Social Media & Childhood: Searching For Balance

This week’s EDTC 400 class was one that I had been waiting for all semester, as it was finally my turn to take on the role of debater in the class’s 6th EdTech Debate! In this debate, I went head-to-head against my fellow classmate and friend, Kylie Lorenz! The topic of the debate this week was “is social media ruining childhood”. I stood to represent the “agree” side of this debate, arguing that social media is indeed ruining childhood, with Kylie taking on the “disagree” side. Not only was this debate a lively one, but it also brought forth some very thought-provoking points and raised some great questions that caused me to rethink the way that I look at the role of social media in the lives of children. I knew that this was going to be a very divisive topic and I was honestly surprised to see that I had just over half of the classes support before entering the debate, as shown in the pre-vote results below! It’s a very bold statement to make in saying that social media is ruining childhood and therefore I knew that many of my classmates would really need to put some thought into it before they casted their votes!

Pre-vote Results

Since the results were nearly split down the middle, I knew it was going to be an interesting and close debate! In my own personal research, I came across so many pros and cons for each side and therefore I was prepared for Kylie to make some great arguments! I will now outline my arguments, as well as the arguments provided by Kylie to provide an overview of the debate as a whole!

My Main Arguments (The “Agree” SIde)

Unlike many of the other debates that have taken place in EDTC 400 so far, I was able to start this debate off strongly supporting one side. Personally, I am not a huge fan of social media and never really have been. While I do recognize the benefits of having social media, many of which I will share from Kylie’s debate, I have always seen the negatives as outweighing the positives, especially with regards to the use of social media by children. As I stated in my debate, children are beginning to engage in social media at a younger age than ever before. While most social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, require users to be at least 13 years of age before signing up, one of the articles I shared with the class titled “Is New Technology and Social Media Ruining Our Children’s Lives?”, notes that over 75% of social media users ignore these age requirements. This is easy for children to do, as most of these website use a “honesty self-report” policy in which children can easily lie about their age. With all this being considered, I structured my debate around 4 key points as outlined in my debate video:

I will now take this opportunity to further explain and summarize the points discussed in my debate video, along with provide additional findings from my research on the topic!

1) Social Media Is Damaging to Children’s Mental Health: Throughout my research, I came across several articles, studies, and reports that address how social media is negatively affecting children’s mental health. These studies connected social media use to an increase in the rates of depression, anxiety, lowered self-esteem, hyperactivity, and several others mental health concerns as discussed in this article. While the impact that social media has on youth varies from individual to individual and depends on a variety of factors, research conducted in recent years has placed emphasis on a few key areas of concern when it comes to social media use in teens, including:

    • FOMO – FOMO, which stands for “Fear of Missing Out”, is a feeling of anxiety that is often felt by individuals (both children and adults) when they are exposed to online content that makes them feel as if they are missing out on something important that is going on in the lives of others. As explored in this article, FOMO is not something new that is seen within society, but it has become increasingly common in the lives of children since the rise of social media. Through social media, children have the ability to know what others are doing at all times, which leads to several mental health concerns, such as obsessive behaviour, lack of sleep, and others as mentioned above.
    • Facebook Depression – As defined in this research journal, Facebook Depression is a form of depression that often arises from children and youth spending extensive amounts of time on social media, such as Facebook. While the name emphasizes Facebook as being a major source of depression, all social media platforms have the potential to contribute to these symptoms, often leading to social isolation. With children beginning to spend more time on social media and engaging with it at a younger age, they are experiencing a greater exposure to these feelings of depression that often are difficult to detect early on.
  • A Source for Social Comparison – Children and teens are constantly comparing themselves to others, seeing how they stack up in all areas of life. Through social media, children are provided with yet another platform for social comparison. In the article “The Dangers of Social Media That No One Likes to Admit”, Yousra Zaki identifies Instagram and Snapchat as being the most damaging platforms when it comes to social comparison, as they are very image-based. With these image-based platforms, it’s easy for children to compare their looks to others, when in reality the majority of the images shared online are heavily edited or filtered, leading to unrealistic expectations and poor self-image. Regardless of this knowledge, these social media sites continue to promote a “compare and despair” attitude, in which children compare themselves to others and focus on the ways in which they feel inferior.

In addition to being damaging to children’s mental health, social media use also has negative impacts on children’s physical health. The time children spend on social media is often at the expense of the time that could be used to enhance their physical health. As outlined by the Canadian Sedentary Guidelines, children ages 5-17 should spend no more than 2 hours of their day engaged in recreational screen time. Physical activity is an important component to children’s physical and mental health and with children spending increasingly more of their time on social media, they are often missing out on many positive childhood experiences, such as learning how to ride a bike, playing community sports, or simply taking their pet for a walk.

2) Social Media is Addictive & Making Children LESS Social: There is no denying that social media has become increasingly dominant in children’s lives, but while many view social media as simply being a part of their lives, social media addiction has become more common in children over the past ten years. The addictive properties of social media that are often overlooked cause children to obsess over it and make it their main priority. Many children have began to spend so much time on social media that it actually takes away from other childhood activities. Recent statistics from Common Sense Media report that the average 8-12 year old spends 6 hours per day online, with the average for teenagers jumping to a whopping 9 hours per day! Out of this portion of their online activity time, much of it is spend scrolling through social media. Compare these statistics to the information shared above by the Canadian Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines and it’s clear to see that children are spending over 3x the recommended amount of time online. In addition to social media addiction being a major concern for today’s youth, research has also found that while social media may have been created with the intent of increasing socialization, it does the exact opposite. As outlined in this article published by PSYCOM, many valuable life and social interaction skills, including empathy, communication and adaptability, require practice. More and more children are beginning to communicate with others by sending instant messages and pictures, liking posts, and tagging them in online content rather than speaking with them face-to-face. While this does allow for them to connect, it does not teach these children the essential life skills that will contribute to their well-being in life. If the way that children communicate with others continues to follow in this pattern, these children will grow into what Melissa Chalos refers to in her article as “socially-disabled” individuals, never having developed the social skills necessary for engaging in meaningful interactions with the world around them.

3) Social Media Use Contributes to Digital Footprint & Privacy Concerns in Children: One of the biggest dangers associated with the increased use of social media by young children is that they have not yet developed the knowledge and understanding of the dangers that exist online, or as to how to appropriately conduct their online presence. Without having this knowledge, children are more likely to share and post inappropriate content and information about themselves for others to see, therefore leading to privacy concerns. Many social media sites ask for users to share information about themselves, including their birthday, where they live and go to school, their photos, and so on. While this may seem harmless, Yousra Zaki writes about how the sharing of this information can easily fall into the wrong hands and this is dangerous for children, especially when they are not yet aware of how to look out for those who may be targeting them online.  Additionally, many children are only starting to learn about the power of their digital footprint and how everything that is posted online can last for ever, regardless of whether or not they delete it. Further, as this article states, even if children are not posting pictures and information about themselves online, it is very likely that their friends are. All information shared about a child online, whether it be by them, their friends, family, teachers, or others, contributes to their digital identities and can affect them down the road. Children need to develop the knowledge and maturity necessary to responsibly and positively contribute to their digital identities and when children as young as 6 years old have their own social media accounts, it is unrealistic to expect them to have gained this understanding and be able to apply it to their online social media activity.

4) Social Media Facilitates & Fuels Cyberbullying: The final point that I discussed in my debate video was with regards to how social media facilitates and leads to an increase in cyberbullying.  Cyberbullying is not uncommon and it can happen to anyone, whether they do or do not have social media themselves. In my video, I discussed some statistics shared by Teen Safe, in which nearly 35% of children have admitted to being victims of cyberbullying and over 85% of children see cyberbullying happen on a regular basis. Cyberbullying provides a platform for children to bully others, in which children can say what they want when they want by hiding behind their devices. Often times, cyberbullying is done anonymously, which not only makes it permanent and harder to track, but also gives the children who cyberbully a sense of security in knowing that they likely will not get caught. With this element of deception that social media provides in mind, it is easy to see how more often than not, the children who bully others online do not engage in the same behaviours offline. As shared in the article “Cyberbullying: Social Media and Teen Depression”, extensive social media use negatively impacts the way that children think and feel about others. Due to social media providing so much distance between the person who is bullying and the person on the receiving end, many children experience a decrease in empathy that can be carried over into other aspects of their lives. Circling back to my first point, cyberbullying also leads to many negative mental health concerns, such as depression and anxiety. In extreme cases, cyberbullying can even lead to children taking their own lives. A well known example of cyberbullying leading to suicide involves a young girl named Amanda Todd, who posted a video online about her cyberbullying experience before taking her own life. Unfortunately, the story of Amanda Todd is not a rare one. Puresight provides insight into several true stories of cyberbullying that have lead to young individuals taking their own lives. With this rise of social media, cyberbullying and suicide rates have increased rapidly, which is yet another reason as to how social media is having a negative impact on children.

