Educational Technology

What Is Technology?

Before we can dive into educational technology, I feel that it is important to discuss what technology itself entails. According to Dictionary.com, technology actually has 5 different definitions:

What Is Educational Technology & How Has It Evolved?

Educational Technology is the field of study that investigates the process of analyzing, designing, developing, implementing, and evaluating the instructional environment, learning materials, learners, and the learning process in order to improve teaching and learning.

Like technology, educational technology is much more than computers and networks. In fact, a quick look at its etymology shows us that it refers to three concepts at once: the Latin educare, meaning to rear or train; the Greek techne, meaning art, skill, craft, or the way, manner, or means by which a thing is gained; and logos, Greek for word, or expression by words. While technology translates as “words or discourse about the way things are gained,” educational technology adds a specification: “things” as skills or information, acquired through training.

  • Hieroglyphics
  • Abacus (ancient counting mechanisms)
  • Oral Communication
  • Quill Pen
  • Printing Press
  • Pencil
  • Chalboards/Whiteboards (as discussed in class)

As always, technology evolves. This leads us to also add many more recent things to the list of educational technologies such as projectors, videos, assistive technologies, printers, photocopiers, the internet, social media etc. Obviously, as time goes on some technologies fall “out of style” or are replaced by something that has made the task easier. However, many of these older technologies were stepping stones for the educational technologies that are now popular in the 21st century.

Educational Technology in My Classroom

I also believe that not only do we need to be using technology in the classroom to help benefit our students’ learning, but we also need to be using it in order to prepare them for life as technology is not going anywhere. As Scott Widman points out in his video (below), “utilizing technology in the classroom is less of a choice and more of a responsibility… it is our obligation to prepare students for the challenges of being digital [residents].” We would not be doing our jobs as educators if we are not using these technologies that we have available to not only help educate our students on the curriculum, but also to prepare them for success & safety outside of school.

Thinking Back

Being born in 1995 definitely has its advantages. I feel that I was able to benefit from growing up along side technology. In a way, I got to have the best of “both worlds” as technology became more and more popular as I grew up, but I also got to experience a childhood with limited technology and mostly free from social media.

Continue reading “Thinking Back”

EC&I 830 – Summary of Learning

Wow! Can’t believe that this semester is already done. 6 weeks just flies by! I very much enjoyed my time in this class. I hope everyone has a restful summer and congrats to those of you who are finished your degrees! I for one will be taking a break from classes this summer as we will be getting married and taking our honeymoon to Iceland in August, but I am looking forward to being back with many of you in the fall on Tuesdays with Alec for EC&I833!

Anyways, you can check out my summary of learning by clicking here!

Debate #8 – Online Education Is Detrimental to the Social & Academic Development of Children

Wow! What a great debate topic to end our debates on. Both groups did excellent jobs presenting their sides. This was definitely the hardest debate to agree or disagree with. I think that what we can take away from this debate and that there is no real answer here and that it depends a lot on what is meant by “online learning.” Is it the online learning the learning we were doing in spring of 2020 where teachers were just told to pivot and were thrown into it with little to no time to prepare? Or are we referring to the schools and institutions which have designed ways to present curriculum online and where teachers specialize in this? Is it something that is forced upon all students due to something like a pandemic? Or is it something that is specifically chosen by a family? So many ways to think about this topic! Let’s dive in.

YAY-TEAM

The agree team (Britney S, Kayla, and Colton) presented some great point as to why online education is not the best choice to help our youth develop their social and academic skills.

The effectiveness of online school depends on access and socioeconomic status
The first point the agree team presented is that the effectiveness of online schooling is dependent on what type of access (usually tied to socioeconomic status) families have. As stated in Katrina Onstad’s article, the digital divide plays a big role. “This new playing field is not just uneven but riddled with land mines, where a lack of access to devices, unaffordability and bad connectivity deepen the gap between the haves and the have-nots.” The article goes on to detail very real experiences and issues that many students have had while trying to learn at home. These issues range from connectivity issues and lack of internet in general, to devices not working or waiting for devices to be given to them/be fixed. Often times, this results in missed lessons and a lack of learning time, or children who “vanish” and aren’t heard from again throughout the semester. These issues tend to affect families with lower socioeconomic statuses as they don’t always have access to reliable/affordable internet or own their own devices (in comparison to many higher socioeconomic families).

