had always garnered quite a few extra votes in the post-vote, so I expected more of the same following this debate.

The post-vote for the debate.

However, what I did not expect was MORE votes for the leader! While the ‘underdog’ (‘Always banned’) DID get more votes like I expected, I would have expected the middle ground to also get more votes, not less. It goes to show that just looking at trends can be misleading to how an outcome will really turn out, especially with something as ‘on-the-spot’ as our debate questions. Anyway, let’s take a dive into the arguments behind our three debaters!

Cellphones Should Always Be Banned in Classrooms: Arguments

Kendall’s side of the debate focuses a lot on the inherent disruptive nature of cellphones. While the articles chosen focus mainly on how they disrupt the classroom, the same is true for most social scenarios – hanging out with friends, talking with family, sitting at the dinner table, and more. The article, “Brain Drain: The Mere Presence of One’s Own Smartphone Reduces Available Cognitive Capacity” talks about how smartphones may impair cognitive performance by affecting attention resources, even when someone resists the urge to consciously attend to their phone. Even when one is not using their phone, the mere presence of it can be a distraction, as even if you are not consciously using or thinking about your phone, your brain is still aware that the phone is within arms reach and could be picked up at any time to send a text message, or browse the web.

Another disadvantage of phones in schools it the way it can negatively impact the school environment. The article, “The Disadvantages of Mobile Phones in Schools” lays out some examples, such as cheating, cyber-bullying, texting, and more. With a phone in school, it is easier than ever for students to cheat or take pictures and videos that can be potentially used for cyber-bullying. With instant Internet access on the vast majority of mobile devices, one could instantly look up answers to quizzes or in-class assignments instead of learning the material or doing the proper research, or they could take an incriminating/embarrassing photo of someone and upload it online without their permission – a type of cyber-bullying. Having mobile phones in schools can be very problematic for these reasons.

Cellphones Should Never Be Banned in Schools: Arguments

Cody took the side of cellphones never being banned in schools under any circumstances. One of the articles, “A blanket ban on cellphones in class would not be smart” talks about perhaps the most common and convincing argument in favor of not banning cellphones – the learning capabilities. Students are able to take pictures of notes, use calendar apps and alarms to stay organized, and use the internet to access shared documents and general information. This argument is common for a reason – technology is fairly compelling to use in a classroom setting, and having it be at your fingertips at almost any moment can be a rather attractive offer.

The article, “Should Cell Phones Be Allowed In Classrooms” raises quite a few of the same points as the previous article, but one of the points it mentions is slightly different and one that I am quite fond of – the idea of using technology to supplement lessons. The article describes this in more detail as, ‘…providing students with resources to find more information about a topic… can help encourage participation and discussion.’ So rather than implementing the technology directly into the lesson, it is instead used as a supplement for those who wish to learn more on the topic. This is a great sweet spot – those who want to take advantage of it can, but those who do not, don’t have to.

Cellphones Should Only Be Allowed in High School: Arguments

Tiana’s side of the debate this time was special, as it is the only one this semester with a third option. This option is interesting as it takes a middle ground – while cell phones would be banned in Elementary School, they would be allowed in High School. Most of the arguments from the previous two points also apply to this argument. However, the arguments toward banning cell phones only applies to Elementary School, and the arguments opposing banning cell phones applies to High School. However, there are a couple extra tidbits that apply directly to WHY they should be only allowed in High School and not both.

In her debate video, Tiana outlines that cellphones emit radiation that are potentially very dangerous for younger children. As she puts it, ‘The younger the child, the greater the risk.’ Adults, however, have much thicker skulls that can protect your brain against the radiation, and the brain tissue is generally less absorbent overall, which makes it much less of a risk toward those who are older. Additionally, in the article, “Learning with Cell Phones”, the author mentions that learning proper mobile etiquette and prepping for jobs is essential for high school students, and using cell phones in classrooms is vital toward that. Most modern jobs require the proper use of technology in some way, and learning how to use cell phones is a great way to learn the proper etiquette and skills required.