Kylie’s Main Arguments (The “DIsAgree” SIde)

After having conducted my research and constructing a debate around the belief that social media is ruining childhood, I was interested to hear what Kylie had to say with her debate from the opposing perspective! Kylie did a great job with her debate, as she brought up several strong points that supported her stance on the topic! I found myself thinking that she was sharing some very logical arguments that I had not thought of myself during my research! Here is Kylie’s debate video, followed by a summary of the main points discussed in her side of the debate:

1) Social Media Opens Doors For Children: Kylie’s first point that she used to support her side of the debate was that social media provides countless opportunities for children to learn, explore, and be exposed to new experiences! She provided some great examples, such as the ability for children to explore things that they are passionate about and possibly even find a career path that they are interested in! As discussed in one of the articles shared by Kylie titled “5 Reasons Why Social Media Might Actually Be Good For Your Child” by Michael Sheehan, new “things” are being shared on social media all the time, which although can be dangerous, also provides an area for discovery. With the simply click of a button, children can access videos, posts, resources, and tools through social media that can allow for them to learn in ways that they otherwise would not be able to. This reminded me of my mentees who are currently in EDTC 300 and how they are using social media to learn new hobbies/skills. For my learning project, I learnt how to decorate cakes through watching videos on YouTube and following bakers on Instagram and Facebook. I was able to learn so much about something that I was passionate about without having to even leave my house or spend a single penny, which truly is amazing! With this in mind, Kylie also mentioned how taking away these opportunities for children to follow their passions and explore new things through social media would be depriving them of a powerful learning opportunity. In addition to these new possibilities, Sheehan identifies how social media also opens up doors for children to form, maintain, and grow relationships with others. Not only does social media allow for children to stay connected, but it also provides opportunities for collaboration, interaction, and socialization, all of which are important components to childhood!

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

2) Social Media Gives Children A Platform for Taking a Stand: Another benefit of social media use for children that Kylie discussed in her debate was that it provides them with a platform to take a stand, stay informed, and make their voices heard. In the article “5 Reasons You Don’t Need to Worry About Kids and Social Media”, Caroline Knorr explains how there are many positive that can come from children connecting, sharing, and learning online. Knorr shares how large social networks expose children to the issues that are being faced around the world and provides children with a voice to address these issues that they never had before. Through social media, young children can now have a larger impact and are beginning to make their mark on the world earlier than every before. This resource provides some amazing ways in which young children can have an impact through social media, whether it be supporting anti-bullying campaigns, raising money for charities, or simply standing up for their beliefs! “Youth and Social Media: Power to Empower?” addresses some specific social media campaigns that successfully engaged children, one of which being the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. I recall participating in this challenge as a young teen, in which I recorded myself having ice water dumped on me and then uploaded the video along with my nominations for others to do the challenge and donate to the ALS foundation! This campaign utilized social media to get people of all ages involved in making a difference in the world, which is one way in which social media can be seen as benefiting children!

3) Social Media Promotes Mental Health Initiatives: While cyberbullying is a major concern when it comes to social media use and children, it is also important to recognize that social media also provides support and resources for those who are experiencing bullying. This topic is explored by Angela Barnes and Christine Laird in their article “The Effects of Social Media on Children”. In this article, Barnes and Laird mention how social media allows for children to seek help that they otherwise would not have access to without social media. This can be done anonymously and therefore children are able to receive the support they need without having to draw unwanted attention to themselves. Additionally, not all children come from homes that provide the emotional support they need, therefore turning to social media is often their most easily accessible option! To illustrate the power of social media platforms in promoting mental health initiatives, Kylie provided the example of the Bell Let’s Talk campaign that takes place each year in which Bell donates money to mental health initiatives every time someone tweets, texts, or posts using their hashtag. Without social media, campaigns like this could not have as large of a reach and children likely would not be able to contribute in the ways that they can today.

Image by John Hain from Pixabay

4) Social Media is Unavoidable: Kylie‘s final debate point is one that I agree with 100%, and that was that social media is unavoidable. Social media is not “new” and it definitely is not a fad that will be going away any time soon. With that being said, Kylie made the argument that we might as well embrace social media use by youth rather than trying to fight it. This is a valid point to make, as I did mention in by debate how children are beginning to use social media at a younger age than ever before and are spending more time using social media than children did in the past. With this in mind, it is important to consider the role of education in children’s social media use. Kylie stated that rather than trying to avoid social media use with children, we should focus on teaching them how to use it appropriately. As outlined in “Teaching Kids to Be Smart About Social Media”, there are many things that parents and teachers can do to support children in using social media in responsible ways. One of the most important considerations to take is with regards to being open with children and letting them know that their online activity matters. By simply laying the foundation for safe social media activity, such as teaching children how to think before they post and the importance of privacy, children can then use these platforms in the most positive and effective ways possible.

Conclusion

This truly was a great debate to be a part of, as so many amazing points were brought up, leading me to question not only my stance, but also the question being debated. Before I dive into my final thoughts on the topic, I will share the results of the post-debate vote:

As you can see from the results, this was a debate that I did not win! However, I feel like I put up a good fight and considering how I was arguing in support of such a bold statement, I think it’s fair to assume that I had my work cut out for me! Kylie did a wonderful job with laying out her side of the debate and made some great arguments, as I have outlined above! I think that the class discussions were also very thorough, as I found that new questions were being raised every time the microphone was taken over by someone! This really made for an exciting and elaborate debate! Overall, the final results of the class vote were still quite close, which goes to show that this topic is a tricky one and from what I heard from my classmates, they really would have liked to have an “in the middle” voting option!

So Where Do I Stand?

Now that the debate that I have been waiting for all semester has come to an end, I find myself looking back and reflecting upon how I felt walking into the debate and how I feel now. Initially, I completely agreed with my side of the debate so I walked in thinking that my mind was pretty set. However, I cannot deny that Kylie and the class opened my eyes to some important considerations and clarifications that need to be made before making the claim that social media is ruining childhood. Some of these major areas include:

What is “Childhood”  & How is it Changing?
One consideration that was brought up was with regards to how we often romanticize the past, thinking that the childhood we experienced was so much better than the childhood that children are currently experiencing today. This is something that I had not considered before, but upon further reflection I see it as being very true! I cannot tell you how many times my mother has said to me “my childhood was so much tougher than yours” or “you guys aren’t experiencing childhood the way we used to…what a shame”. While these statements may be true, it is important to recognize that experiencing a childhood that differs greatly from the past is not necessarily a bad thing. Considering how the world is changing (and with it social media), maybe we need to accept the fact that childhood is changing as well. On the other hand, there is no denying that this generation of children are experiencing challenges that children of the past did not have to experience largely due to social media. For example, cyberbullying and suicide rates have increased immensely since the rise of social media, a topic I touched on in my debate. While bullying does occur both on and offline, cyberbullying is different than traditional bullying in the sense that it is easier to participate in and is harder to regulate. This is a form of bullying that children did not have to worry about in the past but have to worry about now, which can be seen as one way in which children face more struggles today than children did in past generations. In contrast, social media has allowed for children of this generation to stay more connected than children in previous generations, which could be viewed as one way in which children today have it easier than children in previous generations. There are so many pros and cons to be weighed and the scales always seem to be tipping back and forth!

Social Media Solves Problems, But It Also Causes Them:
As Kylie outlined beautifully in her debate, social media has the potential to provide children with support, power, and opportunities that they otherwise would not have access to. Additionally, Kylie discussed how social media can help aid in the solving of bigger issues, such as cyberbullying and providing mental health support. While I cannot deny that these are valid points, I could also argue that many of the problems that social media is helping to solve were partially caused by social media in the first place. For example, countless studies has linked social media use to depression and other mental health issues in youth, however social media also provides access to supports for dealing with mental health issues. The same goes for cyberbullying, where social media provides a place to obtain support when experiencing cyberbullying, but it also provides the platform for cyberbullying to occur in the first place. In this sense, social media can be seen as being a vicious cycle of problem causing and solving, which makes the topic so much harder to simply agree or disagree with!

Final Thoughts: a need for Education & Balance

At the end of the day, I do still maintain my belief that social media is having more negative impacts on childhood than positives. I simply cannot overlook how for every positive I come across when it comes to social media by children, I also find several negatives that outweigh these positives. I am a huge advocate for focusing on personal health and well-being and therefore to see all the negative ways that social media is impacting children’s mental and physical health makes it hard for me to jump on board with endorsing it. With this in mind, I feel it necessary to acknowledge that I am definitely not against social media use by children in general. I love how it has the power to connect people across the world, enhance learning and opportunities, and bring joy into the lives of those who use it. However, when considering how social media is currently being used by children and youth today, I do not feel like the majority of users are engaging with it in the most positive ways. Although I maintain this stance that the cons of social media in children’s lives outweigh the pros, I don’t think that it has to always be this way. In my opinion, children can engage in social media in a healthy and positive way if two key considerations are taken into account:

Education:
I feel that many of the negative social media impacts and experiences that children have can be attributed to a lack of experience and understanding, which is where we as educators can step in and help provide that education that children need to be conscious and responsible social media users. Kylie touched on this in one of her debate points and I think it’s a very important point to be made. Of course children are going to engage in social media regardless of whether they are educated on it or not, which makes providing these educational opportunities so important. This involves teachers being willing to learn about social media and how it is changing so that they can support their students as they begin to explore it themselves. A perfect way to educate children about social media is by incorporating it into the classroom so that they gain first hand experience with using it in a safe and supportive environment. While this does not guarantee children will never encounter negative consequences of social media use, it does provide them with a deeper understanding of how to use it appropriately and ways in which they can cope with the dangers and downfalls they may experience online. This article provides some great ways in which teachers can incorporate social media into their classroom!

Balance:
Throughout this entire debate, I found myself agreeing with points made from both sides. Through hearing what my classmates had to say, the word that kept popping up in my mind was balance. I talked a lot about the negative impacts that too much social media use can have on children in my debate, while Kylie discussed how completely denying children the opportunity to have access to social media can also prevent them from experiencing many of the amazing opportunities it provides. Considering both sides of this debate, I have come to realize that we should not be looking at social media use as an “all or nothing” concept. While an over reliance and addiction to social media is not healthy, I do not think that the answer to solving these problems is to wipe social media out of the lives of children all together. Instead, we should be focusing on finding that middle ground where social media is a part of children’s lives, but is not their entire lives.