Online learning may cause more harm than good
Although giving students the chance to learn online may help them to keep up with their education, learning online also comes with some (quite possibly) negative “side effects.” Lana Parker’s article, as well as many others, point out some negative implications that come with learning online. Some of these include the fact that “online learning does not replace the complex, relationship-oriented learning and social environment in schools,” it is difficult to complete courses such as Physical Education and PAA style classes online, and there is increased screen time which has begun to be linked to poor eyesight. The Kentucky Counselling Centre also presents that there are many mental health related concerns such as fatigue, stress, anxiety, depression, and loneliness which can develop or worsen when students are participating in classes that are fully online.

Photo by Katerina Holmes on Pexels.com

School buildings are safe places that many kids need
Another relevant point to this debate is that for many students, schools are considered a safe place. Often times, school is one of the only places where they feel loved and connected. There are also children (and families) who rely on school lunch/snack programs. For some, the school provided meal might be all they have in a day. For others, school is a place where they can escape abuse or violence in the home. Many administrators will tell their teachers not to do a generic countdown of days left until winter or summer break as it can cause anxiety for students who feel that school is their only safe place. When this is no longer an option, or time in the school building is limited, this can cause real consequences and problems for many children.

NAY-TEAM

The disagree team (Arkin, Kat and Chris) also did an excellent job presenting their points as to why online learning is actually beneficial and helps to support the social and academic development of children. Some points that they presented were:

Online learning can help students with health challenges/disabilities
One key point by the disagree team was that the ability for students to learn online as opposed to in person may help students who have mental health challenges or who are diagnosed with certain disabilities. The article Kat shared does an excellent job by breaking down the benefits online learning can have for people with learning disabilities, physical disabilities, visual impairments, hearing impairments, and psychiatric (or mental health related) illnesses. Some benefits include: using assistive technology tools and applications available online, not having to physically rush across a campus or from classroom to classroom, being able to listen to lectures with subtitles, having the ability to review videos/texts repeatedly and at your own pace, and being in the comfort of your own home. Regardless of the reasoning, online learning can be a great option for many students as opposed to struggling in person or missing out on learning all together.

Photo by Leah Kelley on Pexels.com

Online school is flexible
Another positive of online school is flexibility. Depending on the program and age level, online schooling can often be done at your own pace and doesn’t necessarily require synchronous lessons. This can allow students to set their own pace to have learning meet their needs. It can also teach students how to properly manage their time. Additionally, the choice of being able to learn online can be very beneficial for certain families. Families with children who are athletes and spend long hours training have many positive reasons as to why they might choose online learning. Another thing growing in popularity is families who are choosing online school in order to allow themselves more time to travel the world.

Some other great points presented by the disagree team include: online learning is accessible (as long as there is internet!), it teaches students important skills such as communication and self management, you can have a more customized education due to smaller class sizes and more timely feedback, and it can be more affordable than some in person options.

Final Thoughts

I really enjoyed this debate and this is the one debate topic where I can say for sure that there are strong pros and cons on each side and I am smack in the middle. What is right for one student is not always going to be the same/work well for another. I think that when we are talking about online learning, it should be focused on the online learning where teachers and students have chosen it and have had the appropriate time to prepare. Covid style online learning was really not the best. I know many teachers (myself included) felt like we were really letting our students down and that they were falling behind. But hey, this was something that was completely new to us. We did not have time to properly prepare and many of us were struggling with teaching things online having never done so before.

