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

 

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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!

 

 

 

 

Technology: Creating Connections or Tearing Us Apart?

This week in #EDTC400 we discussed a wide range of topics related to the evolution of the internet and technology, how it has changed over the past few decades, and the ways in which is it used in both the past and present. With being born in 1999 myself, technology has always been a part of my life and I haven’t know any different. To me, it’s hard to imagine living my life without it. This is not to say that I am addicted or obsessed with technology, but we are currently living in a world where technology is intertwined into everything we do, and by everything I mean EVERYTHING. Technology has made life so much easier, as we can now carry these small devices in our pockets that replace phonebooks, maps, dictionaries, credit cards, and so much more. We can be granted access to information in a matter of seconds that would have otherwise taken much longer. We can connect with people around the world, stay up to date with the lives of those near and far, and of course, share what we are doing as well! All of these advancements have changed the world, yet not all these changes are positive. While technology does provide us with so many amazing opportunities and connects us in many ways, it also plays a huge role in causing conflicts and ultimately tearing us apart.

A (Brief) evolution of modern Internet

The early 1990’s marked the birth of the “www”, essentially being recognized as the dawn of the internet. From this point on, the internet grew at a rapid rate. This growth is well representing in Digital Information World’s “History of the Internet” timeline. As illustrated in this timeline, by the year 2000, huge developments had taken place, such as the launch of Yahoo and Google search engines. Entering the 21st century, things continued to take off, with the early 2000’s being responsible for the introduction of WordPress blogging, Facebook, YouTube, and later Twitter. Needless to say, as the years went on, the internet and technology in general advanced at a rapid rate, brining along with it a number of benefits and concerns. As highlighted by Neil Postman in his article “Five Things We Need to Know About Technological Change” , for every development or advancement in technology, there is also some form of corresponding disadvantage. Additionally, these disadvantages are not evenly distributed, therefore benefits for one often leads to harm for others. Postman goes on to identify three other considerations to be taken into account in regards to technological change, some of which will be mentioned later on in this post.

is technology all it’s cracked up to be?

This birth of the internet and rise in technology has led to what is referred to  as “mythinformation”, which is essentially the idea or belief that having technology and communication systems will lead to a bette world. In my opinion, to believe that technology is the answer to all of the world’s problems simply is not realistic. In fact, many would argue that technology causes more problems than it solve. The following points highlight some of the many ways in which I feel that technology has and continues to cause conflicts:

  1. Not Everything You Read Online Is True: The internet and it’s contributors have a way of making people see what they want them to see. For example, this past week a very controversial video was shared online which depicted a group of white Catholic school students from Washington taunting a Native American Elder. This immediately caused on uproar online, with critiques jumping in to share their outrage, thoughts, and opinions. Days later,  The Atlantic posted an article titled “Stop Trusting Viral Videos”, which identified another side to the story in which one of the white students said that they were the victims and simply tried to defuse the situation. Whether or not there is truth to this statement, it is important to recognize that it is easy to fall victim to biased information posted online. Another clear example of the internet spreading inaccurate information is the amount of fake news that is shared online.  For a closer look at these occurrences, check out this article titled “False news stories are 70% more likely to be retweeted on Twitter than true ones”. Advancements in technology have not only increased the amount of fake news found online, but have also make it more difficult to detect.