In summary, do I think that social media needs to be banned for all children and we need to revert back to the childhood that was experienced by the previous generations? Of course not! But do I think that we need to re-evaluate the way in which children are using social media and when they begin to use it? Definitely! Regardless of how we view social media, it’s a part of children’s lives and not something we can avoid, therefore I think it may be worth shifting our attention towards focusing on HOW children use social media rather than only focusing on its current impact. Social media places so much potential in the palms of children’s hands to change and impact their lives, but the way they choose to/are taught to use it will ultimately determine whether that impact is positive or negative!

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Thanks for reading! I had so much fun with this debate and I am definitely glad that I got to try something new with this debate format! Please feel free to leave your thoughts/questions in the comment section below! I would love to hear what you think!

Lauren

 

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The Great EdTech Debate: Social Media Ruining Childhood

In this week’s EDTC400 Great EdTech Debate, I will be going up against Kylie Lorenz, in which I will be arguing that social media is ruining childhood. This post will provide you with access to my debate video, required readings, as well as additional sources of information to further your understanding on the topic. I can’t wait to deliver my debate on Tuesday!

My Debate Video

Required Readings 

“Smartphones and Anxious Kids: Mental Health Issues and the iGeneration”
 This article by Melissa Riddle Chalos identifies the many ways in which smartphones and social media are impacting adolescents’ mental health. Chalos identifies how this generation of children, also known as Gen Z or the iGeneration, have lived their entire lives with smartphones and social media and therefore don’t know what life is like without them. The article addresses how everything adolescents and teens do now revolves around their smartphones and social media accounts, which leads to addiction, poor social skills, cyberbullying, depression, suicide and other negative physical and mental health concerns.

“Is New Technology and Social Media Ruining Our Children’s Lives?”
This article discusses the ways in which children of this generation are experiencing a childhood that differs greatly from the childhood that was experienced 20 years ago. The article explores how the popularization of technology and social media has changed the way children conduct their day-to-day lives. With children beginning to engage in social media at a younger age than ever before, the article addresses the dangers that these children are facing due to their early exposure and over reliance on social media.

“Cyberbullying: Social Media And Teen Depression”
This article by Mary Sauer explores the connection between social media use and cyberbullying. Sauer identifies how excessive exposure to social media increases the risks of cyberbullying and depression in children and teens. The article also provides suggestions as to how to combat these negative impacts of social media use through education, restrictions and privacy precautions. Sauer focuses on the role of the adults in children’s lives in monitoring and regulating social media use and cyberbullying.

Additional Articles

“Social Media and Teens: How Does Social Media Affect Teenagers’ Mental Health”
“The Dangers of Social Media That No One Likes to admit”
“Social Media Destroying Youth’s Lives”
“PureSight Online Child Safety – Real Life Cyberbullying Stories with Devastating Consequences”

Additional Viewings

“TedTalk: Teens and Social Media”
“Can We AutoCorrect Humanity?”

 

Technology: A Force For Equity or Driving The Divide?

We have officially reached the halfway mark in this semester’s series of Ed-Tech debates in EDTC400! Last night’s debate was another head scratcher, as both debaters made some excellent points with regards to a tricky topic to maneuver. This week’s topic was structured around the question of “is technology a source for equity in society?”. I was very interested to hear from the debaters on this topic, as I was not really sure what all the topic would entail. I’ve learnt a lot about equity throughout my life, which is the state of being fair and impartial, however I never really considered the role of technology in achieving equity, until now that is. Ever since reading the topic to be debated, I kept asking myself how technology could be a force of equity. I came up with a few ideas, such as allowing for access and connectivity, but the extend of my knowledge ended there, which is why I could not wait to hear from the debaters! Additionally,  I was interested to see a debate topic that started beyond the classroom and focused on society as a whole, as the majority of the other debates that have been argued so far have began with technology in the classroom or learning environment, later moving into society as a whole.

As per usual, we began the debate with our awesome theme song, which was followed by our class pre-vote. Although I was able to think of a few ways that technology could possibly foster equity, I felt that it would be irresponsible of me to vote in agreement with this statement with the very little information that I had to support this stance, therefore I voted that technology is NOT a force of equity in the classroom. Unlike many of the other debates that have taken place so far in EDTC400, I really wasn’t sure how this topic was going to fair in terms of the class’s votes. The results of the pre-vote indicated that a little over half of the class took the same side as I did, with the portion of the class believing that technology is a force of equity trailing closely behind.

Pre-Vote Results

I was even more interested in this topic after seeing how close the pre-vote results were. While I did vote against the debate topic statement, I was very open to being persuaded, as this stance I took did not come from my extensive experience, but could be attributed to a lack of understanding and exposure to this topic of discussion.

Arguments for the agree side

This debate started out with a video that was prepared by Ryan, who was arguing that technology is indeed a force of equity in society. I really enjoyed how Ryan‘s debate not only focused on how technology can be a force of equity within education, but also in other areas of life. This added to his argument by illustrating how we as future teachers need to not only consider how technology can impact our student’s lives for the time being, but also the impact technology will have on them throughout their entire lives. Many of the points made by Ryan highlighted how society consists of people with varying ability levels, economic statuses, and degrees of accessibility, as well as how technology can help to address these differences and foster equity. I will now be outlining some of the major arguments made by Ryan. Here is the link to his debate video that was presented in class:

1. Technology Helps People With Impairments/Disabilities in Daily Life: Ryan’s debate kicked off by sharing a statistic that there are over 1 Billion people around the world who have a disability, whether it be physical, mental, emotional, learning, or any other form. As discussed in this article by Benetech, technology is rapidly advancing and redefining all areas of society, meaning that it has the potential to revolutionize what people with disabilities are capable of. One amazing example of the power of technology for those with disabilities that was shared by Ryan in his debate was Stephen Hawking, who was an amazingly intelligent scientists and individual who was impacted significantly by a disabling condition known as ALS, which gradually paralyzed him and led to deterioration in language. Although he faced these disabling conditions, Hawking was able to live his life to the fullest extent possible through the use of technology. Hawking utilized a computer-based communication system that he could control with his cheek and eye movements. With the help of this technology, Hawking was able to communicate with the world around him, continue to study what he as passionate about, and play an active role in his own life. While this is truly amazing, it is only one of the many ways in which technology can enhance the lives of those with disabilities. In the article shared by Ryan called “The Tech Giving People Power to Deal With Disability”, Padraig Belton identifies several technological tools that assist individuals with disabilities, including devices that allow individuals to communicate with their eyes and head, “smart glasses”, and the use of 3D printing technology to create prosthetic limbs. All of these technological tools and devices have changed the way people with disabilities live their life for the better, leading to enhanced equity within society.

Image by geralt on Pixabay

2. Technology Enhances Quality of Education Around the World: As emphasized in EDTC400, technology  is a powerful tool when it comes to education. There is no denying that technology offers huge potential for education and is a powerful developmental tool. This article by Taha Ahmed Khan provides just a few examples of the many ways that technology enhances education, such as improved communication and increased access to resources, programs and opportunities. In an article shared by Ryan titled “Technology can empower children in developing countries – if it’s done right”, it is discussed how technology has the potential to be a force of good and a source for innovation if it is utilized appropriately. An example of this is the Dell Youth Learning program, which is built around the belief that technology fuels human progress and has the power to break down barriers and bring forth new possibilities for children around the world. While this program initially began in India, it had now spread to 15 different countries, providing opportunities for the children who need technology the most to have access to it, which is what equity is all about. Programs such as these are a can have a critical role in achieving equity in society, as they recognize where the needs of individuals lie and work to meet those needs through the spread of technology.

3. Technology Gives Youth A Voice: In today’s society, an increasing number of youth are developing their own social media accounts, which provides them with a platform to express their thoughts, feelings, opinions, and beliefs with others. As Baysia Herron states in this article, social media is a tool that allows for children to find their place in the world, as well as allows for their voices to be heard. While there are many dangers to social media use, there are also many benefits, including the ability to stay connected with others, stay up to date with world issues, and even unlock a sense of empowerment. One thing that was mentioned in this debate was how individuals no longer need to be adults to be considered contributing members of society, as technology now allows for children to make their voices heard. In an article published by Microsoft titled “Technology gives the quietest student a voice”, it is mentioned that technology has specific benefits for students who are quieter in nature and often do not feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas with others. For many shy individuals, technology provides a platform for them to express themselves in a way that makes them feel comfortable. In this sense, technology is a force of equity, as it recognizes that there are multiple ways of learning, knowing, and sharing that vary from individual to individual.