During online learning, I also saw many unfortunate circumstances of kids vanishing or “falling through the cracks.” We had families that we couldn’t even get ahold of for months. There were also many families trying to figure out how their child could do school at home while parents were also working from home, or were away working jobs that could not shut down. However, I see the possible benefits for online learning when it is a choice made by a family and they are prepared and expecting to do it. I know a previous student of mine who suffered from anxiety did very well online and I believe their family has kept up with it since covid. I can also see how it would be beneficial for families who don’t have typical schedules due to athletics, certain jobs, or frequent medical appointments. In the end, I think the choice comes down to what will work best for each individual family and student.

Debate #7 – Educators Have a Responsibility to Help Their Students Develop a Digital Footprint

The first debate of the night this week was very interesting! I find that (similar to other weeks) the topic is a bit vague and there are many ways that it might be interpreted. For example, the debaters focused on the digital footprint itself, but the open discussion time kept heading towards the general idea of teaching digital citizenship. Initially, I was also reading the topic in relation more to digital citizenship than the sole idea of creating that digital footprint/online identity and had said I agreed with the topic. Later on, after I realized we were focusing a lot more on the specific idea of digital footprints alone, I ended up more so on the disagree side.

https://medium.com/@llnimetz/how-to-optimize-your-digital-footprint-for-college-applications-d3239a319ca8

YAY-TEAM

The agree team, Rae and Funmilola, presented some solid points as to why it is our responsibility as educators to help our student develop their digital footprints.

Students need an understanding of their digital footprint
First off, the agree team mentions that students need to develop basic online safety skills and that one way we can do this is to better help to understand how their digital footprint is created as well as helping students to create or manage this footprint in a safe way. As Rae mentioned, one of the first steps in creating a digital footprint is actually done at school through the creation of a school based email account or other application accounts for children to use at school on laptops/Ipads. In creating these accounts for students, we are adding to or creating their digital footprint. As students get a bit older, it is also important that they have an understanding of all the things that can go into creating your digital identity (such as social media, photos posted, emails sent etc.). Dan Spada does a great overview of this in his video. Finally, Buchanan et. al, (2017) also mentions that the skills of curation is important as well as “children and teenagers should be taught to curate a positive digital footprint, rather than solely being apprehensive of the ramifications a negative one can have.”

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Educators are best positioned for this work
Another point that the agree team makes is that educators are best positioned to complete this work as parents may not always be able/are willing to do so. Again, Buchanan et. al, (2017) support this point by saying that “children in higher socio-economic status (SES) homes are more likely to receive assistance in developing their understanding and usage of the internet, as they have more frequent access to it, as well as adults who can assist them.” Thus, we can conclude that schools, a neutral space where most children will frequent in their lives, can be a good, consistent, place to provide instruction and learning surrounding these topics regardless of students socio-economic status. However, we must still ask our selves how the digital divide, as well as teacher unpreparedness and already heavy workloads may factor into expectations such as these.

Some other points mentioned by the agree team were that: schools can host digital citizenship workshops to help connect and inform families, and that digital spaces are still real spaces.

NAY-TEAM

The disagree team, Gertrude and Kim, also did an excellent job explaining their points as to why it is not the teachers’ responsibility to develop students digital footprints.

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Students’ digital footprints are already developed before starting school
One point that the disagree side presented is that it is not the job of teachers to develop or help students create their digital footprints as they are already made before they are even old enough to start school. Often times, they aren’t even made by students themselves, but their families. Carolyn Wimbly Martin and Nick Feldstern present that “A study conducted in 2010 found that 92% of two-year-olds in the United States had an online presence” and that “one-third are posted on social media on the date of birth”. When I first read this statistic, I thought that’s crazy! However, many people do post online to announce the birth of their child and share the news with friends & family. Although most of these posts are made on a private platform, we all know that anything posted online is essentially public.