2. Technology Can Take Over Our Lives Without Us Even Knowing It: For many people, including myself, we like to think that technology is a tool that exists for our use and control. After all, we do choose when we use it, how we use it, and why we use it…or do we? Consider social media platforms and why we use them. Of course we use them to stay in touch with people in our lives, share photos, and stay up to date on the latest gossip, but is that all? As we discussed in #EDTC400, companies behind these popular social media platforms have the power to manipulate users in many ways. Take Snapchat for example, which is founded around the concept of replacing text messages with photo messages. As the app progressed, it introduced things such as best friends, streaks, and snap scores. While for many people this seemed like a fun little addition to the app, the goal behind these add-ons are much more complex. By creating these different elements to the app, users feel compelled to use it more in order to maintain those streaks or increase their snap score. Instead of going on occasionally, users are now using snapchat countless times throughout the day, often opening the app automatically without realizing the control it has over them. This is just one of the many examples of how technology can take control of our lives without us even recognizing it. I myself never considered that there was an alternative goal behind these apps, but that goes to show just how powerful technology can be. Consider how the first thing many people do when they wake up in the morning is check their phone, or how most people refuse to leave the house without it in their pocket. Not only have we become dependent on technology, but it has taken over our lives in more ways than we could have ever imagined. “Does Our Technology Control Us?” is a great article that provides a look at the many ways that technology has taken over our lives, as well as ways to disconnect. Returning to Postman’s “Five Things We Need to Know About Technological Change” , technology is a powerful tool that if we let it, can completely take over our lives.

3. Technology May Connect People, But It Can Also Tear Us Apart: Many of us would say that one of the things that we value the most about technology is its ability to connect us to others. We can now text, talk, video chat, send pictures to, and stay close with others all because of technology. This has allowed for us to form new relationships, as well as stay connected with those we truly care about. With all this being said, not all aspects of technology have worked to bring us closer together, but have actually caused us to grow further apart. In Sherry Turkle’s TedTalk, “Connected, but alone”?, she discusses the implications of technology on relationships, stating that even though we are constantly connected, we are hiding ourselves from each other. We have come to a point in time in which our relationships are no longer natural, but are only desired if we can control what we say, when we say it, and to what degree we engage with others. Turkle refers to this as “The Goldilocks Effect”, in which we don’t want to be alone but we also don’t want too much of each other. The truth is, we want just enough of each other in our lives so that we don’t feel lonely, but not too much that we reach a point in which we are uncomfortable. Reaching this balance is something we can control with technology and therefore we become even more dependent upon it. Additionally, technology protects us from that feeling that no one is listening to us. When we post online, we know that it is being read or seen by someone, which leads to us to feel like we matter and that we never really have to feel alone.

While this may be a comforting feeling, being “with” others online does not mean that you aren’t alone. For example, “Here’s How People Say Google Home and Alexa Impact Their Lives” is an article that identifies how nearly 75% of people with these devices say they have become a part of their daily life, often feeling like they are talking to a friend. The truth is that they are not talking to a friend,  they are talking to a piece of technology that does not feel emotions and cannot relate to the experience the person is going through. Instead, these people are learning to isolate themselves from human contact and replace it with technology. Yes, they are forming relationships, but I question whether a relationship with a piece of technology can be considered comparable to that of a real person.

The influence of technology on education

As we know from taking #EDTC300 and now #EDTC400, technology has has  huge influence on the way that world looks at education. Technology has allowed for us to do things in education that we otherwise would be unable to do, such as taking courses online, connecting with students and educators around the world, accessing information at the click of a button, and the list goes on. There is no question that technology has opened many doors for education, but as I have mentioned above, technology cannot be the answer to all of the world’s problems and therefore does not necessarily improve education under all circumstances. It is important for educators to understand how and why technology can be used in the classroom. Here is a look at two great models that can and should be used when considering how to integrate technology into the classroom:

  • TPACKThe TPACK model consists of 3 major knowledge components, including the content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, and technology knowledge. Essentially, this model illustrates that the goal of educators should be to reach a middle ground in which all 3 knowledge components are addressed and integrated into the approach of bringing technology into the classroom.

 

SAMR: The SAMR model consists of 2 enhancement concepts, substitution and augmentation, which enhance technology with no or very little functional improvement. The model also contains 2 transformative concepts, modification and redefinition, which go above and beyond the the enhancement concepts in order to redesign task or create new tasks that otherwise could not be possible.

While these two models differ in several ways, they both provide a system for integrating technology into the classroom in the most effective and beneficial ways possible.