Arguments for the Disagree side

Following Ryan’s opening debate, it was time for Kaytlyn to present her argument on why technology is not a force of equity in society. While I did initially vote in favour of Kaytlyn’s stance on the debate, I found myself feeling completely swayed to Ryan’s side after watching his opening arguments and caught myself thinking that Kaytlyn really had her work cut out for her. Regardless, I went in with an open mind and was really amazed to hear the numerous valid points that Kaytlyn was able to make as well! Here is Kaytlyn’s opening debate video:

1. The Digital Divide, Access, & Equity : The digital divide is used to describe the gap in equity between those who do and do not have access to technology. In today’s society, the large majority of individuals, students included, have their own devices, but just because the majority of students have these devices does not mean that we can ignore the minority that do not. In one of the articles shared by Kaytlyn titled “Crossing the Digital Divide: Bridges and Barriers to Digital Inclusion”, it is addressed how physical access to technology is only one of the components to digital equity.  There are so many aspects to take into consideration with regards to the role technology plays in contributing to equity. Some of these considerations include:

    • Physical Access – Who has access to technology at school and at home?
      • As addressed by Kaytlyn in her debate, not all students have equal access to technology. While technology has began to have a dominant role in classrooms across the world, not all classrooms have the same access to technology, whether it be due to funding, bandwidth, or other reasons. This also applies to students’ home lives, in which some students have access to technology at home or in their community,  while others do not.  As highlighted in this article by Education Week, technology has become more and more dominant within classrooms and while this may seem like progress, it may actually be widening the digital divide between the students who do and do not have access to said devices.
    • Types of Technology Accessible  – What kind of technology do students have access to?
      • Not only do we need to consider who has access to technology, but also what kinds of technology they have access to. There are a wide range of technological devices that can be utilized in the classroom, including laptops, tablets, and cellphones. Despite each of these devices being seen as a tool to be utilized in learning, they differ from each other in terms of what applications can be used, how easy they are to access, and their functionality in the classroom. While the use of different technological tools may be appropriate or even beneficial at times, it can also lead to an even bigger divide. For example, we cannot expect a student to create a powerpoint presentation on their cellphone while others are able to access tablets and laptops to do the same job. To say that simply giving students some form of technology is levelling the playing field overlooks this aspect of digital equity.
    • Literacy – Do students know how to use this technology?
      • Digital literacy is the awareness and ability of an individual to appropriately use technology in meaningful and effective ways. It is apparent that schools and students have difference access to technology, and with these varying levels of access and experience comes varying levels of digital literacy. As with anything else in life, the more experience students gain, the more likely they are to succeed. This applies to the use of technology and how students who have more exposure to technology will likely develop a higher level of digital literacy than those who have very little experience with technology. Once again, this only adds to the digital divide.

2. Digital Inclusion & The Participation Gap: Building off of the points discussed above, it is important to also recognize that inclusion is an important component to equity. Digital inclusion is a term that is similar to the digital divide, however it is much broader and emphasizes the participation aspects that surround and influence the divide between those who do and do not have access to technology. This article defines digital inclusion as a framework for assessing and examining the readiness of a community to provide access to opportunities in the digital age, focusing not only on access, but also adoption and application of digital literacy. Providing access to technology is one thing, but having individuals participate to the same extent with said technology is another story. “Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century” is an article that discusses the concept of a participation gap, identifying how the digital divide is caused by more than just varying levels of access to technology, but also participation. Kaytlyn shared a bowling analogy that she uncovered in her research by Shelley Moore, which uses the concept of a 7-10 split, which involves aiming for the outside pins in order to hit them all. In this analogy, the outside pins represent the students who need the most support and the students who need the most challenge. By aiming for these two groups of students, it is believed that we can reach all students. Here is a video featuring Shelley herself in which she discusses the power of transforming inclusive education through the bowling analogy mentioned above:

Final Thoughts & Conclusion

Through this debate and class discussions around the topic of technology and equity, my eyes have not only been opened to the power technology has in striving towards equity. As outlined by Ryan in his debate, technology has to the power to provide individuals with opportunities that they otherwise would not have access to, therefore changing not only the way they experience education, but also life in general. With this being said, I think that Kaytlyn also brought up some really powerful points in regards to how technology may provide increased opportunities for many people, but this does not necessarily mean that it is leading towards equity in society. From the class discussions that were had, it was clear to see than the majority of the class was struggling with deciding which side of this debate to take, as so many great points were raised by each side. I was interested to see how the results of the post-vote would turn out. Following the debate, we each casted our vote and the results were as follows:

Post-Vote

It turns out that Kaytlyn was not only able to maintain the majority vote, but she also gained a substantial amount of supporters. Ryan did lose some support, but he did a wonderful job and brought up some really great points, which is why he did maintain nearly one quarter of the class’ support! So where do I stand? With all things considered, I myself have solidified my stance that technology is NOT a force of equity in society, and I will justify this belief with the following 2 points:

  • Equity vs. Equality: I think that the terms “equity” and “equality” are often confused and seen as being interchangeable, when in reality they are two very different things. “Equality Is Not Enough: What the Classroom Has Taught me About Justice” is an article that provides a closer look at the difference between the two concepts, but I will essentially summarize the difference by saying that while equality involves treating everyone the same regardless of their individual needs, equity focuses on the individual and providing them with what they need to be successful based upon their unique needs. When it comes to the role of technology, I believe that we often look at the integration and provision in terms of equality rather than equity. In my opinion, to take the approach that giving all students the same devices or access to technology will achieve equity is simply not realistic. We also need to consider to supports these individuals are receiving. Some students may require more assistance in learning how to use said technology, while others may be fine to learn on their own. As outlined in this debate, there are so many interrelating factors to consider and overcoming one barrier often leads to another that we must also work to overcome, much of which cannot occur if we focus solely on equality as opposed to equity. This is not to say that equality is not important, it just should not be confused with equity.
  • Technology Cannot Solve All the World’s Inequity Problems: As mentioned in class, the concept of techno-colonialism, which involves the belief that technology can answer many or all of the world’s problems, has gained a huge following with the rise of technology itself. Many people in the world believe that through technology, there is no problem we cannot face and overcome. While technology has played a huge role in revolutionizing the world, I in no way believe that technology has the power to solve all of the worlds problems, nor do I think it is the answer to achieving total equity. As outlined in this article, technology has solved some of the world’s major problems, such as making medical advancements, however it could also be argued that technology has created just as many problems as it has solved, many of which were outlined in Kaytlyn in her debate. In my opinion, resorting to technology to solve problems with regards to inequity often seems like we are placing a band-aid over the problem rather than getting to the root of what is causing it. I think that technology should be seen as a tool to increase opportunities, access, and potentially contribute to equity in society, but to rely on it to be the answer to all the world’s inequity problems seems like it could lead to disappointment and more inequity. To put this in another context, I would encourage you to consider equity as a puzzle, with multiple pieces being required in order for it to be seen as complete. In this puzzle of equity, I would consider technology to be just one of the many pieces needed to achieve the end goal!

In closing, I would like to turn to microphone over to you as the readers and hear what you have to say about this topic! Do you think that technology is the missing piece to this puzzle we call equity? Or is it just one of the many missing pieces to consider?

That’s all for this post! Thanks for reading and don’t forget to leave your thoughts in the comment section below! Also, stay tuned for next week when it is my turn to tackle my debate topic!

Until next time!
Lauren

Cell Phones in the Classroom: The Good, The Bad, and The In Between

Another week of EDTC 400 has passed, and with it came another amazing Ed-Tech Debate! This week’s debate was exceptionally lively, as there were three different debaters presenting their perspectives around the topic of whether or not cell phones should be banned in classrooms! Unlike the previous debates that have been engaged in over the course of this semester, this debate provided 3 “sides” to take, including:

  1. Cell phones should always be banned in the classroom
  2. Cell phones should never be banned in the classroom
  3. Cell phones should only be allowed in high school

I was very interested going into this debate, as the topic of cell phone use in the classroom is one that has always left me somewhat uncertain. I myself often used and continue to use my cellphone in class, but I have also come across many instances in which individuals do not use their phones appropriately during class time. With this in mind, it was easy for me to cast my pre-vote in favour of cell phone use in the classroom only being permitted in high school.

Pre-Vote Results

As you can see from the pre-vote results, approximately half of the class shared my opinion that cell phone use in the classroom should only be permitted for students who are in high school. Very close behind in the polls was the belief that cell phones should never be banned in the classroom. Finally, a very small portion of the class voted in support of cellphones always being banned in the classroom. In all honesty, I was not surprised to see that there were very few students in support of cellphones being banned in all classrooms, as we are currently living in a society where cellphones play such a significant role in our lives. However, I was slightly surprised to see the amount of people who voted in support of cellphones never being banned in classrooms. With all these thoughts racing around in my head, I was eager for the debate to commence so that I could hear what all the debaters had to say. Although I initially stood firmly on one side of the debate, I was very open to being swayed if the evidence presented had the power to do so! I will now dive into the debates presented by each of the debaters, highlighting the major points addressed in each argument, as well as provide my own thoughts, questions, and learnings through my engagement in the class discussion and readings. Buckle up, this is going to be an exciting one!

A) Cellphones should always be banned in the classroom

The first individual to present their side of this debate was Kendall, who was arguing that cellphones should always be banned in the classroom. As the pre-vote results made apparent, Kendall had her work cut out for her with having to kick off the debate with very few supporters on her side. Regardless of the statistics, she was able to push past the lack of support she encountered and address some great points that supported her stance on the topic. These points can be referred to as “The 4 D’s” of why cellphones should not be permitted in the classroom. Here is Kendall‘s debate video:

Summary Of Kendall’s Debate

1. Distracting: One of the most obvious concerns with the use of cellphones in the classroom relates to the level of distraction they bring along with them. This is a fair concern to have, as Kendall shared the statistic that on average, students who use their phones in the classroom spend 20% of their class time on their personal devices. This statistic led to the identification of something known as the “Attention Residue Effect”Cal Newport is computer science professor and author from George Town University who has dedicated much of his work towards studying the relationships between technology, productivity, and life satisfaction. Newport has published several books, one of which is titled “Deep Work”, which defines the “Attention Residue Effect” as a negative impact on productivity that stems from multitasking in which individuals switch between work and technology. While students may like to think that they can easily carry out multiple tasks at one time, such as listening to their teacher deliver a lesson and checking their phone, they often don’t  realize that their work quality suffers in doing so. Oxford Learning published an article identifying several negatives related to students multitasking, including falling behind in class, decreased retention, weaker understanding of content, and increased levels of stress and frustration. For a more detailed analysis of the points mentioned above, Adrian F. Ward and colleagues also published an article titled“Brain Drain: The Mere Presence of One’s Own Smartphone Reduces Available Cognitive Capacity”.