Another example that comes to mind when talking about how parents are creating a child’s digital footprint is Wren Eleanor. Wren is the 3 year old child of a TikTok mom who posts videos and pictures of her frequently and has recently come under controversy (there is a bit of backstory here, and a huge sub reddit with people giving their thoughts and opinions as well). In short, Wren’s mom has been informed that screenshots of her child from her TikTok videos have been found on inappropriate sex trafficking/pedophilia related sites and that there have also been MANY inappropriate comments directed towards her child on the videos themselves. Essentially, people are saying that the mother is well aware of this and is exploring her child for fame. This is just another example of how a child may already have a huge digital footprint (that they had no say in making) before they are even old enough to go to school.

Schools aren’t protecting children’s data
A second statement by the disagree team is that schools are also contributing to this problem. They are not only adding to or creating children’s digital footprints like parents are by posting photos of students online, but they are also encouraging, or even requiring students use platforms and programs that are collecting their data (unbeknownst to parents). The Human Rights Watch article shared by the disagree group found that of the over 150 EdTech products supported by at least 49 governments for use during the pandemic, “89%… monitored or could monitor children, in most cases secretly and without the consent of children or their parents.” Another staggering find was that 140+ of these products “directly sent or granted access to children’s personal data to 196 AdTech companies.” So, not only is the data being collected, unknowingly in many cases, it is also being shared.

Photo by Anete Lusina on Pexels.com

Another modern day fear is not only the use of applications and platforms at school which will collect data, but cyberattacks in order to steal data. Regina Public Schools recently suffered a cyber attack that has left us without many platforms for weeks. Even still, we have limited internet access and cannot print or use our main work laptops to connect to a network. There have still not been any confirmations of what type of student or employee information has/has not been exposed.

Some other points brought up by the disagree team include: teachers feel unprepared or not supported by divisions to teach topics such as digital citizenship, and Canadian laws don’t distinguish policies on data collection between adults and children in ways that many other countries do.

Final Thoughts

This topic definitely has some good points on both sides. Personally, I don’t think that it is our job to help students necessarily develop or create a digital footprint. However, it is our jobs to help them understand what is a digital footprint, how it is made, and how the things they do online (or that their parents do) can affect it. The basics of digital citizenship are essential to all levels of education and should be a part of our formal curriculum with the appropriate training and resources provided my the Ministry of Education and each school board individually as well.

Debate #6 – Should Cellphones Be Banned in the Classroom?

Although both teams put up some good arguments and many relevant viewpoints came up during this debate, I’ll have to admit that my original opinion of “agree” with this topic has not really waivered. I feel that where people stand on this topic may have a lot to do with the schools they work at, the experiences they have had, and what sort of access exists. I’ll elaborate more on these ideas below, but for now let’s get into the debates and some research!

YAY-TEAM

The agree team (Echo, Lovepreet, and Amanpreet) presented my reasons as to why cellphones should not be allowed in the classroom. Some of them include:

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

Banning cellphones can help to instill focus & eliminate distractions
I’m sure most of us teachers know how easily kids can be distracted, espcially by cellphones and other technologies. Brenna Carels states that “one major concern for classroom teachers is that cell phones may threaten classroom learning because of the effects they are having on students’ ability to focus“. Not only does being on a phone distract the student that is using the device, it can also distract those around them as students may be messaging with others in the same room, be trying to show someone else something on the device, or the general sounds coming from the device may be bothersome to others. Many studies (referenced in Carels’ article) demonstrate that there is a connection between students being distracted by their devices and poorer academic performance/cognitive controls.

Banning cellphones can help to limit bullying
Taking away students’ phones during the school day limits access to another way that students can target others. If a student does not have their device, they can’t use that device to bully others. A study by Beneito & Vicente-Chirivella (2020) supports this as their results “point to a reduction in bullying after the mobile ban” for students aged 14-17. Other schools, such as my own, have also reported similar findings. Each year, students in our district in grades 4-8 fill out a survey regarding many things. One topic covered is bullying. Students have reported that since the school has eliminated use of personal devices during the school day, bullying (especially cyberbullying) has been a lot less frequent.