Closing Thoughts

Personally, I stuck with the same side this entire debate – cell phones should only be allowed in High School. My reasoning was somewhat different than those listed in the articles, however. My beliefs are that younger children are more easily distracted. Removing distractions such as cell phones can be a big help when teaching younger children, as their attention spans are generally very short. In High School, however, students should have the responsibility placed upon them to use their cell phones responsibly. As Tiana’s article mentioned, they will be required to use their cell phones and other technology responsibly once they begin working, and developing those skills in High School is a great way to prepare students for using their cell phones as more than a toy, and more of a professional growth opportunity.

 

Is Openness and Sharing Fair to Our Students?

For our third debate, we discussed the topic of openness and sharing in the classroom. To start off with a somewhat unrelated note, I admittedly went into this debate expecting something different (I thought I understood the question just by reading the surface level, and neglected to read the description attached to it), and was initially rather confused by the debate contents. What I THOUGHT the debate would be about was whether or not being open about your personal life was fair to students, or if it would be better to keep your personal life and work life completely separate. Just goes to show that properly reading things, even if you think you understand them, is very important!

Anyway, onto the debate itself: How fair is it for students if a teacher uploads pictures of them or their work online as a means to share with parents, or as a way to document learning? As always, we started with the pre-vote, and the results didn’t surprise me a whole lot.

(Apologies for the low quality images, I forgot to take pictures of the results during the class and the YouTube recording was in a very low resolution)

The pre-vote for the debate (Blue is AGREE and Orange is DISAGREE).

The numbers are a little hard to read, but I believe it is 11.1% agree and 88.9% disagree. I said these don’t surprise me, mainly because I think most of us have been conditioned to think that any method of sharing of work is effective, as long as we can be sure that the people we want to see it (such as parents) will be able to see it, and putting it online is (arguably) the best way to do that. However, the post-vote debate DID surprise me quite a bit.

The post-vote for the debate.

A fifty-fifty split! With how one sided the pre-vote was, this surprised me immensely. It seems likes Ashley’s defense of her side paid off, as the agree side came from a 11.1% approval rate to a 50%, which is a huge jump! So, what were the arguments in the debate? Let’s get into it!

Openness and Sharing is Unfair: Arguments

In the article, “Teens speak: Should students publish their work online?”, the author goes over not only arguments to show why sharing may be unfair, but also reasons for the opposition! This makes the article more credible in my eyes; I’ve always thought (and maybe been told at some point?) that the best arguments are able to provide pros and cons of both sides, but still be able to lean people towards the side that they are arguing for. Regardless, the arguments it provides against openness and sharing is protecting work from being copied, and keeping personal privacy online.

When I think of the idea of sharing students’ work online, I think of a picture of a piece of work being done. If this piece of works happens to be an essay, the chances of it being plagiarized are quite high, even more so because it is a picture. When checking for plagiarism, most people will type phrases from the essay into a search engine (or use websites specifically for checking the internet for plagiarism), and see if anything pops up. However, if someone is copying off of an image, that won’t pop up – the words on an image don’t actually leave any trace. A search engine just thinks it’s a picture, which would make plagiarism of this type of work REALLY hard to detect.

As for keeping personal privacy, I think it is only fair that students are able to choose what kind of information that is put out there on them. Having your teacher put out your full name, age/grade, and the school you go to (perhaps without your consent) can be very problematic for someone who does not want that information out there. This idea is further backed by the article, “Should You Use Students Photos Online?”, where they mention most of the ideas I just talked about, plus mentioning that photographing students and putting them online could lead into trouble with parents, caregivers or administration who have concerns on what is posted online.

Openness and Sharing IS Fair: Arguments

Using the same article as previous (“Teens speak: Should students publish their work online?”), it mentions a couple arguments for why sharing students’ work can be very beneficial. The more important of the two, in my opinion, is the idea that sharing works builds confidence and allows the student to gain recognition. Having someone comment positive things on a post where you shared your students work can be quite a confidence booster for the students who have had their work shared. To have it ‘approved’ by other people (perhaps from around the world) can be a really nice thing. The article also mentions that hard work is worth sharing, partly to do with the reasons above (that ‘approval’ or ‘recognition’ from others can be a very big confidence booster).

Another argument comes from the “Pedagogical Documentation: Opening Windows onto Learning” article, where two lines in particular stick out to me.