Image by lavnatalia on Pixabay

2. Disrespectful: Another concern in regards to students using cellphones in the class is the ways in which they use them. Many students use their cellphones during class time in ways that are disrespectful to the teacher and other students. In today’s society, in which cellphones have become such a significant part of our lives, students (and adults) often develop an over reliance on their devices and use them when it is not always appropriate. This article published by “The Hoofbeat” addresses the idea that regardless of whether or not teachers permit cellphone use in the classroom, there are times when having a cellphone out is simply disrespectful. By banning the use of cellphones in the classroom, students can be exposed to the idea that they don’t need to depend on their device 24/7 and that there is a time and place where cellphones should not be used, which can prepare them for life experiences and expectations to come. During lessons and class time, teachers deserve the students full attention and this is not something that can be achieved when they are constantly scrolling through their cellphones. Other concerns related to the disrespectful activity that cellphones enable include cheating and plagiarism, which become much easier to engage in with the use of cellphones.

3. Disruptive: There is no question that cellphones have the potential to be disruptive in the classroom. When students use their cellphones in class, teachers are tasked with a whole new responsibility of monitoring and regulating the ways in which they are used, as well as when they are used. This can disrupt other classroom duties of the teacher, such as delivering lessons, answering questions, and monitoring other students. If a teacher has to constantly stop his/her lesson to apprehend a student using their phone, this is disrupting the entire class. As addressed by Chad Lammer in this article, cellphone use by students in the classroom can be disrespectful and distracting to other students who are actually wanting and trying to pay attention and learn. Paul W. Bennet explores the idea of implementing cellphone bans in schools in this article,  which is believed to be a possible solution towards eliminating “low level disruptions” that cellphone use in the classroom permits. Many schools implement a no cellphone policy, while others permit cellphone use in the classroom, and some schools permit the use of cellphones under certain conditions. This inconsistency leads to many concerns, as it occurs not only between schools, but also between different teachers within schools, which makes expectations hard to enforce.

Image by Pixabay

4. Damaging: The final “D” that was discussed around why cellphone use should be banned in the classroom addresses the damaging and dangerous aspects of cellphone use in a school setting. Unfortunately, we are currently living in a society where cyberbullying, school shootings, bomb threats, and other dangers occur on a regular basis. At times of crisis, individuals often turn to their devices, which can be dangerous in a school setting when occurrences like these take place, as the use of cellphones makes it more difficult to regulate and deal with the issues at hand. This article addresses how the overuse of cellphones during times of crisis can overload the system, which can hinder the ability for help to be received. More dangers can arise when parents or other individuals in the community are alerted before emergency personnel, therefore possibly putting more people in danger. Cellphones also have the potential to spread rumours with the simple click of a button. These rumours are often time dangerous and lead to more issue. Examples of this are shared on Gainesville.com in this particular article, which addresses how text messages about suicides, school shootings, and other crisis’s can spark panic and disrupt the entire school and community. By allowing students to use their phones in class, they are more likely to send message that perpetuate these rumours, as well as hear these rumours themselves.

B) Cellphones should Never be banned in the classroom

Now that we have explored why cellphones should be banned in schools, it is time to hear from Cody with his debate on why cellphones should NEVER be banned in schools. Cody took the stance that cellphones are an important part of our lives and that students should not be denied their right to use their phones in class, as this would deny them of the opportunity to learn how to use their devices appropriately and prepare themselves for their futures in which cellphones will surely be present. Check out Cody’s debate video:

Summary Of Cody’s Debate

1. Cellphones Are A HUGE Part of Society: Technology is a significant part of our lives and it is constantly evolving. Technology has never been more readily available to use than it is today and therefore it would be unrealistic to deny students their rights to use their cellphones when the world around them is doing just that. Students need to learn how to use their cellphones appropriately and this cannot be done when cellphone bans are in place. As identified in this article published by The Star, teachers have the responsibility to teach students how to use their cellphones wisely. Rather than trying to enforce a no cellphone policy in the classroom, teachers can make adaptations to incorporate cellphones into the classroom in appropriate ways, therefore teaching students how to use their devices in positive ways. Author Michelle McQuigge shared an article titled “Should schools welcome cellphones in class”, in which she identifies how a growing number of schools have began to ditch their attempts at fighting cellphone use in the classroom and devote their time and attention to finding ways to incorporate it in ways that are beneficial to both students and teachers. The Tech Advocate provides some tips and ideas on how to manage cellphone use in the classroom in this article, emphasizing the importance of setting expectations and enforcing them to the fullest extent possible.

2. Instant Access to Online Tools/Resources: Through the use of cellphones in the classroom, students have instant access to countless tools, resources, and apps that can aid them in learning. As addressed in this article, not all schools have the funding or access to technology that can be used to enhance learning. In these cases, allowing students to use their cellphones in class can provide them with resources and opportunities that they otherwise would not be exposed to. In an article shared by Cody titled “Cellphones in the Classroom: Learning Tool or Distraction”, it identifies how cellphones can also be used to incorporate more digital platforms into lessons, such as social media. The article also addresses that lessons and learning in general do not need to revolve around cellphones, but these cellphones can be viewed as supporting and supplementary tools to enhance learning, which leads to Cody’s next point on the inquiry benefits of cellphone use in the classroom.

Image by OpenClipart-Vectors on Pixabay

3. Inquiry Benefits: While teachers are seen as the leaders of the classroom and the sharers of knowledge, they don’t know the answer to every single question a students asks. Rather than fumbling to come up with an answer, teachers can identify that this is not something they are prepared to provide an answer to and allow the students to turn to their cellphones to conduct a search. This teaches students resourcefulness, adaptability, problem solving and critical thinking skills. The use of cellphones is also a great addition for inquiry projects, in which students are working on a wide range of activities related to different topics. Throughout these projects, students often encounter simple questions that they need to find the answer to and the use of cellphones can save a lot of time. This article summarizes these main benefits, identifying how cellphone use in the classroom not only saves time, but also money and resources! Cellphones also provide tools that can be used for inquiry based learning, such as the phone’s camera, recorder, and countless apps! There are so many other amazing ways that cellphones can be utilized in the classroom, many of which not only benefit the students, but the teachers as well.

C) Cellphones should only be allowed in high school

Normally the debate would have concluded after hearing from both Kendall and Cody, but it was now time for Tiana to bridge the gap between the two debates delivered by presenting her arguments on why cellphone use should not be permitted in elementary and middle schools, but should be allowed in high schools. This two-fold presentation provides insight into both aspects of the debate, while also supporting the reasoning behind the different expectations. Here is Tiana’s debate video where she presented her arguments:

Summary Of Tiana’s Debate

Why Cellphones Should Be Banned In Elementary & Middle School:

1. Physical Health Risks: There are many physical health risks associated with the use of cellphones by young children. As Tiana mentioned in her debate, children’s brains are still developing and their brain tissues are more absorbent than adults. This article published by WebMD identifies how microwave radiation (MWR) given off by cellphones can have negative impacts on children. While MWR can also impact adults health, extensive cellphone use by young children may result is developmental delays and other health risks that can be avoided with reduced cellphone use. While the research is not conclusive, many scientists have also connected the radiation emitted from cellphones to cancer. The younger a child is when they start to engage with cellphones, the greater exposure they will face to radiation, which could increase their risks of developing cancer.

2. Mental Health Risks: One of the most commonly addressed concerns related to cellphone and technology use in general is with regards to mental health. While cellphone use can affect mental health for individuals of all ages, young children are especially at risk, as they have not yet been educated on how to use their phones effectively and appropriately. CBC Radio delivered a discussion on the impact of cellphone use on young people, identifying some of the major mental health impacts as being depression, anxiety, addiction and loneliness. This combination of lack of understanding of how to use their devices and an over reliance on said devices can add up to a significant amount of mental health risks.

Image by ElisaRiva on Pixabay

3. Cyberbullying: Building off of the mental health risks mentioned above, cyberbullying is another common occurrence among young children using cellphones. While cyberbullying can occur through the use of any technological device, permitting cellphones in the classroom increases the likelihood that students will engage in such activities. Cyberbullying can contribute to mental health concerns and is something that is occurring at a younger age than ever before. Jodee Redmond identifies in this article how cyberbullying is becoming more common in elementary schools and that cellphones are playing a huge role in this increase. Teachers cannot eliminate cyberbullying that occurs, but they can help to minimize it by not allowing students to use their cellphones in class.

Why Cellphones Should Be Allowed In High School:

1. Preparation for Adulthood: This point made by Tiana overlaps with Cody’s argument in regards to how it is the responsibility of teachers to teach students how to use their cellphones appropriately and prepare them for their futures. While students in elementary school have plenty of time to learn about responsible cellphone use, students in high school are preparing to enter the “real world” where cellphones will play a huge role in their futures, including the jobs they get, the activities they engage in, and their day-to-day lives. Tiana shared an article by Dr. Willard R. Daggett titled “Preparing Students for Their Technological Future”, in which one of the points made refers to the importance of taking a student-centred approach to education in which teachers consider the needs of the students first and foremost. This involves addressing the need to prepare students on how to use their cellphones in ways that will benefit them in the future as opposed to avoiding the topic to make teaching less controversial.