In addition to understanding how to integrate technology into the classroom, it is also important that we as teachers understand why we are integrating it and the implications that technology in the classroom has. As educators, we can not ignore what goes on online and therefore must be both aware and responsive to what our students find, working to ensure that they do not receive misinformation or if they do, knowing how to respond to this information in the most responsible and accurate ways. As highlighted throughout this blog post, online issues are everyone’s issues and although they may be difficult to address, it is important that we do just that to ensure that students are prepared and knowledgable about the world they are living in. I am in no way saying that technology is evil and needs to be banned, but there are certain precautions that should be taken to ensure safety and accuracy! The following video offers some insight into the way students view technology. I find it important to recognize that while there is so much out there on the internet that children don’t know, they truly do know a lot! This raises the question of whether or not children’s knowledge on technology makes the job of the teacher easier or more difficult? Check out what these students have to say!

I would like to end this post by encouraging all of you to reflect upon the ways in which technology has benefited you in your life, as well as how it has potentially made things more difficult. In addition to this, I would love to hear what you think in regards to how to ensure that we as teachers are staying on top of technological advancements in order to provide our students with the support they need to make responsible decisions and understand that while technology is a huge part of our lives, it is not the only part that matters.

Thank for reading!

Do You See What I See? Exploring My Online Identity

This week in #EDTC400 we reviewed the many ways in which we can contribute to our online identities, with a focus on the use of blogging and Twitter. While these are only two of the countless ways in which one can develop an online identity, our discussions really got me thinking about my online identity and how it has changed over the years.

As a child, I was not overly interested in using technology, as I preferred to spend time outdoors engaging is sports or spending time with my friends. I didn’t really get involved with technology outside of the school environment until I was in grade 9, when I got pulled into the Facebook craze and created my own account. From this point on, I became increasing present online, joining different social media platforms such as Instagram, YoutTube and most recently, Twitter. I didn’t realize it at the time, but through my activity on all these platforms, I was and continue to contribute to my online identity.

Photo Credit: Semtrio Flickr via Compfight cc

As the child of a teacher and someone who always knew that they wanted to become a teacher themselves, I was taught from a young age that what I posted online could impact me in the future. Due to the fact that I was older than the majority of my peers when I started to use social media, I managed to avoid the common phase that many people experience where they post things online without thinking about the implications it can have. By the time I became active online, I was old enough to understand the importance of thinking before I post and ensuring that what I post online is how I want to be seen by others, both in my personal and professional life.

This week’s class discussion really pushed me to ask myself what parts of my digital identity are accessible to the public. I decided to look over my different forms of social media, my privacy settings, and history in order to grasp a better understanding of what image i was projecting of myself to others.

Blog:

First things first, let’s take a look at my blog! As you may already know from our interactions in the past, or you may be hearing this for the first time, I am very open about the posts that I make and do my best to conduct myself in a professional manner. This blog of mine is used solely on a professional basis, however I do include some aspects of my personal life in order to allow for my readers to really get to know who I am as a person. Growing up, I always wanted to start a blog of my own but was never able to build up the confidence to do so, mainly because I didn’t understand what all blogging involved. Once I entered the Education program at the University of Regina, I quickly came to learn how online resumes are taking over and may be replacing paper resumes very soon (crazy, right!?). With this in mind, I knew it was time for me to buckle down and really start to contribute to my professional online identity through blogging. While my blog is still in its early stages of development, I am continuing to add to it each and every day! My goal is to one day have an active blog filled with lesson plans, quotes, posts about my experiences, resources and more!

 

Facebook:

Next up on the list of social media platforms is Facebook! Over the years, Facebook has been a form of social media that I have started to use less and less. I very rarely post anything on my account other than the occasional photo or birthday wish. With this being said, my Facebook account is very open and I have not set any privacy settings that would prevent others from being able to search for me. I am open to others seeing my profile, but I am very selective with the friend requests that I accept because I know of many people whose accounts have been hacked or taken over without their permission. One of my favourite things about Facebook today is that I can keep up to date on things that are happening in the school I grew up in! I think that schools that have general Facebook pages are great because they allow for interactions with the community and sharing that goes beyond the school, opening up new possibilities!