“While documenting, teachers become researchers. As teachers delve into their “story of the movement of children’s understanding (p. 3), they are also learning about themselves.” 

and

“Through documentation, and the conversations it inspires, learners are empowered to articulate their thinking, feelings and beliefs about themselves and their learning.”

Both teachers and students see the benefits of sharing, and by extension, parents/caregivers. Teachers benefit in the way that they can reflect on how students are understanding given material and what improvements they might be able to make, and students in that they can reflect on their thought patterns as they do their work. Parents or caregivers, of course, benefit from being able to track their students learning progress in nearly real-time, rather than only when report cards are given out, or at parent-teacher meetings. Being able to share work online can be very beneficial to all parties involved.

My Thoughts

Again, this one is kind of tricky. I can definitely see the benefits to why you would want to be very open to sharing students’ work online, but I can also see why many are hesitant to do so. The idea of personal privacy, a possibly negative digital identity, and wanting to keep work private are all good points to why one would want to keep their work off the web. On the other hand, sharing your work can be beneficial in that it lets you, your students, and their parents or caregivers reflect or check in on the work that is being done in class, while also building up confidence in ones abilities.

Both sides raise very valid points, but based just on the debate and the readings here, I think I lean more towards the ‘Openness and Sharing is FAIR’ side. As it is with most of these debates, while I can sympathize with the cons, the pros just outweigh them too heavily in my opinion. Perhaps in the future, when I am a teacher and can hear the opinions of the students and the parents, my view could be changed (or reinforced!) but for now, I am on the disagreeing side of this debate.

 

Why Have Teachers When We Have Google?

With another week, we have another Great Ed Tech Debate topic to discuss again! This week, the debate was on the following: Schools should not focus on teaching things that can be googled: Agree or disagree? Once again, I found this statement interesting, as it’s something that I’ve never really thought about. The obvious answer (to me at least) is to disagree – literally everything can be Googled. Google is THE place to go for any information you could so desire… So how would you teach something that could not be Googled? And it appeared most of my classmates had somewhat similar thoughts.

The pre-vote for the debate

This time, the majority were on the disagree side rather than the agree side. Though, it was not quite as much of a shutout as last weeks debate (where the vote was 94.7% agreeing with the statement), but Sydney still had her work cut out for her.

The post-vote for the debate

Unlike last week however, very little people were swayed by the debate this time, though a few were. Was that because the debate didn’t ignite anything? Or was it simply due to the content of the debate question?

Not Teaching What You Can Google: Arguments

Sydney’s side of the argument is based on how being taught subjects in school that mainly rely on the memorization of facts or patterns that one could simply Google instead is redundant. In ‘Advent of Google means we must rethink our approach to education’,  the article gives examples of the types of things that we memorize that could simply be Google’d, such as spelling, grammar, and multiplication tables. The article also states that the way school examinations are run (solo, without using any educational resources outside of ones memory)  is contrary to the way the workforce works, where you will often work in groups and use every resource at your arsenal. In my opinion, this is perhaps the greatest argument toward not teaching what you can Google. If school truly is to prepare you for the ‘real world’, shouldn’t the way that we do our examinations and work be similar to that of the ‘real world’?

Another argument made that I think is quite effective is the fact that memorization is somewhat of a waste of time. There are a couple articles that go over this fact, but the point remains the same between them – memorization is a waste of time and brain power that you could be spending on something more worthwhile. The biggest supporting piece of this argument is a quote from Albert Einstein:

“Never memorize something that you can look up.”

If you have access to millions of resources at the tip of your fingertips, why should we not be expected to use them? Again, people in the ‘real world’ use it practically all the time, so why should we expect students to memorize tons of information that, frankly, most of them will forget in just a few months time (or less)?

Instead, we should focus on the tasks that are expected of you on a day-to-day basis as an adult. Things like effective researching, conversational skills (something that was brought up in a previous blog post!) or changing the type of questions that we ask entirely into questions that provoke discussion or debate, that cannot just be memorized, and require personal opinion and thought. It would be a very different system to what we are used to now, but is that necessarily a bad thing?