2. Difficult to Regulate: Whether or not a cellphone ban in put into place, there will always be students who want to “push the envelope” and will try to use their devices. In many cases, simply telling a student that they cannot use their phone in class will make them want to use it even more! This makes it difficult for teachers to regulate, especially when the expectations are not consistent from teacher to teacher, as addressed by Kendall in her debate. It is also important to consider how students can do the same things on school provided devices, such as laptops and tablets, as they can on their cellphones. With this in mind, we need to recognize that banning the use of cellphones in the classroom does not mean that students will pay more attention or be more responsible users of technology. As Tiana emphasized, there are pros and cons to cellphone use in the classroom and we can’t control everything our students do. This article provides a more in depth look at the pros and cons of devices in the classroom, as well as considerations that need to be taken.

Image by Pixabay

3. Diverse Learning Strategies: This point discussed by Tiana also closely related to some points made by Cody, suggesting that the use of cellphones in class can open up more opportunities for learning. Tiana brought up the point that not all schools can afford enough devices for students and often times the devices they do have don’t work the greatest. The Cult of Pedagogy published an article titled “When Your School is Short on Tech”, which addresses the issue mentioned above. While this cannot always be avoided, the issue can be minimized by allowing for students to use their cellphones to accomplish the same tasks that they would when using laptops or tablets.

Thoughts & Conclusion

As you can see from reading this post of mine, this debate was extremely controversial and there were many amazing points brought up. Just as we always do following a debate, we conducted our post-vote to see if anyone was swayed and where the class stood as a whole. Here are the results of the post-vote:

Post-Vote Results

As to be expected in most debates, the results shifted in comparison to the pre-vote. Kendall was able to gain more support after delivering her argument on why cellphones should never be allowed in the classroom. Cody’s supporters dwindled ever so slightly, however he still maintained over 25% of the class on his side. Overall, Tiana remained the most highly supported debater, ending with over half the class taking her side. With this being said, all three of the debaters did an amazing job and sparked some great conversations and critical thinking.

So where I do stand in this debate? I initially voted in support of cellphones only being allowed in high school and although I was being swayed back and forth throughout the debate, I stuck with this side throughout the evening and ended by voting the same as I had in the pre-vote. With this being said, there were some great points that Kendall and Cody made that I have added to my conditional support of Tiana‘s side of the debate. I believe that cellphone use should not be permitted in elementary school, but it could perhaps begin to be introduced later on in middle school, as students are beginning to get cellphones at a younger age now than ever before. Additionally, I believe that there are 2 key considerations to take into account when considering student use of cellphones in the class; consistency and balance.

  • CONSISTENCY: As mentioned several times throughout the debate, I think that consistency is a huge factor to consider when implementing cellphone bans or allowing cellphone use. I realize that different schools and different teachers have their own perspectives on cellphone use in the classroom, but when there are different rules and expectations for students in regards to the use of their cellphones in class, this can become very confusing. In my opinion, if there is going to be a cellphone ban, I think it should be school wide and have the support of all teachers. This is not to say that all teachers need to agree with this ban, but they should be enforcing it in order to make expectations clear.
  • Balance: As mentioned above, cellphones are a huge part of our lives and they aren’t going anywhere any time soon. We need to teach students how to use their devices appropriately, which can contribute to a decrease in mental health issues, bullying, etc. However, we also need to teach students how to function without their devices. We as humans have developed an over reliance on technology and it is beginning to negatively impact students. Finding that balance between appropriate cellphone use and knowing when to take a break and turn off the device is something we need to strive for. This may not be easy, but it is possible if teachers and students are willing to cooperate and put the work in.

Thank you for taking the time to read this extensive blog post of mine! There was much more that could have been said in this post but I will leave things open to you as the readers to reflect, comment, and question! I would love to hear where you stand on this topic!

Until next week,

Lauren Sauser

 

To Share Or Not To Share?

Week 3 of the Great EdTech Debate has come and gone and let me tell you, this was an interesting one thanks to the contributions of my EDTC 400 classmates! This week’s topic of debate focused on openness and sharing in schools and whether or not it is unfair to our students. My initial thoughts on the topic? Well i’m glad you asked! After reading the topic, the first thing that came to mind was a feeling of uncertainty, as the idea of openness and sharing in schools has always been something that has been considered “normal” to me. For as long as I can remember, the school I attended always shared our work online, whether it be through blogs, Facebook pages, emails, or other online platforms for communication. With this in mind, I could not relate to the belief that openness and sharing in schools is unfair to our kids and was therefore drawn towards the disagree side of the debate. Based on the pre-vote results, the large majority of my classmates took the same stance as me, with just under 90% of the class voting against the statement that openness and sharing is unfair to our kids. After the debate was completed, the post-vote showed a significant shift in positions, with the debate ending in a 50/50 split! The results literally could not have been any closer! The class was now divided down the middle thanks to the thought-provoking points made by both debaters! I will now take the time to outline the major arguments made for each side of this debate, as well as provide my own perspective following the debate and further research on the topic.

Pre-Vote Results

Post-Vote Results

 

Arguments for the “Pro” Side

The pro side of this debate argued that openness and sharing in schools is unfair to our kids. The advocate for addressing the injustice that students face due to schools sharing their information online was Ashley, who had her work cut out for her following the results of the pre-vote. Contrary to the class beliefs, Ashley was able to lay out a very convincing debate addressing how although technology has become increasingly popular and is utilized in the classroom in many positive ways, there are also many issues concerning the impact that sharing students work online has, several of which I will address below.

  • Student consent is not always considered: In Ashley’s opening statement video, she began by addressing how schools often require parent consent before sharing their child’s

    Photo Credit: vmaz Flickr via Compfight cc

    information/work online, however they don’t always ask the students themselves for permission. Often time parents will consent to their child’s information or work being shared online, however this does not mean that the student is also comfortable with this sharing. Kerry Gallagher identifies how there are a number of reasons why students may not be comfortable with their information being shared online in this article. Some of these concerns include a fear that their work will be copied, the desire to keep their ideas to themselves, as well as a fear of a loss of privacy. While this article also addresses how some students want their work to be shared with others, it stresses the importance of giving students a voice and the power to make this decision for themselves, which leads to the next debate point…

  • Teachers are controlling their students digital footprints: When a student’s information is shared online, it quickly becomes a part of their digital footprint, which Technopedia defines as a trace of an individual’s online activity at any point in time, including activities, actions and communications. This means that the information or work that schools share about their students can quickly become a part of a student’s digital footprint and follow them throughout their lifetime. Students, like all individuals, should have the right to form their own digital footprint and have in a say in what they share online once they are educated on how to appropriately conduct their online presence. This education in the area of digital footprints is essential for students, as addressed by Kathleen Morris in this article. When teachers post without the student’s permission, they are contributing to the student’s digital footprint. This denies students the opportunity to shape their own digital identity in a way that they desire and are educated on.
  • Sharing students work online can lead to bullying and embarrassment: Cyberbullying is a huge issue in society today and as Ashley cited in her video, Statistics Canada’s cyberbullying statistics state that 1 out of every 5 individuals ages 15-29 have experienced cyberbullying. When schools share students information online, this can potentially expose them to an increased likelihood of cyberbullying. Additionally, Web Wise identifies that posting students images and information online can lead to unintentional embarrassment, as this content can be misinterpreted or misused by those who come across it.
  • Teachers are putting students in the public eye: Privacy, whether it be online, in real life, or any setting, is something that all students should have the right to control. By posting

    students information online, teachers are putting students into the public eye. While privacy setting are beneficial, questions have been raised as to just how private these privacy settings are. Robert Merkel’s article “There’s no such thing as privacy on the internet anymore” provides insight into the many barriers to privacy that currently exist on the internet and how just because you set your settings to private that doesn’t mean you are safe. With this lack of privacy comes some concerns, many of which were mentioned above, including plagiarism and bullying. This article by PureSight also identifies how students images can be misused in negative or inappropriate ways. For example, consider children whose images have become meme’s. While these photos may provide a laugh, they don’t take into consideration how these children will feel when they grow up and discover this, leading to further embarrassment. PureSight also identifies how online sharing can bring about safety concerns if a student’s locations is shared online for anyone to access. This could result in students being targeted.

 Arguments for the “con” Side

The other side of this debate focused on positive aspects of openness and sharing in schools. Although the debate opened by identifying some of the dangers related to sharing student’s information online, there are also many benefits that can arise from this sharing and openness. Dryden led this portion of the discussion, identifying some great points in regards to these benefits and how sharing student’s information online is becoming an asset to education in general, allowing for the development of more opportunities and opening doors for the development of strong school-home relationships.

Photo Credit: thienan01 Flickr via Compfight cc

  • The foundation of teaching is sharing: Dryden’s opening statement video began by identifying the important role of sharing in teaching. The sharing of knowledge and experiences is the very bedrock of teaching and education. In Chapter 6 of the book “Game Changers”, David Wiley and Cable Green address how education cannot occur without sharing. This sharing refers to the school, teacher, the students themselves, parents, and all those involved in an individual’s education. One of the characteristics of a good teacher is having the ability to share knowledge effectively and with a purpose. Anyone can share information online, but a good teacher is able to share in ways that are beneficial to the students and their learning, as well as in ways that benefit others. When teachers exhibit sharing, students are then encouraged to do the same, which can lead to enhanced learning, connections, and opportunities.
  • Importance of being open in the classroom: Openness is another important component to learning and education in general. Openness involves developing open and welcoming relationships between teachers, students, and parents, therefore forming stronger relationships that promote sharing, acceptance, curiosity, and ultimately, trust. In this article, Brian Gatens identifies openness as one of the five main pillars of trust, along with kindness, reliability, competence, and honesty. Trust is an extremely important component in education and sets the stage for learning and the development of safe and effective environments in which students can feel comfortable to express themselves and thrive. Effective openness and trust go hand and hand and you cannot have one without the other. It is also important to recognize that openness also involves the ability to adapt to differences and the information that students share. Routines may be ideal, but teachers cannot rely on every day to bring about the same activities, challenges, and experiences in regards to openness and sharing, hence the need for adaptability.
  • Importance of documented learning: Sharing students’ work online is a way of documenting their learning for assessment purposes, to show progression, to receive recognition, and connect with parents or those close to students. Parents are always curious as to what their children are working on in the classroom and while projects are often sent home, there is no guarantee that they make it into the hands of parents. This is where online documentation can benefit parents, students and teaches alike. In this document on pedagogical documentation, Dr. Terry Campbell and colleagues support this emphasis on the importance of documentation by identifying how it has a powerful affect on all aspects of learning, as it supports, encourages and inspires learners to examine their thinking, feeling and beliefs about themselves and how they learn. Making documentation digital can work to enhance these experiences in ways that regular documentation cannot, such as allowing for information to reach a larger audience, receiving immediate feedback, making instant connections, and several other aspects that are unique to online documentation, all of which can enhance the learning experience of students.

Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

  • The keys to success: Dryden ended his debate by summarizing the key components to education, including communication, trust and adaptability. These three components are interrelated and work together to influence a child’s learning experience. Sharing and openness in the classroom provides numerous opportunities and benefits to students if these three components are met and adhered to.

Final THoughts

While I began this debate in support of openness and sharing in the classroom, my eyes have been opened to the many ways in which this could be perceived as unfair to students. Both debaters made some great arguments and I found myself agree with statements that both of them made. So where do I stand? After considering all the arguments made and the discussions that were had among the debaters and the class, I still maintain the belief that openness and sharing in the classroom is extremely beneficial to students IF  it is done in an appropriate and respectful manner. I feel that students should have a say in what is shared about them online, however teachers also need to recognize that students are not always educated or responsible enough to understand the consequences of their actions and implications that their online activity can have. For that reason, I feel that the first step all teachers should take is to educate students in regards to online activity and identities so that they can make informed decisions about what and how they want to contribute to their digital identities.

The question here is so much more complex that “should we or should be not share students information online”. This question requires us to consider:

  1. Who is sharing the information? 
  2. Who is the information being shared with?
  3. What is the purpose of sharing this information?
  4. How is the information being shared?

Answering these questions may be different depending on the student, teacher, parents, and/or school. Not all students will feel the same way about having their information online and this extends to parents as well. While some students may be excited to share their information and work with the world, others may want to share their information with a select group of people online and not make it publicly accessible for all. The motivation or purpose of sharing information online may also vary from student to student, whether it be to get others input, to receive recognition, or so on. Finally, the method in which information is shared will also vary. This may involve having to focus on sharing students work anonymously or without being able to identify the student in the images, or it could be very direct. This is all very situational and is all about finding a balance. In my opinion, while there are definitely steps and considerations that need to be taken into account, there is no single correct way to share student’s information online. I do feel that no matter how you get to the point of sharing, that sharing and openness in classroom has more benefits than drawbacks. Sharing provides a platform for students to express themselves, connect with others, be heard, and sets students up for their future. Lets face it, in this day and age being able to find someone online is considered to be important and while students may not understand that at a young age, they can begin to explore the idea of forming their online identities in a safe and supporting environment. To summarize some of these major points and understand the ways in which teachers and schools can ensure safe and responsible sharing, check out these “10 Internet Safety Tips for Schools and Teachers”.

Recommended Topics to Explore:

In closing, I would like to share a few apps/programs that were shared with our class by Professor Katia Hildebrant:

  • #Comments4Kids – This is a hashtag in which teachers can share their students work in order to get feedback and recommendations from others. This hashtag works according to the belief that connecting and collaborating with others can lead to learning benefits for all students.
  • Kid Blog – a blogging platform in which students blogs are aggregated under a teacher blog, allowing for the teacher to have control while still giving students a platform to express themselves.

That’s all for this post! Thank you for reading and I would love to hear what you think about this topic! Feel free to leave your comments, critiques and questions below!

Until next time!
-Lauren Sauser

 

If You Can Google It, Why Teach It?

Week 2 of The Great #EdTech Debate was filled with some great arguments, discussions and critical thinking! The topic of debate this week was whether or not schools should be focusing on teaching things that  can be google. To me, this topic seemed to have the potential to be very divisive, so I was interested to see how the debate played out! After initially reading the topic, my first instinct was to disagree with the statement being made.  While I do love technology and think it is a powerful tool to implement in the classroom, I see it as just that, a tool. Additionally, the topic refers specifically to the use of google, not technology in general, a point that I think is important to recognize going into this debate. I don’t think think that Google can replace good old-fashioned teaching, which is why I used my pre-vote to select “disagree”, a decision that the majority of my EDTC 400 classmates chose as well!

Pre-Vote Results

Post-Vote Results

As you can see from the pre-vote, 90% of the class voted that they disagreed with the statement that schools should not focus on teaching what can be googled. At this point, it looked as if the advocate arguing in support of this statement would have their work cut out for them. However, when comparing the results of the pre-vote and post-vote, several of my classmates shifted towards the agree side of the debate, with over 25% of the class now supporting the belief that schools should not focus on teaching what can be googled. While many participants stuck with their initial stance, including myself, there is no doubt that the arguments made throughout the debate caused some questions to be raised and encouraged further thought and discussion. I will now take the time to highlight some of the major arguments made on each side, as well as provide my final thoughts on the debate.

Arguments for the “agree” side

This week’s pro debater was none other than Miss Sydney McGrath! Not only did Sydney have the difficult role of initiating the debate, but she also was faced with very few supporters right off the bat. Nonetheless, she made some great points in regards to why schools should NOT focus on teaching what can be googled.

1) More Effective Use of Time & Developing A Deeper Understanding: Google has allowed for students to access information with the simply click of a button, in which they are able to find answers to their questions within seconds. With this in mind, surely there are more effective uses of teaching than to teach students what they can already learn themselves. Life Learning’s article Why Learn Facts if you can Google? explains how learning facts and dates which can be easily be googled is a waste of students and teachers valuable time. As Sydney mentioned in her debate, students often spend so much time trying to remember content that they do not understand the “big picture”. Instead of having to memorize these small details, teachers should be using that time to take the information that is easily accessible and focus on engaging in critical thought and developing a deeper understanding of the concepts and content being learnt. For example, Christine Blower identifies how learning times tables has become a waste of time because students can easily access them online.  Additionally, this time could be used to focus on the development of skills such as problem-solving and collaborative learning, as well as those skills that cannot be googled.

2) A Need for Personalized Learning: By not focusing on teaching information that can be googled, we as teachers are presenting the opportunity for students to explore what is of interest to them and what works best in terms of their learning style. This allows for more one-on-one time between the student and teacher, therefore supporting personalized learning. Not only does this benefit students, but teachers as well. Building off of the previous point about effective use of time, it is important to recognize that teachers are only given a small amount of time to actually teach and therefore any way to maximize on the time they have and use it efficiently is ideal. Time management strategies for teachers, such as the ones provided in this article, allow for them to make the most of their time and meet the individual needs of their students.

3) Embracing 21st Century Learning: Old models of curriculum are rigid and perpetuate a certain level of unpreparedness, as much of what students learn in school does not directly apply to the work place. Creating Innovators identifies how a 21st century learning approach to education that focuses on students learning, building, shaping and doing things raises children who are innovators and have the potential to change the world with their ideas, curiosity, and creativity. By giving less attention to teaching information that students can easily google and instead focusing on the hands-on, application based knowledge, students can be better prepared for the world in which they are entering after school.

Arguments for the “disagree” side

Advocating for the “disagree” side of this week’s debate was Miss Aurora Laystreet, who also made some great arguments in support of schools still needing to teach content that can be googled, but also in regards to the importance of the role of the teacher in general.

1) Content Overload & Mountains of Misinformation: Google is full of useful information that can help students in many ways. You can Google anything now a days, but that does not mean that information you find will be accurate or applicable to what you are actually wanting to learn. It is also a well known fact that the internet if full of misinformation. For example, website such as Wikipedia are not reliable sources of information, as they can be modified easily by anyone who is willing to take the time to do so. One of the dangers here is that many students are not yet knowledgable in regards to how to weed through the content they find, nor are they able to differentiate between accurate information and misinformation. Additionally, more and more misinformation or “fake news” is being shared online and it is becoming increasingly harder for even well-educated adults to identify. If we are unable to detect misinformation online, how can be expect our students to? The article, “Helping Students Search For Truth In An Era of “Fake News”provides some tips for teachers to help their students, but as I said above, misinformation has a tendency to disguise itself as reliable information when shared online.

Photo by Agence Olloweb on Unsplash

2) Stopping Points & Information Recall: Often time when students google information and find the answer they are looking for, their search ends. With the ability to google the answer to a question, students are not motivated to dig deeper and explore information beyond the answer they desired, reaching a stopping point in their learning. The ability to google information also keeps students from retaining information, as they feel they can simply look it up again in the future. This leads to the question as to whether or not students are actually learning, or if they are simply copying the information with no intentions of understanding it because they know they can easily access it again in the future. Terry Heick addresses these topics of stopping points and the illusion of accessibility in his article, “How Google Impacts the Way Students Think”. 