Instagram:

I have two separate Instagram accounts. My longest standing account is my personal account, in which I post pictures of events and activities of my daily life. My account is listed as private simply because I experienced a lot of people I didn’t know trying to comment on my pictures and message me. This was something that I was uncomfortable with so I made my account private as more of a safety precaution. My other account is a baking page titled @thesweetlife that I developed after taking #EDTC300 and becoming engaged in baking after my learning project! This page of mine is open to the public and while I don’t post on it frequently, I do enjoy having an outlet for my creativity that is separate from my day-to-day postings.

YouTube:

Prior to taking #EDTC300, I had never posted anything to YouTube before, let alone have my own channel. The very thought of posting my own videos caused me to have butterflies in my stomach! However, throughout the course, I decided that creating a channel would be a great way to showcase some of my baking, as well as different aspects of my education journey. My YouTube Channel is very new and there are no privacy settings enabled on it. I have recently begun to explore YouTube more closely (who knew there was more than music videos one there?!) and this has really opened my eyes to the possibilities that are out there for educators and students alike! If you check out this link, you can find some great examples of helpful Youtube channels for teachers!

Twitter:

Last but not least, I have two separate Twitter accounts as well. My personal Twitter account is one that I created a few years ago but never really understood how to use! Due to this lack of understanding, I have very little content on it. My professional Twitter page is much more developed and I am more active on it than any other social media platform! After creating a professional Twitter account that is open to the public, i decided to make my personal account private in order to avoid confusion. I have also considered deleting my private account because I don’t use it very often, however I continue to maintain it with the intent to someday start back up with it!

While I am in no way a Twitter expert, I feel that I have grown and learn so much ever since I developed my professional account. This has allowed for me to engage with other amazing educators around the world, share my ideas, and learn from others as well! Engaging in Twitter Chats, such as the ones on this list, have really allowed for me to step outside of my comfort zone, develop some amazing relationships, and get my name out there into the Twitter world, something that I think is important for all educators!

So What Does My Online Presence Say About Me?

Now that I have examined the different ways in which I am accessible online, the question remains as to how others interpret what they find or read about me online. While I am a firm believer in the idea that you can’t always control the way others view you, I also believe that it is important to ensure that you are projecting a positive image of yourself online.

In terms of how I present myself online, I would consider myself to be a somewhat open book. The majority of my online accounts and activity are accessible to all, with the exception of a few measures I have taken to ensure that I feel safe online. This transparency that I have maintained allows for others to be able to find me easily online, however the few privacy steps I have taken allow for some discretion in terms of what can be found without requesting my permission first. This allows for me to have some control over who can and cannot gain access to my online accounts, allowing for me to permit future employers, administration, colleagues, and peers to find me online, while still maintaining a certain level of professional privacy from my students when necessary.

I think that it benefited me to grow up knowing that what you post online never truly goes away because it ensured that I was and continue to be careful with what I post and share with others. On the other hand, I sometimes feel like I may be too cautious with what I choose to share online, often second guessing myself and not allowing for my true self to be represented based on the fear that I will be misinterpreted. This goes back to my earlier statement in which I believe that others are always going to judge you based on what you post, no matter how positive it may seem. My rule for posting has and continues to be “if you wouldn’t want someone to see it, such as your parents, employer or best friend, then maybe you should think twice before posting it!”. This is something that has served me well thus far and I think many other would benefit from following it as well!

One thing that I would like to work on in terms of my professional online identity is learning new ways to integrate more of who I am as an individual into my online presence. While professionalism is important to me, I also want others to be able to get to know the real me as well! I think that this can be achieved through experience with different online platforms, interacting with others, and of course through #EDTC400!