Allowing cellphones in class can cause education inequality
By now, we are all familiar with the digital divide and the impacts it can have on people around the world. One argument often presented for allowing phones into the classroom is that it gives students opportunities to use devices/the internet in cases where the school is not able to provide 1-1 tech. However, what happens if the school doesn’t have (or have enough) devices and there are still students left with no device to use? Do they sit out of the lesson? Are they able to finish the work at home? Statistics Canada’s 2021 internet use survey indicates that only 88.1% of residents over the age of 15 have access to a smartphone/phone with internet capabilities. This means that there are still 12% that don’t have access to a device. This number is likely even lower if you are considering students who are under the age of 15. Allowing cellphone use in the classroom can further this divide. It can also make some students feel lesser due to their lack of access, and cause issues when asking students to complete work at school/at home by using a personal device such as a cellphone.

Some other points by the agree team were: stress and frustration, connections to lower test scores, online cheating with a device while at school, and a disconnect from face to face activities.

NAY-TEAM

Even though they could not sway my personal opinion much, the disagree team (Reid, Bret, and Leona) still did an excellent job laying out some points to think about as to why we should allow cellphones in the classroom.

Cellphones can allow for more accessibility
Cellphones are just another form of technology. Thus, they can be used in similar ways to computers and other assistive tech to help students in the classroom. This article does a great job of outlining all the assistive technology (AT) features that are available on every Apple and Android phone. It also outlines how these features can be used to help writing, reading, motor skill, attention, and organizational issues. These are all tools that students could theoretically use in the classroom if needed. Finally, in this article Veronica Lewis, who suffers from low vision and vision loss, details her experiences with using her phone in the classroom as AT as well as the applications she uses for certain academic tasks.

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

Using cellphones can make learning exciting
Again, since cellphones are a mini form of popular technologies similar to computers, there are many fun and engaging things that we can use them for in the classroom. Similar to a laptop or ipad, students can access many fun review type games such as Kahoot and Quizizz on their phones (if they have internet access). Students can also use their phones to connect to platforms that allow them to communicate and learn from others (Twitter, blogs, Zoom etc). Finally, as the disagree team mentioned, there is also a strong use for VR in certain classes to enhance learning experiences.

Cellphones in school are inevitable
As we know, many students will always have access and will bring devices such as cellphones to school. We are living in the 21st century where technology is only becoming an increasingly important part of our society.

“If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow.”

John Dewey

Todd VanDuzer makes refence to this quote by Dewey in his article Cell Phones in School: 11 Reasons Why They Should Be Allowed.” He goes on to point out that this quote is still relevant today as “Dewey understood that schools should be the first place in society to implement visionary new methodologies, take risks, and challenge well-established notions. He saw the introduction of new technology as an opportunity to enhance the learning experience!” and that cellphones in the classroom follow this path. It is something that we should be advocating for as they have great potential to positively impact student’s learning and they aren’t going anywhere.

Final Thoughts

As I mentioned previously, I think that my stance on this topic is heavily influenced by my experiences and where I work. To begin, I work at a community school where many students do not have phones. I also teach grade 4/5, so a majority of my students are still quite young. I would say there are 3 students who regularly bring a phone (and turn it in) and about 4-6 others who have one at home, but it is not allowed to be brought to school. My school does not allow for students to use their devices during the day and this has been well received, especially in regards to bullying. I am sure there may be some senior teachers who may decide to give students their phones for certain activities, but our school rule is that anyone can take a phone from a student who is using it on the playground/in the halls etc.

We have computer carts that are shared amongst 1-2 other classes, but this also means that when I sign it out I am able to have enough computers for each student to use their own. So, there is really no need for phones in my classroom. Having worked at other schools where there aren’t policies like this in place, I have seen how distracted some kids can be by their phones. I also remember my own days in high school when phones were becoming more common and how many students were busy playing on them or texting under their desks the entire class. Perhaps if I taught a different grade, or more of my students had them, or my school did not have enough laptops for each students to have one, I would think differently. Overall, I think that they are more of a nuisance and distraction than a tool in many cases.