3) Basic Skill Development: Many of the basic skills that students need to succeed in the “real world” cannot be taught through google. For example, problem solving skills have really taken a hit with the implementation of google in the classroom. Instead of working through problems, students are opting to search up the answers on google. “In Education, Back to Basics” identifies the need to not only go “back to basics” in terms of education, but to go even further to a point in which we have yet to explore. This approach to education supports the development of critical skills such as reading and writing, numeracy, creativity, and health and nutrition. While all these skills are important, creativity is the one that I feel is most often overlooked in education. Take the following video for example, which asks the question “Do Schools Kill Creativity?“.

 

COnclusion 

As a class, we ended the debate with a discussion on how there may need to be a shift in the way that we look at technology and how it influences education. This interested me, because it raised the question as to whether or not there may be a middle ground in relation to this topic. While no single person suggested that google could replace teachers, there was much to be said in regards to what google offers that teachers cannot, such as being able to take it anywhere with you and access it at any moment. With that being said, I think it is important to recognize the many things that teachers offer that google cannot. Google cannot motivate, encourage or personalized learning in the ways that teachers can. The human interaction component that teacher provide is second to none, especially with regards to students who rely on that face-to-face method of learning. From my personal experience, some students simply cannot learn through the use of technology and require that face-to-face interaction in order to develop an understanding of content and processes. With this in mind, I think that it would be unfair to stick a device in these students hands and expect them to succeed when that is not how they learn best. The importance of individualized and flexible learning that teachers provide cannot be overlooked.

Another major concern of mine in terms of relying on google in education is that not all students may have access to technology, whether it be due to family preferences, funding opportunities, band-width, etc. Additionally, if you are working in a classroom where there are students who can access technology to use google and others who cannot, doesn’t that put some students at a disadvantage? These are some of the question that we need to ask ourselves as educators in order to ensure we are providing equal access for all students and meeting their needs.

With the information provided above, and reflecting upon the debate itself, I am able to say with confidence that I have maintained my belief that schools should still be focusing on teaching what can be googled. Don’t get my wrong, there were some great arguments made on both sides of the debate and I personally still feel that google is a powerful tool to be implemented in the classroom, but it is in no way comparable to the role of the teacher and the importance of human interaction in the learning process. I have been introduced to the many benefits of google and how it can enhance learning, but at this point in time, I don’t think that being able to find information on google is an excuse not to teach it in the classroom, as there are so many variables to take into consideration, including accessibility to technology, learning strategies, and where to draw the line between what is and what is not “google-able”. In time, this view of mine may change, as technology is always advancing and we don’t know what the future holds. One thing that I feel confident in for certain is that there will always be a place for teachers in education, regardless of technology. The article “Personalized Learning: The Importance of Teachers in a Technology Driven World” perfectly sums up some of the points I have addressed above! I would like to leave you with the following quote to support my beliefs on the topic at hand:

That’s all for this post! Thanks for Reading!

Lauren Sauser

Technology: Enhancing or Hindering Learning?

This week marked the opening night to The Great EdTech Debate series in #EDTC 400! Our first debate topic focused on whether or not technology enhances learning. When I initially read this topic, I immediately thought to myself that this wasn’t much of a debate because it’s pretty obvious that technology does enhance learning. The pre-vote that was conducted at the beginning of class supported this belief of mine, with nearly the entire class voting that technology does enhance learning.  I sat down and listened to the opening debate supporting how technology enhances learning, agreeing with the points being made just as I had suspected. It then came time for the argument to be made against technology’s enhancement of learning. I was expecting to hear a short statement with very few sources to support the claims being made, however this was not the case at all! I was suddenly hit with a series of statements and facts that caused me to think more critically about the debate statement and my beliefs in general. While I entered the debate thinking that one side had already won,  I left the debate with a somewhat different perspective. I will now take the time to discuss some of the major points made throughout the debate, as well as additional information that I discovered through the provided readings and sources of my own.

Technology Can Enhance Learning

I would first like to point out that I am personally not very experienced in the realm of technology. I’ve got the basics mastered, such as how to send a text message, and I can accomplish quite a bit with proper instruction, but I would never label myself as a “tech savy” individual. With this being said, there are so many aspects about technology that continue to amaze me each and every day and I have seen some amazing ways in which technology has opened up new opportunities for learning and education, many of which were mentioned in this debate .

Technology is undeniably a critical component to 21st century learning, and as Ashlee mentioned in her argument supporting technology’s enhancement of learning, provides students with access, resources, and allows for global collaboration. Much of what was discussed in the debate reminded me of the “4 C’s” of 21st century learning; critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and communication.

All 4 of these skills are essential for students to develop and are interrelated in ways that are often unrecognized. Technology can play a significant role in fostering the development of these critical skills in many ways, as it allows for students to connect, therefore enhancing communication, which leads to collaboration, critical thinking, and of course, creativity.

George Couros’s article “As Technology Becomes Easier to Use,  Our Depth of Learning Needs to Continue to Increase”, provides several interesting ideas surrounding the ways in which technology has changed over the years and how it has enhanced learning. Couros identifies how technology has not only become easier to use, but children of this generation are better at using it as well. Couros attributes this to increased accessibility, whether it be in the classroom or in students’ daily lives. He goes on to state that technology has allowed for us to do many things that we could not do without it, something I agree with 100%. If I were to sit down and make a list of all the things that I do on a daily basis that require technology or have been made easier due to technology, my list would be never-ending.

When exploring how technology has influenced my own education, I can identify several ways in which it has made my life a lot easier. Take the following examples into consideration; I can now search up answers to my questions within second, finding nearly anything I need to know through the internet. With the use of technology, I can also type my notes 100x faster than if I were having to write them out, therefore allowing for me to keep up in class and stay organized. These are just a few of the ways that I feel technology has enhanced my learning and there are so many other benefits that I had not recognized before. Courts and Tucker provide insight into some of the many other ways technology enhances learning in the classroom in their article “Using Technology to Create a Dynamic Classroom Experience”. This article addresses another positive benefit of technology in the classroom to enhance learning that was mentioned in this week’s debate, and that is the integration of multimedia tools to enhance learning, such as audio, video, and blogging. I think it’s important to recognize that students are all unique and learn in very different ways, therefore by implementing multimedia tools in the classrooms, teachers can ensure that they are meeting the needs of all students and their multiple ways of learning. To learn about more ways that technology is enhancing student’s learning, check out this link.

technology can also hinder learning

Considering how technology has become such a prominent aspect of human life, and the fact that I am enrolled in an educational technology class to learn about how to integrate technology into the classroom and use it appropriately, I caught myself assuming that the use of technology in the classroom always enhances learning. But, after hearing from the other side of the debate and listening to the discussion had, I can no longer say with certainty that I still feel this way. Raeann, who led this opposing side of the debate, opened my eyes to the many ways in which technology may not be enhancing our learning, but rather hindering it.

Some of the main arguments made in this week’s debate were in regards to how technology acts as a form of distraction for students and actually raises more issues for the teacher than it solves. In Julia Klaus’s article, “Negative Effects of Using Technology in Today’s Classroom”, she identifies how technology is often overused in the classroom and students can become so engrossed in the technology they are using that they become distracted from the intended purpose of the technology, which is supposed to be to enhance learning.

Another interesting perspective on the negative aspects of implementing technology into the classroom to enhance learning is provided by Matthew Lynch in his article “The Dark Side of Educational Technology”. Lynch addresses how while many people believe that technology makes the teacher’s job easier, in reality, it does the exact opposite. With the implementation of technology, teachers now have to worry about the increased opportunity for cheating, plagiarism, and academic dishonesty. I know from my own personal experiences in high school that many students find it hard to resist cheating when they are surrounded by technology, often times not registering that they are doing anything wrong. This places even more responsibility on the teacher’s shoulders and forces them to allocate a portion of their teaching time to ensure students are using technology appropriately. While students may feel that school takes up the largest portion of their lives, the time that teachers have to actually teach is quite limited and therefore it is essential that they be able to make the most out of the time they are given. This is something that technology is threatening in today’s classrooms and raises the question as to whether or not technology is enhancing or delaying learning.

One final point I would like to address in regards to the drawbacks of implementing technology into the classroom to promote the enhancement of learning is the fact that not all students have equal access to said technology. In “Technology, But Not for All”, Liz Riggs identifies how while technology may be a great addition to the classroom, we also must consider the gap between those who can and cannot afford or access this technology. More specifically, Riggs mentions that while technology often aims to level the academic playing field, it often has the opposite affect by increasing the achievement gap between the rich and poor. Sure there are ways to attempt to work around this by applying for funding and exploring program opportunities, but that does not change how students access technology in all areas of their lives and therefore does not solve the overriding problem. The following video provides a look into the importance of bridging this digital divide:

So whats the verdict?

The time has come for me to choose a side to this debate and I have made my decision (drumroll please..). While I entered this debate firmly believing that technology enhances learning, I have been swayed to believe that this is not always true. With this being said, I cannot confidently say that I am on one side or the other of this debate, but I reside somewhere in the middle.

What I can say with certainty is that I do believe that technology has the power to enhance learning, as I have seen it done in many instances before (as listed above). However, I also think that technology can be a dangerous and detrimental to learning if not implemented properly. Some teachers are simply unaware of how to implement technology into the classroom and there are several ways to avoid this, such as following models such as TPAK and SAMR, both of which I discussed in my last post. While I think it is understandable that many teacher, like myself, are not tech savy, I also do not  think that this is an excuse not to integrate technology into the classroom. As the educators of the future generations, it’s important that we grow with technology and do everything we can to support students to develop the skills they will need in the future through technology, while also recognizing that technology is not always the answer to enhanced learning.

So, in summary,  CAN technology enhance learning? Of course!

DOES technology enhance learning? That depends on how it’s implemented!

That’s all for this post! I would love to hear from the readers on their thought about this debate topic! Thanks for reading!