We Should Still Teach What We Can Google: Arguments

Aurora’s side of the argument, to sum it up, generally wants the way school treats Google to remain the way it is right now. The article, “Will technology make teachers obsolete?” talks about how  being told to ‘just Google it’ is not enough. The article talks about how many schools have appointed a member of staff to watch the children as they use a more media-based program. This raises the problem of what makes a teacher. Is a staff member who watches the students as they google answers to problems really doing any teaching? When students are left to use the internet to do all their learning, they lose the ‘human factor’ of teaching. As someone who learns best when being taught in person where personalized adjustments can be made at any time, this ‘human factor’ is incredibly important, and losing that to a more internet-based curriculum screams trouble in my eyes.

I think a decent argument can be made for still teaching what you can google based on exactly what I just mentioned: the ‘human factor’. Again, I learn best when taught something by a person, who is physically in front of me. The information that I hear in person is retained a lot more than something I hear or read on the internet. That may just be how I learn, but if you cut that out of schools, you are possibly making information retention much harder for people who learn similarly to me, and as someone who has taken online courses with no face-to-face section, it can be very NOT fun trying to learn a bunch of information in a way that you do not excel at.

So Which Side Wins?

For this debate, I am more apt to lean towards remaining to teach what you can Google. The biggest argument in my eyes, is the ‘human factor’. Without that, what’s the point of going to school at all? We could always just look up everything we would ever need to know, and for things like conversational skills, we could just make friends at work, through hobbies, or even over the Internet. But by having the information still taught in schools, I believe school is worth going to. Not everything may interest you, true, and some may find the memorization aspect intolerable. However, I think that it can be valuable – while you may not always retain the information, building up the skill to memorize can be useful in the future, when you may have small tasks that may be useful to memorize, rather than looking it up or asking for help every single time.

So this time, with the information I have on hand, I am on the side of disagreeing.

Technology in the Classroom Enhances Learning: Yay or Nay?

The Great Ed Tech Debate of 2019 opened up this past week, and it started strong with a rather doozy of a question. Does technology in the classroom enhance learning? This is a really interesting question, especially for a class that is devoted to using technology in the classroom. Nonetheless, going into the debate, I expected the results to be highly in favor of technology enhancing learning – again, we WERE in an educational technology classroom. My guess did not disappoint, judging by the results of the pre-vote.

The vote prior to the debate.

Most of us taking this class have grown up in a school environment where we have used technology – whether it be computers, smart boards, or tablets, they’ve been a major part of our learning experiences from a rather young age. It really is no surprise that the pre-vote was (almost!) entirely in favor of technology in the classroom. Regardless, the debate had not started yet, so there was still lots of time for Raeann to turn the tides.

The vote done after the debate.

And turn the tides she did!

By the end of the debate, there had been a huge turnover from those who voted in favor of technology in the classroom. I think that is because, on its own, the idea of technology in the classroom is very attractive. However, once you start getting into the nitty gritty details of technology, it can seem rather problematic in some ways.

Nonetheless, let’s get into those details, with arguments for and against the idea that ‘Technology in the classroom enhances learning’!

Technology Enhances Learning: Arguments

This side of the debate, led by Ashlee, was ahead going into the debate, with the pre-votes largely being on her side. One argument toward using technology in the classroom is how commonplace technology has become in our day-to-day lives.  It is very unlikely that you can walk down a street and not see someone using their cell phone, or go into a house and not see a device that can access the internet (whether that’s a phone, a computer, or even smart televisions). Since it is such a big part of our lives, it makes sense to integrate that into our school lives.

George Couros’ article, ‘As Technology Becomes Easier to Use, Our Depth of Learning Needs to Continue to Increase’, talks about how technology has become easier to use over time. This is very true – the example Couros gives is the fact that iPhone’s don’t come with manuals, because they have been made to be so simple that you shouldn’t ever need to consult a manual. This mindset is not exclusive to the Apple line of devices anymore, pretty much every form of technology being made today is made with simplicity in mind (aside from some very specific enthusiast lines of technology, but those are so specific that they’re practically a non-factor in the argument). This ease of use for technologies is why they are such an attractive thing to use in the classroom – they are very easy to use, very easy to learn, and very convenient all at the same time.