What do you think?
1. Do many of your students have cellphones?
2. Are your students allowed to keep their phones throughout the day or are they turned in?
3. Does your school have a device policy? How does it work? If not, do you wish your school did?

Debate #5- Is Social Media Ruining Childhood?

When we initially began this debate, I was leaning more towards the agree side. Looking back, I fondly remember (perhaps with rose tinted glasses) a childhood filled with playing outside, camping, and spending hours on our bikes until the street lights came on. I also remember certain technologies being introduced throughout my youth (Nintendo, Game Cub, Wii etc.) and the increasing amount of time I spent on the computer as I got older (did anyone else have a massive Sims addiction???). I essentially grew up alongside social media with things appearing as I aged. I remember the fall of Myspace, the early years of MSN messenger, and the good ole’ Tumblr days.

The hardest part for me with this topic is the idea of what age is childhood? When I hear the word I often think of younger children, even though a child is legally anyone under 18. Looking back on my youth, I would say my childhood (10 and under especially) was very far removed from social media, which didn’t really become a big thing until I was in high school. Overall, I wonder if we can even begin to compare our childhood to the present day, or someone growing up in the 60s etc. as things evolve so much over time?

Continue reading “Debate #5- Is Social Media Ruining Childhood?”

Debate #4 – Do Educators Have a Responsibility to Use Technology/Social Media to Promote Social Justice?

I think that debate #4 touched the nerves of a few people this week as things seemed to have gotten a little spicy- and rightfully so. I feel that this topic is one that is more so based on opinion and beliefs rather than research, facts, and statistics. There has always been much debate surrounding the promotion of social justice in the classroom as well as the use of social media by educators. When I went through university, our social media accounts were strongly scrutinized. Our profs found everything that they could that was “open” and then pointed out all the posts, tweets, photos etc. that could be misinterpreted or “shouldn’t be something a teacher posts.” I was not too fond of this exercise since they said simple things like a vacation picture in a swimsuit or you with a drink in your hand at a friend’s birthday when you are of legal age were BAD. In all honesty, I thought that it was way out of line for them to tell me what I can and can’t do in my own free time. I am not only a teacher, but also an adult as well as just a regular human being! I do keep my social media fairly locked down so they couldn’t find much, but the debate this week reminded me of this experience and the “image” that teachers are supposed to uphold online.

Continue reading “Debate #4 – Do Educators Have a Responsibility to Use Technology/Social Media to Promote Social Justice?”

Debate #3- Should Schools No Longer Teach Skills That Can Be Easily Carried Out by Technology?

Debate #3 teams definitely delivered! I will admit I am surprised how heated this debate got as this topic didn’t seem like one that you would peg as having people be uber-passionate on both sides. I will say I am more so a disagree-er on this topic, but it all comes down to which things we are talking about and in what ways (I’ll elaborate on this later on).

Continue reading “Debate #3- Should Schools No Longer Teach Skills That Can Be Easily Carried Out by Technology?”

Debate #2- Technology Has Led to a More Equitable Society

During this debate, I felt like I was being pulled towards both sides constantly. Originally, I had said that I disagreed with this statement as this is definitely a topic that I have not put much thought into before, especially past the general ideas surrounding access to tech and internet. Both teams presented many great points for their side of the debate and I believe that this topic ends up being much more intertwined than people may originally think with other issues such a race, gender, and disabilities.

Before getting started on the debate, I just wanted to review the ideas of equality vs equity as this came up a few times. When thinking about this, many people immediately picture this:

When talking about this topic, it is important to remember the difference. In this case we are talking about if technology is leading to equity- not equality. In this case, equity would mean that all people have to the technology that they need to succeed or thrive, not just that there is equal access for everyone to everything tech related.

Continue reading “Debate #2- Technology Has Led to a More Equitable Society”
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