I am excited to continue to add to my professional online identity in the years to come as I work towards my teaching degree. The STF’s Tips for Professionalism Online is a really great resource for those of us who aren’t super comfortable on how to conduct ourselves online yet. Not only does it highlight the importance of being a role model for one’s students online, but also other tips to ensure that your online presence is the most positive and accurate representation of you! Here are some other resources that provide some great tips and pieces of advice to people who are wanting to build and maintain positive online identities:

  1. 8 Tips to Building and Maintaining a Positive Online Image 
  2. A Beginners Guide to Establishing a Professional Online Presence 

I think it is important to learn how to balance one’s personal and professional online presence because while we are going to be teachers who are held to a high standard, we are also human beings who have the rights to express ourselves! This is a balancing skill and is something I think I need to work on in my experiences to come!

In closing this blog post, I would like to extend an invitation to everyone reading this to follow some of the links I have provided to my different online accounts and give me a follow! I am very open to developing new professional relationships online and would love to expand my network through sharing, following and interacting with others!

 

The Girl Behind the Blog: Introducing Me!

Hey Everyone!
For those of you who are new to my blog, welcome! I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself to all of you and allow for you to get to know the girl behind this blog!

My name is Lauren Sauser and I am currently enrolled in my second year in theElementary Education program at the University of Regina. I was born and raised in the small town of Eston, SK and moved to Regina after graduating high school in 2017. This was a big adjustment for me, as I am definitely not a city girl by any means and see myself returning to a smaller town to teach in the future!

I am the middle child in my family, with a older brother and younger sister. I am very family oriented and love to spend time with them whenever I can! We are very active and love to do anything sports related. Athletics is something that has always been a significant component to our family dynamic and has allowed for us to bond and connect in countless ways. Many of my fondest childhood memories revolved around sports, whether it be watching my siblings play or competing myself!

       

I knew from a very young age that I wanted to become a teacher some day. My mother was an elementary school teacher for many years and I quickly fell in love with the idea of following in her footsteps. I have always loved working with children, whether it be in the school setting or in the community in general. Throughout my time in high school, I volunteered as a youth baseball coach, as well as dance instructor in my home town. This allowed for me to combine my two passions for working with children and sports! Through these experiences, it became increasingly apparent to me that my passion lied in working with children and that it was how I wanted to spend the rest of my life!

In addition to my love of sports, I also have a passion for baking and have been teaching myself how to bake for a while now. I love seeing the joy that my baking brings other people and it is the perfect way to help me relax and unwind after a stressful day! I am also a total animal person and have a cat named Macy who shares my love of fuzzy blankets, ice cream, and naps!

 

         

My love of animals has also pushed me to volunteer at the Regina Humane Society in my spare time, allowing for me to give back and spend time with some amazing people and animals!

Additional “fun facts” about me:

  • My favourite food is ice cream (Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough is my #1)
  • I have an irrational fear of elevators (I have never been stuck in one but the idea gives me literal goose bumps!!)
  • Swimming with dolphins and learning to surf are at the top of my bucket list and I hope to experience both of them some day

I took EDTC 300 this past spring and learnt so much! I had no idea that technology played such a significant role in education and I was excited to learn about the many ways in which teachers can incorporate technology into their teaching! I thought that enrolling in EDTC 400 would be the perfect step to take to build upon this experience and add to my understanding of educational technology.

Some of the goals that I have for this class include:

  1. Working on developing my blog further and learning how to blog more effectively. I would love to explore the many different components to blogging that I am still unfamiliar with and hopefully add to my blogging presence.
  2. I hope to build new relationships with other educators online, as well as strengthen the relationships that I already have. I think that technology has an amazing way of connecting people and I want to ensure that I am taking advantage of all these opportunities!
  3. I hope to add to my collection of resources to use in the classroom. EDTC 300 introduced me to so many amazing apps, programs and forms of technology that I can’t wait to see what else EDTC 400 has to show me!

Photo Credit: Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com Flickr via Compfight cc

Now that you have gotten a chance to read about me and my goals for EDTC 400, I hope that you will follow me here on Twitter! I can’t wait to read more about each of you and to interact throughout the semester!

Thanks for reading!

Lauren Sauser