Perhaps the biggest argument in favor of using technology in the classrooms is their depth. Technology can do so many different things that provide usefulness in the classroom, like having access to pretty much all the information in the world thanks to the internet. Another example of its usefulness is shown in the ‘Google Forms a teacher/student connection’ video by Google.

The video shows how, using technology, a teacher can form better connections with their students and get a better understanding of how they perceive school and how everything is going in their personal lives (without revealing too much personal information). This is just a couple of many things you can do with technology that can prove useful in a classroom setting.

Technology DOES NOT Enhance Learning: Arguments

On the flip side, there are quite a few arguments against using technology in the classroom. The article, ‘The Dark Side of Educational Technology’ focuses on quite a few of these problems. One of these problems is the entrance barrier into most technologies – money. Purchasing new technologies is VERY expensive, especially for a school that has to purchase enough for all of its students. The worst part is how fast that technologies become outdated. This is especially prevalent in the world of tablets, with even what are currently ‘brand new iPad’s’ being at risk of being outdated in two or three generations (especially considering how Apple, among other companies, degrades performance and usability on older devices  with new updates to the software). This would mean having to buy a new series of iPad’s every few years for students, which is NOT an inexpensive task.

Moving away from schools, the cost of technologies can be a problem for the individual student at home.  The aforementioned article mentions that, even in today’s world of technology, not every student has access to internet in their homes. This can be a big problem if an assignment requires the use of researching using the internet, or other online technologies. Further than that, money could also been an issue when it comes to purchasing technologies in the first place. Online assignments aside, how is a student to do an essay that is to be typed if they do not have a computer at home, and no way to go to school early or stay late (such as being a bus student and unable to find a ride to come to school early or stay late)?

So is Technology A Good Thing for the Classroom?

It’s honestly really hard to say.

I think the pros of technology in the classroom are fantastic. Being able to use the internet, computers and tablets to learn is incredible, as it allows you to do your learning in a format that most people are comfortable with. Plus, for those students who have these technologies at home, they can take their work and their learning home with them and continue to learn outside of school hours.

However, the cons of technology in the classroom are fairly problematic when trying to introduce technology. With the cost of technologies, plus the possible unavailability at home, I think having technology in the classroom can be a hindrance, especially to the students who do not and have not had the exposure to technology that most students do throughout their youth.

It is really hard for me to make a decision on whether or not I am for or against technology in the classroom. The pros are fantastic, but the cons weigh those down heavily. As such, I remain somewhat neutral on the subject for the time being. While I think technology in the classroom is a great thing, I think it is wrong to depend on it too much, as it could hinder the learning of some students, while maybe only being a slight enhancement to the rest.

Troubling Technology

I have and likely always will stand by the idea that technology is a wonderful additive to the daily lives of the people and that the advancement and usage of technology is important for the future.  However, technology is a double-edged sword. There are right ways to use it, and there are wrong ways to use it. The problem with this is that people don’t know how to handle this double-edged sword. The majority of people can easily go too far off the deep end when it comes to technology. In today’s society, though, I can’t blame them.  Not only has technology become almost indistinguishable from everyday life, but with that, technology has become a lot more scary.

Photo Credit: davidstewartgets Flickr via Compfight cc

In Sherry Turkle’s Ted Talk, “Connected, but alone?”, she talks about the key factor on why I think technology has become ‘scary’ – it has taught us to “…expect more from technology and less from each other.” This factor is the exact reason why people are both drawn in too far and steering clear from technology. To be clear, when I am talking about people are have ‘drawn in too far’ with technology, I am mostly referring to my current age group and younger (so about 20 years and younger, give or take), though it is not only restricted to this particular age group. In Sherry’s Ted Talk, she talks about how she spoke with a younger boy who preferred texting over having a face-to-face conversation. The boy said he disliked normal conversation because you can not form your thoughts before speaking – a conversation is happening in real time. It has become so extreme that a lot today’s youth don’t know HOW to hold a conversation.

Now, I am not going to pretend that I am a conversation master, for I am not. However, basic conversational skills are imperative for day-to-day life, especially once you are an adult. For example, during both job interviews and even just during a normal day at most jobs, you will need to be able to communicate with others effectively. It is a worrying thought that some people depend so much on technology that the idea of basic conversation is terrifying to them.

One thing I have noticed over the past week is how upset people get when you try to have a discussion on the negative impacts of technology. More than one person I’ve talked with in person about technology got fairly defensive when I was talking about the downsides of it.  But again, I can’t blame them. Technology is so ingrained in our lives at this point that it’s almost like talking about the downsides of a family member – you’re attacking something important to them.

Despite the fact that I think technology can be dangerous, I think technology is also a wondrous thing. We have access to practically all the information in the world, ways to communicate with people from across the globe, and sharing and collaborating with others has never been easier. The problem is finding a balance – how much technological use is too much? Where do you draw the line? Unfortunately, it’s extremely hard to say. I think it varies from person to person. The most important part about it is finding your own balance, where you can experience the wonderful parts of existing and future technologies, but still focus on the important aspects of your ‘real life’ – conversation, relationships, and more.

Embrace technology, but do not let it control you.

My Online Presence in 2019

Going into this, I was super curious to see what my current online footprint is like nowadays. We did a very similar blog post about this last year in EDTC300, so coming back over a year later to explore what might be different now is rather exciting.

I figured I would start this post the same way I did last time – with an incognito-mode Google search! And not to my surprise, the result is pretty much the same as last years.

I am nowhere to be found!

Nothing on me. Again, Google thinks my name is being spelled wrong (suggesting Jessie over Jesse), and all the results are related to an event that actually popped up in my first search as well, albeit this time it’s an update rather than the initial reporting. However, even after browsing multiple pages, nothing comes up on me (even when changing the Google search to “Search only for Jesse Simpson”). Maybe there really are just too many Jesse Simpson’s in the world? Perhaps my digital footprint isn’t as big as I would think it is.

To avoid just having a repeat of the EDTC300 post,  the result only changes when I add my old hometown or Regina to the search, and then both my old YouTube account and my blog pop up, but I have to get rather specific while searching for myself for any meaningful results to appear. So instead of that, we should focus on specific websites to see if we cannot get any results. So let’s switch to one of the most popular social media sites of modern society – Facebook!

Screen cap of my Facebook profile

Curious enough, I can’t find my Facebook page if I am not signed in to my own Facebook account. I thought maybe I just was not scrolling enough when searching my name, but I tried copy and pasting the URL to my Facebook page and it would tell me the page could not be found (but would work just fine while signed in). I am not sure why it does this, because I do not have any settings enabled in my privacy settings to disallow people from searching my name or going to my page, so it may just be a Facebook thing.

Anyway, my Facebook page is pretty basic, as far as most Facebook pages go.  Most of my posts are either people tagging me in things or me sharing posts from pages I follow. Constantly making comments on my own life isn’t really my thing, as the people that I care about sharing my life with, I will do personally and privately. For the most part, my Facebook page is just used for keeping in touch with old friends through their posts and Messenger, and following pages that I am interested in (mostly musical groups).

Moving on past Facebook, we have my Twitter page. Looking at my most recent post, you can tell how much I REALLY use Twitter (my most recent post was December 2017. Oops!) Working on being more active in the Twitterverse is something I want to work on through this year, as even though I had set it up during my first year, I’ve used it extremely sparingly, both in sharing my own thoughts and ideas as well as browsing other peoples ideas. Regardless of how much I’ve used my Twitter page, searching my name on Twitter actually has me as one of the top search results, so my account is not hard to find. Hopefully by the end of the semester, my Twitter page will have much more professional content on it that can be used to strengthening my Personal Learning Network.

The only other biggest form of social media I can think of is Instagram, but exploring myself on that is fairly difficult as I do not actually have an Instagram account. This might be somewhat surprising, especially in 2019 where the vast majority of young people seem to have one, but the concept of Instagram does not particularly interest me (which is kind of funny, because I do like my fair share of Snapchat which is a fairly similar “sharing pictures” concept).

All in all, my digital footprint has not really grown since I started building my PLN last year. Obviously there are a few more places where you can find me (like on Twitter or on my blog), but in regards to doing a quick search for me on Google, it has not really changed. However, this year will hopefully show a lot more growth for my PLN so maybe by the end of the year, my name will actually show up on a Google search when you search for Jesse Simpson.